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 Tracy Merritt

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

  • Posted on by Ken Fox

    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.

  • Posted on by Benjamin Ferenc

    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!

  • Posted on by Chris Knerr

    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.

  • Posted on by Marge

    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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