Trapper McAllister knows his identity
By JOE KUSEK
July 26, 2023
Trapper McAllister is a prime candidate for an identity crisis.
He’s firmly among the top 10 in the Mountain Health Co-op bareback riding standings and the same for team roping headers.
Which brings the obvious question.
Roughy or timey?
“I’m a cowboy,” replied McAllister.
The 20-year-old Ronan cowboy is one of two all-around cowboy title contenders in the Northern Rodeo Association working both ends of the arena this summer. Kelly Murnion of Jordan is the other.
“I think it’s as cowboy as it gets. That’s a pretty cool deal,” he said of multi-tasking. “I’d like to try and definitely win the team roping and bareback, and hopefully get the calf roping turned around.
“The goal is to go to the Finals in three events.”
The top 10 in each event qualify for the NRA Finals presented by nuWest Builders, Oct. 26-28 at Majestic Valley Arena in Kalispell.
McAllister was third in the bareback standings and seventh for team roping headers. He is fifth in the all-around cowboy standings.
He ropes with his cousin Jack McAllister of Hot Springs. Jack McAllister is seventh among the team roping heelers and recently moved into the top 10 for tie-down roping.
“I’ve been roping ever since I can remember,” McAllister said. “Jack, he’s been my partner all my life. We just know each other. He’s pretty good at nailing them down.”
McAllister put himself in the all-around picture by winning the bareback title at Harlowton, along with placing second at Choteau, third at Conrad and fourth at East Helena.
His team roping checks include a first at Polson and third at Choteau. The four checks – two each – at Polson and Choteau – earned him $2,324.
“We try to pull a check at every rodeo we can,” said McAllister. “The goal is to make the Finals.”
From a rodeo family, “We ranch and all rodeo,” he said, the friendly cowboy is a newcomer to the rough stock side of the arena.
“This is the first year I’ve actually hopped on some bucking horses,” McAllister said.
Opposition to the additional event came across from the family dinner table.
“Dad (Kelly) wasn’t a big fan. He didn’t want to see us busted up,” he continued with a chuckle.
McAllister attended a bareback riding camp in Miles City that feature National Finals Rodeo qualifiers Caleb Bennett and Richmond Champion.
“I got on that first bucking horse and got hooked to it. I just kept going. I guess I needed something more exciting,” he added with another laugh. “It seems with bareback riding you get that big adrenaline rush.”
He has also gained a fan. “Dad has gotten better about it. He’s happy for us now,” said the son.
McAllister’s older brother Trevar is a bareback rider in the Montana Pro Rodeo Circuit. The brothers have a fencing business, allowing them to make their own schedules to compete. Trapper McAllister also breaks outside horses for people.
Another brother Ken is a saddle bronc rider, while younger brother Koy is a steer wrestler. The 16-year-old Koy placed sixth at Three Forks.
“We’ve got a full truck,” said McAllister.
And while rodeo dominates the summer, activities turn to other things in the fall.
“We’re mountain men around this place,” he said. “We like to get into the Bob Marshall Wilderness to hunt and do some fly fishing. We love to hunt. We take a lot of the fall off. Love to be out there in September with your bow.”
But now is cowboy time.
I’m having a blast,” McAllister said. “It’s the people you meet at rodeos and going down the road with your buddies.
“I’m doing what I love.”
The northern part of Montana proved to be very profitable for cowboys and cowgirls.
Saddle bronc rider Parker Mothershead, bull rider Tanner Theriault and tie-down roper Ben Ayre all won titles at both Scobey and Havre.
Mothershead, of Joliet, also placed second at Eureka to earn $1,810 at three rodeos to extend his lead in the standings. He is a four-time winner on the Mountain Health Co-op Tour this summer. Theriault, of Townsend, is a three-time winner.
Casey Collins of Billings put himself firmly in the all-around race by winning the steer wrestling and placing second in tie-down roping at Eureka for almost $1,900.
Reigning champion Celie Salmond of Choteau pocketed $1,665 at the rodeo in the far northwest corner of the Treasure State, splitting first in breakaway roping and placing fourth in barrel racing.
Riley Joyce of Geraldine won a hotly-contested steer wrestling at Havre with a time of 5.4 seconds. Only one second separated the top four finishers.
High School Finals
Wacey Schalla won the national all-around cowboy and bull riding titles at the National High School Finals Rodeo in Gillette, Wyoming.
Fans of the Mountain Health Co-op Tour already knew about his talents. The Oklahoma teenager won bull riding titles at Wilsall, Harlowton and Ennis and was fourth at Big Timber. His Harlowton and Ennis victories came during the Fourth of July run and his 89-point victory at Harlowton is the high score of the summer. He is currently second in the standings.
Ella Begger of Townsend won the national pole bending title with a total time of 59.615 seconds. She won the final round with a time of 19.471 seconds. She is the third national pole bending champion from Montana, joining Haley Anderson (2004) and Dixie Reukauf (1960).
Other Montana competitors who finished in the top 20 are: Hailey Burger, Helena, goat tying, fourth; Payton Levine, Wolf Creek, breakaway roping, sixth; Ryatt Fraser, Hysham, boys cutting, sixth; Leighton LaFromboise, Helena, bareback, eighth; Ryley Mapston, Belt, tie-down roping, 10th; J.R. Harrell, Toston, bull riding, 14th; Mollie Mae Ruth, Big Timber, girls cutting.
LaFromboise is currently eighth in the NRA standings, while Levine is 11th. LaFramboise’s father Heath is a former NRA bareback riding champion. Levine, a former NWRA Finals competitor won the second round in 2022 with a time of 1.86 seconds. Burger qualified for the NRA Finals last year and finished fifth in the final breakaway roping standings.
The schedule slows down with one event, the Sheridan Saddle Club Rodeo in Plentywood on July 28.
Coming August 4 and 5 are The Superior Lions Club Rodeo in Superior and the Broadwater Rodeo and Fair in Townsend.