Last month, Rebecca Clark packed her gear and headed out to Texas’ Caprock Canyons State Park for a week of solo hiking. A passionate outdoors enthusiast, Clark couldn’t wait to spend some time and the sun and see the Lone Star State’s beloved bison herd in person. What she didn’t yet know is that the fateful trip would change her life forever.
On a warm, sunny day, Rebecca Clark set out for one of what she planned to be many hikes during her trip. As she walked, she spotted a small group of bison up ahead.
Now, Caprock Canyons State Park, Yellowstone National Park, and virtually every other organized outdoor space in the country strongly advises hikers to follow a particular protocol, should they find themselves in this scenario. Maintaining a distance of 50-100 yards from large wildlife such as bison is essential.
As inconvenient as it may be, if you spot bison on a trail, it’s your responsibility to ensure they don’t get too close. You can either wait for them to walk a football field’s distance away from the path or turn around and go back the way you came.
Disregarding these life-saving guidelines, Rebecca Clark pulled out her phone and began filming as she ventured closer and closer to the pack. As she passed the bison, she recalls feeling “confident” about her decision, thinking of all the TikTok views she would receive for such a close-up shot of these gargantuan bovines.
Woman Recalls Fear and Pain of Bison Attack
Just as Clark passed the group of bison, one decided that she was too close, after all. She heard the galloping hooves and uttered an “Oh, sh-t,” as she began to run. Unfortunately, running is futile in a bison attack. Despite their massive size, bison are three times faster than the average human. Once they charge, there’s no escape on foot.
In an interview with CNN, Rebecca Clark joked that she knew she was in trouble around the time she started cursing. “Well, I think it’s when I used profanity in my video,” she said with a laugh. “When I saw him turn, it’s like, instantly, I knew he was going to come after me.”
As she screamed in pain and horror, the bison gored her back, leaving deep gashes in her skin and throwing her into the vicious thorns of a mesquite tree. “It was so fast,” she recalled. “He hit me in the back, rammed me, hooked me, and then flipped me up face-first into a mesquite bush. I thought I was paralyzed.”
Hiker Maintains She Was the One at Fault in Goring Incident
Despite the immense fear and pain, Rebecca Clark knew that she was the one at fault then and she maintains that outlook to this day. “I still know that I was too close,” she said. “You know, I wasn’t as diligent as I should’ve been.”
The hiker puts absolutely none of the blame on the bison. On the contrary, she has a small shrine to him and the incident in her house to serve as a reminder of where over-confidence in the wilderness can lead.
To the interviewer’s surprise, Rebecca Clark then broke down in tears. Rather than being angry or fearful reliving the goring, however, she cried bitter tears at the thought that her misstep could have a negative impact on bison or the country’s outdoor spaces.
“I’m trying to protect the opportunity to go experience nature,” she said sorrowfully. “I hope I didn’t keep somebody else from that.”