So what does fly fishing and bull riding have in common? Not much if taken at face value, but one of them enabled me to try the other.
Been fishing before? Sure… put a dirty great big bait fish on a couple of big hooks, toss it in the ocean, put your rod in a holder… and sit back, drink beer, and wait for a bigger fish to swim by and commit suicide. Simple enough.
Fly fishing has been something that I have always wanted to try, but never seemed to get around to it. As it happens, my buddies Andy & Jacey Watson at Freestone Productions were putting on the PBR Livingston Classic professional bull riding event in Livingston Montana. So… as the way ‘mates rates’ seem to go since the beginning of time… ‘you come and take photos of the event for us… and we will take you drift boat fishing’… Done Deal I say. As it happens, Andy is a part time fishing guide, so I am in good hands.
Now you might say that Andy got the better end of the deal… free photographer for an easy day fishing. Well let me say this… he had to row the damn drift boat all day while I sucked at trying to catch fish. Anyhow… I would have done it for free anyway. That is what mate’s do where I am from.
Anyone who hasn’t tried fly fishing and enjoys being outside… get your butt over to Big Sky country and give it a try. Yellowstone National Park is just down the road, so make it a family trip. You (and your kids especially) won’t regret it.
So… did I catch anything? Well that is a matter of opinion. I certainly hooked a stack of them, but as it turns out I had absolutely no idea it seems on how to keep the damn hook in their small mouth and get them in the boat. Where is my big winding reel and 30lb fishing line when you need it. Andy, just to be a smart-arse makes a couple of casts and lands one… we have a name for people like that in Australia.
So now I had to fulfill my end of the bargain and take some photos of some bulls trying to offload some cowboys. It was a tough gig. Outside in the clean fresh air. Nice weather. Nice people. Big blue sky. Mountains in the background. I trudged on as best I could.
The Livingston Classic is part of the PBR Touring Pro Division, and as such is held in an outdoor arena, and generally during the week. The Touring Pro Division is akin to the minor league in Baseball, or the Nationwide series in NASCAR, so it is a combination of big time bull riders either taking the opportunity to earn some points and/or cash or regaining some form, and for rising bull riders to try and earn their way onto the Ford Built Tough Series (FBTS).
Now you might expect that the bulls aren’t so good, and it is an easy gig for the FBTS bull riders… not so, says the guy standing on the sidelines with the camera. Sure, some of the bulls aren’t ever going to make the big arena, and some are in training (yes bulls train), but some of them are the real deal. One of my favorite bulls is Big Tex from Chad Berger Bucking Bulls. One of my photos of him from last year’s event was used to help promote the event this year in the The Livingston Enterprise newspaper.
Andy & Jacey also do a great job at getting some PBR ‘celebrities’ to attend the event. PBR announcer Brandon Bates comes and does his thing. World Class entertainer Flint Rasmussen keeps the crowd laughing when there is a lull in the action, and some world class bull riders show up, like Cord McCoy pictured above taking it easy on the chutes.
Well that’s about it. Need to pack up my gear and go and take some photos of some alligators and Blue Herons in the Florida everglades. Will post some photos at a later date… if I make it back.
Even Rock-Stars need to eat. I leave you with this photo of #511 Another Husker chowing down before the event. As far as bulls go he isn’t ranked all that high… but he still has a career buck-off rate of 68%, and 75% last season.
No such thing as… ‘just a bucking bull in the PBR!’
And YES… I am that close!… and have the bull snot stain to prove it.