Photo provided Most of the wild buffalo population in the area was gone by the early 1800s, so it is estimated that the bones found by Steve Handegaard are around 200 years old.

Archived Story

Old bones

Published 10:38am Friday, June 22, 2012 Updated 10:38am Friday, June 22, 2012

Several weeks ago, Steve Handegaard was floating around on his little boat when he had the feeling something was eyeing him from under the water. He reached down at the face looking back at him and pulled up a well-preserved bison skull complete with horns and teeth.

After bringing the skull inside, Handegaard decided to go back to see if there were any other treasures in the slough just south of Fergus Falls. He went back to the site where he found the skull and began pulling up anything that was sticking out of the ground. After gathering everything he could find, Handegaard had what appeared to be parts of the remains of three bison.

“When I first pulled it up, I thought it was a cow skull,” Handegaard said. “But when I saw the size of the skull and did some checking, it became obvious that it came from a buffalo.”

It is clear that the remains are from a buffalo because of the shape of the back bones. The shape and build of these bones form a hump that is unique to buffalo, he said.

After making several phone calls, Handegaard was led to Moorhead State University anthropology and earth science professor Mike Miklovic.

According to Miklovic, the wild buffalo population was just about gone by the early 1800s, so he estimated the remains to be around 200 years old.

“You can’t really tell how old they are by just looking at the bones,” said Handegaard. “They could even be thousands of years old.”

Even though only a few weeks have passed since Handegaard made his discovery, he said he wouldn’t be able to see the skull if it were still under the water now because the weeds in the area have grown significantly.

Handegaard said it’s interesting to think that things like this are all over the place in this area. They’re just buried under sand or weeds.

“I’m pretty interested in history, and it’s interesting to think back to what it was like 200 years ago and what was roaming around,” he said. “It’s neat to have a connection to that.”

  • Swede

    If you find this interesting, pay a visit to Beckman’s Service gas station in Wendell. One of the proprietors has an arrowhead collection on display that he has collected locally, and some buffalo teeth. These were found near an area lake where buffalo were slaughtered by Indians. Bring money for ice cream bars if you want the whole story. ;)

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