So I found a bison skull. Now what?

commandoNate

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I found a handful of really cool things during Archery season in Colorado this year. Not least of which was my first archery bull after several years of trying. One was this really neat stone point. I was slugging up a mountainside at around 11,000 feet one day and something near my foot jumped out at me and there was a stone point! The first one I've found in the mountains. Then a couple weeks later and only about 3 miles away I was working up a ridge after a bugle I'd heard and I decided to move over one draw to head up without the wind busting me. I was on an extremely steep north facing slope and thus climbing very slowly. This white object jumped out at me, particularly because it appeared to be hollow. I then noticed some tooth marks from mice chewing on it and immediately knew that it was bone of some kind, likely a skull. Then I saw the outline of the horn on the surface of the soil with moss growing on it. I knew immediately what I was looking at. I decided that the bull could wait and I'd take my time digging this thing out. The part of the skull that was exposed is the part that would have had the other horn. It took about 45 minutes to dig out with a trekking pole and rocks as my digging tools. It was broken in 2 pieces, the lower section was actually on top of the upper section so that took me some time to figure out what was going on. So now it just sits on the bench in my garage and I'm wondering what I should do with it. Do I clean it up with water? Do I try to do contact someone to determine how old it may be? Let it sit and rot in my garage so that my kids have to deal with it someday? Curious what you would do with it. No wrong answers.

This is what I saw: Lighter in the photo for some size ref. Below and to the right of the lighter is the broken/decayed portion of the skull that jumped out at me. Directly below the lighter in the picture is the left (only) horn pounting down in the photo.
492D3E1D-87D5-46F2-8490-C4B723BA849E_1_102_a.jpeg


After I removed it:
7A46C9A3-24AC-4C95-8C87-7FD1E2390D29_1_102_o.jpeg


8DFF7EC0-EEBD-495B-8571-E81F8518507F_1_102_o.jpeg DAC8039D-6D0C-4E87-B587-2B1A05E2C701_1_102_o.jpeg

This is the stone point I found a couple weeks earlier:

20AF4859-025E-4DB8-A1B8-AD5BB350B135_1_102_o.jpeg
 
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commandoNate

commandoNate

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That is awesome. Congratulations on an incredible find some people are gonna tell you that you're not supposed to take arrowheads but I wouldn't give two shits about that.
Yea, I've heard that. Leave it for the next generation. Maybe I'll take it back there someday. Like when I'm 60 and draw that tag again.
 

Trr15

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Wonder if the hole in the skull plate is from a bullet or deterioration? Something else?
 
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commandoNate

commandoNate

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Wonder if the hole in the skull plate is from a bullet or deterioration? Something else?
In my opinion it was deterioration. The whole top of the skull on that side including the horn base and the horn itself were gone. At the angle it was sitting at I think that horn woulda been protruding above soil grade leading it to having been broken off or eaten by critters. The remaining horn was mostly buried and somewhat preserved. Could also have been Aliens. Who am I to say?
 

ODB

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Well, if the past is prelude, you'll write a book on buffalo, maybe call it, dunno, American Buffalo or something. Do some more writing, maybe move to NY and start a TV show. Then, one day, you'll be a mega star with a huge online store and if you are REAL lucky, someone on the online forum Rokslide will start a thread on you.. then, and only then will you know you have made it. Good Luck.

As an aside, that's a cool skull. You could most definitely have it aged. But might be just as cool to clean it up and set i on a shelf. The point is awesome though - you ain't the first archer to venture that way - something to consider.

Actually, I might have unscrewed my broadhead and left it next to the stone one. Can you image what runs through the next guy's head in 5,000 years?
 
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commandoNate

commandoNate

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Well, if the past is prelude, you'll write a book on buffalo, maybe call it, dunno, American Buffalo or something. Do some more writing, maybe move to NY and start a TV show. Then, one day, you'll be a mega star with a huge online store and if you are REAL lucky, someone on the online forum Rokslide will start a thread on you.. then, and only then will you know you have made it. Good Luck.

As an aside, that's a cool skull. You could most definitely have it aged. But might be just as cool to clean it up and set i on a shelf. The point is awesome though - you ain't the first archer to venture that way - something to consider.

Actually, I might have unscrewed your broadhead and left it next to the stone one. Can you image what runs through the next guy's head in 5,000 years?
Oh man, I can wait until I have 'arrived' and I'll look back at this pivotal moment in my life in a thoughtful and bemused manner.

To your second point, I often think "oh man, nobody has EVER been here before". Then you find something like this and obviously someone was there. And they were bow hunting. Or defending their life, who knows. And don't worry, I've sprinkled several broadheads throughout the mountains of Colorado as I have learned to bow hunt these last few years.
 

jayhawk

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Those are really cool finds! Makes you wonder what that Indian was doing up there all those years ago …. just like you.
 

ODB

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Oh man, I can wait until I have 'arrived' and I'll look back at this pivotal moment in my life in a thoughtful and bemused manner.

To your second point, I often think "oh man, nobody has EVER been here before". Then you find something like this and obviously someone was there. And they were bow hunting. Or defending their life, who knows. And don't worry, I've sprinkled several broadheads throughout the mountains of Colorado as I have learned to bow hunt these last few years.


Yes - I often call the world a palimpsest, the initial thing is gone, but traces remain. Always, over and over and over again.
 

Billy Goat

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Seems weird for it to have gotten buried.

Landslide area?

Didn't think bison ranged the Mountain's, but dunno.


Is it a mining area? Wonder if it could be a spoils area from a mine and a dead ox got in it.
 

butcherboy

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That looks like a buff skull to me. I’ve seen and handled thousands of beef skulls and they are not that wide. Beef horns usually come out more straight from the skull then curve. I’ve also done quite a few buff euro’s and they actually do curve up more like this one in the op pictures. Then again, you never know with animals.
 
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commandoNate

commandoNate

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Seems weird for it to have gotten buried.

Landslide area?

Didn't think bison ranged the Mountain's, but dunno.


Is it a mining area? Wonder if it could be a spoils area from a mine and a dead ox got in it.
I wouldn't think of it as a landslide area, it was pretty thick timber on this northeast facing slope and was at about 10,900 ft. Extremely steep terrain but not in the bottom of a gulch where you would think of slides typically happening. This was in an area that was mined pretty heavily in the late 1800's and I did find remnants of a mine and a cabin about 500 yards and 400' in elevation below where I found the skull. I didn't see any evidence of mining up on this slope or above it. The mine was down lower where the terrain started to flatten out into the valley floor.
 
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commandoNate

commandoNate

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One other oddity, perhaps speaking to the age of the skull is that all of the teeth are still in the upper jaw. Thought that was neat.
 

justin davis

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Pretty neat. My brother found a Buffalo skull at 11,000 ft whiles fighting a fire few years ago. I don’t remember all the details, but The Denver natural history musuem now has the skull. They shed it at some age and also said it was the highest elevation a bison skull had been found.
 

Mojave

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I would take it to age paleontologist and have them look at it to me I thought it was a cow skull. If it’s a bison skull it could be 50 years old 500 years old 50,000 years old
 
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