Brian Ware will never forget “Number 26.”
That was the designation assigned to the female bison that attacked him Saturday night at the Grumpy Buffalo Farm in Richmondville.
Ware will also remember the quick actions of a fellow bison wrangler who helped stop the rampaging animal.
The bison punctured Ware’s abdomen with one of her horns, an injury that sent the 34-year-old Richmondville man to Albany Medical Center for treatment. He went home Monday night.
Ware and other men were moving the bison through a series of pens at the Harraway Road farm when a mother bison became angry after she was separated from her daughter just before 7 p.m. as the bison were being prepared for a trip to another ranch in New Jersey.
“She got out from where we were putting her and I was running away,” Ware said Tuesday afternoon. “I slipped and fell on the ice and came eye-to-eye with the angry mother. And she let me have it.”
Ware tried to scare off the animal, which he said weighed between 1,300 and 1,500 pounds. “I was kicking and punching so she wouldn’t do too much damage,” Ware said.
Jason Gosselink saw what was happening and quickly jumped into a tractor, started the machine and pushed the bison away from Ware.
“You think as quickly as you can,” said Ware, who graduated from Cobleskill-Richmondville High School in 1998. “Kick and punch and do whatever you can do. That’s all I was thinking, yelling for some help.”
He’s not sure how long the ordeal lasted.
“It definitely seemed a lot longer than it really was,” Ware said. “You’ve got a 1,500-pound buffalo coming at you. I would say it lasted 30 to 45 seconds, maybe a minute. They said she came at me a few times, just kept backing up.”
Bison from the Grumpy farm were in the news last summer. On Aug. 19, 11 animals escaped from the farm and journeyed into fields and woods. Ten of the animals eventually were captured; most were killed and processed into meat.
Schoharie County Sheriff Tony Desmond said one of the summer runaways may have ended up with the bunch that left for New Jersey.
“That caper went on for a long time,” he said. “All of a sudden, I didn’t hear about bison for a while.”
Desmond added that stray bison can still be found around the county. “I hope they behave themselves,” he said.
Ware, who said he works construction jobs, said the experience will not prevent him from working around bison in the future.
“I would probably help out again,” he said.