Dan O'Brien


In The Moment ... September 11, 2018 Show 419 Hour 1

What makes a really great book? How does where you are from change who you are as a writer or as a human being?

Dan O'Brien has written iconic South Dakota books, including "Buffalo for the Broken Heart" and "Wild Idea." He's a rancher reinventing how we live and eat on the Great Plains.

This summer he agreed to let SDPB visit him at his home and Wild Idea Buffalo ranch. We rambled across the grasslands with Dan O'Brien as our teacher.


In The Moment ... April 11, 2017 Show 069 Hour 1

Dan O’Brien and his wife, Jill, created Wild Idea Buffalo Company in 1997 with the mission of preserving the Great Plains by returning buffalo to their native habitat. O’Brien is the author of novels and memoirs, including “Buffalo for the Broken Heart: Restoring Life to a Black Hills Ranch.” He speaks at Augustana University tonight in Sioux Falls. His presentation is “Buffalo, Baby Boomers and Beyond: Toward a More Sustainable Use of North American Grasslands.”

Charles Michael Ray SDPB

Bison once numbered in the tens of millions in a range stretching across North America from Alaska to Mexico. Many native wildlife species depended on massive herds of grazing bison to shape the ecosystem. By the late 19th Century there were only about a thousand bison left, victims of hunting and western expansion. But today there are some 400,000 buffalo in North America according to the National Bison Association.

Along with being an author, Dan O’Brien is also a wildlife biologist, falconer and buffalo rancher. He’s written six novels and four books of non-fiction. His latest book is Wild Idea: Buffalo and Family in a Difficult Land. It’s an account of efforts to raise buffalo with dignity and respect as a sustainable enterprise in the Cheyenne River Valley. It’s also a love story – of family, friends, the often harsh-landscape of western South Dakota and the American bison.