There are few people who can say they influenced the breeding of a World Champion Bull, much less one that won the title twice and is contending for a third one.
David Fournier is one of those men.
Technically, he hasn’t had anything to do with the raising of Bushwacker and yet, the PBR founder from Louisiana has had everything to do with the greatest bucking bull of all time.
“Yes, I guess you could say that,” Fournier agreed.
In fact, there have been a lot of contractors breeding bulls for a lot more years than Fournier, who haven’t accomplished nearly as much as what he’s accomplished with his breeding program since 1996.
“I don’t need anybody to pat me on the back,” he said. “I know what I’ve done and I do it because I enjoy it. I’m not necessarily looking for a pat on the back, but I’ll take credit when credit is given, but other than that I won’t look for credit.”
When it comes to Bushwacker, who will be retired by his owner Julio Moreno at the conclusion of the fast-approaching World Finals, Fournier traded heifers for heifers even up with Moreno back in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
At the time, Moreno was selling heifers from Whitewater for $7,500 a yearling.
However, the longtime friends didn’t exchange any money.
Instead they would simply trade two or three yearling heifers each year at the annual ABBI event in Weatherford, Texas, over roughly a three-year period of time.
It was the last of those deals that Moreno wound up with Bushwacker’s mother Lady Luck.
Despite all the plans that go into developing a breeding program, as her name indicates, sometimes there’s an element of luck involved in the process.
“He had two or three of them I was looking at,” Moreno said. “I picked her because of her looks and, sure enough, it happened to be the right one.”
“Julio wanted some different bloodlines,” Fournier recalled, “and so, at the time, we traded heifers for heifers.”
The specific bloodline Moreno was looking for was Diamond’s Ghost.
Nowadays that would be what Fournier described as a sophisticated, complicated and, more importantly, expensive business transaction. Back then it was nothing more than friends and a handshake.
“Julio and I, we’ve traded quite a bit of stock among us that nobody knows about and that’s one of them,” Fournier said. “Julio told me, ‘You know, Bushwacker’s out of one of your cows’ and when he (first) showed it to me, I knew exactly which one.
“But I had gotten rid of her mother already.”
“I always tell everybody we got together and made a good trade,” Moreno said.
Back then, a lot of the breeding in Oklahoma and Texas could be traced back to Plummer.
Fournier said they were “little bitty cows” that weighed about 700 pounds.
“My fear was we’d end up raising some bucking little bulls,” Fournier said, “but they’d be too small to go to town.”
Those cows were known for producing spinners, whereas Fournier wanted cows with some kick in their bloodline to crossbreed with bulls from the area that had likely come from the Plummer line, so he headed north to Canada.
Another friend of his, Trevor Walker, lived up in Saskatchewan.
Fournier bought 20 much bigger cows with kick from Walker and then bred them with, among other bulls, Diamond’s Ghost.
One of the offspring was a heifer, which had just been weaned off its mother, and he eventually traded her with Moreno, who later named her Lady Luck.
Bushwacker’s father is Reindeer Dippin.
While the paternal side is more famous, clearly Bushwacker’s ability to kick high up over his head comes from the maternal side of his breeding.
Fournier credits the breeding that led to Lady Luck.
In addition to the cows being bigger, he went to Canada because he felt they concentrated more on kick than down in the southern states, where he was living, because those cows were bred for producing spin.
In the cutting horse and thoroughbred industry, breeders believe 80 percent of the characteristics are maternal, which have definitely proven to be the case with Bushwacker. Moreno said he figures it’s about 75 percent and added, “I’ve always been good on it.”
Other than Bushwacker, Reindeer has not produced another bull that stands out nearly as much as he has.
Fournier has quietly gone about his business for 18 years.
He’s never gotten the publicity of some others, but his success within the industry hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“If you create good animals those animals will carry your brand,” said Fournier, who’s only placed two ads since 1996, “and there’s no better marketing tool than a product you produce.”
He’s directly responsible for bulls like King Lopez, Who Dat, Uppercut, Hells Bells and Pollywog among numerous others over the years.
“We stay in touch,” said Moreno, who is hoping to trade a combination of four Troubadour and Bushwacker heifers for eight bulls Fournier has that Moreno would like to have as his own. They first talked about making another deal last month, at a Built Ford Tough Series event, in Nashville, Tennessee, and will likely talk some more in Las Vegas.”
Moreno added, “I don’t know if he’s thought about it more or what?”
Moreno is currently hauling eight of Fournier’s bulls, including Boo-Ray, who bucked off former World Champion Mike Lee in Oakland, California, and Marco Eguchi before that. Moreno said he and Fournier are partners on those bulls.
Fournier also sent nine other 4 year olds to be hauled by J.D. Nix next season and he has another 13, 3 year old bucking bulls on his ranch.
The 51-year-old simply isn’t about to start self-promoting his accomplishments – J.D. Dunn also has an impressive 2 year old futurity bull out of a cow he bought from Fournier – and said he will do what he’s always done: let the stock speak for themselves.
Fournier said the theory behind his success is “if you’re not breeding up – if you get a heifer and she’s not better than her mother – then you’re not breeding up and your foundation should slowly dwindle.”
That’s precisely why he never kept Lady Luck’s mother.
He keeps five new heifers a year on average, so he culls from his existing herd to make room for them. Unlike other contractors he also bucks all his heifers once or twice to see if they can show him they have the kick he hopes they produce in their offspring.
Those he keeps have two offspring to prove themselves as producers or they too are culled from the cow herd.
“I think my cow herd is that good,” said Fournier, with regard to being fortunate enough to let his cow herd evolve. “I think that’s why I get the numbers that buck, that are out there at the (World) Finals.”
As if there was any doubt, it was officially announced earlier this week that Bushwacker is a contender for the World Champion Bull title for the fifth consecutive season.
He won the title in 2013 and 2011 after winning the ABBI Classic title in 2010 along with numerous other accolades throughout his career—most notably being his all-time PBR buckoff streak of 42 riders at Built Ford Tough Series events. The streak lasted the better part of four years until J.B. Mauney made the whistle for 95.25 points last August, in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He was ridden twice in October 2009, but only turned 3 years old, in June, of that year.
Bushwacker, who is the top-ranked bull of all-time according to www.probullstats.com, has a career bull score average of 45.56 points per outing.
His last out will come on Sunday, Oct. 26 in the final round of the World Finals. Afterward the 8-year-old will retire to Moreno’s ranch outside Oakdale, California.
Moreno will have a full brother and full sister of Bushwacker for sale, later this month, at the annual ABBI sale, in Las Vegas.
In addition, to his stellar career in the arena, no bull has done as much for the mainstream popularity of professional bull riding as Bushwacker. ESPN the Magazine dubbed him the “baddest body in Sports,” while The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and USA Today among other national magazines and metropolitan newspapers have featured as well as CBS Morning News.
“It makes me proud,” Fournier said. “I love watching Bushwacker buck. I think he’s an outstanding individual.”
Fournier added, “On Bushwacker’s best day, I don’t think there’s a bull that can equal him on their best day.”
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