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Picayune People: Teen steer wrestler Colton Wilson wins big with sidekick Scooter

Colton Wilson and horse Scooter

Colton Wilson and his horse, Scooter, who's not taking this photo very seriously! Scooter is central to Wilson's junior steer wrestling success. Staff photo by Nathan Bush

Bertram bulldogger Colton Wilson feels an adrenaline spike every time he gets ready to hop off a horse running at upwards of 20 mph to wrestle a 450-pound steer by the horns in front of hundreds of rodeo fans.

“When I ride into the box, that’s when I get pumped,” said 16-year-old homeschooled student. “Everything after that turns into a blur. It happens so fast.”

In bulldogging, or steer wrestling, a rodeo athlete must jump off of their horse to catch up with a running calf or steer, seize it by its horns, and twist its neck until it falls to the ground. 

Over the years, Wilson has won thousands of dollars in steer wrestling events at rodeos in Burnet County and across the country. Some of his top accolades are winning the Cowboys Professional Rodeo Association Amateur Rodeo in Burnet, qualifying for the CPRA Finals in Angleton, and representing Burnet County in the Junior World Finals in Las Vegas, one of the biggest rodeos in which he’s competed. 

“There were 46 of us bulldogging and probably 200 people in a big convention center,” Wilson said.

The tough-as-nails Burnet County cowboy has been wrangling half-ton steers since 2020, when he was introduced to the sport by a friend’s dad, Corey Ross of Oatmeal.

“I went over there a couple of times and tried it,” Wilson said. “We didn’t use a horse or anything, so we just did it from off the ground. They call that chute dogging.”

Even after being battered and bruised by his animal adversary, Wilson still fell in love with the sport.

“I got drug around, the steer trampled on me, everything, and I thought to myself, ‘I really like this,’ so I stuck with it,” he said.

Wilson sought out some of the area’s best cowboys to show him the ropes. Trainers such as Ross, 2001 World Champion steer wrestler Rope Myers, horse trainer Terry Meadows of Performance Horses, and professional cowboy, steer wrestler, and roper Dalton Walker have all helped Wilson build his wrangling repertoire. 

“I really started noticing (I was) getting better while I was out practicing,” he said. “I can see that just by working my butt off that I’ve gotten a lot better.”

While trying to improve, Wilson focuses on one element of his game at a time.

“I always try to pick something that went wrong in one of my rounds and focus on that for a day,” he said. “I always try to have meaningful practices.” 

According to Wilson, confidence is king in the world of steer wrestling.

“It can be a big mind game, because if you don’t have the right mindset, you’re not going to do good,” he said. “I always try to keep a positive mindset, even when I’m doing bad. Once you think negatively, you’re just going to go straight down.”

Training isn’t everything when it comes to steer wrestling, Wilson said. Another major component to any bulldogger’s success is the dependability of their horse. Luckily for Wilson, he has Scooter, a 19-year-old sorrel quarter horse who fits him perfectly. 

“Your horse is like your shoes in steer wrestling,” Wilson said. “Everyone has a favorite pair of shoes to wear that fit really well. I love riding Scooter. He’s one of the best bulldogging horses I’ve ever ridden. He’s a good, solid horse.”

Junior steer wrestling purses range from $750 to $18,000. Wilson has won his share, including a $5,000 purse from his finish at the Junior World Finals. He hopes to use the money he’s saved from rodeos to fund his college education. 

While he doesn’t know where or what he’d like to study, Wilson said he’d love to open his own business one day.

“I’d really like to build houses like my dad does,” he said.

Wilson’s future plans include bigger and brighter stages. In 2023, the Bertram bulldogger hopes to win the junior Patriot Fort Worth rodeo, make the Junior World Finals a second time, and add even more amateur victories to his résumè.

Through it all, his parents, Chester and Krista, demonstrate their love for Wilson and his craft.

“My parents are great supporters,” he said. “They get me down the road a lot. I don’t know how I could do it without them. They support me even when I’m not winning. They’re always there for me. They keep me going.”

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