Rounding up cattle on the 400,000-acre historic Kenedy Ranch in deep South Texas is a big job even for a squadron of elite helicopter pilots, particularly with the recent addition of hundreds of towering wind turbines.
Johnny Burris with Mesquite Helicopters has been flying for 31 years and takes the challenge in stride.
Burris, Helicopter Pilot, says, "This is one of the biggest roundups I believe there is in South Texas|generally put in between 2,500 and 4,000 head on this go and like I said using five to six helicopters to bring em in. It's as far as I know the biggest roundup on the Texas coast."
The pilots maneuver their copters like fine cutting horses, and cover some 25,000 acres in a half days flying.
Burris says, ''It would take them several weeks and they would run fifty or sixty cowboys at some times in the olden days. We work it just like they did on horseback. We just cover a lot more country. ''
But what about those massive turbines they are driving the cattle thru?
Burris says, "It's tricky. You have to watch out for them and the power lines and everything else you know. Ten years ago we flew across this country, and we didn't have to worry about anything. ''
And despite the modern roundup utilizing helicopters and dodging wind turbines, there is still a place for the cowboy.
Burris says, "We haven't really replaced the cowboy. These guys you see out here today will be all on horseback tomorrow, and they will be pushing those cattle around and everything into the pens on horseback."