Before Yellowstone, I never thought about the murderous qualities of buffalo. After Yellowstone, it was all I could think about.

In the fall of 2007, my then-girlfriend Katelyn and I were on an epic cross-country road trip. Passing through Wyoming, we made a detour to visit America’s oldest national park for a few days. As we drove up to the main gate, we were stopped at a booth by a park ranger in a wide-brimmed hat. “Is this your first visit to Yellowstone?” she asked.

“It sure is!” I answered. She nodded and handed over a small packet of papers that Katelyn flipped through as we drove into the park. It contained all of the expected materials: a detailed map, a large spread on various wildlife, a leaflet on camping regulations.

Then Katelyn pulled out a bright yellow flier that made us glance at each other, horrified. It was an illustration of a hapless park visitor, arms and legs outstretched, mouth in a round “O,” being launched into the air by a hulking buffalo. The beast’s sharp horns were inches from the man’s rump. “WARNING! MANY VISITORS HAVE BEEN GORED BY BUFFALO,” the page screamed in bold, capital type, “These animals may appear tame but are wild, unpredictable, and dangerous. DO NOT APPROACH BUFFALO.” More… “When Bison Attack”

Matt Grant is a Brooklyn-based writer. He is a staff writer at LitHub and a contributor to Book Riot. His work has appeared in Longreads, The Huffington Post, and The Brooklyn Rail, among others. You can find him online at or on Twitter: @mattgrantwriter.


Right before the girls in the house started peeing in each other’s shampoo bottles, we went on a wilderness retreat. It was not a good time at the group home where I was working. We were understaffed and the house was, for the moment anyway, filled with the kind of teen girls who possessed enough misdirected rage and disinterest in self-preservation to pee in their roommates’ shampoo bottles.

I did not want to go on a trip to the mountains with these girls. On my 60-hour shifts I had been on enough trips with them — to the YMCA, and the grocery store — to know that this trip would not go well. Managers of both places we frequented wanted to expel us — the grocery store for run-of-the-mill shoplifting and the Y because the girls had repeatedly stolen cigarette butts out of the outdoor ashtrays and tried to smoke… More…