I started my career roping with Bret Boatright, Dee Pickett, Tee Woolman and Mark Simon, so I learned a lot about entering and traveling right off the bat. Since then, I’ve pretty much always done the entering for my partner and me and our buddy team. I don’t even write any of it down anymore—it’s all in my head. I’m not saying I’ve never missed the books, but I can count on one hand when that’s happened. So young guys are coming into the game trying to out-enter those of us who have been calling in for the same rodeos for decades, and that’s tough. Most of the time, you see young guys having success with a veteran, and the entering is a big part of that.
What is PROCOM?
Unveiled in 1976, PROCOM—Professional Rodeo Communications—simplified the business of entering a rodeo. PROCOM handles approximately 700,000 calls per year, averaging more than 2,000 per day during the peak summer season. With more than 40 operators manning telephones during the peak season, PROCOM makes the task of entering rodeos and tracking those entries easy for cowboys and rodeo secretaries, which in turn simplifies the rodeo production process for committees. With one telephone call, cowboys can enter more than one rodeo sanctioned by the PRCA, offering preferences of the rodeos and times at which they want to compete. The fully computerized system randomly appoints cowboys to a position in the competition schedule and matches roughstock riders with bucking stock. With the “buddy system,” cowboys can enter a maximum of three other competitors at the same time—usually their traveling partners. That enables them to compete at the same rodeo at the same time and thus share expenses. Cowboys may obtain peripheral information, including the number of entries in their event, the identification of rodeo livestock and committee and sponsor information.
I start out every day looking to see what rodeos close that day. If there’s an important one, I might set a reminder in my phone. But when this is all you think about, you shouldn’t let yourself miss the books on a rodeo. You’ve got to stay on top of it, especially after the winter or spring when things are slower and you get out of the entering groove. Come Reno, you better be ready and have a solid plan in place.
I map out a scenario in my head, and sometimes I send it over to my partner to check over. The big deal is giving yourself advantages—setting it up where you’re taking better runs, not having to travel as much, taking it easier on your horse and not having to backtrack across the country. Summer is harder, and getting up the right way is critical to get to as many rodeos as you can. The importance of taking a better run on the cattle is bigger than you think. There are times a 4.3-second run is winning first and a 5.3-second run is winning third, and there’s only three teams behind you. You’ll know you just need to go catch to win good money. Other times, you don’t have a chance unless you’re going for broke. There are advantages to knowing when there’s a rerun on cattle and knowing what you have to do going toward the end. In the course of the 75 rodeos, those little details add up.
State of Grace
I put my name down for what I think I want, and then I make sure I check during the grace period to see if what I want is an option without taking too much risk of getting fouled. I try not to go for the very end if everyone is asking for it. I like to make sure I’m taking the best run on the cattle I can without taking too much risk of getting popped to the first performance. A lot of guys will go for the last set every time, and either you get it or you don’t. I call ProCom during the grace period to see what everyone is asking for and base my decisions on that. A lot of guys put their names down and never check back. You can call ProCom and ask how many teams they have and what performance people are asking for. If everyone is asking for the last performance, and there’s a chance to go in the second-to-last performance without risking being bumped to the first set, I will try for that second-to-last performance. I use the grace period to enter as far toward the end of a rodeo as possible without a high risk of being bumped back to the early performances.
Cutting Some Slack
A lot of times, the contractors won’t tell you when the slack is going to be, so you have to keep following up by calling ProCom in the grace period to see when the slack will run. You get a lot of information in that grace period. Sometimes they have one slack, sometimes two. A lot of times you just don’t know until the grace period, so that’s why it’s so important to call and check.
Building relationships sure helps when you need a trade. I will trade with guys when I can as well. Often, it’s the guys going full-time who need to trade. Trading has gotten more difficult because there’s almost a sense of entitlement among some guys. They think they should get a trade, and that makes relationships tense. Being friendly to everyone and building those relationships makes all the difference. You’ve got to be really on it when it comes to trades. The second you get callbacks, ask for a trade list. Being the first one to call to trade is huge. Most of the time, guys will help, so whoever gets to him first gets the trade. I try to stay on top of what time callbacks are. Back in the day without cell phones, it was hard. Now with the Internet and Facebook, it’s hard to be the first one to get to guys. You’ve got to use all your tactics to get ahold of someone. TRJ