Bushwacker will be the star of Billings PBR event

2014-04-10T16:57:00Z 2014-04-11T00:16:04Z Bushwacker will be the star of Billings PBR eventBy JOE KUSEK jkusek@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

The best athlete in the Professional Bull Riders has never worn a cowboy hat, has yet to find a pair of blue jeans that fit just right and would have to double the order if considering purchasing cowboy boots.

And there is no belt big enough to fit around his waist so he can wear his championship buckles.

The PBR’s best athlete will enter Rimrock Auto Arena on Friday night not on two legs, but four.

Bushwacker is in town.

“How many bulls have farewell tours?” asked PBR entertainer Flint Rasmussen of Choteau.

“This guy sells tickets.”

Bushwacker’s first and only appearance in Billings is one of the highlights of this weekend’s Stanley Performance in Action Invitational.

The Built Ford Tough Series event features the top 37 bull riders in the world competing in three rounds. The top 15 scores advance to Sunday’s championship round.

Friday night’s performance will also have the 15/15 Bucking Battle, matching the top bulls against the top 15 riders. The 15/15 Bucking Battle will be televised Saturday on CBS at 10:30 a.m.

L.J. Jenkins, for the second time in three weeks, has drawn Bushwacker as the Bad Boy Mowers Bounty Bull. If Jenkins goes eight seconds, he will earn a $25,000 bonus. He got bucked off in 1.45 seconds two weeks ago in Fresno, Calif.

But Jenkins shouldn’t feel too bad. He’s just another bull rider on Bushwacker’s long list of bull riders left in the dirt.

The 1,500-pound brown bull with white markings on his face and upturned horns, has a phenomenal 96 percent buck-off rate since 2009.

Bushwacker, a two-time PBR bull of the year known for his combination of power and smarts, has only been ridden three times in 76 outs. He was ridden twice in 2009 by Markus Mariluch and Thiago Paguioto and last August by J.B. Mauney in Tulsa, Okla.

Mauney’s 95.25-point ride broke Bushwacker’s record streak of 42 consecutive buck-offs. The previous record was 35 by Silver Wings of D & H Cattle Company. Mauney is 0-for-2 against Bushwacker since the historic ride.

“We introduce Bushwacker as part of the opening and he receives louder applause than any rider with the exception of J.B.” Rasmussen said. “When he’s out in the arena, he’s just so cool. All he wants is out.

“In the chute, he stands square in the middle and he’ll look back at the bull rider as if to say, ‘You really want to do this?’ It’s just special when it’s his turn.”

The average ride time on Bushwacker is 3.22 seconds.

It’s why many feel Bushwacker is one of the greatest bulls of all time.

In fact, Cody Lambert is adamant about where Bushwacker ranks.

“Bushwacker is the best the PBR has ever seen,” said Lambert, founder, vice-president and livestock director for the PBR. “In fact, he’s the best I’ve ever seen and I’ve been around a long time.

“We may never see one of his caliber again.”

Lambert bolsters is argument by pointing out that Bushwacker does most of his bucking in the 15/15 Bucking Battles or the Built Ford Tough Series championship rounds which feature the top riders. Last week in Nampa, Idaho, Bushwacker dumped Joao Ricardo Vieira in 2.22 seconds. Vieira is the defending Billings champion.

Friday night will be only Bushwacker’s seventh out this season. He will be retired following the PBR World Finals, Oct. 22-26, in Las Vegas.

“Every athlete deserves to go out on top,” said owner Julio Moreno of California. “Bushwacker has nothing to prove to me. He has earned the honor of having his name forever engraved in the history books.”

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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