Episode 043 - The Heart of a Bullfighter: Dusty Tuckness Tells All

Sit down with Dusty Tuckness, 10 time who overcame a career-threatening leg injury at the 2021 NFR. Dusty shares his journey of triumph, discussing the challenges, the comeback, and the unwavering faith that carried him through. But it's not just about bullfighting; Dusty also opens up about his dating life as a single man in 2024. Whether you're a rodeo enthusiast or seeking a story of resilience and faith, this episode with Dusty Tuckness is a must-listen. Discover why Dusty's journey is truly "Unbreakable" and find motivation to overcome your own obstacles.

Listen Here:

Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: Hey, everybody, thanks for listening to the Kick Your Boots Up podcast. I'm your host, Taylor McAdams. We have a treat in store for you this week. This week's guest is a legend and truly, really doesn't need any introduction. But for his sake and for yours, I'm going to go ahead and tell you a little bit about this guy sitting next to me. He's the 10-time NFR bullfighter of the year, which that alone says a lot. But in my personal opinion, one of the coolest awards I've ever heard of him receiving is the 2022 Lane Frost Award at Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo And that award is given annually to someone who has enhanced the image and the growth of the PRCA. And after his little accident in 2021, and the way he recovered, I feel like he was a really great recipient of that. He's from Wyoming. You know him you love them, ladies and gentlemen, Dusty Tuckness

Dusty Tuckness: Thanks for having me. 

Taylor McAdams: Of course, it's so good to have you here in studio and to get to a little to know about your story a little bit. And so every everyone who's listened to the podcast very long knows that we started the humble beginnings. It's really big and really important to talk about how you got your start and what brought you here. So tell us a little bit about you and how you became a bullfighter.

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah, so for me, I grew up into the rodeo world. My mom was involved in rodeo my dad fought bulls. And, you know, I was traveling around with him at a young age and in the summer of my early years, and, and it just something that I was drawn to, and kind of a long story short, I put his shoes on one day and never looked back.

Taylor McAdams: Wow. And did you ever think, like, Yeah, I actually want to try to be a bull rider or a bronc rider or a roper? Did you ever, like, really seriously go down that avenue?

Dusty Tuckness: Um, I rode bulls a little bit, I think more or less just do the fact that was, you know, there's a lot of people around me that were kind of taking that route, but then it was some multiple fighting, that really drew me to the sport. And, you know, obviously, you know, Dad was a big advocate of that, you know, watching him and what he did in inside and outside the arena. And just the whole concept of the bullfighter, you know, I think is one of the most selfless jobs out there. And, you know, as I look back now, I just feel it is all part of God's plan for my life. And there was a lot of highs and lows and your u turns at a at a young age. But you know, it's turned out to be something pretty special. At a young age, I don't think anybody realizes, you know, you always have dreams and things that you want to chase as a kid. And, but at a young age, I don't think you really take hold of what that could actually be like, and, and so I spent a lot of time reflecting looking back at that, that kid and which keeps me motivated and in where I'm at in my career right now. So yeah, it all started at a young age. And, you know, it's developing something more than I could ever imagine. Been very blessed.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah. And you're really good about mindset and keeping a solid head on your shoulders throughout everything. And so I want to kind of go back a little bit to that, that time when you had first become a bullfighter, you're falling in your dad's footsteps- Did you ever feel a certain kind of untalked about pressure from him? You know, I'm sure it was like you wanted to do as good as your dad or better. So tell us about that.

