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Meet the Member Jerry Miller
story by Sharon Adams
“Harley Tucker taught me how to bulldog and even though I was a rough stock rider, I’m pretty proud of the bulldogging buckle I won at a college rodeo in Pomeroy, Washington,” says Jerry Miller, NIRA Alumni member from Crane, Oregon. “Harley showed me some wrestling holds and I really enjoyed steer wrestling. Whenever I could borrow a good bulldogging horse, I would enter but most of my college winnings came in the bareback and saddle bronc riding.”
Jerry Miller spent his early years on a ranch near Frenchglen, Oregon, close to the Nevada state line. Like most of the youngsters living in those remote areas of eastern Oregon, he attended a one room school house and later boarding school in Crane, Oregon for high school. He lives and ranches in Crane today but all that ranch work prepared him for rodeo competition.
He went to college at Oregon Tech in Klamath Falls and quickly teamed up with Bill Duffy. Bill Duffy and Jerry Miller were a team to be reckoned with in Saddle Bronc and Bareback Riding in the West Coast Region in 1957 and 1958. In 1957, at the College Finals in Colorado Springs, Duffy won the national Saddle Bronc Championship with Miller taking third place. That year, Miller also won fourth in the Bareback Riding and All-Around competition. In 1958, Miller was joined by Gary Gregg, also from Oregon Tech. Gregg and Miller finished third and fourth in Bareback Riding and Miller, once again finished fourth in the Saddle Bronc competition.
Miller not only credits Harley Tucker with teaching him to bulldog, but also with producing quality college rodeos in the Pacific Northwest. “ Tucker had plenty of the best bucking horses and bulls. I don’t think he ever cleared a dime putting on those college rodeos. I think he did it because he got a kick out of seeing the college kids compete. He had good bucking horses but one in particular I remember. I think his name was Oscar. I had that horse at a rodeo at Moses Lake, Washington. That horse would go out a few jumps and just come apart. I had seen him go a few times, knew what was coming, and got by him.”
Jerry competed in rodeo for several years after college. Nowadays he stays close to home ranching near Crane. He and his wife Linda have been married for 58 years. Son Bill and daughters Leeta and Tina are “good ranch hands but were never particularly interested in rodeo.” His son Bill has recently retired from teaching math and Spanish in high school. Leeta ranches near Winnemucca and Tina is her dad’s top hand at the ranch. The Millers have 11 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren, most not living close by but quite a few show up to help at branding time. “During branding we cook for around 50 people” says Linda.
“The best thing about college rodeo was the great people I met, knowing great guys like Bill Duffy and Gary Gregg and traveling with them, those are the things I remember!” says Jerry.