MARTINSVILLE, TX (KTRE) - They are the unseen faces of the American rodeo. Many people can name the riders and the bulls but few can name the stock contractors. One of the more successful stock contractors on the Championship Bull Riding circuit is from Nacogdoches County and is looking at defending his Team Championship title at Lufkin's annual Bull Bash.
Every day Mike Rawson wakes up and feeds his bulls. While most people would gladly stay on the outside of the pens, Rawson calmly gets on his 4-wheeler and drives through the gate with the vehicle loaded down with feed. Rawson does not mind walking through the pin with his prized bulls Cojack, Yellowflower, Swamp Donkey, Hillbilly Hell, Too Juicy, Leroy Brown, and Raven's Mistake to just name a few.
These are the bulls that have brought him home the top prize in CBR for stock Contractor three of the last four years.
"When you got the out here, and you are feeding them, they are easy going," Rawson said. "They do not get upset or wild until you strap them up and put the in a corner."
Rawson is also not new to the bullpen. The contractor, who is based in Martinsville, has spent the majority of his life around the massive animals.
"I rode bulls for a long time when I was younger and just got old enough that if I wanted to be around it, I would have to go into this part of it," Rawson said.
Now as a contractor he is building a reputation around the country as the CBR continues its 2017 season.
"I've won 13 events," Rawson said. "I've been voted the Cowboy Stock Contractor of the year three times out of the last four. "
Right now, one of his team of bulls is sitting in fourth place in the overall standings.
Every weekend is busy for Rawson. His bulls have a lot of miles put on them this year.
"We've been out to New Mexico two weeks in a row," Rawson said. "We are going to Kingsville for the college tournament, Vegas in Two weeks and Texarkana for another event up there. We've logged a lot of miles this year. "
With over 50 bulls at his Martinsville ranch, Rawson has time to rest some, so not all his bulls are worked every weekend. With the CBR coming into his backyard he is looking to defend his stock contractor title of Lufkin's Bull Bash. The last time he won an event was in Lufkin last year.
"It's one of the longest running free-standing bull ridings there is," Rawson said. "We've had just numerous world champions come through there. "
And while he wants his bulls to be tough he also wants the riders to be able to put on a show. Riders in the event are required to ride the bull for eight seconds for a score to count. For Rawson and his other stock contractors, their scores are decided by a formula that includes judges scores and how long a rider can stay on the bull. The longer the rider is on the bull, the better the contractor's score.
"I want them to be ridden but I want them to be 90 points when they ride one of them," Rawson said. "I am right there cheering on the riders. I chose my bulls for the event by listening to what the riders want and what they don't like."
Rawson is hoping that formula works in his favor at the Bash.
About the Big Tex Agriplex Lufkin CBR Bull Bash:
Before the bull riding begins this Saturday from 11:00 a.m to 1:00 p.m. don't forget to come to the Big Tex Agriplex for the 4th annual Bash Before the Bash live radio remote. Register to win a FREE Mahindra E Max 22 tractor and Gravely zero turn mower this year. Everyone is eligible but you have to be present to win. Big Tex invites everyone to come and enjoy the food and drinks from Classic Fare Catering, and music from KYKS 105 who will be broadcasting the entire event live. Drawing will be during the 12:00 o'clock hour for the winners.
While you are waiting for the drawing, you can meet and talk to the red hot rookie and No. 3 bull rider in the world, Boudreaux Campbell from Crockett, who will be signing autographs and taking selfies with fans from 11 am to 1 pm.
Tuff Hedeman will join multiple CBR and PRCA event winner and Wrangler National Finals Rodeo (WNFR) qualifier Aaron Pass and Bossier City Champion, Tyler Taylor, at 3 pm at Cavendar's, 2503 S 1st St in Lufkin. Pass and Taylor will begin signing autographs at 2 p.m.
The list of contestants includes six athletes from 10 states, six WNFR contestants and the Navajo Nation Bull Riding World Champion, Cody Jesus from Sawmill, Arizona. The list of champions will have their hands full as multiple WNFR qualifiers are scheduled to ride in Lufkin including the number two ranked rider, Eli Vastbinder, who continues to advance up the leader board one bull at a time.
Each rider will challenge as many as three bulls during the one night only performance that features a three-round tournament style event that gets underway at 8 p.m. Scores from the first two rounds are combined to determine the final four riders in the Shoot Out Round. The rider with the highest total score in round three's Shoot Out will earn the CBR Lufkin Bull Bash title and cash prize.
Sanctioned by CBR, the Bull Bash is the twelfth stop on the Road to Cheyenne 12-month televised tour where the world's top bull riders test their skills against dynamic four-legged animal athletes.
Offering a total purse of $75,000 the 2017 CBR Bull Bash Bull Riding and Bull Team Challenge Champions will take home a custom Hy O Silver buckle, a western hat from American Hat Co., a custom pair of Fenoglio boots, in addition to the cash prize.
"It's a combination of a great rock and roll concert and a heavyweight prize fight refereed by Tuff Hedeman," said CBR Chief Executive Officer, Benny Cude.
The former four-time world titled Hedeman, who in recent years has made a name for himself in the production of great bull riding events, will serve as the "chute boss" and television commentator from the dirt in front of the audience.
Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for ticket holders to enjoy the activities on the concourse including great shopping and meet and greets.
Tickets are on sale now (Ticketing Link) online starting at $10 dollars for General Admission. Door prices begin at $15 with reserved seating at $35 and kids 2 and under are free with general admission. General Admission available at Cavender's, 2503 South First, Lufkin, TX, 75901.