We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador Jessie Story has a story to tell. The Amarillo-based wildlife photographer and videographer is wrapping up an ambitious documentary project about the bison herd at Caprock Canyon State Park. Story has been visiting the park for years, pursuing her passion for chasing wildlife with a camera. Because of her many visits to the park, she and Caprock Canyons Superintendent Donald Beard have forged a friendship, and now a partnership, to get a documentary produced about the official state bison herd.
“It’s a story that needs to be told,” said Beard. “Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has told part of the story, but there’s so much more to share. With the support of our friends group, the Caprock Partners Foundation, we got the funding we needed to get the documentary rolling this year.”
There is perhaps no greater symbol of the American West than bison. The largest land animal in North America, it has endured as an icon of our heritage, spirit and culture. Once roaming North America in vast herds, bison became nearly extinct by a combination of commercial hunting and slaughter in the late 19th century. With a population in excess of 60 million in the late 18th century, the species was down to a few hundred animals by 1889.
About a decade before that, legendary Texas rancher Charles Goodnight had the foresight to gather some of the animals on his JA Ranch in the Texas Panhandle. Somehow, against the odds, that herd managed to survive the decades since, and now, we all benefit from the Goodnights’ vision. When the bison were initially donated to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and moved to Caprock Canyons State Park in 1997, it was discovered that their DNA was different, and feature genetics that are not shared by any other bison in North America. In fact, the Official Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock represents the last remaining examples of the Southern Plains variety.
“It’s a fascinating story, and I am telling the story of the bison through the people who have dedicated large chunks of their lives to make sure they are there for future generations. People who cherish the bison for all they represent.”
Jessie Story has spent countless hours in the field at Caprock filming the bison in all seasons.
“She is not afraid to get out there and be a part of it and put herself in place to get those great shots,” said Beard. “She knows what she wants and goes after it. She has a very good eye. I am constantly amazed at what she comes back with.”
Jessie wrapped up principal photography earlier this year and is now spending hours in the editing room getting the film polished and ready for release. The film, with a working title of “Yellowstone of Texas” will be premiered at Bison Fest 2019 in Quitaque, Texas.
Follow along with We Will Not Be Tamed ambassador Jessie Story as she takes us behind the scenes of a workup of the Texas state bison herd that she filmed for the documentary.