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 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. They 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.


  • Posted on by Amy Bechtold

    Dan and Jill, I too am wishing that I could be in two places at once. Pressing family matters have brought me to the Northeast Kingdom. Thank you both for being such capable and stellar advocates for making positive change. Amy

  • Posted on by Natalie kirkland

    Why can’t you collaborate with the BLM and Park service to manage the buffalo they want to move off land in and around Yellowstone? At least to send your mobile harvest crew in to see it done humanely?

  • Posted on by Kathy Treaor

    Enjoy the ride and follow your hearts home! You are blessed with the verbal and written ability to eloquently express the beauty and value of the land, magnificence of bison and how they fit with the land as well as why eating “right” is vital for the health of the planet. I remember a great interview about 10 years ago with you and Beau Turner for public TV on the synergy of prairies and bison…near the beginning of your dreams. Keep dreaming! Best wishes.

  • Posted on by David M. Zebuhr

    I recently read mark Kurlansky’s “The Big Oyster”. Kinda makes me wish NYC never arrived to destroy the nature of the area before the mid 1600’s. It must have been immensely beautiful and nurturing then when one could walk to the water’s edge and feast on abundant perfect oysters.
    Keep up the good work preserving what you can of the great grasslands, another fabulous work of nature that could be forever lost.
    I love the Dan O’Brien books.

  • Posted on by Barbara Dina

    Good for you! I have been telling anyone who will listen about your story. Now the word will be spread far and wide. Pleas post a video of your presentation if possible. Thank you for everything you do.

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