BILLINGS, Mont. – Cody Custer was getting situated inside the bucking chute and beginning to tie his hand into his bull rope at his Elk City, Oklahoma, ranch when he glanced up at his son, Brett, this past February.
“I saw that look in Brett’s eyes,” Cody recalled. “That really focused stare. When I saw that in his eyes, that was a pretty cool deal. That brought back a little bit of memories for me.”
The moment came just before Cody nodded his head and the gate whipped open for one of the six lower-caliber practice bulls the 2003 Ring of Honor inductee has attempted in preparation for this year’s Unfinished pay-per-view event.
Cody is one of eight PBR legends coming out of retirement to take on one more bull at J.W. Hart’s BlueDEF Velocity Tour event in Decatur, Texas, on May 30.
The 1992 PRCA champion will be joined by Hart, two-time World Champions Justin McBride and Chris Shivers, 2012 Ring of Honor inductee Ross Coleman, 2000 World Finals event winner Tater Porter, 1999 PBR Rookie of the Year and PRCA champion Mike White and 1997 World Champion Michael Gaffney, in a winner-take-all $160,000 one-round bull riding.
Brett will pull Cody’s bull rope at Unfinished Business.
“I am pretty excited and thankful he is going to be there right alongside me,” Cody said. “Brett went to a bunch of PBRs and rodeos with me as a kid, but it is different because he is a couple of years away from being a professional. It is kind of a cool deal.”
The 17-year-old hopes to one day compete professionally and was only a few years old when his father retired from the PBR in 2003.
Therefore, Brett is excited for the chance to have a fresh memory of his dad riding, outside of the videos he has watched of his dad in his prime, such as Custer’s memorable, and career-high 95.5-point ride on Red Wolf during the 1998 PBR World Finals.
“I don’t really have a lot of memories of him competing when I was younger,” Brett said. “I have a few of me being at the rodeos. I don’t actually remember seeing him ride, but watching videos of him ride I am pretty excited to see him do it in person.
“It is going to be a pretty awesome deal,” Brett said before laughing. “I am just hoping he doesn’t pick anything that embarrasses him.”
Cody chimed in, “Hopefully, it is a good memory, son.”
Brett wasn’t too surprised when his father asked the family if he could compete one more time.
He can still hear his father’s enthusiasm for the sport whenever he is coaching at bull riding schools or climbing aboard a drop barrel.
It is a genuine love for bull riding that has never gone away.
“Well, I had seen him get on steers and stuff at schools and I know he is still craving it a little bit,” Brett said. “It didn’t really surprise me that he wanted to whenever he got asked.”
For most of his life, Brett has been learning the ins and outs of bull riding from his dad.
The youngest Custer is a sophomore bull rider at Elk City High School in Elk City, Oklahoma. He has been riding in the Tri-State High School Rodeo Association and plans on competing professionally like his father one day.
For now though, his primary goal is to help his dad get in shape and rekindle his talents in hopes of making one more 8-second ride.
So, what advice did he give his father?
“Pretty much I told him he doesn’t have to be a sissy,” Brett said with his dad laughing in the background. “The three (practice bulls) that I have been there for he has looked alright.”
Cody has no plans of being embarrassed in Decatur. It is why he has spent the past couple of months focusing on training his core muscles and getting back in shape for Unfinished Business, which he noted is only six weeks and two days away as of Thursday night.
It is also why his competitive fire came to life in December when he bailed off a practice bull when he was caught of position.
He immediately ran another one into the bucking chutes and climbed back on.
Brett was walking toward the arena just as his dad was nodding his head for his second practice bull of the day.
“It was pretty rank from my point of view because I was walking up as he was opening the gate,” Brett said.
Cody will be using a bull rope that was braided in 1998 – the same year Brett was born.
Brett, as well as other bull riders such as Chad Denton, Brett Tatum and Collin McTaggart, has used the rope before.
“I cracked it out in the summer of 1998,” Cody said. “It is probably the best bull rope – the longest lasting – I ever had. That bull rope has been on a lot of bulls and it is kind of my favorite rope really. I can’t even name how many head a bull that thing has been on. It has been on a few hundred and is still in real good shape. It has some life left in it.”
Cody plans on getting on 20 bulls, with 15 of them being low-caliber, easy spinners, in the weeks leading up to Unfinished Business so that his timing won’t be an issue come Decatur.
Following the BFTS event in Des Moines, Iowa, Cody will get on some practice bulls with Brett, who will be preparing for the Tri-State Finals that week.
Cody is well aware that there is no such thing as simple, friendly competition when it comes to the other seven legends competing in Decatur.
“I am going to be ready when the gate cracks, and I am going to be a bull rider, on May 30,” Cody said. “It is going to be a good time with friendly competition, but around those guys it isn’t really mediocre, friendly competition. Everybody is going to be trying their butts off. I am sure of that.”
Custer was 38 years old when he retired from the sport. He hopes that the field will be a bit more level this time around.
“One of us is going to win,” Cody concluded. “What I say is when I was old and still competing against them guys, I could rarely ever beat them, but now we are all old so maybe I have a little better chance.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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