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah. So for me, you know, excuse me growing up into it, I can honestly say to two older brothers that, you know, I was wanting to do stuff with them. And in order for me to tag along, I had to kind of be tough and and just through the whole sport of rodeo, you kind of had to have a tough edge to you. But sorry about that. You know, growing up, you know, I didn't know honestly what fears or nerve or anything was just with the childhood that I have with the brothers and, and just being around dad. And it wasn't until my freshman year in high school, I actually kind of started fighting bulls probably younger than most people I was about 12 years old, when I was starting to step round, I was sneaking away to some practice pins. And once Dad Mom found that out, you know, they did nothing but support it and but I got in a pretty bad wreck when I was 15. And it really opened my eyes What sport can and could do to somebody and I'll be honest, you know, that honestly could have ended my career. And I truly believe the only thing that really saved it was you know, accepting Jesus in my in my life and having him be my Lord and Savior. And the kind of Long Story Short on my testimony was, I was trying to get out of this funk and trying to come back and get back into the bullfight. And try to get my mind right, and I was just really battling with a lot of fear and a lot of nerves and, and just, you know, the unknown and, you know, there's a rodeo bible camp and Meeteetse, Wyoming that was going on and I signed up for that with only intentions to try to go and develop my bullfighting skills and try to learn and improve on that side. And little did I know it literally changed my life. You know, I accepted Jesus in my life and from that day on, you know, it's it's been an uphill climb and it's progressed since then. And I can truly say that I credit to that just understanding my purpose in life. You know, my faith in Christ and We're all we're all made for purpose and we all have gifts and plans and but it's up to us to put in the work and the time to develop them and see them, you know, come full circle. So at that point, like I said, it was the best thing I've ever done in my life. And that's really where I guess my bullfighting really started to kind of turn into something at a young age, but I was still young enough where, you know, it was fun, I wanted to do it. I didn't know if there's gonna be a full-time career. I didn't know if there's gonna be a little bit of a hobby or stuff on the weekends and, and, you know, I just kept going to it, and God put a lot of the right people in my life went to college in Powell Northwest College and coach Dale knows. And you know, we had a great team, you know, Wade Sankey, who's, you know, stock contractor been to the NFR and horses to the year. Shane Proctor who is a World Champion bull rider, I mean, we had a lot of great athletes that are team and just kept going to it, and then 2006 and backup a little bit of a lot of credit to the Cody Night rodeo in Cody, Wyoming. Cut my teeth there for several summers. In 2005, was the first time that worked the whole summer and stock contractor Maury and Nikki Tate out of Oklahoma, you know, they hired me on for that first full summer and more or less told myself if if I'm as hungry and as anxious and have the drive from January one was it's 92 performances in a row and have that same hunger desire at the end of the summer that I'm going to go ahead and apply for my PRCA card and, and I did I still was craving it more than ever. And so we put in for our PRCA card, and I got approved, and, you know, kind of the rest is history more or less.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah. And Dusty. Wow, there's I have so many questions upon that one response from you, because I want to take it a little bit back further. You mentioned your testimony a little bit, and not a lot of people get to hear that I thank you for sharing it on the podcast because I think I first heard your testimony at Rodeo Houston  whenever they were doing like I think it's called Cowboy Camp. You know what I'm talking about? Where after the rodeo there's a group of people that go to the trailers and put on just like a gospel service, truly like the Lord is there, and it's a good thing that you have goin you and Chuck Swisher, I think kind of head it up and that's good for you guys leading by example. But kind of going back to that you found your your faith and you made that like your foundation and the thing that you would run on you said like around the age of 15 when you first got started and all that. Was it hard for you. I mean, a lot of people in life struggle, they'll go on and off the path they'll find especially when they're given the opportunity for a spotlight like like you have, they'll they'll go off and on the path. And I guess really what I'm asking is like, what's your best advice for that? Did you ever did that ever happen to you tell us a little bit about that.

Dusty Tuckness: Oh, yeah, I mean, you know, the world we live in, there's a lot of temptations and things that can pull you away from, you know, your goals, your desires, your your physical goals, or your spiritual goals. And so you got to have a sharp mind on you. And, you know, there's a lot of highs and lows and ups and downs. And I've learned throughout the year, and but ultimately, you know, I was just trying to stay more plugged into the source and the system. And, you know, I learned a lot, you know, going back to where I said, God put a lot of the right people in my life to help keep me accountable and keep me on track. And you know, it was a development, it was consistency, you know, physically and spiritually of wanting to grow and wanting to get better and wanting to commit to whatever the path and in life you choose. And that's one thing I really tried to tell a lot of people, you know, we live in a world now where, you know, they want the quick fix, they want the overnight transition and transformation. And it's not that easy, you know, you got to put in a lot, a lot of days and a lot of hours, and you got to build habits and then habits turn into a lifestyle. So it takes a lot of time consistently doing something in order before it really becomes a lifestyle. So there's a lot of discipline dedication, to whatever it is you choose in life and both spiritually and physically speaking. So, yeah, there's a lot of things I've learned throughout the, throughout my career and, you know, the things that I've learned I've tried to pass down to the, you know, the generation below me to, you know, they don't have to do what I do, but you know, this is really what's helped me through my career and my life and you know, help build me into the person and the man I am today. 

