Tax Man represents DJ Stull Bucking Bulls in 2010 WNFR
Gillette – Dick Stull grew up in a rodeo family, and always thought it would be fun to raise a few bucking bulls as a hobby. Today he and Laura Childs operate DJ Stull Bucking Bulls out of Gillette, and Stull says it is closer to a full-time job these days.
This year they’ll watch their first bull, Tax Man, perform at the 2010 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nev.
“In 1999 I went to a cowboy reunion in Laramie, and ran into Pete Burns. He had semen on a bull called Skoals Best Bet, and I got excited about that. I contacted Pete’s son and asked what it would cost to own some of that semen. We worked out a deal where he gave us the semen and we gave him any bull calves and kept the females.
“We also had a former Colorado state champion Charolais heifer I purchased at the Black Hills Stock Show that wasn’t a normal beef cow. We took her to Dave Winninger and had her flushed, and ended up with 16 embryos. I think 11 of those stood and sucked, so we got along really well with that. That was the base of our herd, and how we got started on the bucking bull side,” explains Stull.
For the first several years Stull and Childs worked on building their inventory.
“First we had to get some females, then started raising bulls. If you raise bucking bulls, you might as well raise horses, because you have to wait until they’re two or three, or sometimes even four, before you have anything,” comments Stull.
At weaning, bulls are preconditioned and all calves are registered through American Bucking Bull Incorporated (ABBI).
“It’s fairly work intensive; we pull hair and send it in for DNA testing in addition to taking pictures and filling out paperwork,” explains Childs. “Not all breeds require DNA testing, but with bucking stock everything has to be registered and DNA tested. Age and parentage is a big deal.”
Over the winter, calves are fed with a bucket. “I don’t want them to be a bunch of pets, but I’ve found feeding with a bucket really settles down a bunch of calves,” notes Stull. “We want them to be calm and easy to handle. We have to handle them a lot, and if they’re quiet it makes everything easier.”
Calves are also run through the processing chute and corrals to train them prior to being turned out on grass for the summer as yearlings. During that time the yearling heifers are bucked once with a dummy so they have a track record, explains Stull. As they near 18 months old, bull calves are also bucked with a dummy in preparation for futurity competitions.
“Between 18 and 34 months there is a window where bulls qualify to compete in bucking contests. We compete in the ABBI Futurity and the American Heritage Futurity. This is where their age becomes important, because you don’t want older bulls competing against younger ones,” says Stull.
To compete, all bulls must be mouthed for age by an ABBI-registered vet and tagged with an RFID tag.
“As two-year-olds they buck them with a dummy, which weighs between 16 and 25 pounds and is released with a garage door opener. At the contest they are bucked with the dummy for four seconds, and judged by six judges,” explains Stull.
Childs adds that very few bulls buck hard with a dummy, and you don’t want to cull a bull solely on that performance.
“But if we enter the ABBI futurity it takes big dollars to enter, so we want to have one that will buck with the dummy,” she says.
In the fall the two-year-old bulls are again turned out. “During that winter and spring we try to get a person on them. Some are slow to mature, and some know right away that this is it, and that’s when we think this might be, ‘The One,’” notes Stull.
To get people on their bulls, Stull and Childs let local high school and college teams use them, and also send some to Northeastern Junior College in Sterling, Colo., where Stull’s sons live.
“The One,” for DJ Bucking Bulls right now is a bull they sold after the National High School Rodeo Finals last summer called Tax Man.
“He was born April 15, so that’s how he acquired his name,” notes Stull. “As a two-year-old we contested him and went to some futurities and did really well, so we thought we had something. We turned him out with some cows for the summer, and that fall took him to Las Vegas, Nev. to a contest in conjunction with the PBR finals, where he took a vacation and just ran off.
“We brought him back home and last summer they used him at the National High School Finals, and he caught Mark Johnson’s eye. We sold him to Johnson, and he hauled him the summer of 2010, and Tax Man qualified to go to the NFR, and will be one of 100 bulls at the event,” explains Stull.
“We’re very excited about him, and glad he is working for Johnson,” says Stull.
In early December Still and Childs will head to Las Vegas, Nev. for the Benny Binion World Famous WNFR Bucking Horse and Bull Sale.
“They will contest and auction the bulls at the South Point Hotel. We will take three bulls this year, and we hope this turns into another revenue line with our bucking stock,” says Stull.
He adds that DJ Stull Bucking Bulls are currently marketed almost entirely private treaty. “We have sold some locally, into Nebraska and Colorado. One of the challenging things in this business is getting your cattle into the right hands and making a name for yourself,” he explains. “Being located in Gillette reduces the chances of getting a bull into a big venue. Hopefully this sale in Vegas will increase our exposure and we can find more people who like our bulls,” he says.
Both Stull and Childs’s favorite part of the operation is being with their cattle. “We really like our cows, and may enjoy them more than the bulls,” comments Childs.
“I often tell people that raising bucking bulls is like planting a tree and waiting for shade, and I’ve seen people shade up, too. We’ve definitely got our inventory built up now, and are excited to have a raised a bull competing in the NFR. We hope he does well,” adds Stull.
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.