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Meeteetse bullfighter recovering from NFR injury

Bullfighter Dusty Tuckness grabs Gavin Michel from underneath a bull.
LAUREN MODLER (Cody Enterprise)

By Jonny Clinton
Cody Enterprise
Via- Wyoming News Exchange

CODY — It may mean a career change is in order for anyone else who is attacked at work and suffers fractures to both bones in the lower left leg, but for bullfighter Dusty Tuckness it’s just another day at the office.

The Meeteetse bullfighter isn’t phased after rushing in to save a bull rider in Round 9 of the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas earlier this month, and in turn taking the full weight of a bull on his leg.

“I love the job. I enjoy every minute of it,” Tuckness said. “Injury is part of the sport. You can’t dwell on those negatives. You just have to go out do your job.”

He’s been in the sport awhile, having won a record 10 Bullfighter of the Year titles. But friend Nikki Tate, who runs Cody Nite Rodeo stock contractor Mo’ Betta Rodeo with her husband, said he had largely avoided the severity of injuries such as what happened at the NFR.

Tuckness suffered an open fracture of both bones in his lower left leg and had surgery to insert a metal rod. Recovery was expected to take six months and he was well enough to return as a spectator the next night to see the conclusion of the NFR.

After all, rodeo has always been a key part of his life.

Tuckness followed in the family footsteps, pursuing rodeo and bullfighting from a young age, and early on knew being in the arena was going to be a big part of his life.

“I never really had any second thoughts,” Tuckness said. “It was kind of a calling God had for me from the start.”

He has held his professional bullfighters card since 2006 and traveled all over the country putting his life on the line with one objective in mind.

“It’s pretty simple,” Tuckness said. “It as all about cowboy protection. Get that bull rider and that bull in and out of the arena in a timely manner, working together as a team and keeping everybody safe.”

That safety comes at a risk for the cowboys and the bullfighters, but it’s a risk he has been more than willing to take now at his 13th National Finals Rodeo, the Superbowl of rodeos.

He went to school in Meeteetse and spent time working the Cody night rodeos and the Stampede.

“I get to travel to a lot of places,” Tuckness said. “Every place has something unique and cool about it. I just love getting to travel and meeting new people.”

It may be a while before he is healthy and back in the arena as he recovers from a successful surgery, but it would take a lot more than getting stepped on by a bull to keep him away from the rodeo.

“Bulls all have their own personality, they can do what they want on any given day,” Tuckness said. “You just go off your instincts and get yourself in position to where once something is happening, you can be in position to keep the bull rider safe.”

He knows there may be some challenges getting back to 100% healthy, but a anyone who has chosen a career in rodeo is used to facing challenges.

“It’s just like anything else in life, you have to put in the hard work to do it well,” Tuckness said. “You just have to put your nose to the grindstone and keep at it.”

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