Taylor McAdams: Yeah, very well said. And I can tell that for sure. Especially starting so young and being where you are today. Is there any advice really quick before I have another follow up on your other? Is there any advice you'd give yourself whenever you were now that you know what you know about life about bullfighting? What would you go back and tell your 15 year old self?

Dusty Tuckness: Man! That's a tough question. You hear that one a lot, but I think you just got to live it you know, more than anything, you know, don't basically don't take no for an answer. And you know, growing up even through high school and with my mom and dad, you know, I grew up, and we weren't just given a lot of stuff. We had to work for it, and I owe a lot of credit to a mom and dad and my own, even my brothers and extended family members that, you know, kind of instilled that in me and, you know, rolled over into sports and then rolled over in life and you know, my bullfighting career and even my walk with God. So every day I wake up I always think, you know, what can I do today that my future self will thank me for and you know, just try to be 1% better at least every day. And, you know, I feel that if you can have a mentality like that you're always striving to be better than you were yesterday and, and, you know, you're putting out a good example.

Taylor McAdams: Definitely. Okay, now I have to go back to what you said about purchasing your your PRCA card and going through all that process. How old were you? First of all,

Dusty Tuckness: I was 19.

Taylor McAdams: Oh my gosh. So you were really young and then trying to just jump into this whole contracting job? You know, you didn't know what rodeo was gonna bug you the next year. Tell us about that experience? Because you said once you fulfilled your what do you say 100 rodeos? Once you did that? Was it hard to get rodeos booked? Tell us about that whole process right there? Because there's a lot of people that are stuck either mentally or physically. Right there. 

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah.And that's one question you get a lot with younger guys, you know, fighting bulls, you don't want to be a rodeo clown or especially act, you know, I tell a lot of them. Like, once you get that card, that doesn't mean that your doors just gonna be knocked, you know, get knocked on, and you know, people want to hire you. So you got to, you know, kind of enjoy the process. You know, just keep true to what your goals and visions are and keep working hard. And and it'll pay off eventually. I've always told myself and several people in person it will keep you from doing something as yourself, but you got to believe it. But the process Yeah, I got evaluated. And you know, I grew up around rodeo. So I got to know some contractors fairly early before I even had a card, you know, triple V rodeo company dad would work a lot down in Steamboat Springs. So I got to know, Bill and Donna Larson really well. And so I worked some of their events when I first got a card. And then dad used to work a lot of Kessler rodeos up in Montana. And I was kind of the, you know, on the feed crew, you know, when when he was clowning, and just doing oddball jobs and just learning the sport and you know, all the ins and outs of what goes on in a rodeo. And once I got my card, I didn't necessarily book anything yet. And then we went to the NFR. And they have what they call the the NFR contract personnel convention. So usually, it's the first three days before the NFR starts. And it's basically where all contract personnel they go and basically try to sell themselves, you know, have a booth with contact information, videos, brochures, pictures, and a lot of the committees from around the country come there and, you know, resign contracts or look for new hot potential up and comers. And, you know, you think going into there, man, I'm, I'm a card-carrying member, I'm gonna book a lot of events, and you don't, you know, it takes time. And sometimes it's who you know and being in the right place at the right time. And that year, I worked the NFR sale, and it was cool back then because the NFR sale sale was still at the Thompson back in the morning. So got to experience the Thomas And Mackin an early age. And, you know, I remember Shorty Gorham was there, Hollywood Yates . And I think Darrell Diefenbach, a couple of other guys that were looked up to and legends. And, you know, I just remember him telling me that, hey, when you're in there, you know, find everything and go to everything. And I did and I just wanted to show the contractors and whoever was there bidding and buying all these, these bucking bulls and horses that, you know, I was willing to work, and you know, I was not afraid to get knocked down and get back up. And so, after the sale, Duane  Kessler come up to me and booked me for their summer on in Montana. So I had a few events, you know, out of the gate, but I would go to a lot of bullfights ever, ever went I credit a lot of it to the bullfight, the freestyle part of my career to where I've at where I am today, just the fact of, you know, I'm not scared to go to anything, I'm not worried if one's wanting to, you know, chase me around and try to hook me and those were events that you could enter. You didn't have to get hired. So through the bullfights and that, you know, open up some job opportunities, you know, I got to go to Denver Stock Show and Rodeo for the bullfights which led me into in 2008. I worked part of the rodeo. And then through there I booked Greeley Stampede Extreme Bulls. And then Fort Collins used to have a rodeo at the end of the season that I booked through that as well. They were there, and they liked what they saw. So, you know, it definitely helped and I tell a lot of kids nowadays you don't have to go be a competitive freestyle bullfighter. But, you know, go out there, cut your teeth, you know, get some more exposure, the better you can be and more in front of more people and get word of mouth going around, the better off you'll be in the long run. So, you know, I credited a lot to the freestyle part and I enjoy the freestyle part too. So I like protection and freestyle across the board, but it was a you know, it was a process, you know, it took some time to develop and get some good rodeos. But you know, I just kept, you know, kept thinking that, you know, this could turn into something great, and I don't want to be the guy. Regardless if I win lose or draw that when I retired, hang up my cleats, and I can look back to that gave it everything I had, and I can be content with that.

