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  • This article by Betsy Marston originally appeared in the Mar 10, 2011 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Flora & Fauna     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

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A hearty feast

News: Mar 10, 2011
by Betsy Marston

WYOMING

After Wyoming Wildlife published a big story called "Golden" about the hunting prowess of golden eagles, reader Jim Frailey, of Harrisburg, Ill., told the magazine about a stunning eagle attack he'd witnessed purely by chance back in the early 1980s. He was taking a break from driving a delivery route when he noticed a buck with a bad leg lagging behind a small herd of antelope running near the road, somewhere between Medicine Bow and Hanna. He was watching through binoculars when "in the blink of an eye, the buck and a brown figure hit the ground and rolled." The buck flailed wildly with its hooves, knocking the brown thing off, and Frailey realized it was a golden eagle. The bird flew off a few yards, but kept watch as the buck got up, staggered about 100 yards and finally collapsed. At that point, the eagle flew back to his prey "and started enjoying his meal." Frailey speculates that when the eagle attacked, its talons must have pierced a lung. He's a little sad that he never got a photo of the kill, but that's because he was completely enthralled watching it: "I'm sure my mouth was open the entire time the life struggle was going on."

MONTANA

Bozeman-area rancher Rick Woienski thinks he knows what families want when they go out to eat, and it isn't "foodie" food that's low in fat, prettily pureed or modestly portioned. "People don't go to a restaurant to eat healthy," he told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. "They go to be decadent, to splurge, to have a good time. That's our market and we don't apologize for that." Since 2008, Woienski has been raising the exotic cattle he calls Montana Wagyu, a blend of Black Angus and Japanese Kobe cattle that's prized for its marbled fat. His business has been growing fast: When he appeared on the QVC television network, he sold 16,000 Wagyu beef burgers -- some 5,000 pounds -- in less than four minutes. And thanks to a $49,999 grant from the U.S. Agriculture Department, Woienski will try to expand his business through a new website, montanasbestkobebeef.com, while continuing to appear on QVC and at chefs' conventions. Woienski, a former Marine who grew up in Newark, N.J., says he fell in love with ranching back in the late 1970s, when he worked as a ranch hand to make money during his undergraduate years at Montana State University. These days, he's a one-man show on his 40-acre ranch outside of Belgrade, leasing additional land from his neighbors and working with other family-owned businesses to cut down on operating costs. What particularly appealed to USDA about Woisenski was his role in creating jobs; two people have been hired at a Butte processing plant just to work with Wagyu beef.

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