- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Dusty Tuckness could go without watching another second of video and still be one of the best bullfighters in the world.

He could stop overloading his brain with bulls’ tendencies and riders’ preferred ways to get off their draws and still be one of the best bullfighters in the world.

Tuckness could skip the occasional workout and maybe enjoy a night on the town and still be one of the best bullfighters in the world.

But that’s just not the way the 28-year-old is wired.

He has a passion for bullfighting, and that profession comes with enormous responsibility. Getting between the bull rider and an angry Brahma even a split second late could have some serious repercussions.

That’s why the Meeteetse, Wyoming, bullfighter buries his face in video. And it’s why he works out obsessively.

“You’re hurting yourself, and you’re doing (bull riders) a disservice if you don’t commit yourself,” Tuckness said. “I’m not saying that my way is the best way. It’s what I think I need to do to do my job to the best of my ability.”

That dedication to his craft has earned Tuckness the respect and admiration of those he’s tasked with protecting.

Bull riders vote on which bullfighters will appear at the year-end National Finals Rodeo, and Tuckness has been at the last five finales. They also vote on the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s bullfighter of the year award, an award Tuckness has won for the past four years.

“There aren’t many guys who are at his level right now,” said four-time world champion J.W. Harris of Mullin, Texas. “Anytime you get a bull that’s really bad at hooking and you see Dusty standing in the arena, you really aren’t as worried.

“I’d climb on Godzilla if Dusty was standing out there.”

Tuckness never got into bullfighting for accolades or admiration, but that doesn’t mean that having earned the respect of his peers means any less.

“Fighting bulls is my passion, and it’s awesome to see that guys are appreciative of that,” Tuckness said. “Our category is so different from the contestants’. Theirs is based on winning money and earning money and titles. Ours is voted on.

“Those cowboys can have a poor winter and then get hot in the spring and summer and still win a world title. For bullfighters, if we don’t do our job for a stretch, those guys are going to see that and remember that. We can’t have an off-day.”

Timber Tuckness is a longtime bullfighter and barrelman. When he wasn’t protecting bull riders, he was entertaining crowds during rodeos.

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