Taylor McAdams: I would say that you definitely have given it all you had throughout your entire career and we'll get into a little bit why I think that later, but I want to go back to what you mentioned the PRCA convention that was a there was a fun video that went around this past year of you and Cody Webster. You had like a cloth or some the wild rag, and Cody flipped over a guy–

Dusty Tuckness: That was Manu, The Bull Jumper.

Taylor McAdams: Yes. Okay. Sorry about that. Yes. I loved that video. And it seems like even though you guys were there, you mentioned selling yourself that's kind of essentially why you're there why you pay the money to have the booth to book the rodeos. But is it is it just fun being there in that room and having the camaraderie of knowing like you guys are friends? Yes, you have to quote unquote, compete against each other just like rodeo competitors whenever it comes to booking rodeos. But what's the camaraderie like not only at the convention, but I mean, all your all your around because you could work one rodeo with this guy and they go to the next rodeo and not get to work with them. So what's the camaraderie like between all the bullfighters?

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah, well, just the sport of rodeo, I think the camaraderie is second to none. You know, just a great, you know, it's like an extended family. But with the convention, you know, there's, I get, people ask me all the time, why you still go to convention like you're booked up, and I'm like, Well, yeah, I'm blessed, a great career and some good scheduling of rodeos. But I still like going there to just see everybody, you know, see all my committees, you can, you know, do a lot of business, you know, in a more controlled environment, you know, Vegas can get pretty hectic depending on where you're at. And, also, you know, just still being presentable. And, you know, if they want a new rodeo maybe comes along, and, you know, I can make it work great. But also, I like to, you know, there's some really good hands that are coming up, you know, there's a kid that comes to mind, you know, Austin Ashley, that is one of the the sharpest kids, that is one of the younger kids going right now. And so it's opportunities like that, that if contract comes up, and is looking to hire somebody that's younger and give him you know, some rodeos, and that I like to try to help direct them to the right guys, and, you know, help their career out a little bit. Because when you're starting out, you don't know a lot of people, 

Taylor McAdams: Right 

Dusty Tuckness: And the PR side of it, and, you know, your public relations, it can be hard to talk to strangers at times, so just kind of break the ice for them and get them introduced to certain people, or if there's a rodeo that I have, that they're bringing in a new guy that I know, I like to try to help make that connection, that introduction, and, you know, just ease it into, you know, the relationship they're fixing to develop. So I enjoy the whole thing that you know, being part of the NFR is, is pretty special, those two weeks are what everybody strives for every year to get to and, but to kick it off with the convention and, you know, get to see all your buddies and you know, just kind of reminisce, because when we're rodeoin’, and we have a lot of fun and get to hang out a lot. But they're, you know, yes, we're doing business. But you know, we're not having to rush to performance, we're not have to rush to a meeting or anything like that. So we can kind of catch up and check in on their family, and how the year’s been and you know, and I think it's just all part of it, I enjoy, you know, getting together with my rodeo crew and just cutting up.  

