Camas graduate Cody Hudson has rodeo in his blood

Vancouver Rodeo just one of many stops for local bull rider

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer

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All Cody Hudson ever wanted is to be a cowboy.

Even at age 7 winning his first mutton busting buckle at the Vancouver Rodeo, and growing up in a family whose dad, John, an ex-bull rider and roper and mom, Kim, a former barrel racer, the rodeo circuit was the perfect life for Hudson, a Camas native.

So welcome to the life of Hudson, now 21 and a professional bull rider for three years. He travels to compete in an estimated 20 rodeos a month as a member of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, Professional Bull Rider and Northwest Professional Rodeo Association.

And one of the rodeos was the 47th annual Vancouver Rodeo, which had its opening night Friday and runs through Monday.

It’s the rodeo Hudson calls home.

“It’s one of those family sentimental traditions,” he said before competing on ‘Snapchat’ in the first session of the bull-riding field Friday night. “It’s a pretty special deal to be here and compete in front of all my family and friends.”

Friday was the first of three rodeos over the Fourth of July weekend (known as Cowboy Christmas) for the 2014 Camas High School graduate. While it might seem like a charmed life, he knows it’s hardly the case.

The highest purse he was awarded for one night’s work was $5,500, but unlike other professional sports where signed contracts can guarantee athletes money, non-sponsored rodeo cowboys like Hudson are on their own if they want to earn a dollar.

“When it comes to pro rodeo, a lot of it is up to you,” he said. “I’ve gone broke 100 times since I’ve turned 18, and every time has been because of rodeo. It’s also made me rich 100 times since I’ve turned 18 as well. It’s all part of the game.

“If you don’t ride, you don’t get paid.”

Then there’s the risks.

Earlier this spring, Hudson dealt with a groin injury while competing for his college team, Walla Walla Community College. Injuries are a big part of, and he rambled off parts of his body that’s been bruised, torn and broken, such as broken ribs, a broken foot, a torn biceps, and three concussions.

In fact, a separated clavicle failed to prevent Hudson from winning the bull riding national championship at the 2016 College National Finals Rodeo in Casper, Wyo., competing for Walla Walla.

That’s the risk every bull rider takes when on the bull and in the chute.

“There’s definitely times when you get on not at 100 percent,” he said, “you have to make it work the best you can.”

Fighting through the pain, such as Hudson did to win his collegiate national title, comes with the territory, he said.

That’s why the shelf life of a bull rider is similar to an NFL running back: short-lived. The oldest active pro rider on the PBR circuit is 36, he said, so he’s estimating has had another 10 good years.

He graduated last month from Walla Walla with an associate’s degree in agricultural business and animal sciences, but right now, he’s aiming for a run at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas later this year, and in turn, hopes to attend between 80 to 100 rodeos in 2018.

Just all part about wanting to be a cowboy.

“I’m definitely living the dream,” he said.