FREMONT, IND. (WPTA21)-You’ll be hard pressed to find a man happier in his work than Dan King. Dan’s newest friend is Iron Cloud, a year old 300 pound woodland buffalo Dan raised from birth after the calf’s mother died. But this rambunctious youngster represents just a fraction of Dan King’s nurturing responsibilities.
“There’s not too many people that get up everyday and go take care of 250 head of buffalo,” he says.
Dan manages Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve in Steuben County, a pastoral enclave of the largest herd of these legendary plains animals in the state. Wild Winds was founded by local surgeon Jon Trippy about 25 years ago who started with five buffalo imported from Custer State Park in South Dakota. The herd now stands at about 250 animals. Dan King volunteered here for a couple of days four years ago and never left. It’s the buffalo this lifelong farmer says, that keep him here.
“They’re very majestic,” he says. “They protect each other. If one of these calves let out a distress call every mother out here’s gonna come to protect that calf. They’ll all come to it..they’re just a big family.”
Wild winds isn’t just a buffalo zoo, it hosts public events like pioneer encampments, offers bed and breakfast facilities and has a very cool gift shop. You can buy buffalo meat that’s also served at local restaurants…delicious by the way. You can buy buffalo heads for your den, three thousand bucks a piece, or a genuine buffalo hide robe..fifteen hundred dollars. But it’s not the stuff from the gift shop you’ll carry with you the rest of your life. It’s this, a sight witnessed by native residents of this country for thousands of years before this was a country, when a stampeding herd of buffalo could take eight hours to pass by. A sight Dan King says he would love to have seen.
‘What’s the one thing people don’t know about buffalo they should know?’ we ask. “Probably that they’re not as friendly as everybody thinks,” he says. “We try not to do too much hands on with them because they are a wild animal so we just more or less let them have their way.” ‘You play by their rules.’ “You play by their rules.”