Taylor McAdams: And you mentioned, you know, just speaking up for any upcoming up and comer whenever you can, I've got to commend you for that, because that's hard to do. There's a lot of people that would want us to keep to themselves and make sure that they're covered first. And that's probably what makes you up there with the legends you're, you're a really good person in and out of the arena. And kind of along the same lines. There's been a lot of rodeos that you've gotten to do. Is there any rodeo that you haven't gotten to do that you want to do? Because you've gotten to do so many? I mean, Cheyenne. Have you gotten to do Calgary

Dusty Tuckness: No.Honestly, if there's one that I still work that I'd like to probably Calgary but it was pretty cool. One of my best friends Nate Jestes, he, he actually got the contract go up there last year, and I'm sure he'll be a mainstay there for a lot of years. And so I can't, you know, going back to the younger guys, or even the more seasoned guys, if they're doing their job and doing a good job at it. I’m for him, you know, there's guys that say, Oh, they got to pay their dues and you know that you know, this and that Well, I think that's Balogna, you know, the guy's good, young, old or whatever. And I'm happy for him. And I like seeing young guys older guys seasoned guys, get you know, accomplishments you know, Nathan are one of my best friends, you know, we're here at Fort Worth together. He got to work his first PBR finals last year and he'll be a mainstay there for several years. So those moments like that man, you just I get more excited to see their success than my success so but that just goes back to the camaraderie of the sport you know, we'd like to see each other do well and but we're we hold each other accountable. You know, we're not afraid to kick each other behind and say, Hey, man, you need to buck up you need to step up, you know, get back to what you're doing. And so that's what I like too is you got to be able to be coachable. You got to be able to take constructive criticism and but it's just such a great big support group, and at the end of the day, you know, You hear the quote saying, you know, you run around the five successful people, you'll be the sixth. And there's a lot of truth to that. And over the years, we've, there's a buddy group that we stay in contact weekly, if not daily, and sending videos and talking about little fights and bull ridins and just life in general. So I think you know, that, that just naturally attracts to the child each other it's nothing that we've really tried to build or wanted to create with certain guys; it's just people to like, same mindset and drive and, and you feed off that, you know, you look at rodeo contestants, look who they're traveling with, you know, two guys that come to mind right now is Stetson Wright and Ky Hamilton, you know, those two feet off each other, like none other. And, man, it's, it's pretty cool to see what the they they can accomplish and what they can do. And you know, in the Bronc ridin’, and all the Wrights to travel together, and you just, you know, Kacee Field, and Tilden when they were traveling together, just, you know, when they showed up, you know, there was a presence that was known. And guys were kind of like, dang it. They're here, you know, so that's what I think is cool about the buddy system and you know, pushing each other to be great.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah. And along the same lines, the buddy system is awesome for your specific job. Because you, like I said, I mentioned earlier, you can literally be at one rodeo with someone else and that another with another and if you have some tiff outside, then it like you wonder Oh, no, well, they have my back, but at the end of the day, they will. So what's that like then to like what's going through your mind when a bull is headed towards you or really more so a Cowboys hung up and you've got to put yourself in between the bull and knowing that that that guy over there is going to have your back? What tell me about the headspace there, whenever you're in the arena fighting the bulls, what else is going on? What's happening?

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah, so I mean, obviously, there's, you know, certain guys, and, you know, I enjoy working with maybe more than others. But at the end of the day, I don't really fret on who's on the other side, just do the fact that I know I still got a job to do. And so at times, you know, I'm pretty blessed with all the rodeos I got, you know, I've got a lot of great guys that I get to work with. So I don't really have to worry about that other side, you know, I know they're gonna take care of it. But if you know, I'm with a younger guy, or somebody that's a little more hesitant, it's just, you know, I gotta step up, I've got to lead the pack, I've got to maybe cover more ground. But when you get put in an arena with, with guys that you click with, you know, and I've said this to several people, and I'm not afraid to say whenever to whoever, but, you know, the, if I can pick one guy to work with anywhere, anytime, anyplace, that's Web I think there's a chemistry there and that we bring and that I feed off him, he feeds off me and, and, you know, you just watch videos of us, you know, there's not a time that we're not having fun. And that's when it gets really fun, you know, you're stepping in there in an unpredictable uncontrollable situation with a very large animal and a lot of things that can go haywire and we're just laughing and cutting out and having fun and I know if I get down, I'm not gonna be down long and if he gets down, he knows he's not gonna be down long and and there's other guys to you know, Harp and Jestes in them guys, you know, there's just a tear of bullfighters out there that I think that are just, they put in the work every day. They think it breathe it, eat it, sleep it, love it every day. And those are the guys you see that are, you know, busy from January one to December 31st. And, you know, always looking to raise the bar always looking to get better. And I and everybody that I just mentioned is giving back to the sport as well. So I think what you learn, you've got to be able to give back to you, you know, you can't be stingy, you can't hold on to some you can't, you know, think man I hope they don't get this right. I'm not gonna tell him until I'm done. Like you got to be confident in your own ability and, and want to want to relay that knowledge. You know, we've been talking over the last week. Harp and I talked to web and about maybe coming up with the more of a like a, like a clinic of, you know, a season, experience bullfighter clinic on just diving into bullfight and to a deeper level than normal. And, you know, talking to them all have a lot of the same ideas and in thought process to it, because we want to give that knowledge that we've learned and develop that people have Smits and Frank and Lance and all those guys Miles have given us and we want to play it back to the generation below us. So there'll be some stuff I think in the works over the next year that where we really want to fine-tune even seasoned athletes, you know, if we feel that we can help them. I want to be that guy, and I want to see them do more and do better things than I ever did.

