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After 31 years, cowboy shares his memories of the Antelope Island Bison Roundup

Posted at 9:50 PM, Oct 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-10-02 23:50:44-04

GREAT SALT LAKE - For Eldean Holliday of Kaysville the Antelope Island Bison Roundup has been a cherished tradition for decades.

"You step back in time at least a hundred years," said Holliday.

Holliday rode in the very first roundup in 1986. At that time the causeway had been flooded out, and cowboys like Holliday had to be taken over to the island by a boat with their horses.

"Had anything really spooked the horses, they would have all been in the drink," said Holliday.

The horses remained calm, and everyone made it to shore safely. Still Holliday and other riders would soon learn that not everything goes according to plan on a roundup.

"Bison cooperative, uh no," said Jolene Rose, a wildlife biologist with Utah State Parks.

"You follow buffalo, you don't chase them," said Holliday.

Even when precautions are taken, things can go wrong. Holliday remembers a time a bison had to be roped, and once lassoed the bison stopped breathing, forcing Holliday to act.

"I was jumping up and down on it's chest and blowing in it's mouth and finally it came to life," said Holliday.

The roundup helps manage the health and size of the bison heard. Some animals each year are auctioned off to keep the heard around 700 animals.

For cowboys like Holliday who has ridden with his grandsons, the size of the heard is not the focus.

"You're building memories. You have a lot of free time to talk to each other, and visit and just enjoy nature.  To enjoy it with them is a great experience," said Holliday.

The deadline to ride in the annual bison roundup at Antelope Island state park is fast approaching. October 11 is the registration deadline, while the event itself is on October 28.

Anyone can register to be in the ride, though it is limited to about 200 people. For information on how to register visit: