One on One with Bubba Buck­aloo

Spin to Win Rodeo - - Con­tents - SWR

In the top five among Pro­fes­sional Rodeo Cow­boys As­so­ci­a­tion head­ers at this sea­son’s half­way mark, Bubba Buck­aloo is tak­ing aim at his first Wran­gler Na­tional Fi­nals Rodeo. Buck­aloo, 26, lives in Caddo, Okla., with his wife, Josie.

KENDRA SAN­TOS: You’re hav­ing a lot of suc­cess with three-time NFR heeler Rus­sell Car­doza this year. When and how did you two hook up?

BUBBA BUCK­ALOO: When this sea­son started, I called Spencer Mitchell. He’d had knee surgery, so I asked who Rus­sell was go­ing to rodeo with this year. I en­tered with Rus­sell for the first few rodeos, and we did pretty good, so we just kept rop­ing.

KS: Are you as quiet as Rus­sell?

BB: Prob­a­bly at first when I don’t know some­body. But once I get to know you, I might talk too much.

KS: What makes you two tick as a team?

BB: I don’t re­ally know. I think we en­tered the Open Shootout at the US(TRC) Fi­nals when I was 16 years old (which would have made Rus­sell 18 at the time), and came close to win­ning some­thing. We’ve roped quite a bit since, and that might be the only time we didn’t get a check since. Some teams just kind of have that chem­istry, and we seem to have it.

KS: You’ve won rodeos with 12 dif­fer­ent guys, in­clud­ing Ernie Ba­con, Mike Ba­con, Jett Hill­man, Wayne Carter, Matt Zan­canella, Dakota Kirchen­schlager, Cole Dav­i­son, Cody Doescher, Chris Young, Dustin Davis, Sawyer Barham and Rus­sell, since first get­ting your PRCA per­mit in 2007. Why so many part­ners?

BB: Zanc and Cole are the only ones I’ve rodeoed much with be­fore. I’ve had a job the last cou­ple years and didn’t rodeo that hard, so I en­tered with who­ever was around when there was a rodeo close.

KS: You work for Du­fur Quar­ter Horses in ad­di­tion to rop­ing for a liv­ing. How long have you worked for Teri and Alan Du­fur, and what all do you do for them?

BB: It’ll be two years in Novem­ber that I’ve been work­ing here. I ride a lot of young rope horses for them here at the ranch when I’m home. They’ve got­ten into the race­horse busi­ness, and I re­ally like that, too. Terri and Alan are the rea­son I get to go rodeo. They’re my main spon­sor. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be get­ting to do this.

KS: You’re rid­ing one of their head horses this year, right? Tell me about him.

BB: Two of them, ac­tu­ally. Prowler is a 13-year-old brown stal­lion, and Fonzie is a 12-year-old palomino geld­ing. I got Prowler just in time to ride him at Fort Worth this year. We bought him from Lo­gan Ol­son. He’s amaz­ing. He’s the horse Erich Rogers rode at the NFR last year. We have a lot of horses of the same blood­lines in our pro­gram, so he was a good fit for us. He’s just an awe­some horse. We’ve had Fonzie about a year. He came from a guy who was work­ing here with us. When he quit, we bought Fonzie from him. I won Tuc­son on him this year, but he’s a lit­tle quirky. If you don’t warm him up enough he might buck with you, like he did at Guy­mon this year. He’s an awe­some horse, he just takes some main­te­nance. He’s just one of those horses that if you don’t ride him ev­ery day might buck with you at the rodeo.

KS: Guys never stop talk­ing about the im­por­tance of a good head horse on any team. What per­cent­age of a team’s suc­cess rides on the head horse, in your eyes?

BB: I’d say 85 per­cent. A lot of guys rope re­ally good, but the guys with the best horses are the guys who win ev­ery day.

KS: You were born on the Fourth of July, which is such a great cow­boy birth­day. Tell me about your most mem­o­rable birth­day so far.

BB: One of my fa­vorite birth­days was a few years ago, when Zanc and I won Man­dan, N.D. on the Fourth of July. It’d been a ter­ri­ble week. We’d been to seven or eight rodeos and hadn’t won any­thing. So that win was a great birth­day present that came at a great time.

KS: Your real name is Tommy Steven. How and when did you be­come Bubba?

BB: I don’t re­ally re­mem­ber. Every­body’s called me Bubba since I can re­mem­ber—my fam­ily and all my friends from school. I never re­mem­ber be­ing called Tommy much, un­less it was my mom or my grandma and I was in trou­ble.

KS: You and Josie were just mar­ried on Septem­ber 27. That makes you new­ly­weds. How’s mar­ried life treat­ing you so far?

BB: It’s awe­some. Josie goes ev­ery­where with me, and we have a great re­la­tion­ship. I don’t think I’d want to rodeo with­out her. I have a flip phone and she has an iPhone, so I wouldn’t make it too far with­out her.

KS: Your fa­vorite movie is The Cow­boys, and your rodeo hero is Clay O’Brien Cooper, who starred in The Cow­boys with John Wayne. Tell me why you picked a heeler as your hero, when you’re a header.

BB: I cut my thumb off twice when I was younger. I cut it off the first time when I was 11, and they put it back on. I cut it off again when I was 15, but they didn’t put it back on. I told them to leave it off the sec­ond time. All I did was heel be­fore I was 15, and Clay O was the man. I re­mem­ber watch­ing Clay O in that movie and think­ing he was the coolest guy ever—a movie star and a great heeler.

KS: Cheyenne’s this month. Why is the “Daddy of ’em All” your fa­vorite rodeo?

BB: Any check at Cheyenne’s a good one. If you place in a round and the av­er­age you have a re­ally good shot at the Fi­nals, be­cause there’s so much money there.

KS: You’ve been at this awhile. Why do you think this is your year?

BB: When I went to work here I’d never had a good year, my good horse was crip­pled, and Josie and I were think­ing about get­ting mar­ried. I thought it was time to give up on the rodeo idea. I got to work­ing here, the Du­furs en­cour­aged me to rodeo and that was the break­ing point. They’ve helped me out a lot in so many ways. If it wasn’t for them, I wouldn’t be rodeo­ing and hav­ing the suc­cess I’m hav­ing right now.

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