In 2010 I left my origin in the south east corner of Nebraska to continue college in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I had full intentions to return to the endless miles of corn fields when I started school but dismissed the idea after falling in love with a woman, the Dakota prairies, and of course Bison.
Once I graduated, I began the job application process with both game fish and parks and the forest service. I had hopes my Bachelor’s in Biology would give me a leg up in the hiring portion of things, but things were becoming increasingly evident that lack of government funds and a surplus of applicants were factors not playing in my favor.
I had been building bison fence in the Conata Basin area near the badlands national park while in college for a collaboration of Wild Idea Buffalo sourcing partners. My present-day father-in-law, Dan O’Brien, was part of this collaboration. He soon had me learning the ropes of managing land, bison, and even people. I had learned the ins and outs of the field harvesting process and soon found my college education to be applicable to the whole operation. By 2013, Dan took the training wheels off and delegated most ranch responsibilities to my wife Jilian and I. Around the same time, Wild Idea offered me a “sourcing manager” position. I accepted the title which I have since chalked up to be a fulfilling career and an opportunity to partner up and share ideas with top notch likeminded producer’s.
Since the time I started my career with Wild Idea and the family ranch, we have extended the geographical range of our sourcing area from South Dakota, to Wyoming, Montana, Colorado and North Dakota. The ranch has more than doubled in size after a couple neighboring ranches came up for sale during a drop in the cattle market. The result, is thousands of conservation rangeland acres that boast biodiversity and resemble and pre-industrial agriculture world.
Today, the Wild Idea Buffalo Co. team is continuing to preach sustainability in hopes that future generations, including my own two boys, will have the opportunity to appreciate all things that are wild in the Great Plains.