story by Siri Stevens Earl Batteate (Bud) was born Nov. 20, 1918. He grew up in Hayward, Calif. “I didn’t get to hear the news […]
Back When They Bucked with CR Boucher
Written by: Siri Stevens< Back to Articles
courtesy of Scott Breen & Brandon Sullivan, Montanasports.comand and Siri Stevens
‘Routine’ is hardly the word that comes to mind when traveling with CR Boucher. But lunchtime may be the exception.
Every Monday through Friday he drives eight miles into Pryor, Montana, spends about two hours telling stories with friends at the Senior Center, checks mail at the post office, then drives eight miles home. This world champion cowboy is still sharp as a tack, and witty.
“I didn’t ride bulls,” said Boucher. “I just entered. My percentage wasn’t that great,” said the 85-year-old that has replaced bulls for a four wheeler and a cane.
CR – short for Clarence Raymond – grew up in Livingston, Montana. His father worked repairing steam engines. He spent his freshman year as a linebacker on MSU’s football team. He joined the army, and continued to play football for Ft. Worth for two years. When he got out in the 1958, a guy named Aubrey Rankin told him, “I’ll pay your entry fees, you wrestle steers and ride bulls. We’ll split the money.” He had a dogging team, and CR rode his horse. As CR tells it, he’d rarely even seen the sport – but just thought he’d give it a try.
“So, we got down to about the last rodeo there before we were both broke, and we was at Odessa, Texas,” he said. “I drawed a big ole charolais bull. By God if I didn’t ride him and win second. From then on we just started winning.”
Eventually a bull stomped on CR’s leg in Farmington, New Mexico, and Aubrey convinced him to stick to steer wrestling. That worked out pretty well for the pair. “Aubrey pumped me up pretty good, making me think I could throw a buffalo bull.” A freak accident at a rodeo performance in Mesquite, Texas, killed Aubrey. He was hazing for CR when the horse he was riding was clipped by a steer, and rolled on top of him. It whipped his shoulder and knocked a bone through his jugular. and when CR got to the back of the arena he wanted to go see his friend. “And they said you don’t want to go up there and look at him,” said Boucher. “They said, there’s blood running out of his nose, ears, everything. So there was a guy there who took me in his car, following the ambulance. Two or three guys in suits. Told me ‘you don’t need to go in there.’ He said D-O-A. And I said, ‘God dang’… That ended our deal.”
CR picked himself up and made it to the National Finals in Dallas, the last year they had it there in 1961, where he won the average. He went on to become a steer wrestling world champion in 1964. His earnings for the entire year were a little less than $20,000. His kitchen and fireplace mantle are filled with snapshots, trophies, plaques and buckles.
He qualified six times, then went to work as an arena director and pickup man for 19 year for Beutler Brothers Rodeo Company, picking up at the NFR the first year the NFR was in Las Vegas. CR is one of the very rare professional cowboys to hit every NFR site either as a competitor, or a hired hand. Dallas, Los Angeles, Oklahoma City, and Las Vegas. In fact, while living in Texas, he remembers qualifying for the first NFR in Los Angeles — shortly after JFK was assassinated in Dallas. “Yeah, everybody that had a Texas plates on their car, or pickup or trailer, they throwed rocks at you,” he remembers. “And they thought everybody from Texas was involved in that deal.”
That was over half a century ago. Today, CR’s credentials are listed in the AKSARBEN Hall of Fame at Omaha, and at both the PRCA Hall in Colorado Springs and the Cowboy Hall of Fame in Oklahoma City in the same year – 2001. Earlier this summer, a brand new buckle was sent to him as an inductee to the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame. His name, with honors, went on the Montana Pro Rodeo Hall and Wall of Fame, located at the Metra Arena in Billings, in 2003 as World Champion Bull Dogger (1964). He is being inducted into and put on the Legends Wall as a Rodeo Legend this coming January.
He married Wilma Landie in 1985, the first year he quit picking up bucking horses. They moved to Pryor in 1987 and has been there ever since.
If he were younger, would he do it all over again in today’s rodeo era?
“You better believe it. I’d be the first one there. Too much money up.”
The National Finals Rodeo (NFR) showcases the talents of the nation’s top fifteen money-winners in each event as they compete for the world title. The first National Finals Rodeo (NFR) was held in Dallas in 1959 and continued at that venue through 1961. In 1962-64 Los Angeles hosted the competition. In 1964, however, Oklahoma City successfully bid to be the host city. In 1965 the first National Finals Rodeo (NFR) in State Fair Arena drew 47,027 fans. The world event remained there through 1978 and thereafter was held in the Myriad Convention Center.
The National Finals Rodeo (NFR) remained in Oklahoma City through 1984, bringing Oklahoma merchants an estimated annual revenue of $8 million dollars. In 1984, however, the city of Las Vegas, Nevada, bid for the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) event. Although the Oklahoma City Council considered building a new $30 million arena at the State Fairgrounds, the Las Vegas bid won. Since 1985 the NFR (National Finals Rodeo) has been held in the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas.
The NFR (National Finals Rodeo) has become Thomas & Mack Center arena’s biggest client, bringing in more than 170,000 fans during the 10-day event. In 2001 a landmark sponsorship agreement was achieved and Wrangler became the first title sponsor of the National Finals Rodeo (NFR). In 2014 contracts were set for the National Finals Rodeo to remain in Las Vegas until 2024.