OKLAHOMA CITY — Champion bull Bushwacker will retire at the end of the Professional Bull Riders' season, giving world champion J.B. Mauney at least one more shot at his nemesis.
Bushwacker's owner, Julio Moreno, said Thursday that he wants his 8-year-old to retire at his peak, then mate and help make more championship-caliber bulls.
"He's been going since he was 2 years old," Moreno said. "When they get to 9 or 10, that's enough for them, so I thought I'd do it earlier, let him go out as the best or the greatest and see what happens there."
Bushwacker will face Mauney — the most recent cowboy to successfully ride him — Saturday in Oklahoma City. Mauney's 8-second ride in August in Tulsa ended Bushwacker's streak of 42 consecutive buckoffs dating to 2009.
"I just acted like I'd never seen him before," Mauney said. "I wasn't going to turn loose of him. I was hanging on for dear life. If I'd have had to ride him for 8½ seconds, I wouldn't have rode him."
Bushwacker will make his final appearance Oct. 22-26 in the world championships in Las Vegas.
"He's the greatest bull I've ever seen in person," Mauney said. "It'll be hard to fill his shoes."
Moreno says Bushwacker is to bulls what Michael Jordan was to basketball, but he said Mauney's fearless approach always gives him a chance. As No. 1 in their respective ranks, they will meet for the 12th time.
"He's not afraid of nothing," Moreno said about Mauney. "He likes the hardest, the meanest bulls, the guys the other bull riders — not saying they're afraid of them — but really not sure they want to ride this one. He's like a basketball player taking the last shot. He wants that opportunity, so that's why he picks the bulls like Bushwacker that are unrideable."
Mauney said riding bulls like Bushwacker make his job worthwhile.
"I've always said from the beginning if you're going to be the best bull rider in the world, you've got to ride the best bulls to do it," he said. "That's kind of the way I look at it. He's the best in the world, so I want to try him every time."
Moreno owned Troubadour, a world champion in 2007, but he doesn't compare to Bushwacker.
"He just happened to be one that was outstanding," Moreno said about Bushwacker. "I've come across other bulls, but he was just real good, exciting out of the chute. This bull has got the fear factor, the excitement. Really in the air — he's up 3 feet in the front end, 3 feet in the back end. I don't know how he even does that."
Mauney, who has been thrown off Bushwacker twice since riding him successfully, said there's always been more to this bull than athletic ability.
"He's smart," Mauney said. "He's got brains. Along with being big strong and athletic, I've been on him 11 times and he's never done the same thing twice."