L.J. Jenkins plays on both sides of the fence. Or in this case, on both sides of the bucking chutes.
The 26-year-old Porum bull rider has qualified for nine consecutive PBR World Finals, but he also is a stock contractor, breeding and raising bucking bulls.
“Honestly, I don't want to ride bulls very much longer,” the Springfield, Mo., native said. “Another two or three years, maybe. I don't want to be 35 years old and barely able to walk.”
Jenkins is one of a handful of bull riders who are also in the bucking bull business.
He moved from New Mexico to Porum four years ago after buying land around Lake Eufaula to raise cattle and breed bucking bulls.
It's a business where everyone is trying to breed the next super bull like Bushwacker, a two-time PBR champion who is considered the best in the world and one of the best bucking bulls ever.
Bushwacker's owner, Julio Moreno, has been offered as much as $1 million for his prize bull.
Moreno said he didn't know how serious the offer was, if the investors really could have raised that much money, but he didn't really want to sell Bushwacker at any price.
“Two million dollars might make it,” Moreno said.
In the bull breeding business, raising a bull like Bushwacker is akin to winning the lottery.
“It's every bit of that, I think,” said the California cattleman.
Bushwacker has earned more than $600,000 in competition, but he also is a brand of his own. He is the top seller of merchandise on the PBR Tour. Boot and shirt companies call wanting endorsement deals, Moreno said.
Bull breeders pay between $7,000 and $8,000 for Bushwacker's DNA, but genetics doesn't guarantee success with bucking bulls.
Jenkins has bulls from Bushwacker's bloodline “that are not worth hauling down the road,” he said. “You can breed them how you want to breed them, but if they don't want to buck, they are not going to be that special one.”
Jenkins thought he might have a bull the caliber of Bushwacker with Maximus, who started off strong before getting sick.
“He went from being a contender to barely making the finals,” Jenkins said.
Owning a bucking bull in the PBR is considered cool in the world of celebrities. Athletes, entertainers and people from all walks of life have invested their money in bucking bulls.
Mixed martial arts champion Michael Chandler is one of Jenkins' partners.
“He loves our sport,” Jenkins said. “He wants more bulls. It's fun to own a bucking bull and to be able to watch him.”
Jenkins said he still makes more money riding bulls than raising them. He hopes that will change, but there is just as much competition in the bucking bull business as in the bull riding arena.
“There's a bunch of people in it (breeding bulls),” Jenkins said. “Everybody wants to have that special one. That's the main goal, to have the rankest one out there.”
Everybody wants the next Bushwacker. After this season, Moreno plans to retire Bushwacker from competition.
The 2014 PBR World Finals in Las Vegas will be Bushwacker's last performance. Then, he will live the life of luxury.
“I am going to take him back to California and he will go out with some girls,” Moreno said. “I will have a nice little pen and pasture for him, a place for him to get out of the sun, and will have cows with him to breed.”