FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) _ No, they weren't filming a Western.

The 24 decked-out cowboys and 50 longhorn cattle were beginning the six-state Great American Cattle Drive _ a throwback to the old days of ``yahoos,'' lassos and beans by the camp fire.

``I'm ready to go. After today, I'll be eight miles closer to Montana,'' said cowboy J.R. Lane of Cheyenne, Wyo., before leaving Sunday.

After Texas, the six-month drive will take the herd, chuck wagons and cowboys _ chaps, hats and all _ through Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming and into Montana.

Destination: Miles City, Mont., around Labor Day. Distance: about 1,000 miles.

Cowboy Jackie Joe Donaldson of Stroud, Okla., said they would travel at about 2 to 5 mph. They expected to pick up about 200 steer along the way.

The steers were furnished by members of the Texas Longhorn Breeders Association of America.

Several hundred people watched the herd leave. For the cowboys, it was about time.

``I've been in camp for two weeks. I would have left three days ago if I could,'' said Walker Lawrence, a cook's helper.