March 2023

Posted by Connor McCauley on

Cows and Helicopters

March 2023

Helicopter in the Canyon

The Palo Duro Canyon is a rough, rugged wild piece of terrain, and if my past newsletters have yet to convey it to you, it is an unforgiving place to ranchers. For the cattle, it is a haven. It has plenty of pasture to graze as well as ample water. For those cowboys working the cattle, it is a challenging environment. Getting in the canyon takes time and effort, and a military-grade humvee is required. Unlike the flats at the top of the canyon, it is a challenging place to check on at any willing moment. Not only that, but plenty of places are out of view and hard to access. Places where fences can break and cattle can hide.


It isn't an everyday occurrence, but cattle can escape their pasture every once in a while. Despite the free medical, ample room to roam, and food, as far as the eye can see, the urge to cause a little bit of trouble is all but too tempting. It ends up becoming an unforgiving mess for the cowboys involved. The chase through the canyon, looking to and through for a cow, can be exhausting. There have been plenty of cuts, scrapes, thorn impalements, and even broken bones trying to find our lost sheep… I mean cattle. Usually, our cattle are found and brought home. Usually, they are happy to find water and food waiting for them when they arrive.


Even in a less frequent occurrence, our cattle become utterly lost. They have wandered so far that we must use a drone to find them, or a neighbor stumbles across them. This scenario happens to all ranchers and is why brands are used to ID cattle. We can determine what cattle are ours when they are miles from home.


Unfortunately, this scenario happened to us this very month. We received a call that a few of our cows and bulls had been up to no good wandering in the canyon. With it being time to bring them home, we sent the Cowboys, Aaron, and Faith into the canyon to chase after them. They were unsuccessful after their first attempt and only returned with a few on their second attempt. Being frustrated, it was time to pull out the big guns.


It was not the first time we had to call for a helicopter to assist us, and it will surely not be the last time. It may surprise some, but the helicopter is a surprisingly good tool for herding cattle out of the canyon. It can fly high and spot out cattle like a drone, then swoop down closer to push cattle in any direction it wants. Unlike a Cowboy, the helicopter can avoid dangerous terrain by hovering over the bottom of the canyon. It is practical and efficient at accomplishing its job.


This time the helicopter came in as an exceptionally efficient tool. There isn't much that is more intimidating than a bull. After all, this is why bullfighting is so incredible. Imagine an aggravated one-ton beast coming at you at full speed. Okay, now imagine not one but two bulls, and they are pissed to the point that they are fighting each other. This situation would be a dangerous position for any cowboy to be involved with. One thing that got these guys' attention was a loud tornado of wind coming from the helicopter. Still, it wasn't necessarily a piece of cake to get these guys moving, but they got a move on after some time.


After getting the boys to break up and get moving, the helicopter started pushing the cattle. The helicopter can do incredible things that the cowboys can not do. Not only is it faster than any of the cattle, but it is also more agile. The cattle can do just about nothing to escape the helicopter. Onward the helicopter will push the cattle to a place where the cowboys can pin them and put them in a trailer. From there, the cattle will make their way back home. After a day of solid work, they accomplished all tasks thanks to the helicopter.


What is Dry Aged Beef?

At TriTails, we have many great ways to make a steak great. This process starts with perfecting the black angus genetics and ends with shipping it right to your front door. However, there are a lot of parts involved in between these two steps. Our aging process is one of the more crucial parts of our world-class steaks. There are two types of aging: wet and dry; right now, I would like to address the dry aging process.


Dry aging is a process that allows beef to be exposed to air for a period of time. For TriTails, this starts during processing. Before the cattle is broken down into the delicious steak cut you are familiar with, we allow the carcass to hang for an extended period. Most cow carcasses hang for several hours before slicing begins, but at tritails, we do this for days. Between our wet and dry aging, we are around 37 days of aging (30 days minimum). The meat does not spoil during this time as the facilities that perform this process are temperature and humidity controlled.


The benefits to dry aging a steak are immense. For starters, the steak loses moisture, making the juicer inside concentrated with beef flavor, giving the steak a more full-bodied taste. This is why we can say our steaks are beefier and mean it. You might ask, "less water doesn't that mean a less juicy steak?" The answer is no, and here is why. Less water means that the carcass shrinks. This means the water content per piece of steak is around the same. However, as stated before, the water content is more concentrated with beef flavor due to the process. The other benefit, perhaps the best one to talk about, is the tenderness derived from the aging process. That's right, aging a steak will make it more tender, and here is why. As the steak ages over time, there is a breakdown of collagen, the connective tissue in the muscles of the cattle. Collagen is the culprit to your chewy steaks. Breaking collagen down means goodbye to chewy steaks.


The last thing to talk about is the price of an aged steak. Why do they cost more than a fresh steak, and is it worth it? An aged steak costs more for two main reasons. One, the meat shrinks; therefore, there is less weight to the carcass than when it first started. The second reason is at the end of the process, the outer layer must be removed as it will have hardened. The good stuff is below this layer. The question is whether it is worth it to pay for this process. Here is my honest opinion; yes. These steaks are more tender and flavorful than any fresh steak you can find. Here's the thing some people want a cheap steak, and that is okay. However, they receive what they pay for. If you want something that is premium, then buy an aged steak.


Hey, I'm going to let you in on a secret. Come closer… a lot of people who age steaks cheat. I'm not kidding. They will age the steak and then inject water back into it to make it weigh more. The steak will have the same tenderness, but it will ruin the taste of that steak. It will taste like an unaged steak or worse. Here is another trick: never buy a steak that doesn't have a USDA rating. You could be purchasing a select cut which is what prisons serve. Make sure you buy a steak with a USDA choice or prime rating.


Here is my last piece of advice; buy TriTails. We will give you an authentic aged steak (No water injections or mechanical tenderizing) and steak from some of the best black angus cattle out there. We are going to treat you right and charge you appropriately. Places are charging the same price for a 21-day aged 10 oz steak. We give you a 16oz steak. We are a small family business, and we want to provide you with what you deserve in this challenging economy. A premium steak the TriTails way.


Prayer Requests

You can feel free to disregard this part of the newsletter, but we always need prayers. Please do not think we are asking you to only pray for us but rather just add these things to the things you already pray for. We really appreciate and believe in this.

  • We are in need of a good rain shower.
  • Bailing hay is underway and the clutch cable just broke... prayers for an easy fix.
  • Sam, our fearless leader, needs prayers.  Ranching and selling beef can be challenging and managing the two has its own sets of very different issues.  
  • Our wholesale business in DFW area.  

Thank You so much, and don’t hesitate to let us know if we can pray for you.

Thank you Faith Harrell for all the photos!

← Older Post Newer Post →


  • Well done. Very interesting read especially since I have been there.

    David R Dunn on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published