Deep Dive into a Montana Cattle Drive

Riding the open range

be part of a western tradition

If the nostalgia of embracing a simpler time appeals to you, continue reading. The days are spent on the back of a horse, pushing cattle through the open range with a quintessential mountain backdrop in the distance. Evenings are enjoyed surrounding a campfire exchanging stories with a dozen new friends from all walks of life, and perhaps from all over the world.  When it’s time to turn in and you are storied out, head to your cot and sleeping bag in the authentic wall tent just feet away. Or, if you prefer, move your cot and sleeping bag outside and sleep under Montana’s renowned big sky. Either way, fresh mountain air and hard work are a time tested recipe for a restful night’s sleep. Oh yeah make sure to look up and we guarantee if it is clear you will say, “OMG where did all those stars come from.”

In the morning your wake up call will be a little different – well maybe a lot, sun beams streaming into your tent and the smell of cowboy coffee brewing over the campfire. If a Montana cattle drive is your definition of a legendary vacation here’s your insider’s guide.

It’s the real deal

The Whitford Family

This is a “work needs to get done” Montana cattle drive and we’ve partnered with the Whitford family who are descendants of the Blackfeet (Pikuni) tribe.

We’ll be rounding up approximately 400 head of cattle in different herds, across 50,000 acres over the course of our time on the range. Cows are not moved from point A to B, such as in moving them from winter pasture to summer pasture and back again. Instead, we designed it a bit differently to provide the full experience. We round up the cattle and drive them back to base camp where there is a set of corrals. Once in the corrals you’re invited to cowboy up, get your hands dirty, and assist in a variety of chores as a true ranch-hand.

Here is a list of tasks to be performed and insight as to their history and purpose.

1) doctor the unfortunate males

This is a general term that involves castration. The idea is that only the best calve/bulls are chosen to build the herd in the future – the best blood line so to speak. In addition an overall wellness exam and administering appropriate treatment. Deworming, castrating, and dehorning are routinely performed. If the cow shows signs of illness which appears to be more than the common cold an immune boosting vaccine is administered.

2) brand them

On the Blackfeet Reservation they still open range/free graze their cattle. The cattle are owned by three generations of Whitford’s who run their cows together. Each generation has a unique brand in order to identify their ownership. They use a hot branding iron, heated by a propane torch. The branding iron is then placed on the animal in a specific spot in accordance with Montana livestock authority brand requirements.

3) tagging the calves

You do this in the ear with a unique number or barcode. The purpose is for record keeping as the unique ID has valuable information on the specific cow including date of birth, lineage, and health related information.  It also serves as a helpful tool to identify the cow instead of referencing the cow as “the one with the black spot.”

 

Our spring and fall Montana cattle drives are appropriate for all riding abilities and are ideal for folks looking to embrace their inner cowboy or cowgirl. These weeks have a maximum capacity of 18 guests which enhances the camaraderie and promotes a team environment. The nature of the cattle drive is geared toward adults and we have enjoyed riding the range with groups, couples, and solo travelers. When you book your Montana cattle drive vacation you’ll also be immersing yourself in a Western tradition.

2018 Dates: September 22-29, 2018 (two spots left!)

2019 Dates: June 8 -15, 2019 and September 21-28, 2019

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