Delayed due to pandemic, Deer Creek Roping Club rides into summer

Gillette resident Dustin Brown

Gillette resident Dustin Brown races toward a calf during the Deer Creek Roping club’s number 12 handicap team roping event Saturday at the South Rec Complex. (Chase Vialpando photo)

Chase Vialpando,

The hootin' and hollerin’ ceases as two cowboys trot their horses into a fenced-in pen. In a chute between them, an antsy calf shuffles from side to side, kicking up a cloud of dust.

With a focused look on his face, a cowboy looks at the chute operator. He nods, signalling he’s ready. As the gate’s released, the calf barrels into the ring and the cowboys follow in hot pursuit, swinging their ropes wildly.

The Deer Creek Roping Club (DCRC) kicked off its Welcome Summer Roping Event Saturday morning at the South Recreational Complex.

The club held three separate team roping events, a No. 12 handicap pick and draw, an open draw pot saddle roping and a No. nine handicap pick and draw. Cowboys and cowgirls from around the state registered as a header or a heeler beforehand, but could sign up for both in the open saddle roping.

About 75 riders competed for a belt buckle  and cash in the number 12 handicap pick and draw, and chose their first teammate for each run, but then were randomly assigned another for their next run.

Another belt buckle was on the line in the No. nine handicap pick and draw, and the riders once again drew a random teammate for each one that they chose.

In the open saddle roping event, contestants competed for a saddle and all teammates were randomly assigned.

There were also cash prizes for second to sixth place in each event. The number of cattle roped and the fastest times determined the winners.

According to DCRC President Jim Schell, the club usually puts on four ropings a year.

“It’s kind of a labor of love for us,” he said.

Schell explained ropers are ranked by a number between one and 10. The higher the number the better the roper.

In the No. 12 handicap event, teammates couldn’t rank higher than 12 together, and in the number nine handicap, they couldn’t rank higher than nine. There were no limits for the open draw pot saddle roping.

“It kind of evens the playing field,” Schell said.

Contestants at the club’s ropings don’t have to be members. Schell said the club usually has about 100 regular competitors.

“The neat thing about team roping is we might have some contestants that are 80-years- old,” Schell remarked. “We might have their grandson that’s in their roping with them at 12- years-old.”

Header Chase Oliver and heeler Justin Johnson won the No. 12 handicap event, and header Chris Navarro and Heeler Clint VanHerron took home the buckle in the No. nine handicap event. Header Preston Mackey and Heeler Brady Allison won the saddle in the open draw roping.

Schell  mentioned that he and the members of the club were just thankful that it was still around.

“If you let something like this die out, it’s almost impossible to bring back,” he said, resting a hand on a horse.


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