J.W. Hart has ridden 2,000-pound bucking bulls for a living for more than a decade. Suppose the rancher who lives in Overbrook, seven miles south of Ardmore, has got a few stories to tell? Jenni Carlson: Do you have to be a little crazy to be a bull rider? J.W. Hart: I don't necessarily think you've gotta be crazy. I think more of us are just a cowboy-type adrenaline junkie really. JC: So, what's crazy to a bull rider if riding a bull isn't? JH: Jumping out of a perfectly good airplane. That sounds crazy. Trying to do a back flip on a motorcycle. Surfing a 40-foot wave when there's sharks in the water doesn't really make sense to me, but bull riding doesn't make sense to my neighbors. Everybody has their kicks. Mine just happens to be climbing on the back of a 1,500-pound animal. JC: What was the first time on one of the really big bulls like for you? JH: I was 12 years old, and it was this bull I'd been seeing for a while and thought I wanted to get on him. The first jump, he jerked me down and hit me in the mouth with his horns and broke my upper jaw and pushed some teeth up underneath my eye. So I didn't get on him again for a while. JC: But it didn't stop you from becoming a bull rider. JH: That's all I ever wanted to do. It never crossed my mind to stop. JC: What did your folks say when you walk in with the busted face? JH: Well, my mom ... she would rather me get on the back of one bull than play football. She only had to worry about one, and she could keep her eye on that one. JC: Most people would say just riding a big bull would be enough to prove yourself, but what do you have to do to prove yourself on the Professional Bull Riders' tour? JH: Just not be a one-hit wonder, not just show up and be on tour one year. JC: When did you feel like you'd proven yourself on tour? JH: The first time I won an event, I felt like I had proved I could ride and win against those guys, but ... it probably was way past when it actually happened when I realized it. After the 11th PBR world finals I went to, I thought, "I guess I'm actually pretty good at this.” JC: What's the best feeling in bull riding? JH: To make the whistle. It's pretty simple. I can't control winning. I can't go and say, "Today I'm gonna win.” But I can control ... whether I'm going to make the whistle. JC: So, which would you rather be — riding in a PBR event or on the ranch? JH: It's getting to the point in my career that's a pretty hard one to answer. Two, three, five years ago ... it was a no-brainer. But now, I really enjoy riding through my cows and looking at cows and working the ranch. But there's still that burn; I've gotta go get on a bull. It's probably 50-50 now where it was 95 to 5.
J.W. Hart spends his time away from bulls as a rancher who lives in Overbrook, seven miles south of Ardmore, BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN