This past weekend during ABBI’s annual American Heritage event in Duncan, Oklahoma, Brandon Stewart — along with his wife Kenzie, their son Tilden and partners Zane Walker and Joe and Nina Webb — walked away fulfilling a life-long dream after his bull 918 Down Payment won the 2021 American Heritage Futurity with 93 points. Calling it a life-long dream may sound like a stretch for some, but the 25-year-old ABBI Stock Contractor truly has worked most of his life to reach this level of success in the bucking bull industry.
The American Heritage is where stock contractors and breeders alike nominate calves based on their bloodlines alone. It is the concept of betting on breeding and genetic foundation that ends in large payouts and a highly prestigious title to earn. The ABBI took over this event in 2006, just one year after Brandon’s dad entered into the bucking bull business.
“The bucking bull business is something I have been a part of for the majority of my life,” said Brandon. "It all started when I was nine years old. My dad had purchased a few ABBI registered cows and started trying to raise bulls and like any other kid at that age, I wanted to be a part of what my dad was doing. When my dad started his original venture into this business I know he had no idea how it would unfold, he gave up a lot to help me along the way, more so with his time. Some of my greatest memories with him were the hours spent in the shop building gates and panels, setting my arena up, and working bulls. He’s been there from the beginning and he’s always supported me and made me feel like I could achieve anything I ever set my mind to, and to me, that is priceless.”
Brandon immersed himself in everything bucking bull from the beginning, researching anything he could get his hands on through The Breeders Connection message board. Being so young, he had no way to afford to get into the business, so he decided to start a business of his own at the age of nine by marketing and selling bull semen for some of the top stock contractors and bull breeders around while earning a percentage of what he sold them for. He then moved to creating websites for breeders to showcase their cattle.
“Creating these businesses and working hard to develop relationships with so many people is exactly what has molded me into who I am today, and what I have accomplished.” Brandon explained. “One of my very biggest supporters as a young kid, and even still today is Scott Accomazzo of the Ace of Spades Ranch. Scott took me under his wing when I was a curious, question-asking little kid with nothing more to offer than my time and desire to succeed. So much of the success that I have had in this industry is tied back to Scott in one way or another, and for that I’ll be forever grateful!”
Down Payment is sired by 58T Flyin Train (a breed bull Scott had his hand in helping Brandon purchase), and out of a BS Cattle Co. home-raised Wild Child daughter. Wild Child was the first breed bull he and Scott partnered on while Down Payment’s granddam, Page 610, is also one of the first cows Brandon received from Scott as part of a payment after helping him put on a sale.
“I’ve been blessed and fortunate to have had so many opportunities throughout the years,” Brandon said. “Opportunities that I feel only came to me because of hard work and being around the right people, and this bull is a direct representation of that.”
Zane Walker went to work for Brandon over the summer of 2019 and ended up following his passion and continuing his work in the bucking bull business while forgoing playing college football. As a Christmas bonus from Brandon for all his hard work and help, Zane was given a couple choices but ultimately chose half interest in Down Payment. Their goal was then to sell half interest in the bull and remain partners on him. Once Joe and Nina Webb hopped on board, Zane used his portion of the money to put a down payment on a three quarter ton truck and that’s where this bull’s name originated.
“The feeling of winning the American Heritage is nothing short of amazing.” Brandon said. “This prestigious event is one that most every bucking bull breeder strives to win, and to have won it with this bull makes it that much sweeter. Down Payment is a ranch-raised calf, and his success has been a true testament to the work that Zane and myself have put into him, and the faith that Joe and Nina had in sticking with us. I’ve known since his yearling year how talented this bull was, but we’ve been through plenty of ups and downs to this point.”
Just 26 bulls into the futurity on Saturday afternoon and it was Down Payment’s turn to buck. After busting out of the chute covered in dirt and putting on performance of a lifetime, he secured the top spot in the competition early. This would end up being the best out of the day, outlasting another 70-plus bulls that followed him, to earn the title.
“You knew from the start that this calf had the tools to be great, he just needed to put the trip together.” Kenzie said about their newly-crowned 2021 American Heritage Futurity Champion. “918 has had some great outs this year, as well as some mediocre ones. Those are the kind of bulls that make you the most nervous. We all kept the faith in that calf knowing his time would come. We are thankful he decided to turn it on at the right time, on the right day, and at the biggest event of the year.”
“Down Payment was a calf that was a little slow to start, but quickly became one of the favorites.” Brandon added. "He showed us glimpses of greatness early on, and I knew that his maternal brother from the year before had a lot of talent, but unfortunately broke his leg early on. That coupled with the idea of wanting to maximize his earning potential and ultimately his value as a competition bull were the deciding factors for nominating him for the American Heritage.”
With the enormous risk breeders, contractors, owners and partners take when choosing a calf to enter in this event solely based on his bloodlines, it’s a good thing to have the ABBI registry available for reference. Removing the guess work while confirming successful crosses that have been traced back for years. This is the 15th year ABBI has crowned an American Heritage Futurity Champion, as Down Payment joins bulls like Last Call (Gene Baker), Super Freak (Jerome & Tiffany Davis), Buffalo Scott (TBR Bucking Bulls) and Top Shelf (OK Corralis/Gordon/D&H).
“I have been fortunate enough to be beside Brandon for the past 5 years in his career in the bucking bull industry. It quickly became apparent how important it was to him to win this event. This win is such a monumental milestone, but to win it with a ranch raised calf has made it that much sweeter. If you know Brandon, you know he puts a lot of time and energy into the genetics of our herd. To see that pay off brings a since of accomplishment that wouldn’t be there if that calf wasn’t born on our place.”
“Between delivery changes, back and forth, a bad attitude in the bucking chute, a hair trigger, and coming up empty handed plenty of times, it’s these challenges that make this victory that much more special.” Brandon said. “To top it all off, having my wife Kenzie, and son Tilden by my side through every step of this process, and being able to share this special moment with them is what means the most to me. We’ve come close to winning this event in the past, but it was well worth the wait! My parents don’t always come to these events, but they happened to make this trip and I’m glad to be able to share that moment with them as well!”