WEST POINT — Hadley Hunting is passionate about the Western way of life, so participating in the Ultimate Cowboy Showdown suited him just fine.

"It was a fun and great opportunity to showcase agriculture and the Western way of life," Hunting said of the reality TV competition, which aired in October on the INSP network and is available on Amazon Prime Video.

"Less than 2% of the population is feeding the people, but we are the first people demonized," Hunting said. "I want to help educate individuals that your food does not come from the store. Without agriculture, nobody lives."

Hunting, a 36-year-old native of West Point, was one of 12 cowboys — 10 men and 2 women — who competed in the TV event hosted by country music singer Trace Adkins.

The competitors needed to display teamwork and use their ranching skills over the six episodes. The deep-voiced singer and professional ranchers judged the competitors as the field was whittled down.

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Participant in the Ultimate Cowboy Showdown reality TV series Hadley Hunting grabs his saddle on Monday, Nov. 18, 2019, before taking a ride on his horse Chucker on his property in West Point.

"I didn't win, but they portrayed me well," Hunting said. 

He said the winner, Zane Runyan of Roswell, New Mexico, "is a real good hand. I didn't feel bad about him winning. He certainly did a good job."

Hunting said some friends on social media had urged him to apply for the show.

"I didn't give it much thought," but then his wife, Leann, and other friends told him they thought he would do well.

The show filmed in May.

Hunting said he's glad that the competition showcased cowboy skills and the benefits of agriculture.

"It's a sad state of affairs" in society today, Hunting said, as people who work in agriculture are criticized for everything from genetically modified organisms to allegedly mistreating animals and the land.

"They cuss farmers and ranchers and say GMOs are bad, but we are producing more food on less land than at any time in history," he said.

Hunting's cowboy career began in childhood.

"My dad started buying a few cows here and there," he said, and he later gained experience working on the Deseret Land and Livestock Ranch.

Today, he and his father run about 200 head of cattle, alternating between land in Hooper and in McKinnon, Wyoming.

"It's too big to be a hobby but not big enough to make a living," he said.

Hunting's wife, Leann, also works in agriculture. She's the animal industry director for the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food.

Hunting said he plans to continue working as a cowboy and to help dispel what he said are misconceptions about the industry.

"A lot of times people say farmers or ranchers are horrible to animals or horrible to the ground," he said. "But when you take emotion out of it and look at it from the standpoint of logistics, you can't be bad to the animals and the land and be successful."

You can reach reporter Mark Shenefelt at mshenefelt@standard.net or 801 625-4224. Follow him on Twitter at @mshenefelt.

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