POWELL, Wyo. - For the third consecutive year, Park County's Dusty Tuckness has earned the highest honor in his profession by getting named Bullfighter of the Year during the recently-completed National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas. It marks the third consecutive year that Tuckness has received the honor.
"It's very humbling," Tuckness said in a phone interview. "Every year a guy gets an award like that, it's a great honor and a blessing. I never try to take anything for granted. I'm just excited to have the opportunity and I'm looking forward to next season."
All members of the PRCA are eligible to vote on the award, making it a bit of a nod of approval and thanks from those Tuckness works alongside in the arena.
"It's not just the bullriders," Tuckness said. "Everyone who's a member can vote on it. It's neat that I've had the opportunity to be nominated the last couple of years. It's a great way to end the year."
Tuckness' year is typically a flurry of activity. He attends 55-65 events during the calendar year and works approximately 160-170 rodeo performances each year. When not doing that, Tuckness' life very much resembles that of an athlete. He works out to stay in physical shape and spends time watching video to remain mentally sharp to his task of protecting riders in the arena.
"When I'm watching video, I'm just watching guys working, watching the bulls move. It's about mental memory," said Tuckness. "The biggest thing is to stay in shape and keep bullfighting fresh in my mind. You do it enough you see it every night. It's a mental memory type deal."
Tuckness certainly earned his award at this year's National Finals Rodeo. In one of the early rounds, Tuckness could be seen diving across the back of a bull to help free the arm of a rider trapped between the animal and the arena fence.
Round 8 saw a bull hook its horn inside Tuckness' shirt. While the bullfighter escaped harm, the garment was torn down the side.
Later that same round as Tuckness ran in to distract a bull from a downed rider, he was sent tumbling.
None of that compared to Round 9, when it was reported he had been knocked momentarily unconscious by a bull.
"It was an exciting finals. We definitely had some action," Tuckness said of his 10-night labors inside the NFR arena. "We had to deal with some things, but that's why we're in the arena. We're there for instances like that. My partners Kelly and Dale and I, we got beat around a bit, but that's part of the reason we have a job and I'm looking forward to this next year."
Tuckness' 2013 season gets under way in January.
"My main objective is to keep bullriders safe," Tuckness said. "It's nice to be announced at the year-end awards banquet, but I'm not going to let that overcome how I do my job. I just want to keep focused and push on further for this next year."
Information from: Powell (Wyo.) Tribune, http://www.powelltribune.com