Bullfighter Byrne to take on the 2009 NRCA Championship Finals Rodeo
The Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association, a regional professional rodeo organization with rodeos sanctioned in North and South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Nebraska, is pleased to announce that Travis Byrne, Professional Bullfighter from New Underwood, SD, has been selected by the bull riders as one of the bullfighters at the 2009 NRCA Championship Finals Rodeo, Trade Show and Convention. The event will take place at the CamPlex in Gillette, WY on Nov. 27-29, 2009.
Byrne, one of the Midwest area bull rider’s favorite cowboy protectors, and no stranger to the NRCA Championship Finals, will be returning for his 13th appearance. When asked for his thoughts about number 13, Byrne had this to say:
“It is a great privilege to still be honored by the bull riders with being asked to fight bulls for my 13th NRCA Finals. Placing a cowboy hat on the bed is my only superstition.”
Being selected to perform at a finals rodeo is every bull fighters goal. When asked if the emotion of being selected to his 13th finals still equalled the feelings he had when he worked his very first finals, Byrnes enthusiastic reply was:
“Yes! I got the same feeling this year being selected as the first year I was selected. It is an honor to have the riders still have faith in me to be there for them.”
And he is certainly no stranger to finals rodeos. In addition to his upcoming appearance Gillette, Byrne has fought bulls at the SDRA finals nine times.
Byrne, a Martin, SD native who now calls New Underwood home, began his bullfighting career while competing in South Dakota high school rodeo. He credits a former high school and college classmate and life long friend with pushing him into the role of cowboy lifesaver.
“I give a lot of credit to Colin Peterson,” says Byrne. “He got me started riding bulls when I was in high school in Martin. In college we took turns fighting bulls for one another. I really started enjoying the fighting rather than the riding. Brad Porch and Jeff Waln gave me a lot of rodeos when I first started fighting professionally.”
Like a lot of current bullfighters, Byrne took advantage of the many rodeo schools offered now to refine his techniques, attending former World Champion Bullfighter Lloyd Ketchum’s school held in Rapid City, SD in 1993. And as you can see from his resume it was a good investment – NRCA Finals bullfighter 1996, 1998 through 2009, SDRA Finals bullfighter 1995, 1996, 1999 through 2001 and 2004 to 2006, plus numerous PBR and other sanctioned bull riding events throughout South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska.
Byrne, who purchased his PRCA card in October, 2000, travels extensively across the upper Midwest and Pacific Northwest in his role as a cowboy protector. Just a few of his PRCA rodeos, in addition to his regional professional contracts, include Spokane, WA, Portland, OR, Indianapolis, IN, Wichita Falls, KS, Gillette, WY, Mobridge and Onida, SD and the Central States Fair in Rapid City, SD.
Any rodeo contract performer, if they have been in the business very long, will admit to having their favorite rodeos to work and Byrne says his is the NRCA sanctioned Boss Cowman Rodeo held every July.
“I always enjoyed fighting bulls at Lemmon, SD. It was always a fun rodeo to be a part of.”
Byrne, when told he would be working the NRCA Finals with Sturgis, SD’s “Uptown” Kyle Brown, again admitted, “Kyle Brown is my favorite to fight bulls with. We work very well together.”
Professional bullfighters who are in demand, as Byrne is, put thousands of miles on every year and consequently are away from home a lot. Many admit to missing their families. Not so Byrne. His wife Melisa and their children travel to most of the rodeos with dad and wife Melisa is comfortable with the lifestyle.
“Travis was fighting bulls before we got together,” says Melisa. “I have always been very proud of what he does. Our children have grown up with rodeo being a part of their lives. Rodeo has been a great family event for all of us. Marshall, our oldest son, is now competing in rodeo. Our other two boys still enjoy going to watch and maybe someday they will follow down the same path.”
Stay tuned folks, for the 2025 Edition of the NRCA Championship Finals Rodeo.