A Hawaii Rancher's Fly Way of Herding Cattle

Bob Cherry
Bob Cherry

MILILANI (KHNL) - An old time Hawaii tradition gets a technological boost. Paniolo (a Hawaiian word for cowboys) have herded cattle on our islands for more than a century.  Now, an Oahu rancher shares how he's made his life a bit easier.

This is ranch country.  Bob Cherry's been herding cattle here for decades.

"I've been a rancher here in Hawaii since 1975," he said.

Over the years, he's learned shortcuts to save him time and money.

The typical way of herding cattle is with horses.  Then came motorcycles.  But this ranch takes a non-traditional approach.

Yup, he uses a helicopter to herd cattle.

This method saves him hours a day. Plus, it's easier to go after wayward cattle.

"They try to run away but the helicopter is right there," said Cherry. "And they're looking up, 'Where did you come from?' It takes care of the wild ones pretty good."

It's not that different from doing it the traditional way.

"It's basically the same thing as herding on a horse," said Cherry. "You just got to get around the sides, and guide them. You just want to make sure you don't move them too fast."

He's been doing it this way since 1994. Before that, he had to rely on five employees and a stable of horses.

"Now, I can have one employee opening gates, I fly in the helicopter and I can gather all my cattle in about an hour and a half," said Cherry.

Cherry said people think he's joking when he tells them he herds cattle from a helicopter.  Now, he has proof.

"You saw it," he said with a chuckle.

Herding cattle with horses is still the preferred method in Hawaii. Cherry is one of a handful of ranchers who use helicopters.