Al Marsh

Ever mug a buffalo? Ever want to?

February 15, 2013 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

Want to compete on who can come up with the most unusual job in aviation? How about the official title of buffalo mugger? I win. Brim Aviation, based in Ashland, Oregon, with branches in Astoria, Oregon, Texas, and Arizona, uses its own helicopter crew to first shoot a bison with a net gun (no bullets, just a net), then run from the helicopter and wrestle the buffalo to the ground, rodeo style. The actual job title for that is “mugger.” No, really. I saw the video. Yes, I know bison weigh 700 to 2,200 pounds because I saw it on the Internet, and the Internet is never wrong.  I also saw the bison get up afterward and chase the Brim guy. There are more than 90 in one of the oldest herds in the nation, and each year these Utah residents have a blood sample taken. One by one.

The buffalo/bison had every right to attack the Brim guy. Let’s say you are looking around for grass–the legal kind–and you hear this noisy big bird coming after you. You run like crazy, hear an explosion like your great grandfather told you about, and find yourself tangled in a net. This puny two-legged animal grabs your horns and humiliates you by taking you down. So you lie there through the blood sample, the DNA sample, just waiting for your chance. The net comes off and you jump up and charge…and he jumps out of the way. All the other buffalo start laughing. So next year you set up an ambush. Your buddies will attack the humans while you are on the ground. Come on back, Brim!

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5 Responses to “Ever mug a buffalo? Ever want to?”

  1. Matt white Says:

    I had a chance to hang out with a helicopter shooter from Southern New Zealand, whose job for a while was to do live capture of wild red deer via helicopter. He had to do the same thing, jump out after netting the deer and bulldog it to the ground, but they often did it in very, very challenging terrain. Tough guy, in a high tech rodeo… Very cool.

  2. tom stackhouse Says:

    hey alton, i sure enjoyed your piece about buffalao mug…the story and humor litt me up…need more of this style…thanks tom

  3. John Lowe Says:

    I would like to become a buffalo mugger. Sounds like a lot of fun and worthwhile to boot: get to fly around, be outside in the great outdoors, work with animals (to save them, no less), wrestle, and generally stay in good shape. Do you know where I can get training, or apply for such a position?

  4. Al Marsh Says:

    John,
    Yes, I do know where you can get that position. It is with Brim Aviation in Oregon. Their HQ is in Ashland and Mr. Brim is often in Astoria, Oregon. You would be crew so it’s best if you have experience with hoist operations, maintenance, and it wouldn’t hurt to be a commercial helicopter multi-engine, IFR pilot, either.

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