Cheering on the Bulls
Kyle Kilgore is a rising star in the rodeo stock contractor world – and he’s only 17.
A member of FFA at Coweta High School in Coweta, Okla., Kyle admits to doing a little roping, heading or heeling, but since he was 2 years old, he has been around bucking bulls. His parents, Marty and Joi Kilgore, had raised beef cattle, but his dad and uncle had been thinking about making the switch to bucking stock, and after a lot of research picked their first bull and trailered him back to Coweta, Okla., from Duncan, Okla. After that bull, Pistol Pete, there was no turning back and KVI Bucking Bulls was born.
“It’s really all I have ever known,” Kyle said. “I didn’t really have any options but to be in this, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am completely in love with it and can’t see my life any other way. It’s really a lifestyle and I can’t see myself doing anything other than living it.”
KVI Bucking Bulls is just a short drive away from Coweta. The barn is set back well from the road and heavy pipe fencing surrounds the gathering yard. The herd itself is at pasture under shade trees in the morning heat during a visit from Ozarks Farm & Neighbor. They come in a trot, urged on by Kyle and his working partner this morning, a black and white border collie.
The ranch has 43 momma cows with babies at their side. They currently have about 20 bulls of varying ages, including six yearlings, a 4-year-old named Spook-Eye (who was ranked sixth at the end of the year) and their “old man.”
“Everything on our place is registered and raised to produce bucking stock,” Kyle explained. “Every rodeo-bred animal goes through the American Bucking Bull Incorporated. To register them, just like any registered animal, you have to do things like blood work and collect hair. They can look at one piece of hair and go back five to nine generations back with DNA.”
He continued by explaining that many bucking bulls are descendants of wild cattle discovered by a man on an island in Hawaii.
“He caught them, brought them back to the mainland and started breeding them,” Kyle said. “There’s some mixed breeding in there and there is a lot of Brahman influence in them, but there is no set breed for what they have to be.”
All bulls take January as their birthday and stay with their mothers for 12 months. Supplements are offered for muscle and bone mass, each animal takes a somewhat different blend. Nothing comes easy or on the cheap, and nutrition is carefully thought out. Kyle, explained that on hot days, the herd shelters in pastures under the shade trees and have constant access to water, but he does not feed grain or supplement until evening.
The weaned bulls are tested in the arena in late December. Using a mechanical rider, the bulls are graded on intensity, spin, height of jump and kick.
“It’s really kind of hard to tell what a calf is going to do, but you know if one has the heart,” Kyle said. “After that, they go on full feed, then sit around and chill out. Usually about mid-year and in the fall, we will start pulling them up and getting them to buck and get them into a set pattern so that it becomes instinct to them. Then they will go back to pasture and on full feed. When they get to be 2-year-olds, that’s when we start hauling them up and down the road pretty hard. We’re really into the competition aspect of it.
“A lot of people think that they are just bulls, but that is wrong. Today, the competition in the bulls is bigger than the competition in the riders. … The big picture for us is to send them off to the PBR, which is the top of the top in the game. Anybody can raise a bull and take him to an armature bull ride to buck off a kid wanting to show off for his girlfriend. That isn’t our goal. Our goal is to get to the top and stay at the top.”
A bull bred by the Kilgores actually competed at the PBR in October.
“People think just any bull can go to that level, but it’s a different ball game when you send one to the finals like that,” Kyle said. “It proves something.”
Kyle added that just like any athlete, performance-enhancing drugs are not allowed in bulls, and the ABBI requires testing for steroids or other drugs by a veterinary certified to the ABBI’s code. Blood and urine samples may be collected at ABBI discretion and owners of an animal that tests positive for a banned substance are liable for lost prize money, fined, banned from competition and lose year-end-bonus money.
Kyle plans to attend Conners State at Warner, Okla., and then on to Oklahoma State University in hopes of an agriculture business degree.
“I’m not sure what route I want to go into after that, but I would like to have that in my arsenal,” he said. “As a kid looking at my future goals, all I can imagine ever being is a pro rodeo announcer. That’s all I have ever wanted to be. I would love to continue the family business and try and continue to take bulls to the top, plus be a top rodeo announcer at the same time.”