My dream of farming started when I was a young man back in South Africa. I had always had an interest in farming, having spent all my university vacations working on different farms across the country. I also had a passion for African elephants, and they symbolized strength through family and unity. The other great motivator for me was the opportunity in my retirement to give back to society and, for that reason, our ranch’s motto is:
"Preservation, Education, and Agritourism"
I retired from the corporate world in late 2014, with limited knowledge of farming, but with many life skills. In May of 2015, I found an abandoned, but stunningly beautiful, 215-acre property here in York County, SC. The few pastures it had were badly overgrown and there was no infrastructure at all – no roads, water, fencing, or electricity. The rolling hills and incredible vistas of the surrounding area blew me away and I knew this is where I wanted to spend my retirement.
A month later, I was traveling through North Carolina and I saw a “herd of large and furry animals” alongside the highway. After further research, I discovered these were bison and, that over 200 years ago, they were native to the Carolinas. 6 months later, after a lot of research and hard work setting up the infrastructure to keep bison, the first 18 animals arrived on the ranch. In the Spring of 2016, our first calves were born, and our herd is now over 40 bison strong. Four years after I started working on and realizing my dream, I was able to combine my interest in farming and America’s national mammal. Bison are very spiritual animals and they are a matriarchal society run by females (cows), just like elephant herds. They are very protective of each other and this unity is the reason they have survived for 10,000’s of years.
I love to share my dream with people who have an interest in the history of our great country and these amazing animals. In addition to offering a variety of tours to visit the ranch, we also have a wide selection of our premium, 100% grass-fed and grass-finished bison meat for sale. Thank you for taking the time to allow me to share a little about my dream and the history of our unique herd. I feel very blessed to be custodian of these magnificent animals and I look forward to you visiting with our 100%-wild herd and us, soon!
Best wishes, Fred Ilse – CEO and Founder of the Tatanka Bison Ranch