By Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough
Dave Whittlesey learned early on that if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. When a 1986 drought drove wild elk to denude the irrigated pastures of his bison ranch near Steamboat Springs, Colorado, he decided to start raising elk too.
Now, Dave and his wife, Sue, raise both bison and elk on their 320-acre High Wire Ranch, set in the mountains near Hotchkiss in western Colorado. Dave’s still learning to let nature take its course. “I used to wean and cull my herds,” he says in his friendly drawl. Now, they roam freely, pretty much the way they do in the wild.
Elk is delicious. It has an earthy, mineral taste reminiscent of aged beef—but it’s significantly lower in calories and saturated fat than beef. And because Dave’s elk are grass-fed, they contain more heart-healthy omega-3s to boot.
The Whittleseys sell the meat at farmer’s markets in Colorado. They also ship frozen cuts ordered via the Internet and by phone (highwireranch.com, 970-835-7600).
Dave’s favorite recipe? Elk steaks on the grill, of course. A little olive oil, some crushed garlic, and about 3 minutes per side over high heat. Frankly, we can’t imagine a better dinner.