Central Texas Cowboy vies for the title of the best Cowboy in America

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Zane Runyan who grew up as a 5th generation rancher near Roswell, N.M., but for the last year has called Waco home, is a contestant on a reality show airing later this month on INSP TV called “The Ultimate Cowboy Showdown” hosted by singer and actor Trace Adkins.

Zane Runyan who uses an ultralight to keep an eye on the herd, is a finalist on a reality show airing later this month on INSP TV called “The Ultimate Cowboy Showdown” (Courtesy photo)

The competition pits Runyan against nine other cowboys and two cowgirls in a variety of competitions from roping to sorting cattle and branding.

“It’s just a really cool experience to get to be in a group with a bunch of different cowboys from different areas of America that do things differently but all have the same goal,” he said.

Runyan is a 4-time world champion mounted shooter and was encouraged to send in his audition tape by a friend.

His tape starts with the 40-year old cowboy approaching the camera on horseback introducing himself and giving his background of growing up on a 32,000 acre cattle ranch near Roswell.

“Out there we did everything the old fashion way just with horses,” he said.

“Seven years ago we moved out here to Texas and changed up our operation. Horses, you still got to have them but there are other ways to do it and I’d like to show you some of those. “

Runyan showed how he works the cattle on four-wheelers and ATV’s but then does something a little unusual.

He climbs aboard an ultralight with a shotgun in hand and takes to the sky.

“I use it when it’s muddy, or if I’m just covering a lot of area, I can cover a lot of area, I can go over a lot of cattle, get them checked while I’m up there.”

The tape was enough to catch the casting director’s eye and Runyanwas chosen to join the other contestants in Alabama for the competition as cameras rolled.

He said the experience was unlike any he’d had before.

“The setting was really unique,” Runyan said.

“We stayed in a 10 by 20 room in bunk beds with no hot water and they took our cellphones away. We were just totally confined and had nothing to do but listen to other people talk.”

But he said he left learning a lot, particularly about how being a cowboy is different, at times, depending on where you live.

“Some contestants are from Utah where they’re terribly remote and others are from Texas where you have to rope quick. It’s just different techniques and styles of being a cowboy.”

Trace Adkins hosts the show acting as a ranch manager.

Runyan said he pretty much stuck to his role of being boss.

“He was kind of like the boss, we didn’t really hang out with him or socialize he just came in and kicked people off and told us what we did wrong and left,” Runyan joked. “Big personality and a big guy.”

The Ultimate Cowboy Showdown airs on INSP TV from 8 p.m. to 9.m. nightly from Oct. 14 to Oct. 18.

The finale will air on Oct. 20.

The winner of the show will be get $50,000 or a herd of cattle, a belt buckle and bragging rights as the best Cowboy in America.

Runyan will appear on “Good Morning America” to help promote the show.