BLACKFOOT – Local steer wrestler is making good on the PRCA circuit. Stetson Jorgensen from Blackfoot, Idaho is currently in 10th place against some of the best bulldoggers in the country. For the majority of people it would seem unwise to jump from a galloping horse on to the head of a 400-500 pound runaway steer, wrestle it to the ground and bite its lip to force a submission but for some, like 25 year-old Stetson, it's just another day at the office.
For those who are unaware of the history behind this rodeo event it was invented by one man and quite frankly without Bill Pickett, you probably wouldn’t even see steer wrestling at the rodeo. Pickett was known for designing his own technique for bulldogging (wrestling) steers. Pickett would leap from his horse to the back of a steer and wrestle it to the ground by grabbing and twisting the horns. Pickett told a story to fellow rodeo star Milt Hinkle. Hinkle told Scarbrough that Pickett told him he first bulldogged for real when an angry cow tried to gore his horse Chico. "I just had to keep that old cow from running his horns into my little Chico," Pickett told Hinkle. Angry that the cow tried to gore his horse, Pickett jumped on the cow and twisted its neck until it went down.
"I grabbed her by the lips and started biting her," Pickett said. The ranch boss saw Chico return riderless and went to check on Pickett. He found his best cowboy truly on the horns of a dilemma: Pickett had the cow subdued by biting its lip, but if he let go he would certainly be gored. The ranch boss helped Pickett out of his fix, and a new sport was born.
Pickett performed at various rodeos and fairs all over Texas until he was discovered by local talent scouts. Then he went out west to tour with his brothers. Pickett performed at the 1904 Cheyenne Frontier Days and received national credibility for his talents. Pickett had a contract with Oklahoma’s 101 Ranch and performed in tons of arenas in the US and abroad. Many tried to imitate Pickett’s technique and over the following years there were enough participants for rodeo promoters to stage contest in the likeness of Pickett’s method of steer wrestling. Tillie Baldwin was the first woman bulldogger in 1913, however women’s steer wrestling never attained massive popularity or organization. Bill Pickett is considered the inventor of bulldogging, and he is the only individual, that a single event in rodeo can be accredited to. Even if someone else had the brilliant idea to wrestle a half ton animal to the ground by jumping on top of it and biting its lip that person never admitted it. History gives that distinction to the thirteenth child of former slaves Mr. Bill Pickett. Pickett was the first black man to be elected to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center in Oklahoma. In 1993, the U.S. Postal Service honored him as part of its Legends of the West series of stamps, but the picture that appeared on the stamp was of Bill Pickett's brother. The original stamp was recalled and the correct picture printed on the stamp. The back printing on the revised stamp corrects his birth as 1870; the original had him born in 1871. Historians to this day aren't sure.
Pickett died on April 2 after being kicked in the head by a horse he was roping. He approached the horse with a bridle, but the horse began pawing at the brim of Pickett's hat. At 61, Pickett might have lost a step. The horse's hoof clipped Pickett's head and knocked him down. "The horse then jumped on Ol' Bill and stomped his brains into the dust," Hinkle related. A rough ending to a tough life in the early days of the rodeo.
Stetson Jorgenson had the rodeo in his sights as a young kid. It was a life-long-dream to compete in the rodeo. In 2010 Stetson was an Idaho State Rodeo District four Champion
saddle bronc rider and returned in 2011 only to loose to Garrett Smith by four points. Stetson is now the 10th in the nation. Just a couple years ago Stetson led the Silver State Stampede in steer wrestling with a 4.8 second run. Here more recently Stetson was first place at The American Rodeo semi-finals presented by Dish with a record time of 3.61 seconds.