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Regular Feature | Back When They Bucked BACK WHEN THEY BUCKED with D onald Dorrell was born February 8, 1926, “right up Beaver Creek in a log cabin across from where we live now. It was my grandmother’s homestead. She delivered me because the doctor couldn’t get there,” said Donald, who still lives on the ranch in Rifle, Colo. His dad was a farmer and Donald went to school with 14 others. “We were seven miles from the school house and we rode the horse for 8 years. Sometimes we’d leave the house in the morning it would be 20 be- low, so in the winter time we’d ride bareback so the horse’s body would keep us from freezing.” He dreamed of being a pilot, but was told when he enlisted in the Navy at age 17, that he was too young, so he became a rear seat gunner on a torpedo plane. “I spent two years on the back seat of a carrier based on the First Enterprise,” he recalls. “It wasn’t very nice. On at the last, we got hit by a Kamikaze – it killed about 45 guys - and it really messed us up; so they sent us back, without an escort, to Pearl Harbor to get things fixed and we could only do about 7 knots (8 miles an hour). It took six days to get from where we got hit back to Pearl Harbor. The war got over then and I went back to the ranch.” Donald Dorrell story by Siri Stevens

Back When They Bucked

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  • Regular Feature | Back When They Bucked

    BACK WHEN THEY BUCKED with

    Donald Dorrell was born February 8, 1926, right up Beaver Creek in a log cabin across from where we live

    now. It was my grandmothers homestead. She delivered me because the doctor couldnt get there, said Donald, who still lives on the ranch in Rifle, Colo. His dad was a farmer and Donald went to school with 14 others. We were seven miles from the school house

    and we rode the horse for 8 years. Sometimes wed leave the house in the morning it would be 20 be-low, so in the winter time wed ride bareback so the horses body would keep us from freezing.

    He dreamed of being a pilot, but was told when he enlisted in the Navy at age 17, that he was too young, so he became a rear seat gunner on a torpedo plane. I spent two years on the back seat of a carrier based on the First

    Enterprise, he recalls. It wasnt very nice. On at the last, we got hit by a Kamikaze it killed about 45 guys - and it really messed us up; so they sent us back, without an escort, to Pearl Harbor to get things fixed and we could only do about 7 knots (8 miles an hour). It took six days to get from where we got hit back to Pearl Harbor. The war got over then and I went back to the ranch.

    Donald Dorrell

    story by Siri Stevens

  • Donald was 21 and got married about two years later to a local girl, JoAnn. He stayed on the ranch, and he and JoAnn raised cattle (350 mother cows), and put up hay. He started competing in rodeo the same time he got married, competing in everything that came out of a bucking chute, bulls, bareback, and saddle broncs. He liked saddle broncs the best. It just seemed like a better thing to do really - bulls that was the bad thing to do, but I rode a lot of bulls. Bareback was just another event.

    He would go every weekend, traveling as far as three states, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado,. We had an association Amateur Cowboys Association and I won about four belt buckles. He never went pro. Youd have to travel most of the year, and I couldnt because of the ranch. You had to make a living. Back then they didnt pay like they do now.

    He traveled to the rodeos with his wife and a horse. I took a horse to the rodeo so I could race him. Hed usually pay

    above: Donald won this buckle winning the Western Slope Amateur Rodeo Association season end (All Around)

    in all three events in 1950. - Courtesy of the family

    left page: Picture from the back porch of the Dorrell ranch, homesteaded by Donalds grandparents above: Relay Race, with Donald on the second horse from the right, Rifle, early 1970s. - Courtesy of the family

    upper left: High Pockets owned by Swany Kirby from Utah, ridden by Donald in 1960 at the Rifle Rodeo, where he won the event.upper right: Donald riding Nigger Joe at Rifle, for another first, in 1950. - Courtesy of the family

  • Regular Feature | Back When They Bucked

    the expenses; they didnt outrun him too many times. He competed in both the Wild Horse Race and the Relay Race. Although he roped at home on the ranch, he never competed in the roping events. He quit competing when he was about 60, when he quit riding bulls. I didnt get beat up too bad. If you didnt get bucked off, it wasnt too bad. He still goes to the local rodeo in Rifle. They pay a lot more money, and the bulls are a lot harder to ride.

    He still works on the ranch, but as little as possible, Im past 90. We sold all the cows it got to where it was too hard for JoAnn and I to take care of them. Now we do as little as possible. I dont get around too good. Ive got two saddle horses; one is about like I am, Skeeters got arthritis, but he was my good horse. He will be 26 this year.

    Donald is glad that he rodeoed when he did. I sure had a lot of fun, he said. His favorite place to go was the local rodeo, in Rifle, one that he still attends today, just to watch.

    above: Grand Champion flowers in 1983. upper right: Donald and JoAnn, married 67 years, at their

    home in Rifle. lower left: One of the four saddles Donald won in 1950 for a rodeo series in Burns, Colorado.

    lower right: Donald, 19, in his Navy uniform, at home for the first time in two years.- Courtesy of the family

  • above: Riding in Aspen, Colo., in 1959 on the horse (Ill Be Damned) that went to the NFR two years in row. - Courtesy of the family