“There’s just something about getting on one of those horses and having them do the best he can, and you yourself do well.” Good horses, […]
Back When They Bucked with Scott Tucker
Written by: Michele Toberer< Back to Articles
Deep in Scott Tucker’s soul there were seeds of rodeo that drove the Jacksonville, Florida boy towards his destiny, and roots were developed that have entwined family, rodeo, and future generations of cowboys and cowgirls forever. Scott was born in 1946, an only child to his parents, Lucille and Holmes Tucker, but being a cowboy was more in his DNA than it was in his family upbringing. His dad graduated in 1939, from Yale University where he attended on a full-ride boxing and football scholarship; and he went on to work for General Foods, before settling in the automobile business. Although his parents were far more interested in life in the city, Scott was drawn to the Pecan Park horse racing track, where he started jockeying horses when he was just 12-years old. Only destiny knew then, that he was starting down a path that would lead him to become an integral part of one of the most notable rodeo families in North Carolina.
Scott rode racehorses with Sonny Burris on the brush tracks, helping to start colts and train them to use the starting gates until his weight exceeded the 135-pound maximum allowed. Scott jockeyed the legendary Quarter Horse, Go Dick Go, in brush track races before the horse went on to make history as the winner of the first All American Futurity in 1966. Sonny was a boxer and jockey, that also rode bareback and saddlebronc horses; and he helped 12-year old Scott, step onto his first bareback horse at a Callahan, Florida rodeo. Scott did try following his dad’s path in life, and played football his freshman year of high school, but frustrated that the football schedule conflicted too much with his rodeos, he gave it up.
Once Scott had his driver’s license, it was only the rodeo road on Scott’s mind. Scott started out entering bareback riding at open rodeos, before getting on bulls, which quickly became his favorite event. In 1962, Scott attended a Jim Shoulders bull riding school and the memory of staying atop the legendary bull “Tornado,” is forever etched in his memory. In 1963, he got his first membership card for the IRA, known as the Interstate Rodeo Association at that time. Scott started working as a rodeo clown, “Scooter,” when he was 15-years old, and quickly became enthralled with the new job he often performed between riding in his events. The challenge of outmaneuvering the bulls, was as exciting as staying on top of them.
Although Scott’s parents were very proud of Scott’s success, they were far too nervous to come watch their fearless cowboy at the rodeos, so Scott often traveled solo or with rodeo friends that became his rodeo family. At 16-years old, Scott was cruising the interstates between rodeos, in a 1958 four-door Oldsmobile, decked with its giant tailfins, pulling a 13-foot travel trailer to sleep in. Scott thinks that rig is what got 14-year old Vicki Kidd’s attention when they met at the Silver Springs rodeo in Maryland. Meeting Vicki would prove to further cement the path of Scott’s life. Vicki Kidd was a barrel racer, and daughter of C.W. and Helen Kidd of Charlotte, North Carolina. The Kidd family was instrumental in bringing rodeo to North Carolina in the mid-50’s, after C.W. had fallen in love with the sport while he was stationed in Florida, in the Air Force. The Kidd’s started the Rockin’ K Ranch, which was a family commune of sorts, raising future cowboys and cowgirls around a central rodeo arena, and has hosted rodeos for over 60 years now. Not only did Vicki fall for the handsome, blue-eyed cowboy, but her parents did as well, taking the 16-year old in and treating him as their own.
Scott would travel to rodeos, staying on the road most of the summer, returning to Florida to complete the school year. In 1963, the summer before his senior year, he and Lyle Wiggins made it up to Frontier Town in upstate New York, in the heart of the Adirondacks. “Frontier Town was an old western town theme park that put on three rodeos per day. I got a job there as a stagecoach driver, and later became the arena director for the rodeos.” The rodeos would highlight one or two competitors in each event, plus feature a trick rider, and there are many PRCA cowboys that got their start there. “It was the best place a young person could rodeo, besides the rodeo shows each day, there were a lot of jackpots within about 30-miles of Frontier Town. I was loving it up there, and making about $500 to $600 per week, which was a lot of money back then.”
