A Tip of the Hat to the Spirit of America

I’m sitting in a room on the ground-level of a brownstone in Brooklyn. It is night and I’m wondering how I got here. The room is filled with books manuscripts, and galley proofs that are staked on every horizontal surface. It is the home of my long-time friend and literary agent. My body is surrounded by perhaps the greatest city in the world. But my heart is on the Great Plains.

Jill and I left the Black Hills early this morning on an airplane heading east. Wild Idea Buffalo Mobile harvester with sun setting over the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.Company’s mobile harvest crew left even earlier than we did – they met at our office in Rapid City, SD at 2:00 am and headed toward the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, in western Montana. Everyone involved with Wild Idea – the office people, the meat processors, the shipping team, the mobile harvest crew, and Jill and I – are working as hard as we can to make a difference in the ecology of the Great Plains and in the eating habits of America. How the hell did we get here?

30 years ago, I barely knew where Brooklyn was, but I knew where the Bob Marshall Wilderness area was because I’d worked there as a young man. As New York might be the greatest city the world, the Bob Marshall might be the greatest landscape in the world. It is odd that the arch between these two American extremes runs right through the Black Hills and, for more and more people, right through the office of Wild Idea Buffalo Company.

 Since I arrived in New York I’ve been staying in touch with the harvest crew via text messages. New York SkylineThey made it to Choteau, Montana about the same time we made it to New York. Jill and I are surrounded by many, many miles of concrete, bustling noise, and city lights. In contrast, miles of silence, beauty, and a glowing sunset surround the mobile harvest crew. They will be ready to harvest buffalo early in the morning. I’ll be talking in public forums, about Wild Idea Buffalo’s mission, in New York and Washington, DC. Wild Idea links those venues in a uniquely American way.

This connectivity is another example of what makes America great. How does a middle class American kid, running on nothing but passion, get to a basement room in Brooklyn with a crew of six super-capable guys, texting him from the base of the Rocky Mountains? The only way that can happen is if a whole bunch of other Americans – from investors to folks that just like to eat - pitch in and support the cause of saving the Great Plains ecosystem and demanding better food.

It amazes me that I have been invited to present our ideas at Patagonia clothing stores, led by Yvone Chouinard, while the harvest crew is out harvesting buffalo in Montana. Having the support of these influential people and thought-leaders is tremendously important but it is the support of the thousands of Wild Idea Customers that makes the dream come true.

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  • Am on the train now, en route to NYC to hear your talk at Patagonia. Many thanks to you and Jill for your dedication and work on behalf of the Great Plains and humanely harvested food that is also healthier and better tasting.

    Keith Lewis
  • What fun to hear of your ability to get out there and spread the word. I have loved your books and following your love story of the plains, and Jill. What you are doing makes so much good sense to me- restoration needs champions like you! Yes! You can do it!
    I hope you’re able to to get to speak with some of the movers and shakers in Washington, along with the passionate Patagonia folks. We, as people, need good models to follow, and you’re certainly one of them.
    Your crew is in The Bob? Are they harvesting on private land or a reservation?
    Good luck to you both- you are a remarkable team!

    Carol O'Brien
  • awesome…..

    Cindy Burich
  • Thank you for what you are doing. I worry about the children growing up without the connection to the land that was easier to experience in my generation. Awareness; education; and familiarity, even intimacy, with the environment is necessary for respect and love of it to develop, and in the midst of concrete and lights and technological communication, members of the new generation often miss those things. I hope with books and dedication like yours, at least some will come to it again.

    Dawn Kennedy-Haeder
  • Just wondering why you continue to use the term “buffalo” instead of the correct term “bison”? It’s great that you are promoting the Great Plain ecosystem and better food choices, but how nice it would be if you’d also promote the correct name of the animal.

    Sue Munz
  • As always Dan, I love what you’re doing and love to read what you write.

  • The Alexander Mitchell Library Book Club is discussing Wild Idea at the meeting January 13th. I am buying your bison at the Natural Abundance Store in Aberdeen frequently. My favorite package is the gound patties which they don’t stock very often.

    Eve Larson
  • “Thank the goodLord” theri are still a few folks like Yourself in the world and the US that are actually doing someting postive, to improve our eiroment and healthly eating habits and preserve the wild Buffalo… what a wonderful great animal animal whose meat is the best…!!!! Keep up your goood work and “grow the herd” so there will be more of this Portien to go around to all..
    I love your webswite and treffic receipes keep doing what your doing as you are doing ….!!!!
    John Collier

    john Collier
  • Just wanted to say you guys did a great job getting out gift to friends in Knoxville. They told us they got nearly a WHOLE buffalo. LOL….I know they were exaggerating, but thank you for the great service.

    Mike Hancock
  • Ann and I are looking forward to seeing you, meeting Jill and hearing your presentation at the Patagonia store in Washington, DC on Thursday. Pam

    Pam Phillips
  • Dan, it would be great to see the crew. If they are still in Choteau, we may run up this weekend and say hello.

    Tracy Merritt
  • Thank you for sending out your latest blog. I don’t know of better ambassadors for the American Bison industry and the Great Plains than you and Jill. Thank you.

    Ken Fox
  • Love reading this post in the morning and it gives me hope and inspiration for the day. We’ve loved your products for years and will be grilling up some burgers for the Bronco game this Sunday! Thanks for all you do!

    Benjamin Ferenc
  • As always Dan, I love hearing about your work. Great article in the Patagonia catalogue as well. It’s been such a great experience for our teachers and students to have the opportunity to hear about your vision. Warren and I and the other faculty members who have experienced the Great Plains find ourselves talking about sunsets and thunderstorms quite often. Hope to see you this summer.

    Chris Knerr
  • And the connections run deeper still. I grew up in Brooklyn and through a series of life-changes ended up these past 47 years in a small Massachusetts town. Here we care about our land and the future of our children. We belong to a local Community Supported Agricultural project, buy our eggs from a neighbor and buffalo is another extension of our interest in preserving our way of life.


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