TACOMA, Wash. – You will have to forgive Chad Berger, but the seven-time and reigning PBR Stock Contractor of the Year winner will likely struggle if you asked him to name off all of his bulls slated to compete at this weekend’s Tacoma Invitational, presented by Cooper Tires.
And that is with good reason.
Berger has a PBR record 75 bulls at this weekend’s 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast event.
“I don’t know,” Berger said with a laugh. “I would have to look at my list. I can’t even think off the top of my head. These are just some pretty special bulls.”
Berger had three truckloads of bulls from his ranch in Checotah, Oklahoma, transported to Tacoma after receiving the go-ahead from PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert.
“I have had 52-56 (bulls) at an event on several occasions,” Berger said. “When you have 75 at one event, it is an honor really to know you have that many good bulls.”
Lambert has known he can always rely on Berger to provide bulls for premier series events, especially for longer distance events on the West Coast and in the Pacific Northwest, but even he was amazed at the options Berger offered.
“If it was 60, it would have been the most anybody has taken,” Lambert said. “It is crazy and Chad has been bringing two loads to some events. We have been getting along good with him bringing two truckloads to California or wherever. We have done well with that.
“This year he told me he wanted to take three. I said, ‘Send me a list of your bulls and we will talk about it,’ and he sent me an entire inventory of his bulls.”
Of the 92 bulls Lambert selected for this weekend, 83.33 percent of them belong to Berger.
The other 17 bulls belong to five other stock contractors.
“When he wanted to bring that many bulls, I looked at the individual situation,” Lambert said. “There are hundreds of stock contractors out there and if any of them – any of them. I am talking any other stock contractor wanted to bring 50 bulls. My reaction would be to tell them they didn’t have 50 that were good enough.”
However, Berger’s inventory was impressive enough that he now has the PBR record.
With that comes some added pressure, Berger admitted.
“It is nerve-racking at the same time,” Berger said. “It is a long way out here. A couple thousand miles. The bulls were tired Thursday, but they will be rested and ready to go. You just want everything to go well. It puts a lot of pressure on you.”
Berger was quick to point to all of his partners that have helped him organize one of the strongest and deepest bullpens in the PBR.
He also gave big props to Joey Hales, Rex Meier and Howard Ehlers.
“I couldn’t do it without those guys,” Berger said. “These guys make it all happen. They treat them like their own. Like I always say, I feel like I am the head coach and I just call the plays. Joey, Rex and Howard execute.”
The Mandan, North Dakota, bull owner takes pride in the fact that he has a strong mixture of rank and rider-friendly bulls on his trucks.
“We have a fair amount of them that are pure rank bulls that are going to buck off you off just about every time you get on them, but a bulk of them I wouldn’t call rider-friendly, but they are good enough where you can’t make a mistake. I look for bulls that have good timing, that buck and have a lot of heart. If they ride them, they will be a lot of points. If not, they are going to buck them off.”
Berger has brought a slew of talented bulls to Tacoma, including World Champion Bull contender Pearl Harbor, who is slated to face 2017 World Champion Jess Lockwood in the 15/15 Bucking Battle on Saturday night.
Berger has 12 of the 15 bulls set to compete in the 15/15 Bucking Battle, as well as two re-rides for the special bonus round of competition that airs on CBS national television Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.
“He can almost put on a premier event without using anyone else’s bulls,” Lambert said.
The PBR is celebrating its 25th anniversary this season and Lambert said he never would have expected one contractor to be able to bring this many bulls to one event like Berger has.
“Oh no,” Lambert said. “When we started the PBR and we started to control the quality of the bulls, I had major stock contractors tell me it was impossible to bring a whole pen of bulls riders would have a chance to score 80 points on. That was our goal. Bulls they could be 80 points or better on. I told contractors at the time that is all we were interested in. Some got mad, and some laughed, but very few of them took that seriously because it just hadn’t happened.
“Now a lot of those same stock contractors or their kids and people that used to work for them aren’t even interested in bulls you could be 80 points on because they are looking for better ones than that.”
Nowadays Lambert has a standard of 85 points for premier series bulls.
Berger may think he can provide an entire bullpen for a premier series event, but he knows that it is going to be a tough sell to Lambert, especially with so many talented stock contractors and groups across the U.S.
Things partially fell well for him in Tacoma with the event being such a long commute for the majority of stock contractors in the U.S.
Regardless, he is proud to set a new record this weekend.
“Well, it would be nice to be able to do it one day,” Berger said. “This is about as close you are going to get to doing it yourself.”
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