“Just Looking for the Weekend”

They just keep coming and coming – event after event, year after year, – and when one stumbles, another rises to take his place. No, Mike Rawson is not the manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, but as the owner, manager, and chief executive officer of 401 Bucking Bulls, he has assembled an extraordinary group of bulls to compete against an already stacked league of great bovine athletes competing within the Championship Bull Riding Bull Team Challenge division framework of the CBR.  In July of 2015, CBR bull owners and bull riders honored Rawson and his bulls, voting him the 2015 CBR Stock Contractor of the Year. 

Designed by CBR to create bigger prizes, more money, and a fun healthy atmosphere along the Mahindra Road to Cheyenne televised tour, Mike Rawson from Martinsville, Texas is its perfect spokesperson.

“I love all the people we are around, the other stock contractors, the bull riders, we all get along and love each other. I look forward to it each and every event, year after year.”

The night before the competition began at the CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days, Mike Rawson heard his name called out for the second time as CBR’s top bull man. The first title Rawson collected was in 2013 when he dedicated his year to fallen contractor and best friend David Wisner who was killed while traveling transporting bulls to a bull riding. Once again Rawson’s acceptance words were all about friendship as the riders, staff, and guests attended the time honored tradition, the year-end awards gala and presentation of World Finals riders and bull finalists.

Accepting a Hyo Silver buckle, custom trophy saddle by Juan Jose Muńoz Andrade, Mahindra eMax 22 Gear Tractor, and a custom built Neckover stock trailer, Rawson was a winner before he pulled his first flank. Making his way to the podium amongst his peers, Mike Rawson repeated one word over and over when asked about his new title, “blessed”.

“CBR has a friendly atmosphere. All the stock contractors are good people and friends,” said the newly selected Stock Contractor of the Year, Mike Rawson of Martinsville, Texas. “I just feel so blessed to be part of such a special group.”

But what does it take to be stock contractor of the year? That is the mystery that continues to haunt most of the men and women bull owners in all of rodeo, but Mike Rawson has a theory and he sticks to it.

“You have to have bulls on your trailer that are kind of equal, continued Rawson. “I have to be able to go out into the pens and get one if one of the others gets sick, lame or just needs a rest. I go to all the Road to Cheyenne tour events and there is no way the same three bulls can compete each time, I have to be able to rotate and adjust to the riders entered and how far we are going, the weather, just about everything comes into play. You better have a backup or you’re sunk.”

Rawson rarely talks about anything but bucking bulls, but on this occasion he was careful to thank his number one back up at home, Samantha Valenzuela. “She keeps it all together so I can keep trucking,” smiled Rawson.

But it does not seem to matter who is and what is in the lineup, Rawson’s name was on a check at 11 events on the Mahindra Road to Cheyenne. This year the top scoring team was owned by Mike Rawson who surged to the top of the standings after his second place finish on April 28th in Del Rio, Texas, the final stop of the Mahindra Road to Cheyenne Tour. Using 13 different bulls, Rawson who has been in the winner’s circle ten times now since joining the BTC, holds the record for the most first place finishes in the history of this wildly popular team concept.

His line up consistently took him to the pay window with a total earnings in excess of $250,000 in 2015 which included winning the CBR Bull Team Challenge competition in Cheyenne, and collecting the $100,000 bonus check that comes with the title of World Champion Bull Team.

“This award means the world to me, I am the happiest, most blessed man in America,” said Rawson after winning not only the stock contractor of the year award, but the CBR Bull Team Challenge competition as well.

During the twelve month regular CBR season Rawson’s managerial effort combined with the bulls talents, he took home the $20,000 check, Fenoglio boots, and Hyo Silver trophy buckle four times including: Conroe, Lufkin, Del Rio, and Las Vegas. In Hobbs, Mercedes, and Huron the Rawson buckers were second. He was third at the season closer in Del Rio and fourth at the season opener in Jackson, Tennessee in January.


World Champion Bull Team – Rawson / Probst

Mike Rawson has no doubt made an impact on CBR, but nowhere along the Mahindra Road to Cheyenne have his bulls contributed more than in Cheyenne at the Finals. Rawson qualified three teams for the coveted CBR World Finals at Cheyenne Frontier Days, but after all the points were tallied, it was the team of Rawson and James Probst that came out on top. Rawson / Probst left Cheyenne with the title, $100,000 check, custom trophy saddle by Juan Jose Muńoz Andrade, Mahindra eMax 22 Gear Tractor, and a pair of Fenoglio custom boots.

Two of Rawson’s bulls were statistically in the top 15 performing bovine athletes at Frontier Park while racking up three 90 point plus rides and six total ride scores for the former bull rider from the piney woods of east Texas.

“It’s a challenge to make sure these bulls always perform when the chute opens,” said Rawson. “While we are winning points and money we also have a responsibility to Tuff (Hedeman) and the event producers to make sure the fans see a good show.”

846 Black Betty, also a bull of the year candidate, teamed up with Brennon Eldred for 92.5 points and together they were the last ride of Cheyenne and that ride sealed the World Finals event average title and win for Eldred and a 46 bull score for Rawson’s most recent addition to his bull team roster.

But 846 was not the only star over the two day event. The march to the top for Rawson in Cheyenne included his rookie bull, 107 Jailhouse Socks, the 2nd of Rawson’s bulls to be in the top 15. 107 assisted fellow rookie eighteen year old Wyatt Rogers to his first score in Cheyenne, 89 points, with a 44.5 bull score which was no easy feat. 107 had only 3 qualified rides of 8 attempts in the CBR in 2015.

713 Little Shyster, admittedly Rawson’s favorite child, drew seasoned ride Brennon Eldred while 743 Raven’s Mistake added 90 points with Chandler Bownds to assist both of their efforts in Cheyenne.

Round three saw 92 White Wolf and Neil Holmes in a rematch for 88.5 points while 1711 Too Juicy, also a rookie bull, drew veteran Aaron Pass. Pass make several bold moves to outsmart the bull and was rewarded a 90.5 in the third round.

Rawson won the title of World Champion Bull Team with 292 points, 5.50 points ahead of the second place team owned by Jeri Harmon and Mike White, Elite Buckin Bulls. 107 Jailhouse Socks, 743 Raven’s Mistake, and 1711 Too Juicy were the three bulls on the winning team. Together they assisted Rogers, Bownds, and Pass, to the three qualified rides scores needed for Rawson’s win.

While Rawson selected his bulls for Cheyenne based on which bulls helped him qualify during regular season events, he had several others that made significant contributions to his three teams qualifying for the World Finals. Rawson placed 6th with his Rawson Bucking Bulls team, and Rawson Hurst and Baker team finished 12th.

2015 CBR bull roster included: Black Betty, Little Shyster, White Wolf, Raven’s Mistake, Moonshine, Jailhouse Socks, Bandito’s Gold, Maximum Justice, Hijacked, Too Juicy, Bet On Black.

When he’s not attending CBR events, Rawson competes in aged events with the NBBA, UBBI, and Mid-West Bucking bull associations as well as owning multiple teams in the CBR’s two year old futurity program.  According to Rawson he’s on the road a lot but that’s brought him a great deal of success.

The conversation with Mike was cut short by phone calls as he tried to put together a trailer of bulls to travel to Window Rock, Arizona, but regardless of what Mike Rawson is doing during the week you can be sure he is always looking for the weekend and the arena where he is scheduled to buck his bulls.