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 David Thoreson

    It’s really great to read something from you again, I’ve missed you.

  • Posted on by Charlie DeVerna

    cant make it in to NYC event on west side. Good Luck. I often am in the Sand Hills of Nebraska…love that country ! You drive 60 miles from No Platte airport and you may pass a dozen cars going in opposite direction.as I drive to Mullen..everyone waves ! Putting in my first order with you today. Have a great year. Charlie

  • Posted on by Linda Huhn

    Hey Dan, remember when my husband Richard (from Salt Lake City) and I (from Minneapolis) came to stay in 2003 for 3 days at the ranch house to do photography.and talked with you? You said your worst nightmare was having a large grocery store chain expecting orders to be filled because you weren’t ready for it. I guess you’ve surpassed your nightmare.

  • Posted on by Janis Fiatschen

    Wow!!!! I am so proud of you all and happy at the progress of W.I.B. You
    remind me of a famous Wi. author Mel Ellis. His last book. “The Land, always, the land”.
    I understand your feelings. Surrounded by all the concrete but your heart is in the plains.
    I wait for Ranch Notes to arrive as my heart and spirit are out there with you.
    God Bless and keep it up all of you delightful persistent folks.

  • Posted on by Stuart Pigott

    You have been an inspiration to me since I visit your Cheyenne Valley in October 2005. Thank you for your dedication to the buffalo and the Great Plaines ecosystem that it’s such an important part of, and for your determination to reinvigorate that ecosystem.

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