Cody Stampede will be the first of several big events for Bullfighters Only
The Cody (Wyo.) Stampede is one of the most established events in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, with a history that dates back nearly 100 years.
It’s also the kick-off point for Bullfighters Only’s summer run that includes more than a dozen events from June through mid-September. The namesake town of showman “Buffalo” Bill Cody is the perfect venue for freestyle bullfighting, the most extreme of all Western sports.
“Last year was our first year touring to rodeos,” said Aaron Ferguson, the BFO’s founder and CEO. “We learned so much and we’re excited to go back and put on an even better shows in Cody and everywhere we go.
“Cody is special because we’ve got Dusty Tuckness competing in front of his hometown crowd.”
Tuckness is the seven-time and reigning PRCA Bullfighter of the Year from nearby Meeteetse, Wyo., and he leads the Pendleton Whisky BFO World Standings with $20,000 in earnings. He also is the reigning Cody Stampede BFO champion.
“It’s always great to come back home to not only compete but also work the rodeo as a whole,” Tuckness said. “To be able to bring the BFO along makes it that much better.”
Tuckness is a Bullfighters Only pioneer, a group of elite bullfighters that have been part of the BFO since its inception back in 2015. Because Cody is just 30 miles from Meeteetse, it’s the perfect place for Tuckness to showcase his tremendous athleticism in front of his friends and family.
With scores based on a 100-point scale, men can earn up to 50 points per fight based on their ability to exhibit control and style while maneuvering around or over an animal; a bull can earn up to 50 points based on its quickness, aggression and willingness to stay with the bullfighter.
“I think it’s going to be a really good event this year,” Ferguson said of the Cody bullfight. “Our contractor, WAR Fighting Bulls, just moved to Montana and has an awesome pen of bulls. We’ve got a good lineup of bullfighters again this year as well.”
That lineup includes the reigning world champion, Weston Rutkowski of Haskell, Texas.
“When I got to Cody last year, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Rutkowski, the No. 2 man in the standings. “Just being a kid from west Texas, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. But I learned just how big that rodeo is, that people come from all over the world to see it.
“It was very eye-opening to see how much people loved it. It’s telling of how big the bullfights can really be.”
That’s the kind of reception the bullfighters began seeing at all of their summer rodeos, and there’s no reason to expect anything different this year. Bullfighters Only will also have events virtually every week through early September.
“After Cody, we’re hitting a lot of other great rodeos, starting with Vernal (Utah) being the next major stop,” Ferguson said of the July 6-8 event. “It’s one of the coolest rodeos in Utah. The crowd likes to have fun, and it’s a rowdy place which makes for good bullfights.”
The BFO will then have a two-day stop in Colorado Springs, Colo. during the annual Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo before a mini stand-alone bullfight in Fortuna, Calif., on July 14.
“We will have three, three-man bouts in the first round, and the winners advance to the short round,” Ferguson said. “It’s an amazing setting, too, with massive Redwood trees in the background.”
After the event in northern California, Bullfighters Only returns to the rodeo schedule. You can find the full schedule and more at www.BullfightersOnly.com.
Three of Bullfighters Only’s top men are on the sidelines as they recover from injury. Ross Hill of Muscle Shoals, Ala., and Nathan Harp of Tuttle, Okla., are out for four to six months with ACL injuries, and Cody Greer of Pryor, Okla., is out at least another six weeks after suffering a broken tailbone at the Cavender’s Cup.