Bill Pickett: The Rodeo Innovator that History Forgot

Bill Pickett was born the second of thirteen children on December 5th, 1870 in Williamson County, Texas. Pickett’s bloodline was of Cherokee and Black. In the 5th grade, he left school to be a ranch-hand, and he learned all there was to know about being a cowboy.

He invented the technique known as Bulldogging, which has you grabbing the cattle by the horns, and wrestling them down to the ground. Most cowboys would employ actual Bulldogs to do this task, and Pickett figured if they could do it, so could he. Pickett’s form of Bulldogging entailed biting the top lip of a steer, and falling backwards. A very dangerous technique.

Bill also became known for his stunts and trick riding. He and his four brothers established The Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters and Rough Riders Association. The family name soon became associated with successful rodeos and shows.

In 1909, he joined the 101 Ranch Wild West Show with the likes of Tom Mix, Buffalo Bill, Will Rogers, and many other famous cowboys and cowgirls. He preformed under the nickname ‘The Dusky Demon’, and soon was so popular, he toured the world and starred in films. In 1921 he preformed in the films ‘The Bulldogger’ and ‘The Crimson Skull’.

In 1932, Bill was kicked in the head by a bronco and was in a multi-day coma. He died as a result. In 1971, he was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.

Bill Pickett in The Bulldogger.

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