You really don’t herd bison. You encourage them to move. Bison only go where they want to go. And, being extremely large, ill tempered and quick to challenge, people are advised to simply follow along.

This month you can experience it yourself during the 25th Annual Bison Range Ride and Roundup on Antelope Island State Park, home to the nation’s largest and oldest public herds.

Buffalo are moved into corrals by wranglers. (Photo by Parker Jones, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources).

In a milestone year, the event kicks off Oct. 27 with a roundup reunion celebrating the 25th anniversary. Activities include park tours, games and casual range rides, followed by a barbecue, auction and live music at the Fielding Garr Ranch. Reservations and pre-payment are required. Click here for tickets.

Then, gear up for the roundup on Oct, 28 and 29, when more than 700 bison will be corralled near the northern end of the island. Now, that’s a sight.

The American bison, or buffalo, is—on looks alone— quite intimidating. Island bulls can weigh upwards of 1,900 pounds, while the more delicate cows weight between 800 and 1,100 pounds. Bulls can stand 6 feet tall at the shoulders, and cows are only slightly smaller. Both have massive heads and horns that can reach upwards of two feet.

Large island bulls can weigh up to 1,900 pounds and grow horns upwards of two feet long.

When pushed, buffalo are easily agitated. Bulls and particularly cows are quick to spin, face a horse and rider and charge with every intention of doing harm, which means the more experienced wranglers on the fleetest of horses become the more aggressive herders. Less experienced riders are advised to stay back a short distance, watch and move when the buffalo decide it’s time.

There is no experience quite like moving buffalo, and there is no better opportunity than riding during the annual roundup. Last year more than 300 horses and riders took part, and any individual with a horse is invited to participate. Because it is the only bison roundup open to the public, the event—which is overseen by the Division of Parks and Recreation—has received ample national attention in recent years.

The ride begins at the Fielding Garr Ranch along the eastern shore and moves to the southern tip of the island, where riders encourage the bison to move north. Typically, most of the animals are corralled on the first day, and day two is kept in reserve in case of bad weather.

After being corralled the island buffalo are fed by park staff and allowed to rest for a week before their annual physicals.

The second part of the roundup will take place Nov. 5 and 6, when the bison will receive a physical, be vaccinated and culled under the supervision of veterinarians and staff biologist.

Since the island habitat can only sustain around 500 bison, roughly 200 animals of the current 700-plus population will be cut out and sold on the open market. Some buyers purchase bison for their meat, while others are interested in starting or strengthening an existing herd. The sale, slated for Nov. 12, will be held at the Antelope Island State Park Bison Corrals and begins at 10 a.m. (Animals will be on display at 8 a.m.) Money from the sale goes toward island expenses.

Buffalo are pushed in small groups into narrow chutes where they will undergo an annual physical.

Spectators are kept at a distance during the roundup for safety, but are allowed to get close to the activities during checkups.

Interested riders must fill out an application with Utah State Parks and Recreation. The roundup will begin on Oct. 28 with a mandatory briefing at 8 a.m. Riders will then be broken down by skill level and directed to ride specific areas on the island.

FACTS & FIGURES - American bison were brought to the island in 1893 and left to roam free. - Antelope Island is 15 miles long and 7 miles across at its widest point. It is the largest of 10 islands in the Great Salt Lake - There are 40 major freshwater springs on the island. - Along with buffalo, island inhabitants include California bighorn sheep, mule deer, antelope, coyotes, bobcats and several hundred species of birds. - The Great Salt Lake is recognized as one of only 17 Hemispheric Reserves that make up the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. - Fielding Garr Ranch is Utah’s oldest Anglo-built structure still standing on its original foundation. It is also the oldest continually inhabited Anglo home -- 1848 to 1981.

HOW TO GO Directions: Take Exit 332 off I-15, drive west on Antelope Drive for 7 miles to the park entrance, then another 7 miles across a narrow causeway to the island.

Park fees are $9 per vehicle or $3 for bicyclists and walk-ins. All trails on Antelope Island will be closed Oct. 28 and Oct. 29 due to the annual bison roundup. The east side road to the ranch will remain open to the public and will be a good location for viewing roundup activities. For more information call 801-773-2941 or visit the Utah State Parks and Recreation.