Sisters gets a lot of bull


Last updated 7/18/2023 at 9:54am

Photo by Jerry Baldock

"Steak in my Pocket" a yearling bull sponsored by Bovico/Patti Cordoni & Suzanne Carvlin scored an 80.5 in the inaugural Red Rock Futurity, which gauged the potential of bucking bulls.

Ninety bulls came to Sisters Rodeo Grounds Saturday, none too happy about it. Who could blame them? It was 100 degrees. Upon arrival they were herded not onto a grassy pasture but a dirt pen. By the time they were checkerboarded to the bucking chutes, they'd worked up a head of steam. They were not about having a cowboy get on their back.

Such was the scene of the inaugural Red Rock Bucking Bulls Futurity. This was not a contest of cowboys but of the bulls themselves. And between breeders and stock contractors, the latter who supply bulls to the professional rodeo circuits. There are 650 pro rodeos each year in 38 states and three Canadian provinces. That takes a whole lot of bulls.

The competing bulls ranged from yearlings to 4-year-olds. The one-year-old boys were bucked with a 15-pound dummy. The 2-year-olds contended with a 25-pound dummy. The 3- and 4-year-old guys tossed live riders supplied by the breeder/contractor. Not exactly a nine-to-five job.

The judging system resembled something akin to Olympic scoring. The Buck refers to the height achieved with the front feet and shoulders as a bull begins each jump of a trip. Bulls that "get in the air" and get their front feet higher off the ground as they peak and break over get the most credit in the buck category. The number of jumps they complete during the course of the trip and how much ground they cover is also a factor.

Kick in the scale system refers to the extension and snap of the hind legs at the peak of each jump. Determining factors as to the number of points earned in this category are how high and how hard a bull kicks, how much vertical body angle he achieves as he kicks, and whether or not he kicks each and every jump.

The Spin is change of direction. Also referred to as the speed category, spin is the most difficult to assess if a bull is only ridden for a jump or two. In this situation, a judge must assume that the amount a bull was spinning would have continued at the same rate for eight seconds, the minimum time a rider must remain on the bull to be in the money.

Then there's Intensity, followed by Degree of Difficulty.

It's all serious business. Dollars are at stake. Big dollars. Legendary bull Bushwacker, a rodeo veteran, retired in 2014 after earning $600,000. His owner once refused a purchase price for him of $700,000. This is understandable given his semen now sells for $5,000 per straw.

Since formation of the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) organization in 1992, rodeo has been expanding both in popularity and as a business phenom. Under the auspices of the PBR the sport has grown into a multi-million dollar industry.

In the arena, 3.5 million fans now watch bull riding, compared to 300,000 in 1995.

Driving this success, alongside the daredevil riders, are the other stars of the show - the bulls. A steady stream of top-quality bulls has developed along with the sport and has played its own part in expanding bull-riding's appeal. Stocking the rodeo is no longer a sideline for ranchers. It is big business.

About 300 spectators turned out for the day's free action.

"We got about $100 of fun for nothing," said Matt Wheeler of Madras, who brought his three kiddos to Sisters.

Davis Crenshaw of Prineville brought his date for the day.

"Looking at all this fine beef, we're heading to Sisters for a big, fat steak," Crenshaw said grinning.

"Naming of the bulls must happen over whiskey," Rolly Dermott from Burns said.

His point was not lost on his fellow travelers. Popcorn, In a Tizzy, Bootlegger, Popeye, Crazy Charlie, and Havoc were among the day's best scores. Battle Born led the day with an 88.75 tally.


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