How Not to To Photograph a Wild Bison

A couple of weeks ago, we shared the sad story of how one hiker was killed after venturing within 50 yards of a grizzly bear to snap photographs. One of the biggest rules for photographing wildlife is to make sure you’re a safe distance from the wild animals. This distance varies depending on the animal you’re photographing. For grizzly bears, you’re supposed to stay at least a quarter of a mile away.

We’re not sure what the safe distance is for wild bison, but one thing we do know: it’s way farther than what we see in the video above. In it, a tourist family visiting Yellowstone National Park come across a bison standing next to the trail they’re on. Instead of finding a safe way around, the people somehow come to the conclusion that walking straight up to the horned animal with outstretched cameras is a good idea. They quickly learn what a bad idea it is. Luckily, no one gets hurt and everyone ends up having a chuckle, but it’s startling to see how much our culture of online photo sharing has eroded common sense in some people.

(via Doobybrain)

Update: Apparently the safe distance for photographing bison is 25 yards. Also, see if you can spot the guy in the background shooting away with his iPad.

  • Chase Schiefer

    I just don’t understand how people can be so stupid. Unfortunately, no one was hurt, so no one learned their lesson here. It’s a wild animal, a MASSIVE wild animal. If a bison charges you, I’d say you have a 70% chance of death or fatal injury, leading to a slow painful death. Perhaps people spend too much time hiding behind screens? I can’t get over the fact that everyone running for their lives has a smile on their face. Stuff like this makes me really worry about the future of our national parks, and wild animals. National parks should have a screening program in order to enter.

  • ERong

    “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” – Robert Capa

    I don’t think he meant this though…

  • David Rychart

    Because they look like teenagers. I did some pretty stupid stuff when I was that age. Yeah the adults should know better… but maybe Darwin will take care of that.

  • Doosie

    Sure, blame the photo-sharing culture!

  • Angus McFangus

    I reckon he did. Pictures would have been *superb*

  • Evan Butka

    I need to get close enough so my wide angle lens on my iPhone will take an amazing picture so I can post this on Instagram.

  • Meh.

    Yeah, he would probably thinking the same thing before he stepped on a landmine in Vietnam.

  • Mike

    I think that’s okay…. it’s called natural selection….

  • John R

    Best kill all wildlife so it’s safe to go out. Cameraphone designers are negligent here for not warning us that we should be using a telephoto. The park is negligent for letting fools rush in… It’s got be somebodies fault that the dim witted roam the earth.

    In the UK quite a few people are killed each year walking though fields of grazing cows, the trigger there is that they also have a dog with them. I’m just happy that, that in the name of safety, nobody has wandered out there with a gun to sort out the frightened animal.

  • Felipe Paredes Schulz


  • Stephen Donnan


  • tttulio

    Blame Capa: “If your picture isn’t good enough, you’re not close enough.”

  • Violeta Ivanova

    This is absurd! And the parents are just smiling while running, not to mention they left their kid run for his life alone, then tapped him on the shoulder when he came on the path.

    And what’s the thing about taking photos with your ipad, in a national park? The market ran out of pocket camera options or what? You can’t be cool enough within the trees, if you’re not waving around an ipad?

  • Matteo Domenico

    Nevertheless, he left us an incredible photographic heritage, such as few others will never leave.
    Don’t rush into judgement, dude

  • Mark Wheadon

    I was in the New Forest (Hampshire, UK) a few years back watching a dad attempting to admonish a (wild) pony for nibbling at his kid (who was deliberately baiting the pony). There were a few cloaked smiles (including mine) when dad got a backward kick right in the crotch – the family backed off after that – natural justice in its purest, sweetest form ;-)

  • Nick

    Stupid family!!!! Smiling while they are running away. It’s almost a pity, the adults weren’t hurt!!! There are people that never learn. Suppose they were hurt, than they are barking at Yellowstone. Stupid ones.

  • Pat O’Brien

    I’m going to comment regarding your update. I was shooting a wedding the other week and a guest kept getting in my way to take the same shot I was taking – with his iPad. While on vacation I saw iPadographers everywhere. I’ve been seeing this trend more and more with people using iPad’s as cameras.
    Doesn’t the camera sort of stink on that thing? I think the iPhone has a better camera than that. They must think that since it has a bigger screen, it has a better resolution? I just don’t get it.

  • Jesse

    Asians -_-

  • 23423423423

    idiots… and the idiots even laugh about their own stupidness…

  • jesseyardley

    The guy taking the video seemed to realize the stupidity of what he was watching; he even picked up on the animal’s aggressive gesturing. Why didn’t he just call over a warning? Sitting idly by and watching/recording someone (silly or not) potentially get gored by a bison is just wrong.

