The Cow Hunter's Paradise

The Great Florida Cattle Drive 2006 showcases the Sunshine State's cattle country and the unique challenges of the cow hunter.



Navigating through the crush of humanity that is Orlando, Florida, it's easy to see why most folks who live here aren't aware there's a cattle industry in their state. And the common misconception by visitors is that Florida is a place where people go only to enjoy a vacation - a state with a lot of beaches, theme parks and not much else.

In fact, Florida is home to some of the most productive ranchland in the nation, but it is disappearing at afrightening rate. It's estimated that 1,000 acres of Florida's rural landscape is swallowed up each day by commercial and residential development.

A small number of Florida ranchers, however, are not willing to see a way of life tracing back hundreds of years go quietly into oblivion. To this end, a dedicated group of cattlemen, historians and native Floridians joined forces in 1995 and drove 1,000 head of native cracker cattle 100 miles in an effort to educate the public about Florida's rich cattle heritage.

Eleven years later, the crack of the cow whip set the tone as more than 400 riders saddled up once again to "bring home" the herd.

To read the rest of this story, pick up the April 2007 issue of Western Horseman.