Dennis Fulfer: Huckabay resident and weekend roper

JOYCE WHITIS Correspondent
Huckabay resident Dennis Fulfer (right) in action. Courtesy DUDLEY BARKER

Dennis Fulfer was born in Huckabay, grew up there, graduated Huckabay High School, married a Huckabay graduate, Raquel Campos, bought a house, assumed the propane delivery business his father started and has lived a happy and fruitful life. He is an avid golfer as are his wife and daughter, Sara, and he is known in the wide circle of competitors as a weekend roper.

“I grew up a farm boy with plenty of space and time and I always wanted to be a cowboy,” Dennis said. “I began roping calves when I was really little. Spur Stewart was a classmate, good friend and neighbor so we just got started roping together. The first team-roping that I ever saw was at Desdemona sometime in the ‘80s and I really liked it and decided that was what I wanted to do.”

Dennis started roping with Gary Campos, his wife’s brother and they placed in some local ropings but the problem with the team was that they both wanted to be heelers and one cowboy had to be header. Nevertheless the team of Fulfer and Campos has won events including 2nd place at the World Series Team Roping at Hamilton. Out of around 280 teams entered, second place was great and paid out in cash money.

“Some events give a tractor, a new pickup, or something for first place. It can be really good or it can be really bad. Greg McNutt who lives over at Green’s Creek was my roping partner at the United States Team Roping Finals in Oklahoma City on October 20, 2010. We did well and advanced to the finals. We had 32 seconds on 4 but wound up getting beat by .5 second! That was a shock because the winner got all kinds of stuff still we came away with $17,000 each so that wasn’t bad for a weekend.

“It’s not all money and winning pickups anyway. Martin Lucero, winning team-roper here in Stephenville has helped me a lot in my passion for roping. He said that you have no control over the run of another cowboy. You didn’t draw his steer. You don’t ride his horse. You can’t try to manage what he does. All you can take care of is yourself. You have control only over your own run and you get the steer that you draw. You can’t make a 5 second run on a 9 second steer. So take care of yourself. Position…separation….follow through… says it all. That’s all you’ve got. Learn to use it and be satisfied that no matter what direction the run goes, you did everything that you could.

“Those words of Martin’s could pretty well fit any situation in life that you tackle. Know yourself, know what you can do then do your best and be satisfied with that.”

On Nov. 30, 2011 Dennis and Raquel found that their world had spun completely out of control. He had been feeling “just terrible” he said all through that fall, tired all the time, high blood pressure, unable to ride his horse and enjoy roping on weekends. He thought that he could get a stint implanted and that would fix his problems but several doctor visits and tests later proved that surgery was needed and needed right away. So on that date, Nov. 30, 2011, Raquel kissed her husband and he was wheeled from her sight into surgery. Doctors performed a quadruple-by-pass so that his heart could continue to function and heal his athletic body.

“I was in the hospital for two long weeks,” Dennis said and I was in a lot of pain at times but above it all I could feel the prayers of my family and friends and I knew that in time I would be well again. After I was released to go home there were still several months to completely recover and do my job with the Propane business. Doctor’s orders were to wait at least seven months before picking up a rope. After eight months, I was back in the saddle. I practice here at home, usually with Chad Hale, several times a week, maybe not as much as I once did but still I feel at home on my horses Sugar, my heeling horse and Wendy, header.”

Dennis is proud of the close connection that he has with former Huckabay classmates both in the arena and in the horse industry. Both Sugar and Wendy were purchased from the sons of former classmates. Sugar was originally a mount belonging to former World Champion Clay O’Brien Cooper. Horses are often traded around among competitors. They are all important for a performer.

The camaraderie among rodeo performers is well-known. “We cheer each other on and when we win our competitors congratulate us” Dennis said. “I enjoy just being with friends and watching and always learning from others. It is a really great feeling.

Dennis and partner, Chad Miller will be one of the top 10 teams in the county to compete Friday night at Lone Star Arena in conjunction with the Cowboy Capital of the World PRCA Rodeo. Four hundred eighty teams started out to earn a trip to the Finals with the best 15 teams making it.

“I only have control over myself,” Dennis said. “I will do the best that I can with what I have learned. I am riding a good horse and I feel good. We’ll see how it goes.”