LAWTON, Okla._Bison went up for auction at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge for their first ever February sale.
The 43rd Annual Bison Public Auction was held Wednesday at the refuge corrals, just north of refuge headquarters. Around 63 bison were sold to lucky bidders, and even a few got to take home some rare buffalo heads gathered from the area.
For many in the stands, it was business as usual and for officials, Wednesday's auction couldn't have come at a better time. It's been a tough year for the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge in terms of keeping up with all those that call it home. From the recent droughts to the government shutdown in October, weather conditions and bad timing pushed the annual auction back from the normal October date to February.
With the amount of preparations that go into organizing the auction they simply were unable to get everything done in time. So the refuge turned to a tried and true tradition in February that never fails to succeed.
Bison bidders were hopeful that the new date would be the only difference in Wednesday's auction.
"I bought as high as six in one year and stuff, but we'll see how it goes today," said one bidder. Others were out there for their first experience, "First time. First time? Looking forward to see how it works."
Farmers and families of all ages flocked to see the refuge's finest bison barreling through the gates ready to be bid on. Auctioneer Dub Venable, also had high hopes for the February sale, "Some of the animals aren't accustomed to anybody or anything. In recent years, a lot of bison will bring in one thousand or two, depending on the size and class of bison it is."
And while the public hopes to go home with members of the most prized herds in the state officials with the refuge are hopeful that this extra auction will get them back on track. "We were having to pull our herds down a little bit. We have too many animals; we're pleased that has worked," said Bryant
Kids from area schools were also in attendance today. They got to help with herding the bison down the corrals with paddles before they were put on display to the public. After all was said and done, all 63 bison were successfully sold to the public.
The Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge still plans on holding another auction on their normal annual schedule this year. That auction will be held on October 23rd.