Martinsville bull man wins CBR Highest Honor for Stockman
CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days
“When you come to one of the CBR events, whose name do you want to see beside your bull, Mike Rawson and that’s how they lined up,” said CBR and NFR qualifier Cody Rostockyj on Rawson’s being honored for the fourth time as CBR’s top man on the other side of the chutes.
“He wins every year and wins events because he is for the cowboys. You can’t ask for better set up between contractor and rider, ” added Rostockyj, the somewhat dean of the CBR riders.
Stock Contractor of the Year, the second most anticipated award of the season, represents the stockman (or woman) who brings the best bucking bulls to the televised tour. Tuff Hedeman sets high standards to maintain a certain caliber of bovine athletes thus creating equal opportunities to the bull riders at each and every Road to Cheyenne tour stop.
“With all the great stock contractors in the CBR – it’s a tough competition for sure. Mike seems to have it figured out thought. Every time I see my name beside one of his bulls I know they are gonna be dang good and usually gonna be a lot of points on whatever he brings, “ said top ten CBR rider, Colten Jesse.
At each event there are 12 stock contractors represented and the quality of their stock is judged by not only Hedeman, but the riders, judges, and the fans who cheer for the bulls as well.
The stock contractor, the bucking bull’s keeper, chauffeur, trainer, and coach, are responsible for their health, nutritional needs and athletic performance on the Road to Cheyenne…and at home on the ranch.
The annual award nominees are selected by Tuff Hedeman and then given to the Road to Cheyenne CBR bull riders and stock contractors for their votes. Rawson, an unprecedented four time winner of this elite award is also the 2015 World Champion Bull Team Champion, but 2017 was not the year Mike Rawson thought he would win this award, it was anything but.
“I was totally shocked,” said Rawson following the award banquet. My good friend Jeff Harris had a phenomenal year and I thought he would be the winner,” continued a humble Mike Rawson.
But the facts are that Rawson and company has provided over 350 outs in his five year tenure with Championship Bull Riding.
After losing three of his regular team bulls, Little Shyster, Black Betty and White Wolf, Rawson’s year was anything but normal. This season his once thought indestructible CBR bull pen was hit hard with injuries and death this year including the most recent passing of Swamp Dog and Yabba Dabba Do.
“Those kind of bulls are hard to replace but now I am backed up and reloaded and ready for 2018,” said Rawson.
Rawson, who has won more event championships than any other single contractor (14), finished the 2017 event in Cheyenne placing one team ninth and one team eighteenth. He finished the 2016 World Finals event winning third, sixth and tenth. Rawson was the 2015 CBR World Champion of the BTC.
“Each year the team competition is more and more difficult, you have to have NFR quality bulls each weekend for the caliber of bull riders that are now on CBR tour,” said Rawson.
In what Rawson refers to as challenging year, losing four of his top scoring bulls either to injury and untimely loss. His current breeder, 846 Black Betty was injured as was his all-time favorite bull, 713 Little Shyster, who eventually succumbed to a freak accident. CBR Finals bulls Yabba Dabba Do and Swamp Dog passed away this summer at the ranch leaving a whole in the trailer and in his heart.
“He’s just a great guy that truly cares about every part of the business. He loves the Cowboys and all of the livestock like his own children and strives to not only win, but make the bull riding industry better as a whole. He is a friend to everyone and seeing Mike Brightens your day ever time,” said Sage Kimzey, recently crowned 2017 CBR World Champion bull rider,
Rawson Ranch, also known as 401 K Bucking Bulls, or Rawson Bucking Bulls is located in the thick piney woods of East Texas near a town called Martinsville.
“Martinsville got their first mall this year, the Dollar store,” joked Rawson about the directional landmark in town when giving me directions to the ranch for an early morning photo shoot.
Rawson’s first trip to the podium to accept the award was back in 2013 and since then he has amassed a driveway and living room full of treasures from this award and his 13 CBR Bull Team Challenge wins on the CBR’s premier tour.
The top stock contractor for four consecutive years has amassed the following treasures including this year’s custom Bloomer stock trailer, 4 Juan Jose Muñoz Andrade saddles, 2 Mahindra tractors, 2 Neckover livestock trailer and Neckover truck bed, 4 Hyo Silver custom buckles, 8 American Hat Company hats, shelves of Fenoglio logo boots… tears each and every time Chris Rankin calls his name at the CBR Gala in Cheyenne.
“I just love it, it is for sure better to be winning, but just going is enjoyable, the CBR is just one big family and like everyone else, I look forward to seeing the family every weekend,” said Rawson.
What makes Mike Rawson story a success?
Mike Rawson provides many of the qualified rides in the three round tournament style format at each tour stop. In the 3 bull format the first and second are the most important to advance and that is where the bull rider’s say they want to get on Mike Rawson’s stuff.
“He’s just knows what kinda bulls to bring anytime you have one of Mike’s you know he’s gonna be one you can win on,” said #2 Eli Vastbinder.
He is well known for culling his own bulls if the bovine bucker does not give the riders a fair shot at a score or if he shows unusual signs of aggression or can hurt the rider in anyway.
“He’s one of the nicest guys in the business and he has a great set of bulls that guys like to get on every weekend,” said CBR World Finals qualifier Denton Fugate.
Like many others, Fugate, who got to know Rawson through the CBR qualifying Horizon Series tour, is one of those that Mike helped and when he got to the Road to Cheyenne tour he had a friend in Rawson.
“He’s an awesome guy with great bulls at every event,” said top ten ranked sophomore rider Tyler Taylor.
Rawson provided approximately 85 outs this season on the televised tour and probably just as many on the Horizon Series. He never waivers on his philosophy and is quick to share with anyone who asks. Rawson believes consistency in the bulls is the key to providing successful bulls to the CBR organization.
Just like Little Shyster, they didn’t ride him all the time and he was not easy, but they were high scores, usually in the 90’s when they did and he was easy to be around and get on,” added Rawson.
A favorite among bull riders, Rawson a former bull rider himself, understands and is known for his great friendship and “help everyone” attitude on the back of the bucking chutes. He is fiercely competitive, but never too busy to help a friend.
It’s not just the bull riders…
“Mike is known as a professional, he will do whatever it takes to get the right kind of bulls to an event. While he doesn’t like to lose he’s always hpapy for his friends, when they win. I am glad to call Mike Rawson my friend,” said JQH multiple bull team owner Skip Jones.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow CBR on Facebook, Championship Bull Riding, @cbrbull.com on Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat. Photo credit is Todd Brewer and additional images available upon request.
Courtesy of CBR