Taylor McAdams: That is so good for you guys. We'll be looking forward to that because you're you're spot on with that. Everyone could use a tune up and everyone can learn something from a clinic, and just because you've booked some PRCA rodeos and you're going you have some big, big names. You've maybe even been to the NFR, but you're a newbie. You still have something to learn. So that's really cool. And kind of going back to that you mentioned when you get down, then the other one knows they're not going to be down that long, and this is like a true testament this truly happened to you and your life and 2021 at the your 129 NFR performance you'll never forget it when your life kind of changed and momentarily for a hot second because your leg was broken very bad. Tell us about that that situation and how it was important to have each other and I think even I think Bryce redo was

Dusty Tuckness: working that was it was Nathan Harp and Cody Webster. 

Taylor McAdams: He got to step in and kind of fill fill a void to during the the perfs whenever you had to go out. So tell us about all that whole experience?

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah, it's, you know, definitely changed the outlook for 2022. But yeah, the ninth round in 2021 Brian Richardson got a bull from phenom genetics boo Sean a great Moneyball, they went a lot of money on and B Rich, you know, he was kind of buggered up going to that round, but he ended up winning the round on the bull, which is really cool. And just routine gap. I've done me, you know, hundreds, hundreds of times.

Taylor McAdams: And what is that a routine gap?

Dusty Tuckness: Just basically putting yourself between the bull and the bull rider, you know, and create more exposure to yourself and the bull rider, and I stepped in there and bull swung around there to hook at me. And when he did, he stepped on the side of my leg, and everything happened so quick. And but as soon as I felt the pressure on my leg, I really tried to roll my knee in a direction where my leg would would actually bend, but he just had too much weight on the side of my leg already. And instantly, you know, I mean, everybody knew right away, but you mean you heard it, I felt it. And I just remember when I looked down, you know, my leg was pointing in a direction it wasn't supposed to. So those types of injuries, you know, rodeo is a game of injuries. It's, you know, you've heard it said before, it's not, you know, if you get hurt, it's when and how bad and you know, everybody that was present or watching on TV could instantly know that something bad just happened 

Taylor McAdams:You were not okay. 

Dusty Tuckness: And you know, mentally when you look at something like that, you know, a limb of your body is pointing the direction it's not supposed to, it can definitely play games in your head. Yeah. But for me, you know, I just remember instantly when I looked down, I just, I just remember saying Jesus, Jesus, Jesus heal in Jesus name, and just really tried to just keep peace about me about it. And obviously, Webb and Harp were there you know, I didn't have a care in the world I knew I could stay laying down and they rolled that bowl to the out gate and obviously then the Justin Sports Medicine team, Dr. Andy Freeman, they come in and assisted me and I just really tried to like I said keep calm and and just was trying to breathe through it all. And I just remember, you know, when they got me on the board and was packed me out, there was a picture that was going around. As they were packing me on I can just remember gazing around the crowd for a quick second, and I just thought, I don't want this to predict the last time that I stepped foot in this arena. And so the journey began. It was a long, long hard, fought journey a lot of that U-turns. I had to have a double surgery, they had to redo the surgery a month into it, so that that was a that that was a bit of a heartbreaker. But you know for me ultimately that that hurt the most that the physical pain was there, but the emotional, heartfelt pain. I think overruled it just due to the fact that I knew Web and Harp could finish out the 10th round. No problem. Yeah, but I wanted to be there. 

Taylor McAdams: And you were Weren't you on the bucket shoots. Like–Didn’t you come?

