Life On The Rodeo Road

A s he backed into the roping box looking under the brim of his Resistol hat, Hunter Cure saw the dust of his competitor, and knew it was his moment to shine at the 2013 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in 2013. He nodded his head and his steer sprinted out of the chute. Before he knew it, the run was over, and he had claimed his first world championship. For the Texas Tech alum, it was a dream come true.

Growing up with a family that owned and managed a grain elevator in the small north Texas town of Electra, hard work was something very familiar to Cure, a 2006 agricultural and applied economics graduate. However, he made his name in the rodeo arena.

Cure began rodeoing at age 13 and has not looked back since. Following in his older brother’s footsteps, he began steer wrestling using the steers and horses his family already had. Steer wrestling proved to be a pretty prosperous hobby that transformed into a career for Cure.

After a successful high school rodeo career, Cure found himself on a rodeo scholarship at Howard Junior College in Big Spring, Texas. His freshman year proved to be a learning curve, but he had a smooth transition into college. After gaining valuable opportunities, Cure realized there were still areas he was lacking knowledge and experience and decided it was a good time to transfer to Texas Tech to continue his college rodeo career.

Upon transferring to Tech, Hunter bought two acres of land, built a barn and practice pen, bought cattle, and set to work on another successful year of college rodeo. During his first year on the Texas Tech rodeo team, Cure did not miss more than a couple of short rounds throughout the year. He went on to win the southwest regional championship and the national inter-collegiate rodeo championship later in the summer. During his junior year, he was a member of the Texas Tech men’s rodeo team, that placed third in the nation at the 2006 college finals.

During his senior year, Cure bought his Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association card. The rather large investment and transition from living in a dorm room to buying land and building facilities in Lubbock proved to be worth it when Cure won the national inter-collegiate rodeo steer wrestling title. He says that his time at Tech was a learning experience and gave him the option to succeed or not to.

“I felt like while it was a learning experience,” Cure said. “It put the ball in your court to do what you want you could either sink or swim for the most part.”

Transitioning from his college rodeo career to the professional world wasn’t easy. It came with many learning curves and took time for him to asses and work through his weaknesses. In 2007 and 2008, he was in the top 25 in the standings, but couldn’t quite break through the top 10 to qualify a the trip to Las Vegas for the Wrangler NFR. However, four years after buying his PRCA card, Cure made his first WNFR appearance, the ride every cowboy works towards.

Cure’s first trip to the finals was another learning experience. Not performing quite as well as he had hoped, Cure vowed that if he ever qualified again, he would be better prepared and have a winning game plan. It took four years of struggling and growing, but through the cowboy’s dedication and determination, Vegas was in sight. Cure returned to the finals in 2013 with a different horse and a different plan.

Going into the finals ranked no.7 in the world, Cure won two rounds and placed in five. He walked off the dirt in Vegas’ Thomas and Mack Center after the tenth round of the WNFR with a gold buckle that read “World Champion.”

Soon after the glory of winning the world title, came tough luck. What Cure thought was just a sore back after a day of practice turned out to be a career-halting injury. A pinched nerve led to back surgery, which disabled Cure for the majority of the 2014 summer. Unsure of where his career would go, Cure considered if he was be out of the rodeo world for good.

“That was a huge letdown after feeling like I was on top of a mountain after winning the world in 2013,” Cure said.

However, 2015 proved to be a very successful year. Cure faced trials after recovering from surgery and getting back into the rodeo circuit, but the challenges paid off. He qualified for the NFR again, and brought home another gold buckle to Electra.

“That year was very justifying knowing that I was able to come back after surgery and win the world again,’ he said.

Though rodeo is a full-time job for Cure most of the year, he manages to find time to put his agricultural and applied economics degree from Texas Tech to use in multiple entrepreneurial facets. He started college pursuing a degree in engineering, but went back to his agricultural roots and changed his major to agricultural and applied economics. In May 2006, he graduated with his bachelor’s degree.

Cure and his mother work cooperatively together with cow-calf operations. His mother’s operation is strictly cow-calf with 175 head of Angus cows she breeds back to registered Angus bulls. Cure’s part in her operation is managing the cattle. He has a mix of Hereford cows and white Brahmer bulls he is currently trying to breed to break into the tiger stripe heifer market. Along with his cow-calf operation, Cure has a herd of Mexican steers he contracts out for steer wrestling at most of the major stock show rodeos in Texas.

The last of his entrepreneurial pursuits is a sideline business of appraising land and farm equipment for banks. Through this business, he has the opportunity to meet other producers around the state and see what works in their operations.

Whether Hunter has been on the road rodeoing or on the ranch all day managing cattle, one thing is the same everyday: coming home to a wife and kids. His wife Bristi is also a Texas Tech graduate and now works in the wind energy business. Together, they have two children, Halli, 4, and Hayes, 2. They keep Hunter and Bristi busy and on their toes.

“Kids have definitely changed our way of life, and it’s an ongoing circus act for the most part,” Bristi said.

The couple’s hectic rodeo and work travel often create challenges when coordinating family time. A support system of Hunter’s mom nearby and Bristi’s parents only two hours away they are able to make it work.

“We usually just do a handover in the middle of the night or early in the morning when he gets home, and I leave,” she said.

Cure says it is difficult to balance all of his irons in the fire, but that is just his way of life.

“It’s a juggling act, and I drop the ball every once in a while, but I try to keep them in the air as best I can. There’s no set pattern to it, just work.”

There’s no set pattern to it, just work. Hunter Cure

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