Roping way of life for junior

Jacob Wadley, Photo Story Editor

Roping is a sport in and of itself and for Texas 4-H State Champion Blake Dunkel this can be shown as this is something he does on a regular basis.

Roping can start at any age and for Dunkel, he has been doing it his entire life.

“I started by roping a dummy ever since I could walk and had my family teach me the ropes,” Dunkel said. “Once I got the basics down, I went to a professional.”

For the competitions,  trophies aren’t just shelf sitters.

“You win belt buckles and so far I have 20,” Dunkel said. “I am ready to win some more to add to my collection.”

Ropers can win money as well as buckles.

“I’ve won about $30 thousand so far while roping,” Dunkel said.

Roping for Dunkel is more of a passion than a hobby and his family is what really got him started.

“My family own a ranch and my father and grandfather both roped out in the pasture,” Dunkel said. “They also did a little bit of competition and that is what I wanted to start doing.”

Competition preparation work for Dunkel “is key for doing well.”

“I practice on a ground dummy and a sled dummy that is pulled behind the four-wheeler that we have,” Dunkel said.

Roping is said to be heartpumping and that is no exclusion for Blake.

“The rush I get while roping can’t even be described,” Blake said. “It is that intense.”

For Blake, the only thing standing between him and a new buckle is the ride to the event itself.

“That long truck ride makes for a great day or sometimes a bad one,” Dunkel said. “And on the way back it can either feel like the longest truck ride of your life or the best way home in your life.”

Even though it can take hours, the trip doesn’t always compare to the length of the actual roping session.

“It really depends on how many teams are in the roping,”  Dunkel said. “ On average on roping can take upwards of three hours even longer.”

Dunkel said he may rope about 15 times in one competition alone.

“It all mainly depends on how each individual run goes,” Dunkel said. “If each run goes fairly good, then I can keep making  runs.”