A Man of Many Hats
Dan OBrien is a renaissance man.
He is a short-story writer,
essayist, novelist and author of non-fiction books; a wildlife biologist; a rancher; a
doctor of literature; and a world-renowned falconer.
Nature is the star of his books - both fiction and nonfiction - his essays, and, for
that matter, his life. The thread of falcons, especially the peregrine, is a constant in
the fabric of his existence.
This 50-something falconer from Ohio left his heart in the Bear
Butte grasslands as a boy. Eventually, he bought a ranch in the shadow of the mystic
landmark and joined efforts to save the peregrine from extinction in the western United
He returned to South Dakota in the 70s, as a teacher at the University of South
Dakota and then as a biologist for the state of South Dakota. He went on to become an
endangered species biologist for The Peregrine Fund and an English instructor in the
doctorate program at the University of Denver. He bought a ranch in the shadow of Bear
He describes the bittersweet journey that evolved out of one of his efforts to
repopulate falcons in a well-received nonfiction book: "Rites of Autumn: A Falconer's
Journey Across the American West."
He published his first novel, "Spirit of the Hills" in 1986, and followed up
the next year with "Eminent Domain," a collection of short stories. That was
followed by "Rites of Autumn" (nonfiction) in 1988, "In the Center of the
Nation" (fiction) in 1991; "Brendan Prairie" (fiction) in 1996; and
"Equinox: Life, Love, and Birds of Prey," a nonfiction memoir, in 1997. His
articles and short stories have appeared in publications ranging from the New York Times
to the Michigan Quarterly Review. He has written four screenplays, one for Steven
As a rancher, hes got his eye on the bottom line he raises cattle
as well as the skies. He has replanted native grasses on his land, reconstructed a wetland
and has started raising buffalo.
Now, hes embarking on a new career, on screen, with A FALCONERS MEMOIR,
produced by H2O Productions, which he owns along with Sam Hurst, a former NBC
News producer who also raises buffalo; and Bill Harlan, award-winning columnist and writer
whose byline appears often in the Rapid City Journal.