Ranch bronc riders ride to raise money for the Dickens Volunteer Fire Department in Texas.

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Tanner Hart of Ralls, Texas, won more than $600 in cash and prizes at the first-annual Croton Creek Classic in Dickens, Texas.

When disasters strike, people come together. That was apparent in March of 2017 as wildfires ravaged drought-stricken ranges in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. The blazes killed seven people and thousands of livestock and scorched more than 2 million acres. Organizations and individuals coordinated fundraisers and benefits to help those in need, and neighbors reached out to each other.

Brandon Puckett was raised in West Texas and worked on ranches in the region before moving to Casper, Wyoming, in December of 2017 to work for Poison Spider Cattle Company. Seeing the aftermath of the fires and the toll they took on ranch families and their communities, he decided to do his part to raise money to help those in need.

“I had to help somehow, so I put on a ranch bronc riding benefit [in Dickens, Texas] last March,” he says. “I had only three weeks to put it together, but we raised more than $4,000.”

After the success of his first event, Puckett looked at his wife, Jeannie, earlier this year and asked if she wanted to try it again, and she said, “Yes!”

“I’ve always had a dream to put on ranch bronc ridings,” says Puckett. “We’ve been to ranch bronc ridings, but we don’t have experience putting them on. We were scared to death, but the way I look at it, if your dreams don’t scare you they aren’t big enough.”

The Pucketts made their dream come true again with the help of friends and volunteers. They held the Croton Creek Classic ranch bronc riding on March 17 at a small outdoor arena nestled in the breaks along Croton Creek east of Dickens, Texas.

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Utah Eicke’s 75-point ride earned him first place and more than $300 in cash and prizes in the amateur division.

Early that morning, pickups filled with cowboys and families pulled into the arena to get the best spots to watch. The perimeter of the arena was quickly lined with tailgates and lawn chairs, and kids ran around swinging ropes at the heels of dogs and friends. Behind the chutes, more than 25 top bronc riders from Texas, New Mexico and other parts of the Southwest adjusted their saddles and prepared to get on Lonesome Dove Rodeo Company broncs.

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Riggen Greer, known as the Kid in the Can, was decked out for Saint Patrick’s Day and was the barrel man for the kids’ wild stick horse buck-out, Shetland bronc riding and mutton busting.

Designed to be a family friendly event, the bronc riding offered opportunities for kids to compete in Shetland bareback and saddle-bronc riding, mutton busting and the wild stick horse buck-out.

“The ranching lifestyle is about family, and we have to keep these kids going,” says Puckett. “They are our future.”

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Ranch bronc riders get their start as kids competing in the Shetland bronc riding.

With more than 500 people coming out to support the event and the dance that followed, more than $600 was raised for the Dickens Volunteer Fire Department. The Pucketts are already making plans to hold the second annual Croton Creek Classic and similar events elsewhere.

“It wouldn’t happen without our sponsors and volunteers,” he says. “It takes a bunch of people coming together to put this on. The cowboys love getting on broncs and I want to help them out. If you bring in good stock, the cowboys and spectators will come out.”

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Marion Turner made this pair of spurs for the amateur ranch bronc riding champion. Several talented craftsmen contributed bits, spurs and other custom gear for prizes and a raffle.
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South Texas cowboy Colton Jackson took home second place and $500 in the open division with an 85-point ride.

Croton Creek Classic Bronc Riding Results
Open Division:
1. Tanner Hart
2. Colton Jackson
3. Hunter Worm

Amateur Division:
1. Utah Eicke
2. Dylan Overstreat

Toughest Buck-Off:
1. Keith Briam

Shetland Bareback:
1. Jace Fowler
2. Lynsey Foster

Shetland Saddle Bronc:
1. Porter Wills

Mutton Busting:
1. Kendall Walter
2. Kayzlee Arnold

Wild Stick Horse Buck-Out:
1. Rylee Foster
2. Maddie Foster

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