Central Texas rancher wins ‘Ultimate Cowboy’ title

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) A Central Texas rancher has won the title of the “Ultimate Cowboy” on a nationwide reality show which pitted cowboys and cowgirls from all over the United States in a weeklong competition.

Zane Runyan who uses an ultralight to keep an eye on the herd, was the winner of an INSP TV reality show called “The Ultimate Cowboy Showdown” (Courtesy photo)

Zane Runyan, a fifth generation rancher from near Roswell, N.M., who has called Waco home for the past year, won the top prize Sunday night during the finale of INSP TV’s first-time series “The Ultimate Cowboy Showdown,” which was hosted by singer and actor Trace Adkins.

“You’re the ultimate cowboy, congratulations,” Adkins said as he shook Runyan’s hand.

Runyan received a belt buckle and the option of $50,000 or a herd of cattle.

He chose the money and plans to buy more livestock once he has a better place to put them.

The contenders faced off in a variety of competitions from roping to sorting cattle and branding.

Runyan says he thinks he won the competition just by being himself.

“Coming out ahead on this deal I feel what got me there is just doing what I do every day,” he said.

“I didn’t try to work any angles. I didn’t try to do anything different than I would on a normal day. The skills that I’ve learned over my entire life and just knowing how to apply them to certain situations is what brought me out ahead on this.”

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

At the start of the tape he approaches the camera on horseback introduces himself and describes growing up on a 32,000-acre cattle ranch near Roswell.

Runyan showed how he works the cattle on four-wheelers and ATV’s but then did something a little unusual, climbing aboard an ultralight with a shotgun in hand and taking to the sky.

The tape was enough to catch the casting director’s eye and Runyan was 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.”

Adkins hosted 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 said.

“Big personality and a big guy.”

Runyan appeared to be a fan favorite from the start.

“I wound up coming out on top so I’m happy. I couldn’t be more thrilled. I beat out a good group of guys and girls,” Runyan said.

There are no immediate plans for a second season of the show.