‘Yellowstone’: What Show Gets Right and Wrong About Real Life Ranches

by Amy Myers

Even though Yellowstone is a fictional series, creator and director Taylor Sheridan strives to ensure that the grounding elements of the show are pretty accurate, including the ranch. As a ranchman himself, the creator knows what that lifestyle entails. But, of course, it is a drama series, so some aspects are going to be a bit more exaggerated.

“As cattle producers, we already fight high feed costs, weather, drought, volatile prices, and labor shortages,” said cattle-ranch native Paige Carlson. “For many family-owned ranches, the aging rancher and succession planning can be another burden on the horizon.”

The differences between the Yellowstone ranch and real-life ranches might be evident to those in the industry. However, viewers that aren’t familiar with the lifestyle may take the show’s representation at face value. So, to set the record straight, here’s how the Dutton and 6666 ranches stack up against the real thing.

‘Yellowstone’ Ranch Is Much Flashier Than Ranches in Real Life

John Dutton has had no problem ensuring that all of Montana knows the Yellowstone brand. From shiny black pickups with their logo to a gorgeous, Better Homes & Gardens-worthy house and even a helicopter, the family obviously does well with their business. But this isn’t an accurate representation of the kind of mindset that real ranchers have out west.

Most ranch owners tend to live a more minimalistic life. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they don’t enjoy a few luxuries every now and then. But more than likely, instead of a branded, souped-up ride, they park their beat-down, 1997 Ford in the driveway. You won’t find their homes on many magazine spreads, either. Most ranch homes tend to reflect the mindset that ranch owners have – keeping only the necessities. As Carlson put it, the typical ranch home is a “’nothing fancy’ ranch house with livestock syringes in the sink and after birth on the rug.”

Operating a ranch is a difficult, messy job that requires round-the-clock care. When a cow is about to give birth, the last thing a rancher would worry about is tracking mud into the house. Neither do they stress about ruining the ornate rug on the floor with manure on their boots.

Ranchers Do Have a Few Rivals to Worry About, But Not the Ones the Duttons Deal with

From urban developers to fellow ranchers, the Duttons have dealt with their fair share of enemies on Yellowstone.

According to Carlson, ranchers do have to put up with some troublemakers, but not their neighbors. Oftentimes, the number-one rival that ranch owners have to deal with are animal activists that believe their lifestyle impedes that of their livestock.

But while ranchers have to defend their ranch and their lifestyle against these nay-sayers, rarely does it ever end in a dramatic shoot-out.