I was recently sent a review copy of the 2010 documentary, “Florida Crackers: The Cattlemen and Cowboys of Florida,” which was created by Self Discovery Productions. Figuring it would make a good date night movie, my husband and I settled in over the weekend to learn more about the heritage and modern-day lives of the Florida Cracker.
If you’re unfamiliar what a “Florida Cracker” is, like I was, the documentary explains:
A Florida Cracker refers to the colonial-era English and American pioneer settlers and their descendants in the state of Florida who first arrived in 1763. In the late 1800s, the Crackers were often called cow hunters or cowmen, a reference to hunting for cattle scattered over the wooded rangelands during roundups.
The Florida “cow hunter" or "cracker cowboy" of the 19th and early 20th centuries was distinct from the Spanish vaquero and the Western cowboy. Florida cowboys did not use lassos to herd or capture cattle. Their primary tools were cow whips and dogs.
The documentary highlights the history of the Florida Cracker and shows modern-day cow hunters moving cattle, chasing down wild boars, playing guitar by the campfire and discussing the challenges of being in a place where retirement homes and Disney are the main attractions.
The families included in the documentary are proud of their history, their traditions and their way of life. I was fascinated learning about beef cattle production in this corner of the U.S. where the terrain, the predators and the climate are so wildly different than my ranch in South Dakota.
You can watch a few highlights from the documentary in the movie trailer below.
By the way, the Bull Hammock Ranch located in Martin County, Fla., was one of the seven operations nominated for the 2015 Environmental Stewardship Award, which was announced at the 2016 Cattle Industry Convention in San Diego, Calif. in January. Learn more about the 7,500 acre ranch and the other six nominees by clicking here.
The opinions of Amanda Radke are not necessarily those of beefmagazine.com or Penton Agriculture.
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