  • Andre

    Extremely dangerous, could you imagine what would have happened if that kid in the white T-shirt had tripped on a branch and fallen?

  • Jim A.

    The last sentence in this post references a very uncommon trait – “common sense”. I’m not sure how this expression came into use, as during my 50 years of life, I have yet to see it exercised commonly. I doubt they’d be laughing it up if that young kid fell down and got ground into the dirt by that bison… Definitely NOT “common sense”.

  • Isabelle Butler

    I was reading your comment, and agreeing. My brother just bought an Ipad and I was making fun of him taking photos with it. But the weird thing is I looked up at your name and photo and recognized it because 5 minutes ago, I saw you liked 5 photos of mine on Instagram. Sometimes it’s a really small world.

  • Richard

    Yes, the (back) camera on the iPhone is much better than the front camera on the iPhone or iPad which are meant for video conferencing, not photography. However, if that’s what you have… I’m not supporting taking pictures with something as clunky as an iPad and doing that at a wedding (no matter what the pro photographer is doing) is probably in bad form.

  • Phase19

    Dad though it was funny…

  • Pat O’Brien

    Yep, very small world indeed. When I shoot weddings, I use my professional gear (not an iPad), and as a hobby I’m on Instagram and sharing my iPhoneography photos. Nevertheless, I still don’t understand the iPad as a camera thing.

  • Bob Ware

    In Yellowstone around 1970 I stopped behind a long line of cars on one of the main roads, a sure sign that vacationers had spotted a large animal. Walking up near the gathered crowd I saw a grizzly bear sort of sitting upright on a large rock. A man with a camera set his 10-month old baby on the bear’s lap and stepped back to take a picture. To this day I swear that grizzly gave him a look like “Are you crazy?” The man snapped his picture, retrieved the infant and went home with his momento photo. Fools will always be among us, I guess.

  • Erika

    I saw the Ipad guy right away. He was probably hoping someone would get hurt so he could post it to youtube.

  • Hiker

    What I don’t understand is (and I saw this at Yosemite too) is why the hell you would want to hike the trails lugging an iPad around.

  • Rachel

    That is just insane! Many years ago my parents in law witnessed Asian tourists putting jam on a child’s head and sending it out to lure a black bear in closer. This was in the Canadian Rockies.

  • Pat O’Brien
  • Bernie

    i honestly wish more people in these situations got hurt. yes, i know it’s a little kid getting chased around. still. apparently we’ve forgotten that mother nature will f*** your s*** up.

  • Jim

    This article should be titled “Why Stupid People Should Stay Home”.

  • Mike

    Why the hell would an adult just stand there going “omg omg omg, *giggle* omg omg omg” when a bunch of kids are approaching a bison??
    Then he tries to impress his gf/female companion by doing an Attenbrough and showing his wildlife knowledge, “see how he’s gesturing? The bison is saying, I’m gonna get you” whilst privately thinking to himself, I’m so cool and smart, my gf is sure going to bang me tonight. What. A .Moron.


    It was a different time. Back then the park bears were practically tame. Rangers encouraged people to feed the bears.

    (but yeah, still crazy!)


    The ipad is appealing because it has a huge viewfinder. Especially helpful for the older population, but also great for people who prefer to see things large.

  • Mers Pro

    maybe.. they think.. there are still some spare life to buy in K-Mart…

    (tough the last time I checked it was sold out)

  • Tourist

    Asian’s seem to be the dumbest people on earth.

  • Michael Leza

    I saw an idiot doing this very thing to a bull bison at dusk with a flash (which pisses them off) over 25 years ago. Photography evolves but stupid is the same as it ever was.

  • Teddy Hunt

    Our mass media/special interests have led us believe that animals are inherently good and playful. We are to believe they are mostly English speaking and very liberal in their politics and lifestyles. Actually in nature animals only care about survival. Man is the only species that can get along with and work with dozens of other species.
    One example of this brainwashing, is mass media pushing to reintroduce wolves in the U.S. by telling huge fibs like “There has never been a recorded death by wolf attack in north America”. That is total nonsense. The frequency of wolf attacks dropped of course when America wiped out the wolves around 1910-20. The citizens did this to protect their children livestock and pets. But reintroduction has led to at least 10 deaths in the U.S. and Canada in the last 20 years. This trend of course will continue until people realize that all species “except ours” don’t give a crap about any living thing outside their species. It the true nature of living things.
    A good place to start returning to nature is, do not try to turn your cat or dog into a vegetarian. Nature spent 4.5 billion years evolving them into carnivores. Feed them some meat they will be physically and mentally healthier and happier.