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The name Josh Kirk has been popping up locally over the last few weeks as the 9th season of History Channel’s Mountain Men premiered on June 4th. For folks who are not familiar with the show, it shares the stories of individuals who have “devoted their lives to survival in its simplest form,” according to the series info.
Josh manages 403 head of bison on the foothills of the Wind River Range here in Fremont County. Only a short six months ago, Josh was being followed around by a field producer and several cameras filming his day-to-day life for the show Mountain Men.
Josh has devoted his adult life to teaching primitive outdoor survival skills which is also how he was discovered by the History Channel. “I went to the school of the woods,” he explained. “It’s a lifestyle. You’re not going to learn it overnight.”
His passion for teaching was prompted by experiencing hypothermia while caught in a Utah blizzard at 21-years-old. Fourteen years later, he continues teaching the doctrine he calls “metaphorical shape-shifting of the mind.” Finding all the basic needs to survive: food, fire, water, and shelter. “My passion is to empower people. That touches my heart.”
“On the show Mountain Men, that’s what I’m doing,” Josh explained “I’m using the television set to teach and show my lifestyle. Show what I do. But also my main job is to protect these animals [bison]. From humans, from trespassers. Most of the time you are not protecting these guys as much as you are protecting the human.”
To raise an indigenous animal on the ground that they are indigenous to is touching the earth for me. It’s sacred. It’s euphoria.
Josh has been managing the bison ranch for over two years now. They’re still building the herd which are 3.5-4-years-old and just had their first calves this year. He’s always had a “zeal for the west” and prompting his move here was the passing of his father from a tree falling accident on his homestead.
Originally from Georgia, Josh shared he grew up in a very strict, very religious family. “My dad wanted to homestead early so we moved in with an Amish-Mennonite community and stayed there a few years. Until we learned everything we needed to learn.” His family then took those skills and built their own homestead.
“I’m 35 and never lived in a house with central heating or air,” Josh said. They didn’t have things like televisions or refrigeration. “I grew up very, very backwoods.” He does not have a formal education, “I’m self-educated.” He had a full-time job at 11 and left home at 15. He also “spent a lot of time traveling with indigenous tribes” at 18.
Along with teaching his passion for the primitive lifestyle and survival skills, he also wants to educate the community about bison. Josh and his 4-week old baby bison Pendleton will be doing just that by making appearances at a few upcoming events. Pendleton spends most of his time hanging out with the family and their other pets. Josh hopes to bring him into schools while he is still smaller and continue educating the next generations on the importance of bison.
If you’d like to hear more from Josh, you can listen to the full interview on 10Cast’s Fehring in the Field by clicking here.