Bryce Andrews is a Montana-based rancher, conservationist, and author whose unique set of experiences gives him uncommon insights into the relationship between humans and carnivores in the West. Having worked as a ranch hand, ranch manager, and ranch owner, Bryce understands agriculture and the myriad of challenges faced by producers. As Field Director at the non-profit People and Carnivores, he has gained first-hand knowledge of the predicaments facing large predators in the Rockies. And as an author, he has researched and written extensively about all sides of the issue-- most notably in his books “Badluck Way” and his new book “Down from the Mountain,” which was published earlier this week.
Bryce grew up in Seattle, far removed from ranching, farming, and the arid ruggedness of the Rocky Mountain West. But soon after college, he landed an entry-level job at the 20,000-acre Sun Ranch, located in Montana’s spectacular Upper Madison River Valley. On the Sun Ranch, Bryce received a trial-by-fire education in the sometimes-problematic relationship between agriculture and wild animals, a relationship he has spent much of his professional career exploring. The latest manifestation of this exploration is “Down from the Mountain,” an educational, entertaining, and sometimes-heartbreaking book that explores specific interactions between grizzly bears and farms in Montana’s Mission Valley. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy of this book and cannot recommend it enough.
If you are familiar with this podcast and the topics that I love to discuss, then you know that Bryce is a perfect guest. He’s smart, funny, insightful, and has a real gift for explaining complex, sometimes controversial topics in an engaging way. We talked a lot about “Down from the Mountain,” discussing grizzlies, farming, and the unique location and topography of the Mission Valley. We talk about Bryce’s upbringing in Seattle, and what drove him to explore the West after college. We discuss his work with People and Carnivores, and how his background in agriculture helps him to span the divide between his organization and the farming and ranching communities. Bryce also explains his writing and research process and offers some excellent advice for aspiring authors. And as usual, we spend a lot of time discussing books, authors, and his most powerful outdoor experience.
I encourage you to find a copy of “Down from the Mountain” and give it a read. You will not be disappointed.
Episode Notes: https://mountainandprairie.com/bryce-andrews/
4:00 - Bryce describes his work
5:20 - How Bryce started ranching
6:30 - First experiences ranching
7:20 - Heading to the Rockies after college
9:00 - Getting a hand-hold in ranching
10:30 - Culture shock of the West
13:50 - First encounter with carnivores
16:30 - Primal thrill of wildlife encounters
17:30 - Work with People and Carnivores
20:00 - Finding common ground in the carnivore controversies
25:00 - “Down from the Mountain”
29:00 - Mission Valley explained
34:00 - Similarities between humans and grizzlies
37:30 - Unexpected tension of bears in a cornfield
41:20 - Bryce’s history as a writer
42:50 - Favorite/important writers
46:30 - Bryce’s relationship with writing
50:00 - Writing, the flow state, and fear
52:00 - Intense life events versus the boring “real world”
56:15 - Advice for aspiring writers
59:45 - Favorite books about the West
1:01:50 - Most powerful outdoor experience
1:03:30 - Request of the listeners
1:05:30 - Connect with Bryce