Well, for starters, just the name “Booger” gets your attention, right!? Booger Bryant could be described in a lot of ways; Cowboy, Bull Rider, Bull Rope Maker, Believer…..A Man’s-Man! Booger lived in Hagerman, New Mexico, not far from Roswell. He was probably 8-10 years older than me when I started my professional rodeo career at 18. Back in those days when you were a ‘rookie’ and just starting out most of the older, seasoned cowboys wouldn’t talk to you until you had ‘paid your dues’ and proven yourself. But Booger wasn’t that way at all, at least with me.There’s no telling how tough Booger really was but he didn’t try at all to push that persona. But you could obviously tell that he wouldn’t get pushed around by anyone.
In the mid to late ’70’s there was a surge of Christianity through professional rodeo. And as it often happens with people who first experience salvation, there was a lot more zeal than common sense displayed by a lot of these rodeo people. Many of them were in-your-face with it; they meant well but to be honest it turned me off and I avoided most of them the best I could. I’d gotten saved in a countywide crusade in Wheeler, Texas in 1974, but I pretty much kept it to myself and wasn’t doing a very good job of living it out.
But, Booger Bryant was different than the others. I knew he was a Christian, but it was different, I wanted to be around him. We had quite a few visits about the Lord. He hardly ever initiated them, it was mostly me. I knew he’d be ‘straight-up’ with me; I knew he wouldn’t be pushy about it; he didn’t have some subtle agenda like the rest of them. I knew I could trust him. He knew I wasn’t doing a good job of walking it out but he never, ever mentioned it. He stood his ground between the over-zealous believers and the hard-ass, old-school cowboys who didn’t want any of it, and would dang sure tell you about it if they needed to!
He got cancer but never complained about it; he’d just say he was trusting the Lord with it. He fought the good fight for sure but finally went to his reward. He left behind his wife, Bonnie and a little boy, Blu. He made my bull ropes for several years, he was always a trusted friend, kinda like a big brother I didn’t have. But most of all he showed me what a ‘real’ Christian ought to be like and his impact on my life was deep, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
I never got the chance to talk to Booger after my life had really ‘made the turn’ in ’84, he was already gone. But I did get the chance in the mid-’90’s to tell his son, Blu, who was leading the world bull riding standings at the time, how much I admired him and how much of an impact his dad had on my life. It felt pretty good!
I’ll forever be grateful to Booger Bryant for helping to show me the Way!