Dusty Tuckness: Well, they didn't let me to the bucking chutes. But–

Taylor McAdams: You were watchin' backstage or something. 

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah, I talked myself out of the hospital to go watch the last round.

Taylor McAdams: And you know, that's insane, right? Dusty? 

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah, there's a lot of you know, Carla Harrison. And she was one that was checking on me. 

Taylor McAdams: She’s a GEM.

Dusty Tuckness: While John was still working the finals. And she was really wanting to take me to the hotel and not the arena. But I was pretty stubborn. And I was like, No, I'm going to the arena, I'm gonna be there. And be there for as much as I can be there for, but even that night, I just kept trying to just have the faith that, you know, I'm gonna wake up and I'm gonna be healed, and I'm gonna fly balls in the 10th round. And I actually even had a dream that night that I got to the rain, and I was in a boot and Webb and harp hit my gear bag. They weren't. And I was like, Come on, guys. We're about we're about to hit five balls. And, and I just that was one thing, I made a point every day I woke up believing that that day and the next day that I was going to be ready to go, and you know, it was longer than I wanted, but it was you know, all part of God's plan and part of the story and, and I told myself, you know, this is gonna benefit me you really find out your true character, I think on other side adversity. And so I learned a lot from it. I developed my character a lot from him, but I told myself this could change the trajectory of just one person's life. Help them out somewhere. Somehow that it was totally worth it. And, you know, God really showed up through a lot of it through the highs to the lows, and just a great support system. And like I said, I owe a lot to Tandy and the Justin Sportsmedicine Team. Kevin, Kevin Taylor, that my therapists that got me going, John and Carla, I mean, they were, if I didn't talk to him, every four hours, you know, I'd be lying, you know, they were checked me in and they actually stayed with me the four extra days. And owe a lot to Mr. Gong and Ryan Gowning, they put me up to South Point, and they ended up flying me home, and they just took care of me. So just going back to the camaraderie and just the tight knit family that rodeo is, you know, they really took care of me through it all and a whole lot Maurey and Nikki Tate, I went there and actually, more or less kind of rehab and relaxed for them first couple of weeks, as I was getting biased, and they took care of me and I can be those who know me, I can be pretty independent, I can get pretty stubborn, hard headed of I don't like to be waited on. And but I'll do anything for anybody. And so that was a really hard challenge for me, because I physically couldn't do a lot of things. And so it was, it was a lot of growing in my patience and just in trying to enjoy the process. And through that, I really should have really reflected even more on the process and finding more joy in the process. And, you know, it tells us in His Word and James that, you know, Consider it joy when we go through trials and tribulations because a test of our faith will produce it endurance and, and to me that was just like, alright, you know, I'm going to take each day, and I'm going to my goal was to show up to therapy and have Kevin go, man, wow. And there's a lot of days, it was like that. And there were some days it wasn't but I just, you know, kept trying to, you know, do everything I possibly could and, you know, the timeline was was a pretty big gap. They said anywhere from six to 12 months to be back and I wasn't gonna accept that. And there's a lot of people that thought he's out for the year or this could end his career. And that was just putting another log on the fire for me. I wasn't going to take no for an answer. And I knew there was more to the story. And I just, you know, whatever was dealt to me I was gonna accept and, and hit it head on. And like I said, through the great team the support system, we were able to come back and four and a half months. And my first Pro Rodeo back was Reno that year. And when I showed up, there's a lot of people are like, Are you sure? And I was like, Yep, yeah, I'm ready. You know, I'm going back on, you know, people to work with I had Webster, there working with me. So again, I wasn't worried at all, you know, he definitely cared more of the load as we got rolling and starting. But it was just having the confidence in the sports medicine team that Justin team, Kevin, and having web, you know, on the other side, I didn't have a worry in the world. So it was, it was a journey. But like I said, it's all part of the story. And and you got to take the good days and bad days and make the best of them.

Taylor McAdams: Of course, and you've done a great a phenomenal job of that. I think a lot of people that get injured and rodeo even just as competitors look to you and your success story of like, okay, you know what, mentally I can do this. I know, we've talked with Tim O'Connell here on the podcast about him overcoming his shoulder and all that. And I don't know how you guys do it, quite honestly, without the Lord without God. But I'm very, very, very proud and humbled to sit here and hear that story as well. And before we are running out of time, there's so many questions about that. But I've got to move on to 2024 plans and everything now because, obviously you're back and goin you're in full swing, you were just at the NFR. So you actually did the 2022 NFR didn't you? Didn't you? Yeah.

