Bucking for Dollars: Adrenaline Junkie Buck Lunak
It was a couple of years ago, in the middle of a high and wild bareback riding competition, that Buck Lunak found himself on the dirt, under the crushing weight of a 1,200-pound bronco. The bucking beast lost his footing and flipped over, landing on top of the young Indian-cowboy.
“The pressure just exploded my liver and kidney,” he said.
Now, a dislocated hip, a shattered ankle and several years later, the citizen of the Blackfeet Nation is one of America’s rising stars in the bareback riding competition.
He’s also one of the only Native American riders traveling from one competition to another. He said his indigenous parentage is certainly a “conversation-starter” with non-Native rodeo-goers and that they eagerly query him about his ancestry.
Lunak, now 25, has to date accumulated $42,082 in career winnings with his prowess on a bucking bronco, Jim Bainbridge, senior public relations coordinator of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, told ICTMN.
There are seven events at a given rodeo competition, Bainbridge said, which includes steer wrestling, team roping, saddle bronc riding, tie down roping, bull riding, bareback bronc riding and barrel racing – the last being a women’s event.
Lunak, who has been a member of the PRCA for seven years, competes exclusively in the bareback riding competition and is ranked in the top 40.
Earlier this year, Lunak was in the top 20, he said, and hopes to rise again, which isn’t a stretch, seeing as Lunak is lauded for his talents and is only in the “winter run” stage of the 2014 season. There is still the spring and summer competitions ahead of him, he said.
Consequently, Lunak spends a large amount of time on the road with fellow bareback riders, traveling from his home in Florence, Montana, down to a competition in Austin, Texas, then zipping west to California before heading back home, only to hit the road again several weeks later.
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