Born in Walla Walla, Washington, Jake Stephens learned from a very young age that he was born to be a cowboy… in a rodeo family. He started at age two -- throwing a rope at everything and anything. He learned that you could even rope chickens, especially heeling them. He could rope them all day unless he headed, then game over, they died. He started riding at age four when he got his pony, Amigo. Both riding and roping came very natural to him.
Throughout his school years he roped at Little Britches, Junior, Amateur and High School rodeos. He earned his PRCA card while still in High School.
Harley Tucker Rodeo Co was the inspiration to the beginning of our legend and his families rodeo company. This process started before our legend was born. Being from a large family and with three older brothers, the seed was planted, and the inspiration was becoming a reality. Dad and Mom, Barney and Eppie, purchased C&E Rodeo Co of Cody WY and the process of growing and operating a Pro Rodeo company was in the making.
Walla Walla and Joseph Rodeos were the two first Pro Rodeos they put on and this Legend picked up with his brothers, Bob, Bill, and Fred. In fact, he started picking up at age 12 and continued picking up until he was 43. Some rodeos he picked up at include The Cow Palace, Ogden, Phoenix, Dodge National Circuit Finals and Idaho Cowboys Association Finals.
Age 18 Jake started fighting bulls when a bull fighter got hurt at the Salem, Oregon State Fair and Rodeo. He was asked by Jerry Mariluch to take over the remaining seven performances. He continued fighting bulls for six more years, which included four years at the Walla Walla Rodeo.
In 1978, Jake was privileged to rope with Dee Picket at the Wilderness Circuit Finals where they won the average. At this same rodeo, he was voted in to fight bulls and be the pickup man at the finals. This proved that this legend was good at his job!
In the 80s, Jake secured a contract for the Stephens Brothers Rodeo Company to provide the stock at the Pendleton Round Up and continued to earn the contract for ten more years. Their famous bucking bull, HiFi’s head is mounted and displayed in the Let’er Buck room.
In 1985, he received one of his most memorable honors working in the rodeo industry, being asked to be one of the two Pickup men to work the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.
Jake can be seen in the May 1987 issue of Playboy. You can use your imagination, but pretty sure the paint horses got more coverage!!
Throughout his years of rodeoing, he has won many awards, gained many friendships and memories that will last forever.
In 1998, Jake sustained a traumatic brain injury, while riding and training outdoor horse. He was in a coma for many days and after countless years of therapy, this accident forever changed his life. With the same passion and love to live the western lifestyle, he knew he wanted to stay involved in rodeo. At this time, he was asked by the PRCA head of judging to become a PRCA judge. He accepted and judged hundreds of rodeos throughout many states for 15 years.
Today, he still loves the style of life he lived for so many years, but in a different way. He is always up for gathering and branding whenever asked. He looks forward to helping on the Grandi Ranch in Weiser, ID, helping Dusty Youren, in NV, along with others in Washington, where her currently lives and other neighboring states.
While on this ride called “life” you have to take the good with the bad. Smile when you’re sad. Love what you’ve got and remember what you had. Always forgive. But never forget. Learn from your mistakes. But never regret. People change. Things go wrong. Just remember: The ride goes on.
We are honored to present Jake Stephens as a 2022 Rodeo Legend Inductee.