Raising cattle on the Vaile Ranch is no easy feat


By John McGill, Glacier Reporter

Jun 2, 2021


Asked what he likes best about ranching near Babb on the Rocky Mountain Front, Gus Vaile said, “It’s the lifestyle. It gets you out. It makes you old and keeps you young.”


A third generation rancher, Gus is retired from working at Browning Public Schools for 30 years. He’s been married 45 years, has a 16-year-old son and has been ranching for 50 years.


“My dad did cows his whole life,” Gus said of his father, Albert Vaile Jr. Along with 25 acres he owns, Gus inherited 102 acres from his dad and works a Tribal lease along with his partner, Bud Gray. The lease covers around 13,000 acres. They raise Black Angus and Charolais cattle.


From June 1 to mid-October, Gus and his crew work “from daylight to dark,” he said. “We check the animals and move them, and there’s salting and fencing. We’ve got eight horses to ride, but it’s tough. There’s lots of predators, and we do a lot of riding 24/7 to keep them alive. Ten years ago we had the predators under control, but with the wolves and grizzlies – they’ve flourished. We’ve got two or three packs here now. They run the wildlife off so now in the summer the cows are prey. I lose too many because they eliminated the deer and elk.”


While there are some methods of deterrence available to keep predators at bay, the Vaile Ranch’s location makes those methods expensive and somewhat impractical...