Back on the Bubble

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

photo by Matt Cohen / Cowboy Journal

After last year, now that I have experienced how awesome the NFR is, I really want to make it back. Whether I do or don’t, it doesn’t change who I am as a person.

by Cole Davison

Last year, I was on the bubble fighting to make the top fifteen. Luck was with me, and I qualified for my first National Finals Rodeo.

This year, I’m back on the bubble and finishing the season with a new partner, Bubba Buckaloo. Me and Bubba have been friends since we were five years old. Even when we aren’t partners, we talk all the time.

Neither of us had been winning a lot this summer with our other partners. Back in the middle of August, around the time of the rodeo in Caldwell, Idaho, me and Bubba talked about partnering up to finish the season. I was roping with Levi Simpson at the time.

Levi and I had a really good Fourth of July, but we struggled for a while after that and dropped in the standings. He agreed it was a good idea to split up and try something new. But we were still entered in a bunch of rodeos together.

It’s funny, but when team-roping partners go to split up, they often take to winning. I don’t know why. Maybe it takes the elephant out of the room. You no longer feel like you’re fighting for your job, so you can just go and do your job. Well, that was definitely the case for me and Levi. After we decided to quit roping together, we placed on nine out of the next ten steers we ran.

Bubba and I have only been to a handful of rodeos together. We started out at Lewiston, Idaho, the weekend of September 5. The next weekend, at the Pendleton Round-Up, we won nearly eleven thousand each. That really jumped us both up in the standings.

When we first talked about roping, Bubba told me, I just want to get you into the top fifteen. You have a really good chance. But after Pendleton, Bubba thought, Maybe I have a chance, too. Still, he said, he wasn’t going to rope stupid trying to qualify for the NFR.

Me and Bubba needed to do good last week for him to have a chance, but we didn’t. He’s 21 in the standings with around $60,000 won, and Jake Cooper is 15 with more than $73,000.

As soon as Bubba and I hit that patch of bad luck, Rhen Richard told me, Man, you better cut Bubba now so you can start to win something! He was joking, of course.

Tomorrow, we’re roping in Apache, Oklahoma. The rodeo doesn’t count towards my standings, but it’s in Bubba’s circuit, and it’s a good little rodeo. After that, we’re entered in three more that do count towards my winnings: Kansas City on Saturday afternoon, Omaha on Saturday night and Stephenville on Sunday.

At the moment, I’m 15 in the standings with $69,000 won. It’s pretty tight: I’m fifteen hundred behind the guy ahead of me and two thousand in front of the guy behind me. I try not to let the pressure change me. After last year, now that I have experienced how awesome the NFR is, I really want to make it back.

Whether I do or don’t, it doesn’t change who I am as a person.

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