Home on the range? That would be Dave Stockton, who, when he
isn't riding herd on the Senior tour, keeps busy tending his
buffalo at Cook's Creek Ranch in Taylorsville, Calif.

SI: Why buffalo?

DS: My cousin bought the ranch for cattle. It's 500 acres and
sits in the back end of a box canyon, with a half mile of
frontage and steep sides. It was a perfect spot for buffalo, and
no one else had them up here. He needed [financial] help putting
up a fence, so I bought a half stake in the ranch.

SI: You need a special fence for buffalo?

DS: Yeah, they'll go right through a regular cattle fence. You
need an eight-foot fence, and you anchor down every other post,
so when the buffalo hit it running full tilt, it's like a
slingshot.

SI: Is this just a business venture, or do you get your hands
dirty?

DS: When I'm there, I do. I get right in the middle of the
animals and get to work.

SI: Have you ever found yourself in a stampede?

DS: No, but you have to be careful. They can be aggressive.

SI: How aggressive?

DS: They killed one of our horses. We found out that the fences
at most buffalo ranches have round corners because if there's
something the buffalo don't like, they'll corner it and kill it.
We don't have round corners, so it cost us a horse.

SI: Have you ever lost a buffalo?

DS: Only one. Last month we were loading four for slaughter, and
one split the scene. It was last seen heading over the
mountains. I guess he was the smart one.

SI: You started with seven; how many do you have now?

DS: Roughly 130. We recently slaughtered down to 90 adults, but
we had 40 babies, and we're about to have another 45 babies.

SI: How lucrative is the buffalo business?

DS: You raise them for slaughter, but every part of the buffalo
is used. You have the hide, used for rugs, and if it's a bull,
you sell the horns. We also have people who pay to come out and
hunt.

SI: Hunt! Where's the challenge in shooting a fenced-in buffalo?

DS: I don't see much of a thrill in it either. You ride out 20
yards and say, "O.K., I'm taking number 107," then bang! But the
ones they're shooting weigh more than 1,500 pounds and are good
for 1,000 pounds of meat.

SI: What do you charge to hunt?

DS: Between $2,000 and $2,500.

SI: Do you eat much buffalo?

DS: The meat is unbelievable. There's no fat. It's healthier
than chicken and tastes better than beef, and I'm not saying
that because I raise them.

SI: What's your favorite dish?

DS: Buffalo lasagna.

COLOR PHOTO: COURTESY OF DAVE STOCKTON

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)