Cowboys can be ranchers, but not all ranchers are cowboys. Even the children of ranchers can be cowboys, too. But most cowboys are hired hands who travel the countryside working on many different ranches over their lifetime and helping ranchers work their cattle and tend to their horses. Pete Berry, of Havre, Montana is one of them…a cowboy for hire.
Though he first worked on his family ranch for decades near Reed Point, Montana and still has a small ranch all to himself west and north of the Milk River near the small town of Havre, Berry has spent the better part of the last 20 years working on other ranches soon after his father sold the family ranch in 1998.
“It’s what I had to do,” the 63-year-old Berry said. “Being a cowboy is a great way of life. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Berry first saddled up when he was just eight years old. “It was a little Welsh pony my father bought me.” Soon after the young Pete Berry graduated to quarter horses and began roping cattle from the saddle and training colts.
Though he worked on ranches all over Montana and South Dakota, Berry spent most of his time recently on ranches in north central Montana, where the land is large, the weather is extreme, and the people are sparse. I fell in love with the Bear Paw Mountains,” Berry said. “I don’t think there’s a better piece of cow country anywhere in the United States.”