Lead Steers in the Sand Dunes, King Ranch, Norias, 1973

On a rare morning of welcomed rain, the lead steers are being moved to a place to the South East of a herd being driven to the sandy roundup ground on the Laguna Madre. The steers are moved to wherever breeding cattle are to be separated and held up to be driven to the pens. The most astute bovine sense is that of scent, it is the long distance measure of what is ahead in a landscape of great open spaces and dense brush. The calves being cut will instinctively move up wind to the scent and the sight of the white spotted lead steers. The steers have a lifetime experience of knowing where the fresh feed and water is, the holding pens. Patiently waiting until the shipping herd is cut from the breeding herd, the steers lead the young steers and dry cows to the pens, where a load of fresh hay awaits. 

Behind the steers are sand dunes on the coast of Texas, this region between Corpus Christi and Brownsville is called “The Last Great Habitat.” It is at the apex of the Central and Eastern Avian Migratory Flyways for waterfowl, song birds, hawks and the largest and most diverse number of migratory species, in the largest wildlife habitat region anywhere in North America. The fresh water provided for livestock over the last century has increased the surface water supply for both migratory and resident species, while increasing native habitat that supports more than 340 species of migratory Wintering Birds according The Audubon Fifty Year Bird Count.