On Wednesday, NBC Montana reporter Deion Broxton became a figure of levity amidst the coronavirus-saturated news cycle when he uploaded a video of himself reporting from Yellowstone National Park. In the clip, his attempt at scene reporting is thwarted by a herd of bison.

“Oh my God, oh my God,” Broxton muttered, warily eyeing the approaching bison offscreen. “Oh no, I ain’t messin’ witchu. Oh no, oh no. Oh no, I’m not messin’ witchu.”

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Boxton promptly packed his tripod, his camera, and likely himself into his vehicle, assuring there was a safe distance between himself and the herd.

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The National Park Service lauded Boxton’s response in a tweet, describing it as a “perfect example of what to do when approached by wildlife!” and including a crying-laughing emoji for good measure.

GIFs were promptly generated, and black people made jokes about staying away from the great outdoors, also referencing iconic moments from black reporters who have had to overcome similar battles with mother nature, code-switching and all. But all the while I thought, I can kind of relate to this shit!

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I’ve actually been in the presence of bison multiple times over the past few years, in Wyoming and Montana. While they’re some of the most beautiful, majestic creatures to behold, they’re also surprisingly big.

Like, really fucking big.

A bison at the National Bison Range in Montana, 2018
A bison at the National Bison Range in Montana, 2018
Photo: Robert Stengel
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Also surprising: How quickly they go from grazing a seemingly safe distance to... quite close to your car, which is what happened to me and my boyfriend when we visited the National Bison Range in Montana in 2018. My panic! It’s palpable!

But despite the horror stories one hears about bison charging small children and whatnot, they’re pretty chill creatures who just... hang out.

In Yellowstone last fall, I witnessed some of the largest free-ranging bison herds in the world congregating together, dusting in blissful harmony.

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Bison range in Yellowstone National Park, summer 2019. Shot on the writer’s old iPhone’s not-that-impressive camera.
Bison range in Yellowstone National Park, summer 2019. Shot on the writer’s old iPhone’s not-that-impressive camera.
Photo: Ashley Reese

On that same trip, I saw a bison outside of Badlands National Park rub its head against a signpost. Endearing! Itchy, just like us!

Bison are just out here trying to survive and live their bison lives after centuries of being shat upon by white people (also relatable). They’re the ultimate survivors, and they’re pretty cute too. So consider this my pitch for everyone to see some bison—from a safe distance—once covid-19 is behind us.

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The writer, at the National Bison Range, summer 2017. Yes, she went two years in a row.
The writer, at the National Bison Range, summer 2017. Yes, she went two years in a row.
Photo: Robert Stengel

Staff writer, mint chocolate hater.

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