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah 22. And then yeah, that was a really cool thing about story. You know, the ultimate goal was to get back earlier, or the ultimate goal was get back to the finals. But yeah, obviously, you know, I really tried to focus on the each day, you know, not really focusing on the finals, but magnifying and maximize my time each and every day. And, you know, obviously that was in the back of my mind. And to be able to get that call that year. In 2022 was pretty emotional. It was I said it brought back you know, from the first time I got the call to just everything I've been through, it was like it was all worth it didn't so to get to go back and 2022 with what I sustained in 2021 and stepped back in that arena for the first time was pretty special. 

Taylor McAdams: And I remember you're just posting about it on social, you were wanting to tear up talking about it. That whole journey there because you're right, you're out for four and a half months your leg was literally the other way. And then by the end of it, you're like No, no, no, I'm going to be at the NFR and you did you made it. And then to even say you did a whole 2023 season, and NFR was good there. Now we're 2024 What are your plans? I know you have a lot of rodeos booked so tell us about what Dusty is going Are we doing this year? 

Dusty Tuckness: Yes. So 2024 is not going to look a whole lot different. Got a lot of same rodeos again. We're here in Fort Worth right now for the Stock Show and Rodeo and I've been here since 2009. And this this rodeos meant a lot to me and my career. I've been been here for the majority of my career and Mr. Barnes and Cal and the crew, you know, they they put faith in me enough to hire me in 2009. And, you know, I've said it a lot. And I'll say it again: this rodeo itself, especially when we're in old format and old Will Rogers. We used to do 34 performances in 20 days. So we did a lot of two and three perfs a day for several years. And you know, this rodeo has really built me into the bullfighter, the man I am today, so owe a lot of credit to Mr. Barnes for you know, sticking his neck out and wanting to hire me in 2009. And but yeah, we're here in Fort Worth, and we go to a couple runs in the Tucson and the Houston and then the spring run and the big summer run you know, kicking off at Reno Rodeo , so a lot of the same rodeos. They'll be at, you know, new goals new year, a lot of same goals. Obviously, you know, we want to, we want to make it back to Vegas at the end of the year. But again, you know, my main objective and focus right now is tonight, as we go back to the Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, and taking care of the guys, each and every night here. So that's really where I focus on just keeping it simple of that day and, you know, letting the rest play for itself and just work on trying to be 1% better every day.

Taylor McAdams:  And that's good that you really do take it day by day. Before we go I have to let you know I did a few days ago on social media I asked people you know, I'm getting ready to start Season Two Who do you want to see and a lot of girls said dusty technics but their question for you. Are you ready for this? We have to keep it real Makiki reads a podcast. Are you single and in 2024? Will you find a girlfriend?  

Dusty Tuckness: Yeah, I'm single and I said New Year new goals. So we'll see if 2024 is the year. 

Taylor McAdams: Okay, ladies, all you out there that requested that There you go. Slide up in his DM’S. No dusty, you're a solid man, thank you so much for taking the time to be on the podcast. We've learned a lot about you. And I feel like you've shared a lot that you really haven't gotten to share with most people. So we appreciate that. And anyone that wants to go find Dusty to learn more about his bullfighting, really anything you can find him at dusty underscore Tuckness on most social media platforms, Facebook, Instagram, you can Google them, whatever you want to do, you'll be able to learn more but just a solid guy you guys and has a really good message to share within the rodeo industry. And you know what we're cheering you on as an endorsee of Team Justin , we're so proud of you. And we hope that you make it up to the NFR. Again, another time, it's going to be awesome. And we'll be cheering for you throughout the rest of the year. And, guys, if you're listening, if you liked this episode, please feel free to like, subscribe, share it with your friends. If there's any questions you want us to ask Dusty, feel free to comment below. Let us know and we will send them his way. Thank you so much for listening to the Kick Your Boots Up podcast. Thanks for joining us on kick your boots up. I'm your host Taylor McAdams and we can't wait to share the next story of the West. Until then, feel free to like, subscribe, and leave us a review. Follow us on social media at Justin Boots to keep up with our next episode. And we'll see you the next time you kick your boots up.

“You really find out your true character on other side of adversity.”