It was late Friday night between commercials for Built Tough Ford Trucks and Jack Daniel’s Tennessee sour mash whiskey and those Kawasaki UTV’s with four seats — I think they are called Teryx 4s.
The man sitting next to me at Mandalay Bay Events Center noticed that among the Billy Bobs and Jim Bobs and tough guys named Cody hanging out around the chutes where the bulls were waiting to turn their riders into hamburger patties stood one young woman on the back gate.
She was a pretty young woman with long blond hair, who, when she removes her hat, sort of looks like Marcia Brady from “The Brady Bunch.”
This was Paige Stout, 18, of Weatherford, Texas. She is one of the few female contractors in Professional Bull Riders history — the only female contractor I and the man sitting alongside, who was wearing pressed blue jeans and said he was from Santa Monica, Calif., could see behind the chutes at Last Cowboy Standing. Which makes her the Last Cowgirl Standing, I suppose.
(The four shapely young women who bounce around the arena wearing two-sizes-too-small Jack Daniel’s tank tops don’t count, because they really have nothing to do with raising bulls. Though I did notice Flint Rasmussen, the rodeo clown and PBR master of ceremonies, checking them out, too.)
The Paige Stout Bucking Bulls company had two ripsnorters with bad intentions selected for the first round. A raging bull named Jack Wagon and another raging bull named Dirty Deals. Both have white faces and look like Bea Arthur. Young Paige said she considers them her pets.
However, when I asked if I might be able to rub Jack Wagon between the ears, she said that probably wouldn’t be a good idea.
Although the family bucking bull company is named for Paige, you can sort of tell it’s like one of them NASCAR deals — like when it says “DeLana Harvick” on the official entry list, it’s really her husband, Kevin.
But, young Paige said, she is “the son her father never had,” and she has been learning the bull breeding and bull training business from her dad, Wes, a former bullfighter like Flint Rasmussen, since she was 10.
She seems to know everything there is to know about breeding bulls. I did not ask, however, about purchasing a strawful of Bodacious the bull’s semen for $1,000 on the Paige Stout Bucking Bulls website because frankly, I was too embarrassed.
She said she has an older sister who really isn’t that into the bull breeding business. But that she, Paige, is so into it she finished high school a year early so she could haul Jack Wagon and Dirty Deals and their bucking brothers across the country, or at least from St. Louis to Albuquerque, N.M., to Des Moines, Iowa, which she did this spring.
She pronounced both “S’s” in Des Moines, and said on her Facebook page on March 12 that she “just got the news I’m hauling to Albuquerque, N.M. So excited!”
As I said, she’s young. She’ll learn.
In addition to tending to her bull breeding chores, young Paige takes a full load of classes at Weatherford College, will start nursing school in the fall and writes a blog for the official PBR website.
The blog has earned her many new admirers, some of which write her emails and say things that make her feel uncomfortable and don’t sign their names. But most of her new admirers are the good kind, she says, and not the kind that admire only the Jack Daniel’s girls.
She said the people behind the chutes look after her, and the bull riders are friendly and they don’t ask her out on dates. Not even the suave Brazilians. And that’s why as much as she likes to watch her bulls buck like the dickens, when a rider can stay aboard for all eight seconds that’s sort of cool, too.
On Friday night, Jack Wagon put Joao Ricardo Vieira on his keister in about half a second. Dirty Deals, who went last with two-time world champion Silvano Alves on his backside, bucked the Brazilian up and over the chutes before the gate even opened.
Alves didn’t leave the building, but it was close.
I saw Paige Stout reach down in there, to pat her bull on the rump or something in an attempt to calm him, and after Dirty Deals swallowed a chill pill, or a 20-pound bag of alfalfa, the gate swung open at last.
Dirt and snot flew through the air. Some nearly got on Flint Rasmussen. Alves rode for the full eight seconds, because Alves can ride a runaway freight train, if he had to.
And after Silvano Alves flipped his hat and thrust his fists in the air, I noticed pretty Paige Stout, still standing at the back of the chute in her purple shirt and white cowboy hat, reach over and wipe some bull stuff off her hand and onto the protective Lucas Oil padding when she thought nobody was looking.
Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.