Novice Bucking Bull Breeder, Branden Turcotte, Finds Big Success


November 7, 2018 | View PDF

One of Branden's prize bulls, "OutKast."

Branden Turcotte, Alexander, ND, has rodeo in his blood. He used to ride bucking bulls, but now raises them through his Western Edge Bull Company, with outstanding results.

Turcotte's two year old bull "OutKast" earned first place, and "Mighty Merle" finished in a three-way tie for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th out of 37 bulls at the Midwest Bucking Bull Assn. futurity final in Colome, SD in June. "For a little guy to come away with the top prizes against some of the big breeders was real special," Turcotte said. The wins came with Turcotte's first two belt buckles, plus a cash prize. It was a dream come true and one that caused him to shed a few tears of joy as he headed down the road towards home.

"I'm always so proud of these bulls," he said. "Last year, they were pulling Top 10 finishes, this year consistently in the Top 5, and then to win the event in June was really amazing."

"Mighty Merle" is a really special bull to Turcotte. The bull was born the day Merle Haggard died, thus the name. It snowed 1½' that day resulting in a search for a calf that was beginning to become urgent when a pile of snow moved and a head popped up. "Mighty Merle" spent the next two days in the house warming up before being returned to his mother. "He has a heart of gold," Turcotte said. "That Mighty Merle is something special." "OutKast" is a Grandson of Reindeer Dippin', a bloodline that helped him earn first place. These two bulls seem to be inseparable at home or on the road. Whenever I go out, they're always side by side," marveled Turcotte.

Turcotte also has two four-year olds, "Hell's Bells" and "Heat Seekers" which compete at futurity events where both have won cash prizes.

Turcotte has worked very hard to build his small herd of quality cows and bucking bulls. He started with his first herd of cows in 2012 but sold them and purchased fewer, but quality bred cows, with good bloodlines like Yellow Jacket, Cloud King, Bodacious and Reindeer. Hours and hours of research and watching videos of bucking bulls helped him decide how he needed to revamp his breeding program. "There's no guaranteed percentages in breeding," he commented. "With better bloodlines, you have a better chance of good bulls." He AIs some cows, which is expensive but provides an opportunity for a better chance to breed with great bulls from the past.

With his own oilfield business keeping him working 60 to 90 hours a week, Turcotte still finds time to "treat my animals like gold" with the help of his dad George who was one of the best bull riders in his day. In a respite from the activity in the summer, the bulls rarely buck in the winter. "I let them rest and get fat," Turcotte said with a chuckle. All the pens are connected to shelter with good bedding. The barns aren't heated but the animals are out of the elements.

A lot of time and money goes into raising a good bucking bull too, with registration fees, vaccinations, branding, trimming of horns and hooves. The bulls also need to be tried/bucked out several times before making a decision to keep or sell. He purchases a special feed mix of ground soybeans and corn from Bismarck or Dickinson (because he can't get it in Williston) and feeds up to 45 lbs. of hay per day per bull. There are also the costs associated with the futurity events.

The two-year-olds wear a 24 lb. black dummy box, which is remotely removed at 4 seconds and after the bull has bucked well. Three-year-olds and older buck with a rider.

Turcotte is a self-proclaimed work-aholic. When he bought his place south of Williston, the corrals were all wood. He tore those down and replace them with 6' steel fences, doing 80% of the work himself and hiring a couple of his oilfield hands to help with the rest. A normal day has him getting home from the oil field hopefully by 7:30 or 8 p.m. and heading out to care for his animals. It's a lot of work but its work he loves. Turcotte would like to give a shout out to Jalen LaDue (bullfighter), area bullriders, along with family and friends who have helped with the bulls.

Having accomplished his first two goals of winning a buckle and winning the finals event, Turcotte's plans for the future include bucking his bulls in Las Vegas next year, competing for the $250,000 purse. In the next five to ten years, the 40 year old plans to purchase some property in Texas or Oklahoma where he can winter his bulls, gradually develop the property and eventually retire there to concentrate on his first love - raising championship bucking bulls.


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