There’s nothing like the morning when the animals wake up and you hear the birds come alive, and everything starts to move around,” says Clayton […]
Written by: Lily Landreth< Back to Articles
Nine-time WNFR qualifier Hunter Herrin has been involved in a variety of sports, especially rodeo, since childhood. Within the last few years, the 33-year-old from Apache, Oklahoma, has added a new pursuit—hunting—to his list of interests thanks to his son, Houston. “I’m learning more from him than he is from me,” says Hunter. “He’s 11 and he really enjoys deer hunting. I’ve done a whole lot more of that in the last three years than I have in my entire life.” Hunter is no stranger to long nights on the road and admits that he’s not the deer hunting kind of early riser, but he’s enjoyed the new experience nonetheless. “If you are out there when the earth wakes up, it seems to be refreshing, the way the animals move and the birds wake up when the sun starts to rise. It’s pretty cool. You can reflect on this, that, and the other, and enjoy the moment.” Houston, who learned about the hunting lifestyle from his grandpa, has harvested several deer. The meat is often shared among the family, and Hunter enjoys a bowl of deer chili.
Tracking calves is still his favorite pursuit, however, and rodeo is another thing that Hunter and Houston enjoy doing together. Family has often cheered him on from the stands at rodeos like the WNFR and The American, which he won in 2016, while Hunter and Houston spend several weeks in the summer on the road together. “He enjoys getting to hang out with his buddies that I’ve rodeoed with, like Shane Hanchey and Marty Yates. He’s a big fan of them and they spend time with him on the road.”
Hunter made a run at the winter stock shows and rodeos, working to find the balance between recovering from his October 2017 hip surgery but still getting a start on the 2018 season. “With a surgery or injury, you change your goals and double down and work harder like I should have in my 20s,” says Hunter, who first qualified for the WNFR in 2006. He was his son’s age when he started roping, encouraged by his step-dad, Bob Nunn. Hunter junior rodeoed and focused more on basketball and football in high school, but rodeo was back on his radar in his late teens. “I went to three semesters at Weatherford in Oklahoma and did college rodeo there, and in the winter of ’05, I started rodeoing full time. My parents bought my PRCA permit for me in ’04.” When Hunter stepped up his competition in 2006, it was the first of four consecutive qualifications to the WNFR. He went through a pattern of getting horses ready for the finals every other year, and in 2014, his horse Dualin Demon “Rambo” won PRCA Tie-Down Roping Horse of the Year.
Presently, Hunter is working on several horses that he anticipates being ready to rodeo on in the fall. “But I’m looking for that kind of rodeo horse now. Clint Akin has a horse that I rode in Houston and there’s a possibility I can rodeo on him some, but we’re still keeping our eye out for one that fits the mold of what we’re looking for.” Hunter and his dad train horses and have three in particular they’ll start hauling this summer. With the exception of his first year at the WNFR, Hunter has qualified for the finals every time on a horse he trained. What fuels his horses is equally as important as their training, and he recently started feeding Nutrena’s SafeChoice horse feeds. “My horses have done really well on it, and they have a whole lineup of different products to feed depending on what you’re looking to get out of your horse. One thing I’ve noticed is that it does keep their weight on them without them getting overly hot. We have six to seven horses out here and ride four or five of them every day and we haven’t had that problem.”
Along with horse training, Hunter also enjoys going to his son’s baseball games. Houston plays on a summer league but loves any sport that involves a ball. “He’s previously been in football and basketball, and now it’s baseball,” says Hunter. “If it’s a sport, he’s into it.”
Hunter anticipates competing in several rodeos in Texas or California in the next month, such as Corpus Christi and the Red Bluff Round-Up, but he’s mainly focused on being ready to go by June. “If the health comes along and I find a horse, I’d like to rodeo this summer and try to get back to where I was in the past and make the NFR again. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll just try to get everything squared away and for sure go for next year.”