Roping doesn’t get old for DuCray
Even at 72, Grand Junction resident Chuck DuCray tries to stay active.
“I’ve got this theory, you stay on that couch, you’re going to die,” DuCray said with a laugh.
For DuCray, being active involves getting on his horse two to three times per week and working on his roping skills. Because of all his practice, DuCray can still compete with some of the top ropers in the area.
During Friday’s team roping event at the Mesa County Fair, DuCray finished in the top 10 of the No. 8 team roping competition.
He and partner Terry Satterfield combined for a time of 9.79 seconds in the first round, the fourth-best time in the round, but finished with a no time in the short round when Satterfield was unable to get a rope around the steer’s hind legs.
Drew Fowler and Dusty Raine won the No. 8 competition after finishing with a short-round time of 13.72 seconds.
Kyle Rush and Pake Younger, who had a total time of 13.61 in two rounds, won the No. 11 team roping event.
DuCray started roping when he was a child growing up in Collbran.
“I was raised on a ranch and could handle a rope pretty good, so I had to rope for all the neighbors when they were branding,” DuCray said. “People worked together all the time. The neighbors would come and help you, you went and helped them. It was just a golden situation.
“Everybody had a job to do when they went to brand and mine was always roping.”
Growing up on a ranch, his family didn’t have lots of money, which left him to participate locally. Unlike current competitions, the sport had a larger focus on the roping aspect.
“You had to get off and tie the back legs on the steer with a square knot, and, of course, it was a timed event,” he said.
But now, he’s active in the roping community, and routinely travels to places including Oklahoma, Arizona, California and Utah to rope.
But although the competition has changed slightly, he said one of the largest differences since he started is in the animals.
“Back then, we didn’t have near the horses we’ve got now,” he said, “We went roping a lot of times in 15 or 16 seconds (per round) and now, if you want to win it, you’ve got to be in seven or eight.”
The key to becoming a good rider, he said, is simply practicing. Although DuCray has experience on his side, he said the younger generation of riders should be able to benefit from local riders who host schools.
“For the older guys, we didn’t have the advantage of schools,” he said. “These guys can teach you what to do if you want to ride bulls, want to rope, whatever, they can give you a good education. If you start out with bad habits, you wind up with bad habits.”
Despite his age, it’s that same younger generation that he rides against is usually the same generation he’s hoping to beat.
“You try to do the best you can,” he said. “The better (place) you get, the better you like it.”