Deion Broxton says he grew up in an area with a fair share of rodents. This week it was a mammal of a different size that brought him national exposure.
As the East Baltimore native was filming a teaser Wednesday for his latest KTVM NBC Montana story, a large visitor got a little too close for comfort. And the internet’s latest video sensation was born.
“I’m used to rats, not bison,” Broxton said.
The 27-year-old TV reporter had been assigned to go to Yellowstone National Park to interview the park superintendent after the protected area had been ordered closed Tuesday to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Since starting at the Montana TV station almost two years ago, Broxton said he’s been sent to Yellowstone at least 25 times and almost always sees bison. But they’ve never gotten close, let alone made direct eye contact with him.
“They always say, ‘Stay at least 25 yards away from mammals,'” Broxton said in an interview with The Baltimore Sun. “But that damn bison broke the 25-yard barrier and I was like, ‘Uhhh, I’m not dealing with this!’”
In an 18-second video Broxton tweeted Wednesday, he’s standing near the park sign trying to record a video to “tease” his story for the evening newscast when his eyes dart off camera.
“Oh, my god. Oh, my god," he says in the video.
His eyes dart whizz back to the camera, signaling that, for a second, he’s debating about starting the recording over again. Broxton quickly decides against it.
“Oh, no, I ain’t messing with you,” he says. “Oh, no. Oh, no.”
There was a group of seven bison grazing in the area, Broxton said, when all of a sudden one looked up at him and wouldn’t stop staring. Then, the bison stared him down and started to trot toward him.
Broxton was hoping the animal might stop and go back to eating grass, but he didn’t want to risk anything. So, he threw the tripod and camera into his car as quickly as he could.
“I don’t know if he was actually going to come at me, but I knew I didn’t want to stick around to find out," he said. “I wasn’t trying to be on CNN for being killed by a bison.”
Eventually, Broxton said, he was able to safely record himself by backing his car in the opposite direction of the trotting bison.
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Before moving to Montana to work as a general assignment reporter, Broxton grew up in Baltimore City’s Oliver neighborhood and graduated from Archbishop Curley High School. After studying journalism at Towson University, Broxton worked at Channel 13 CBS-WJZ as a web producer for almost two years.
Broxton said that although he is learning to enjoy the outdoors and embrace life outside the city, he still has an affinity for his hometown.
“I will rep Baltimore until the day I die,” he said. “I still have my Maryland license plate and ID, and I’ll never get rid of it.”
Broxton said he never expected the video to become such a sensation. By 11:45 p.m. Wednesday night, it had 4.2 million views and almost 195,000 favorites on Twitter.
But the reporter said he is happy he can put a smile on people’s faces, especially given the increased stress of the coronavirus. One person told him seeing the video made them smile for the first time in days.
“I’ve posted funny videos before, but never gotten a response like this,” Broxton said. “When you’re out in the field sometimes you just get some gems.”
Almost a week after the viral video, the park service tweeted a new “commemorative” safety poster in honor of Broxton. The poster features a bison and one of the phrases Broxton said in the video: “Oh no, not messing with you.”