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Meet the Member Jason Huffman
story by Lindsay Whelchel
Inside the arena, Tri-State Rodeo Association pickup man Jason Huffman is all business and focus. He’s got rough stock riders’ lives in his hands, and he’s always anticipating the next moment before it happens. He watches closely to read from the action what is going to happen next so he’s always a step ahead of the game and there to catch a rider, he says.
Jason’s duties as a pickup man hold special meaning for him, because he knows what it’s like to be in the cowboy’s position. Jason got his start in rodeo riding bulls. He credits his neighbor while he was growing up, Kenny Westrope, who competed in multiple rough stock events and took a young Jason to his very first rodeo, with influencing him to start competing in the sport. Jason was involved in TSRA during his bull riding career and even won titles in 2006 and 2008.
Now days, away from his role as a pickup man, Jason is still surrounded by bulls, he’s just not on the backs of them. At his home in New Hebron, Miss., he raises bucking bulls and works for a stock contractor’s rodeo company and commercial cattle business, Robinson Retreat Rodeo. For his employer, Jason hauls bulls to many TSRA events and enjoys seeing the young bulls get their start.
Jason acknowledges the close-knit atmosphere of his rodeo friends in the association. “I’ve been part of it a long time, and it’s more like a family deal now. I know everyone, and everyone knows me,” he says and adds another benefit of being involved is that the rodeos are close to home. “I don’t like traveling very far anymore,” Jason laughs, perhaps recalling his bull rider days.
The fact that Jason has made a lot of friends in the sport of rodeo is likely a credit to his friendly nature. “He’s laidback, easy to get along with. He pretty much doesn’t meet a stranger, he talks to everybody,” his wife Tonia says. The couple was married in 2001 and keep busy caring for all of their own animals when Jason isn’t working the ranch. When he’s not working, Jason enjoys deer hunting, but is quick to say that his favorite part of the rodeo lifestyle is being able to be there working as a pickup man, and the cowboys are probably pretty glad Jason is there too.