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Sports Source: A bull's last rodeo

Published 6/6/2012 in Beef Empire Days-Sports


Good grief!

I'm back in Garden City again for the Beef Empire Days PRCA Rodeo that officially got under way today, but the really big show will begin Thursday night at 7 o'clock here at the Fairgrounds Arena.

Yep, I'm back for one final show at one of my favorite stops on the rodeo circuit.

Remember me? Mortachi's the name and buckin' top-rated cowboys off is my game.

I'm pretty darned good at it, just ask my bosses — Jim and T.J. Korkow.

I got my first interview here in Garden City a couple of seasons back and enjoyed lettin' all you good folks know what my rodeo life is like.

Now, I'm gettin' on the down side of my athletic career — headin' into my sixth season at gettin' rid of cowboys in less than eight seconds.

According to T.J., this likely will be my final appearance at the Beef Empire Days. Kinda makes me sad, to be honest.

But, gosh, have I had some good times — and some good rides — here at the Arena.

You know, these chutes and the out gates are built just to my likin'. The thing I like is that the out gates are right close to where I want to finish sending my cowboy to the ground. It's a short trip back out of the arena that way. Yep, being able to load from the outside and then the gate opens for me to leap out and back and then make my famed right turn and down to the ground move. That's the one that confounds those poor ol' cowpokes. All these years, and they still can't figure me out!

Ha! Boy do I get a kick out of that. No pun intended.

T.J. was nice enough to let me rest up back home in Pierre, S.D., this winter and spring while some of my younger brothers here headed south for the early season rodeos. So when you see me on Thursday, and then again on Saturday night, I'll be, as T.J. said recently, "fresh as a daisy."

We got into town early Tuesday after an overnight trip of about 10 hours. Boy, do I hate those long drives. My bones just don't like the distances the way they used to. Sure am glad I got a day or so to rest up, and then do a little exercising in the arena. Gotta get those legs and shoulders all loosened up for the quick ride.

You know, after those years of having about 30-35 outs (rides for you rodeo rookies) each year, it does tend to take a toll on a body. I'm no exception. My muscle mass is still good, but sure ain't what it was my rookie year (2007).

T.J. has got himself some good young bulls and I'm so thrilled that I can still teach them a thing or two. They tend to hang around me in the pens during the day before we get ready for the nightly show. There's just something I enjoy about coming to western Kansas and puttin' on a good show for everyone.

I remember my first year here when I looked up to Widow Maker. He's one of those National Finals Rodeo bulls that I learned a bunch of neat stuff from when I was a young 'un. He was a pretty juicy bull, had big horns. He looked the part and did the part, and I've tried to emulate him over the years. I hope he'd be proud of the way I've performed.

One of the things I enjoy most about these here cowboys is that they still don't know what I'm gonna do when that chute opens. While they're trying to climb down on my back and wigglin' around, I'm just sittin' there nice and quiet, lettin' them get comfortable. I just like it when they get locked into a certain position, guessing which way I'm gonna go, and then the chute opens and wham! I've got 'em right where I want 'em. I just can feel what that cowboy wants to do and then I make 'em pay. It's so nice to be the one who knows what they're doing.

I know T.J. is plannin' on having me work at the Crazy Horse and Dickinson rodeos coming up soon. I figure if I can be among the top 11, heck, he'll even think about takin' me out west for a tour later this summer. We'll see how that goes.

One of my old buddies — Swamp Donkey — is already out in the north pasture, enjoying relaxin', eatin' some good hay and havin' plenty of water to drink. Oh yes, there are a few potential girlfriends hangin' around there, too. Can't wait for that chance! I'm not completely over the hill!

T.J. was talking to this newspaper reporter fella a little earlier and I overhead him talkin' about me jumpin' fences and railroad tracks when I was a young whippersnapper. I just liked to see where I could go and didn't like anybody tellin' me that I had to stay in one place. Yep, T.J. even told that reporter that I was a "unique" bull. I kinda like that description. It sure works for me.

I came by my name because one of the workers who saw me jumpin' over fences said I reminded him of a high jumper from Iowa whose nickname was Mortachi. I got my name when I was in my "terrible twos." Hadn't even been out to a rodeo back then.

Jim was readin' one of the articles from last year's rodeo recently and I caught a whiff of what Vanilla Twist, one of those saddle bronc horses that runs around with their nose held up high (a little snooty you know?). Not us bulls, we keep close to the ground. It really ticked me off to hear him say that the horses were really the main attraction.

Why is it, then, that bull riding is America's No. 1 sporting event? Duh. We're the best show around, folks. Why, I even bumped ol' T.J. earlier this year with one of my horns and bruised his ribs. Not sure he's forgiven me for that, but hey, he wasn't gettin' my food and water to me on time. What's a bull to do?

But, really, T.J. and Jim and the gang really treat me well. I can't complain. But if this is my last rodeo (in Garden City), then I aim to make it a memorable one for all the good folks who are gonna come out to watch me. Yep, that special delivery out of a left gate lets me turn to the right and then just see that cowboy hittin' the ground. Whooee! Not a better feelin' around, for sure.

I guess if T.J. and Jim think I'm special, I sure ain't gonna argue with them. But the folks up in the stands are the ones who make me feel special. That's who I come to town for. And those cowboys who look to get me to an 8-count? Heck, they don't stand much of a chance.

The South Dakota pasture and fall weather is beckoning me when I return home. We'll see how that all goes. Can't say that I'm too excited about retirement. I've enjoyed the spotlight of being a rodeo star. Just like any good professional athlete, though, I'd prefer to go out while I've still "got game."

There's some song out there and part of the lyrics says, "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." That's probably me today.

I've got two rides this week here at the Beef Empire Days Rodeo. I sure hope all you good folks come out to see me, my young brethren and those horses. Yep, they're worth the ticket, too. But, really, folks. You're coming out to watch me! See you Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

This isn't my first rodeo. But it just might be my last one here.

Mortachi can be reached through that sports reporter guy, Brett Marshall, at

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