Hunt picking up at the 2009 NRCA Championship Finals Rodeo
The Northwest Ranch Cowboys Association is pleased to announce that JJ Hunt of Ridgeview, SD has been selected as one of the pick up men at the 2009 NRCA Championship Finals Rodeo, Trade Show and Convention to be held at the CamPlex in Gillette, WY, Nov. 27-29, 2009.
It comes as no surprise to folks who know him that JJ Hunt was voted to the 2009 NRCA Championship Finals by the top cowboys in the Bareback and Saddle bronc events. Although a relative newcomer to the role of pick up man (he started just six years ago), Hunt has been involved with rodeo since the tender age of 8.
“I started in South Dakota 4-H rodeo, continuing on to high school where I rode bareback, saddle broncs, team roped and calf roped,” said Hunt.
He was a qualifier to the SDHSRA finals in saddle bronc riding every year he competed at the high school level.
Hunt credits NRCA stock contractor Lance Lesmeister of Eagle Butte, SD with getting him started picking up bucking horses.
“I was at Holloway’s picking up some horses they were trying out,” says Hunt. “Lance was there and at the end of the afternoon he asked me if I would be interested in picking up for him at some of his rodeos that summer. I said ‘Sure why not’ and pretty soon I was getting calls from other Midwest area contractors.”
In addition to holding cards in the NRCA and SDRA and working for several stock contractors such as Longbrake Rodeo, Tonto Livestock, Holloway and Lesmeister in the five-state area, Hunt also carries a PRCA personnel card and plies his trade with Sutton Rodeos and Tom Reeves all over the United States.
“I traveled to Corpus Christi, TX to pick up a rodeo for Tom Reeves this summer,” says Hunt. “They told me when I got to the Oklahoma/Texas border I was half way there… Talk about a road trip!”
Although Hunt is rapidly becoming in demand as a pick up man, he isn’t ready to put his contestant cards on the shelf just yet. Throughout the summer he travels with his wife Laura, a registered nurse, who is an accomplished Ladies Breakaway roper, and their two sons Daycen (age 9) and Kanton (7 months in November) to as many rodeos as they can where JJ is also regularly in the winner’s circle in the steer wrestling and team roping. Since 2002 Hunt has qualified as a contestant to four different association finals 11 times. NRCA finals 2006, SDRA finals ’06 and ’08, GPIRA finals 2002 -2009 and will be making his first appearance as a steer wrestler at the prestigious Indian National Finals Rodeo this year in Las Vegas, NV.
To the first time rodeo fan the job of pick up man looks easy, but it is not without its inherent risks and dangers, as Hunt well knows.
“I was picking up the bareback riding at the Dupree, SD high school rodeo this spring when a bareback horse decided to duck under my pick up horse,” he says. “It was quite a wreck.”
Being in the middle of two 1,200-plus pound horses when they collide in a rolling, kicking tangle of flying hair and hooves and calling it ‘quite a wreck’ may be an understatement.
Miraculously, Hunt extracted himself from the ‘wreck’ without any serious injuries. This time.
Hunt’s skills as a pick up man have earned him that role at the SDRA finals in 2007 and 2009, the GPIRA finals consecutively since 2004 and the INFR in San Carlos, AZ in 2006. Hunt will be making his first appearance at the NRCA Championships in Gillette, WY, Nov. 27-29. JJ’s wife Laura will be joining him in Gillette at the NRCA Championships where she is one of the 12 qualifiers in the Ladies Breakaway this year.
When not on the rodeo trail, JJ and Laura can be found spending quality family time at their Ridgeview, SD ranch where they run a cow/calf operation and a “few” horses, as JJ puts it.
When asked about some of his favorite past times Hunt replied, “Being with my wife and kids and playing cards with my Grandpa Geno Hunt.”