Scott graduated from high school in 1964, the year that he earned his first SRA All-Around Champion Cowboy title. He went on to win the title again in 1965, 1968, 1970, 1971 and 1973. When he left home for the summer in 1964, the plan was for him to PRCA, and SRA rodeo through the summer, before heading west to Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he had a full-ride scholarship to New Mexico State University; but seeing Vicki Kidd again that summer, changed his college plans completely. “I didn’t want to go to New Mexico as planned, I called my dad and told him I wasn’t going. He wasn’t very happy about me giving up the scholarship, but I told him if he’d pay my tuition at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, that I’d cover everything else.” Scott graduated from NCSU in 1966, with a degree in agriculture and livestock management, rooming with Vicki’s brother, Buddy, while they attended school there. “Buddy was such a fine person, always willing to help anyone. He always had good horses, and he would always let anyone that needed a better horse at a rodeo, ride them.”
In 1966, after Scott left NCSU, and just three days after Vicki graduated from high school, the two soulmates were married, starting a union that would last for over 50 years, before Vicki’s passing on October 12, 2016. Scott also joined the Air National Guard, in 1966, serving for 6 years in the engine shop, as an airplane mechanic.
The eastern cowboy couple traveled the roads of the rodeo circuit, chasing dreams while being blessed with new friends across the country. Vicki had a passion for horses, barrel racing, and supporting her roughstock riding husband. Vicki was the 1968 SRA Champion Barrel Racer and was crowned as the very 1st SRA All-Around Champion cowgirl in 1971, winning it again in 1974. Scott was doing quite well as a bull rider in the PRCA, ranking #7 in the world standings in June of 1970, but responsibility was beginning to tug on the roaming cowboy, so the couple continued to rodeo but made more of a permanent camp in Charlotte as they laid a foundation for their family. Scott had traded a good horse for some asphalt equipment, the beginnings of his paving business, Scott Tucker Paving and Grading, which he still operates. Scott and Vicki had their first child, daughter Keri, in 1967, and their son Jason was born in 1971. Also, in 1971, Scott dominated in the Coastal Rodeo Association, winning the All-Around Champion Cowboy title. Although Scott continued to find many successes in rodeo arenas across the east, looking back he wishes he would have continued his PRCA run to finish the 1970 season, thinking about the chance he may have had at that world champion gold buckle.
Scott and Vicki continued to rodeo as they raised a new generation on the Rockin’ K, alongside Vicki’s brothers, Buddy and Jerry, and their budding families. The arena was often filled with champions and celebrities passing through while on their own rodeo circuit travels, and the art of rodeo was being practiced there on a daily basis. Cowboys like Red Duffin, who traveled with groups of cowboys and good horses, often practiced when he came through, and helped anyone interested in improving their steer wrestling skills. Scott served as the president of the SRA in 1979 and 1980 and was the vice-president for six years. Scott was also on the board of directors of the North American Rodeo Commission. Scott was responsible for producing hundreds of rodeos at arenas all over the east, and was the captain of the Southern Rebels, a rodeo team that competed at rodeos such as the Calgary Stampede. In 1983, Scott decided to focus more on the next generation of rodeo stars and he and Vicki stepped into the supportive role for their kids’ and grandkids’ rodeo dreams. Scott was the president of the NCHSRA in 1987 and 1988. Scott has been a pillar in the rodeo community, often stepping up to judge rodeos when needed, turned to when questions arise, and encouraging young rodeo athletes wherever he goes.
The legacy that has continued from Scott and Vicki Tucker has went on to include their children, grandchildren, as well as many uncles, aunts and cousins that all participate in rodeo competition or production. Inevitably, the passion that Scott felt in his heart for rodeo so many years ago, will burn inside the many that will follow in his footsteps for years to come.