Mickey Gee didn't win his second world steer wrestling title at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo, but the buckle the Wichita Falls, Texas cowboy took home from Las Vegas means just as much or more.
With his father and teacher, Dennis, doing the hazing for him, the 28-year-old Gee won he aggregate title at the Wrangler NFR, downing his 10 steers in a combined time of 47.3 seconds.
"I won the world and the average in 1999 and it was a great, great feeling," Gee said. "Winning the world is what everybody dreams of. But this means so much to me to have my father here because we started together from scratch and we made the team that we are. We got to come here and show our ability."
It was Dennis Gee who introduced his son to steer wrestling — and who issued him a stern warning after the younger Gee stayed on his horse during the first steer wrestling run he ever made.
"I run my first steer and didn't get off [the horse], and he said, 'If you run the next one and don't get off, just tie him to the fence, you're not going to run anymore.' After that, I was going to jump off no matter where he was." Gee said.
"He's the one that taught me everything I know. He's rodeoed for all his life and he showed me the ropes of the rodeoing business, how to get up and down the road."
Gee learned his lessons well and made his second trip to the Wrangler NFR as memorable as the first.
He won an event-high $73,757 and finished third ($128,099) in the final world standings behind world champion Teddy Johnson (Checotah, Okla.) and reserve champion Birch Negaard (Buffalo, S.D.), after coming into the Wrangler NFR in 12th place.
"Coming in here I think I was about $30,000 behind those guys," he said. "I felt like it was an awesome victory just to get close to those guys being that far behind."
Gee placed in five of the 10 rounds, winning the fourth and finishing second in the second round.
"About half the week I drew good and half week I didn't," he said. "I just kind of survived and made good runs on what I had drawn."
He credited his horse with much of his success during the week.
"I got a yellow horse that I bought and I think he fits me great," he said. "He's a good honest horse and I think that benefits a lot as far as the average. He works the same every time."
Gee enjoyed watching the drama of the world championship race unfold, even as he pursued his average title.
"In bulldogging it always comes down to the 10th round and it always comes down to the draw," he said. "Teddy drew a good steer and Birch didn't."
He was pulling for both his friends to do well.
"I love all these guys," he said. "If it wasn't for the tight family of this rodeo business, we'd all be in a bind. There's no backstabbing deal. I'm so tickled for Teddy Johnson that I can't hardly tell it. Teddy has bulldogged great and I just give him the glory that he earned."
Guy Clifton covers rodeo for the Reno Gazette-Journal. He can be reached at 775.788.6337 or email@example.com.