Bull rider learning the ropes

Published 5:00 am Monday, July 17, 2000

MONTICELLO — A Monticello man waited nervously for his time oneSaturday night in July.

Derwin “Boom” Morgan III was no stranger to bull riding, but hewas anxious about his first ride in front of the hometown audience.He took his time preparing for the ride and took time to crouch fora quick prayer. As the tension mounted, he had a quick conversationwith his parents. A few rushed last minute tips from his father.Morgan glanced up at the loudspeakers in anticipation when theycalled his name.

He strode to the chute with a quiet confidence and climbed upthe fence with calm familiarity. Morgan took a moment to evaluatethe spotted bull thrashing in the chute before lowering himselfonto the angry beast.

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Morgan wrapped his hand to the bull and tested it before noddingonce to the chute supervisor. The supervisor nodded in return andpassed on the command, “Open the gate.”

The gate opened and the bull rushed out, an explosion ofspinning, churning muscle mass with one thought – to get the manoff its back.

Morgan would not be an easy challenge, however. He is a thirdgeneration cowboy and learned bull riding from his father, DerwinMorgan II. The 20-year-old said he started riding when he was inthe eighth grade, at about 14 or 15 years of age.

The Odessa, Texas, native said his parents never thought hewould become interested in rodeo.

“They just never thought I was that type of person,” Morgansaid.

He said it was hearing the tales of his grandfather and fatherand seeing pictures of their exploits that finally inspired him togive it a try.

Morgan began attending bull riding schools and gleaningknowledge from his father after the family moved here in 1988.

The knowledge and desire paid off for this local cowboy. In1998, he won the first of four rounds in the Mississippi-LouisianaFinals in New Roads, La. He placed fourth overall with an 80 pointride. Then, in 1999, he came back strong and won the Finals onpoints earned throughout the season.

It was a good year for Morgan. He also won the bounty, a rewardplaced on a bull that has never been ridden, on Casino Rouge whilerecording an 88 point ride. Casino Rouge had defied nearly 250cowboys, Morgan said.

Morgan said bull riding is a lot of life because without respecta person can’t expect to get anywhere.

“You’ve got to have respect for the bulls,” he said. “If youdon’t, you don’t even need to get out there.”

Respect, however, is not always enough and for Morgan, oneSaturday night in July, victory was out of reach.

Morgan clung to the spinning mass of muscle with tenacity. Hishand and head held high while his legs pumped up and down, rakingthe side of the beast with his heels. His opponent snorted and blewwhile leaping and kicking.

A sudden twist to the left dislodged and he fell heavily to theground. He dodged an extra kick by the enraged bull and went to thesidelines, wiping grime from his face with a sweaty hand.

There will be other contests. There will be other times.