Minnesota Bison Association
Helping Members Successfully Raise and Promote Bison

December 2019: HellBent Bison

Rice, Minnesota

Kris Holmen and family

hellbentSo I guess that I am lucky enough to have to write a second article in this newsletter! My name was drawn from the hat at last year’s Spring Conference to be the featured member in the December newsletter!

So here I am…

I’m Kris Holmen, I pay the bills for HellBent Bison Ranch and it owns me…lol!! I still consider myself to be relatively new…ish to the bison industry! I got my start in the spring of 2015, if opening the doors to the back of the trailer to let your first animals out is your start? Prior to that I had looked into bison for a long time! So here is my short story…I could go on for a while!!

I grew up a country boy, not on a farm, but on a lake. But my grandparents had a dairy farm, and as a kid I loved spending time at the farm with my grandpa! I was his shadow and I earned the nickname Guy. When I would be with him, people would ask him, “Who’s this?” And my grandpa would always reply, “this is my little guy”. I heard that pretty often, so I learned that when people would ask what’s your name, I would tell them “Guy”! Unfortunately my grandpa passed away when I was a young teenager and my farming days kind of came to an end. But just like farming, there was a seed that was planted!! Ever since those days on the farm with grandpa, I’ve had a desire to get back. So fast forward through high school and trade school; skip a few more years to around my mid to late 20’s. Married with kids, and looking for a place to make a new home. My wife, at that time, knew I wanted to raise animals of some sort, I didn’t know it was going to be bison yet, but I started to look into things. As I looked, I started to realize that I was drawn to bison. I believe some of that draw goes back to being a young kid and going hunting out west with my dad, there was a couple times that we saw bison, and I was in awe!! So as I started looking into raising bison that draw towards them continued to grow!! I don’t remember the exact details of everything, but there was some people and some experiences that definitely lead the way!! I grew up and still live in central MN, there is a bison ranch close to where I grew up that is kind of “Hidden”, and I had driven by it many times. I don’t recall if I looked them up, just stopped in one day or called ahead, but I visited them and Dan Meyer gave me a great tour!! That was my first tour of a bison ranch and I have memories of that day that just stuck!! Around the same time I came across the Minnesota Buffalo Association and contacted them, some information was sent out and some more visits to ranches were arranged. My family went to Winona and was greeted very warmly by Gail Griffin, and she also gave us a great tour of their operation! I believe it was there that she convinced us to go to a spring conference that was coming up in Detroit Lakes that was being hosted by Dale and Beth Rengstorf; I believe that was roughly around 2007 or so?? We went, and I don’t recall what the topics were about, but what I saw and learned really stuck with me. I met a group of people that are so open and welcoming, but also so willing to help each other succeed! I think it was after that conference that things clicked and I knew I wanted to be involved in the bison industry, but didn’t really have a plan or know how to go about it yet.

So life happens, plans change, and we adjust!! Skipping ahead a few more years, I find myself still trying to figure out how to get started? My marriage didn’t work out (she was a city girl and I realized I don’t like city girls), I’m only joking, she’s a great person and we get along very well to this day; we co-parent very well together (most of the time), but it was a change and set my plans back a bit! I finally did find a piece of land, and I decide I’m going to jump in head first and just do it…and HellBent Bison Ranch is born!!! The reason I came up with the name HellBent Bison Ranch is because of the definition that goes with it and it is the credo, my belief, in my bison ranch and how I was going to get started…

HellBent-“impetuously and reckless determined to do or achieve!”

So here I am today, currently I’m a small cow/calf operation. I have two separate herds, around 50 or so breeding animals, with what I believe is some very good genetics! I do have room for improvement, I’m still learning as I go, but I can say I’m doing it! Without the people that I’ve met along the way, I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t be where I am today…good or bad, I don’t know yet! I wish I could have started 20 years ago, it wasn’t in the cards, but I do know that I’ll be around for a very long time!! I hope that it is something that I’ll be able to pass on to my kids so they can enjoy and expand what I have started! It’s a great industry to be a part of and I’ve met some truly wonderful people that I get to call my friends!! I could ramble on and on; but it’s a newsletter, not a book…lol!! So I better wrap this up!

Thank you everyone that has helped me along the way so far!! I’m excited to see where we go as an industry working together and helping each other along the way!! Be” HellBent” in what you believe!!

God Bless and Merry Christmas!! Kris Holmen and family!!


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