By: Keith Ryan Cartwright May 10, 2014@ 11:30:00 AM
LAS VEGAS ― His reputation precedes him wherever he goes.
ESPN The Magazine called him the “baddest body in sports.” Longtime PBR Livestock Director Cody Lambert has said he’s the greatest bucking bull he’s ever seen. Others have confirmed Lambert’s assessment.
His name, of course, is Bushwacker.
He’s in the midst of the final season of his illustrious career and tonight he’ll headline the third round of the Last Cowboy Standing in Las Vegas. That particular round is known as the rank round of the $100,000 winner-take-all progressive elimination style event.
“He’s one of the last bulls out, and it’s going to be one of the best guys having the best weekend, so that’s going to help that way too,” owner Julio Moreno said.
Bushwacker’s been ridden only once since October 2009 and has intimidated one rider after another over the past five seasons—most of whom are mentally and emotionally, if not physically, defeated before they ever climb into the bucking chute.
“I want someone on him, who can make that first corner on him,” Moreno explained. “His marks have been low, but I know now it’s they know they’ve lost before they’ve ever put their bull rope on.”
He’s been marked 45.25 points twice in his past three outings. He was credited with 44.25 points in Billings, Montana, in his last appearance. It was his first sub-45 score since the 2010 Built Ford Tough Series event in Springfield, Missouri.
“They’re marking him 44 and 45, so I do need that person to ride three or four seconds,” Moreno said.
The PBR announced that Bushwacker will take one last lap on the BFTS this season before retiring to California earlier this year in Oklahoma City.
Bushwacker bucked for the first time in 2014 during the 15/15 Bucking Battle in Oklahoma City by taking on J.B. Mauney, a couple months after both athletes claimed their world titles in Las Vegas.
The bovine made quick work of Mauney, sending him overboard in 3.48 seconds for a score of 46.75 points.
Mauney has attempted the World Champion Bull 12 times in his career, successfully covering him only once on his ninth try to end Bushwacker’s consecutive buckoff streak of 42 straight BFTS riders, and a total of 56 consecutive dumped riders overall, for a score of 95.25 points – the highest score of the 2013 season.
“He’s about as great as there’s ever been and with any great bull about the only shot you have of riding him is if he has an off-day and they have a good day,” said legendary rider and 1999 Ring of Honor inductee Jerome Robinson. “When J.B. rode him he had a little bit of an off-day and J.B. rode him perfect.
“He has the advantage, that’s for sure.”
Bushwacker added Nathan Schaper, Markus Mariluch, Joao Ricardo Vieira and L.J. Jenkins (twice) to his list of buckoffs this year.
Mariluch made it to the 2.27 second-mark before Bushwacker threw him during the championship round in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he earned the Salem National Lease High-Marked Bull title with 46 points.
Since then, Bushwacker’s impressive show of athletic prowess has been on display as Vieira and Jenkins didn’t last more than 3.28 seconds.
Much of that success is due to his unprecedented reputation.
“I think so,” Moreno said. “The last two or three trips he had – especially Boise, (Idaho), and Billings – yeah, it really looked that way.”
Moreno added, “Everybody knows he’s a big, strong bull.”
2004 World Champion Mike Lee explained that Bushwacker has a lot of forward motion and rear, coupled with a lot of kick, which brings most riders over the front end.
“Bushwacker’s back to his old trip again,” he said. “He’s turning out of there real hard and then forward and kicking and forward and kicking and he’s long and he’s heavy. That’s what’s hard about him, he’s long and heavy.”
Lee further explained that once riders are tipped forward they become in trouble.
“He brings his front end up and pushes off his back feet –very strong on his butt – and pushes his front end forward and then just goes down and then his butt comes up and he has a very deep girth. That makes a bull stronger.”
Lee’s close friend Cody Nance, who unsuccessful attempted Bushwacker twice in 2010, says that if he gets a chance in Round 3 of the Last Cowboy Standing – or any other event this year – to take on the champion bovine again, he’s going to make sure he has a little extra bend in his knees and access over the front.
However, the key to that is getting his hips back down to keep from going head over heels.
“You can’t worry about that,” said Nance. “They’re just animals. They’re all going to buck and just because he bucks a little harder than some of them, doesn’t mean you ride him any different.”
Nance and Lee are two of the 25 riders that advanced on Friday night into Saturday night’s second round of The Last Cowboy Standing.
Lee explained Bushwacker is small in the back and big in the front.
“He’s kind of built like a freak,” Lee said. “That’s what you want a bucking bull to look like.”
Despite his reputation – or, perhaps, the reality once you begin looking at the actual statistics – Nance said in order to make the whistle a guy will have to “just ride him like a jump kicker.”
“At this level, we’re professional athletes and we’ve done this for a while,” Lee added. “I don’t think we’re intimidated and I don’t think that affects too much—maybe a small portion. You just have to be free – the freedom that God gave me – you know, it’s like you’re going up against Goliath. He’s bigger than you, he’s known all around the country and just get up there and nod your head and say, ‘God let’s do this.’”
Nance believes he is more mature and experienced as a rider now than he was in 2010.
“I was younger and less experienced, at this level,” Nance said. “I can say from my standpoint, yeah, he had me intimidated, but I’ve been around for a lot longer now, so I think that I passed that.
“We have the ability to ride that type of bull. It’s just a matter of having the freedom to do it.”
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC
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