Bull rider Jess Davison never wanted a break.
He’s been on the road since early May, jumping from rodeo to rodeo with his boots in constant motion.
Even after getting thrown off the Cervi Brothers’ Admiral Boom at the Central Wyoming Rodeo in Casper on Thursday night, he helped the next rider with preparations and watched him get dismounted before walking toward the gates and taking off his gloves, arm brace and wrap.
Because he’s on his bull riding permit, the University of Wyoming senior refuses to slow down. He has been testing stock contractors and rodeos so he’ll be ready when he competes for his rookie card on the Professional Bull Riders tour after graduating.
“I’ve been covering country to get on rodeos,” Davison said. “I’ve just been trying to spread out and see where I want to go for the rookie.”
His busy season started in late May. After failing to qualify for the College National Finals Rodeo, he competed at the Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo in Garden City, Kansas. Early the next day he made the 6-hour, 40-minute pilgrimage to Claremore, Oklahoma, to ride at the Will Rogers Stampede.
The travel didn’t affect Davison’s riding, as he successfully outlasted Pete Carr’s Classic Pro Rodeo’s Party Favor for 75 points.
Then came The Blackhawk Casino Pro Rodeo and Xtreme Bulls in Shawnee, Oklahoma, the day after.
Fort Smith, Arkansas, for Old Fort Days Rodeo the following Monday and back to Kansas for the Flint Hills Rodeo in Strong City (another 5-plus-hour trip) that Thursday before back-to-back days in Elizabeth, Colorado (a 7-hour journey) for the Elizabeth Stampede Xtreme Bulls and Rodeo in early June.
Less than a week later he rode Diamond G Rodeo’s Elk Bug for 81 points at the Cedar City, Utah, PRCA Championship Rodeo in the afternoon before being bucked off Bar T Rodeo’s Tap Out at the Days Of The Old West Rodeo in Delta, Utah, that night.
Back to Colorado, Nebraska, Colorado again, Texas, New Mexico, back to Utah, South Dakota. If there were bulls in chutes it seemed inevitable that Davison was not far behind.
“You do the best you can at making rodeos work,” he said. “If you get drawn out of one then you try to find another.”
Despite some successful rides, that early portion of his season was mostly filled with disappointment.
During a stretch of six rodeos in 10 days he failed to post a successful ride. In fact, he only had three 8-second rides for the first month of the year.
His summer became even more discouraging when his constant participation in rodeos was not accompanied by success.
“It can make things a little bit worse,” Davison said of riding in that many rodeos. “If you’re struggling a little bit then it can make you go from bad to worse.”
Fortune changed, however, for the Miles City, Montana, native and for a week-long stretch from late June into early July he was virtually unstoppable.
A 72-point ride of D & H Cattle’s 4008 at the Greeley, Colorado, Stampede Xtreme Bulls was followed by a season-best 83.5-point ride on Rocky Mountain Rodeo’s American Blood the following night in Greeley. He then hopped over to Oakley City, Utah, for a 69-point ride on Bar T Rodeo’s Moonlight Gambler before returning to Colorado the following day for a 78-point ride on Rocky Mountain Rodeo’s Desparado Moon at the Steamboat Springs Pro Rodeo Series.
That hot streak catapulted him into second in the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association’s Mountain States Circuit standings.
A streak like that couldn’t last for long, however, and Davison again found himself in the dirt. He competed in 10 rodeos in 13 days since his last successful ride and has yet to post another.
Still, he approached all of those rides with the same confidence, including his early exit at the Central Wyoming Rodeo on Thursday. The bull shot out of the gates and twisted to the right, and Davison’s body couldn’t follow before being thrown off.
The bull met its expectations by being active in the chutes. Davison didn’t know anyone who had been on the bull before but was enthusiastic after talking with the stock contractor and learning about the bull’s reputation.
“They said the last time they had him out he was a little testy in the box and the kid had troubles getting out on him,” Davison said. “So I was a little excited about that, because I like to prove people wrong and actually get out on the chute fighters.”
Davison was at the Sheridan WYO Rodeo on Wednesday ahead of the Central Wyoming Rodeo and planned to compete in Gunnison, Colorado, on Friday before revisiting Laramie for Jubilee Days on Saturday.
Cheyenne Frontier Days; the Central State’s Fair in Rapid City, South Dakota; as well as rodeos in Nampa, Idaho; and Bozeman and Billings, Montana, were the only future rodeos in the next month he’ll be competing in that he could name off the top of his head.
There can’t be any slowing down, though. The streak that followed him into the weekend won’t allow him to. Not when there is another set of lights shining down on the fairground arena dirt somewhere.
“I’ve kind of been on a cold streak lately and I’m going to get it broke,” Davison said. “That’s my plan for tomorrow.”