LAS VEGAS – For a pair of PBR stock contractors, the 2015 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo was a time for their stock to soar.
Chad Berger of Dakota Rodeo and D&H Cattle’s H.D. Page each brought a bareback horse and a handful of bulls to the Thomas & Mack Center for the 57th staging of the “Super Bowl of Rodeo,” and their buckers did not disappoint.
Page’s Bruiser was named Bull of the Wrangler NFR after going unridden in two outs, while PBR World Champion Bull SweetPro’s Long John and Brutus tied for fifth in the voting. Bruiser deposited Kody DeShon onto the arena floor in Round 2 and dropped Joe Frost in Round 9 en route to the special honors.
“I was tickled, and that’s an honor to have an award in the PRCA that’s voted on by your peers,” Page said. “I thought he bucked good, and he’s had a really good year.”
Long John was too much for Frost in the second round and didn’t let Dustin Bowen make the whistle in the ninth performance, while Brutus bucked off Reid Barker in the opening round and Shane Proctor in Round 6. In addition, D&H’s No Regrets propelled Proctor to a second-place check of $20,731 in Round 1 with a mark of 81.5 points, while Movin’ On Upstumbled in his only out midway through the NFR.
Page’s bareback horse Dilly Bar was also selected to buck at the Finals, and the horse responded by carrying Tim O’Connell to the opening-round win with an 84.5-point score. He didn’t have quite as strong of a trip in the sixth round, when Kaycee Feild spurred him for 72.5 points.
Berger also made a trip to the South Point Hotel, Casino & Spa to collect a go-round buckle at this year’s NFR after his bull Brown Sugar and Clayton Foltyn won Round 9 with an 88-point ride.
The 2015 PBR Stock Contractor of the Year also saw Red Bone help Proctor to a fourth-place check in the second round with a score of 82.5 points.
Brown Sugar bucked off Brennon Eldred in Round 2, Semper Fi turfed eventual PRCA champion runner-up Cody Teel in the same round, and Stuntin Like My Daddy threw Caleb Sanderson before the whistle in Round 6.
Berger’s lone bareback horse at this year’s Finals, Bartender, matched wits with Caleb Bennett for a 78.5-point ride in Round 6 in its second consecutive trip to the NFR.
Berger left Las Vegas feeling good about the way his stock bucked at the Finals.
“I think we got along pretty fair, and overall, I was happy,” he said. “If you know the business and know everything they’re going through, if they can still perform, then you’re happy. It’s a good experience, and it’s an honor to have them here at the NFR.
“I’m a huge fan of rodeo, and bar none, this is the best rodeo in the world. So, to get paid to come here, I feel real fortunate. I’d probably pay to come here if I didn’t have any (stock) here.”
It wasn’t all flowers and cupcakes for Page, however, as his prized bull Margy Time broke its leg in the holding pens and was unable to buck at the rodeo.
“It’s a different ballgame than what we’re used to,” Page said. “Our bulls are fed the same grain from the time they’re 3 or 4 months old until they get here. Then, for two weeks, they’re fed some feed and some hay they’ve never seen before and are handled by people in a different fashion than they’ve ever been handled.
“They get mixed together – which they’ve never had done – and they fight. Hopefully they’ll get some of that fixed, but as of now, that’s what you’ve got to deal with when you come out here.”
Page and Berger both headed home with more than they brought to the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” as the contractors took over the reins for a couple of top-notch buckers. Page bought the bull Air Marshall – who went unridden in two trips to finish third in Bull of the Finals voting – from Sammy Andrews, while Berger officially took possession of Vitalix Circle T’s Crossfire – the high-marked bull from Round 9 – from The Cervi Brothers Rodeo.
Page feels great about his 2015 season.
“I need to quit because it can’t get any better,” he said. “I only have one way to go – down. It’s been amazing the last couple of years, it really has. I’ve gotten spoiled to the point where, if I don’t win, I’m mad.
“It’s more pressure to keep the ball rolling. I’ve never set a goal to win this or to win that. My goal has always been to get my animals prepared as I can and give them as I can. All the rest of that stuff will take care of itself.”
Berger knows he’ll have a bull’s-eye on his back in 2016 as the reigning Stock Contractor of the Year.
“I’m going to ramp it up, and I’m going to give it my honest effort to win (Contractor of the Year) again,” Berger said. “Hopefully, we’ll do it again, but when you’re up there, they’re gunning for you. The minute you think you can take a little rest, they’ll come get you, and I’m on my feet every day trying to find the next best one.
“I’ve added several other bulls that I think are short-round caliber, and we’re going to go full bore when we start out in Chicago.”
© 2015 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.