About the Author

Sam Hurst is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and documentarian. In 1992, as a producer for NBC News, he was awarded a Neiman Fellowship in Journalism at Harvard University, where he studied evolutionary biology. Following his retirement from NBC News, Hurst and his family moved to the Black Hills where he owned and operated a buffalo ranch and continued to produce independent documentary movies, including The Coming Plague for Turner Broadcasting, A Falconer’s Memoir and Paul Ehrlich and the Population Bomb for PBS, Good Meat, for Native American Public Television and Lakota Star Knowledge for the Journey Museum with a grant from NASA. Hurst has written extensively about food and agriculture policy and South Dakota culture and politics, and for several years was a Sunday columnist for The Rapid City Journal.

For Rattlesnake Under His Hat, Hurst was given access to the complete archives of Reptile Gardens, including the financial records and five decades of private correspondence between Earl Brockelsby, his family, employees and business associates. By making use of regional and state archives, Hurst sets Brockelsby’s life in the context of the end of the frontier and the emergence of the tourism economy in western South Dakota.

Listen to Sam Hurst's interview on Dakota Midday

Photo of 'Rattlesnake Under the Hat' author Sam Hurst.