The Freedom Seeker, by Jim Deegan, January 22, 1988 (The escape of “Sam” from the Banff Buffalo Paddock inspired Jim to compose this poem about the escape and subsequent recapture of Sam).

Timberline Tales
revised edition – Folklore in Verse of the Canadian Rockies Jim Deegan

THE FREEDOM SEEKER
Out at the buffalo paddock
Within the confines of the Park
The autumn leaves had fallen
And the land lay cold and stark

Life in a fenced enclosure
Was a life to just endure
As the bull fretfully pawed the ground
And freedom was the only cure.

The cattleguard lay before him
Which he studied with deep intent.
How could he cross that barrier
And shake off his keeper’s scent?

How could he tackle the problem?
A slip would tear him apart.
A miscalculated jump could cripple
But oh! He had to start.

How he crossed that man-made trap
His keeper has yet to know.
But cross it he did and he escaped
To the land of the driven snow.

Up the Forty Mile Creek he travelled,
And onto Mount Norquay trail.
Ranging from forest to ski-run
Where Chinook winds prevail.

Oh, how he frightened the skiers
As they blundered into his path.
With great shaggy head and rolling eyes
He snorted and showed his wrath.

For weeks and weeks he ranged there
‘til his keeper was called upon
To capture that ton of buffalo
Even if he were hell and gone!

A half-built trap in the car lot;
His keeper had thus devised.
But returned to the government compound
To requisition more supplies.

John Nylund, the government keeper
Could not believe what he saw
When he arrived at the incomplete trap
That stood in the nearby draw.

Lying there was the bull in entrapment
Nonchalantly surveying the land.
Waiting patiently for his keeper;
The only one who could understand.

The beckoning call of the backcountry,
The valleys so seldom tread.
The lure of the aspen meadows.
No wonder that he had fled.

Wardens came to the aid of the keeper;
Armed with tranquilizer gun.
To capture that renegade buffalo
Who had been so long on the run.

A horse trailer drew up to the car lot.
The keeper baited its ramp with hay.
The buff walked up the ramp
To live yet another day.

The buffalo is back in the enclosure,
Texas gate is locked and barred.
The snows are deep and the Chinook winds sweep
His freedom now is marred.

But there may be yet another day
To roam those silent places.
To be the monarch in this country
In those great and hidden places.
Buffalo0175 copy

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