For the past 22 years, Mr. Brandl has run his own business, Absaroka Western Designs and Tannery, preparing animal hides and furs for outfitter clientele and for private hunters.
Mr. Brandl received his bachelor’s degree in natural resources and wildlife management from the University of Nebraska shortly before moving to Wyoming. Before opening his business, for nine years, he worked in wildlife management for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, researching habitat quality and wildlife inventory.
Half of his business is dependent on the consumptive use of wildlife by outfitters and hunters. Mr. Brandl’s insights represent the challenges of elk hunters, and the challenges his business faces with the ecological influence of wolf reintroduction.
Joe has hunted and fished his entire life, utilizing most of the animal for its meat, fur, hide and bones to create traditional costumes and props for his business, and for teaching outdoor skills. He buys hunting tags each year and has been successful, although he has never been a trophy hunter. Joe finds the adventure of the hunt and being outdoors to be the real reward, providing a more valuable experience than the actual kill.
Mr. Brandl has educated many young people in the value of the outdoors to consumptive and non-consumptive users, and has taught them to respect the land. A scout master for more than 15 years, Joe shares his knowledge of survival techniques, low impact use of the land and wildlife, and imparts a lasting respect for and understanding of nature.
Since he began tanning animal hides professionally, Joe has been giving interpretive presentations about Plains Indians and mountain men and their daily lives on the plains and in the mountains. Joe has taken this passion to the extent of engaging in a collaborative hunt of bison from horseback with a bow and arrow. Collaborative bison hunting was a practice shared by only two mammals in North America: people and wolves.