“I always want to have a story to tell when the day’s done.”
Then, the cowboy emphatically added: “It’s not so much about the money, but the life.”
Already seemingly-makings of a best-selling novel is the life of Clint Bohnen, who rolls with exuberance in conversation recalling where he’s been, what’s been done and seen as just a 32-year-old cowboy.
Honored as “Top Hand” at the recent Thomas K. Reed Memorial Ranch Rodeo in Council Grove, Bohnen of Alma grew up at Russell in the shadow of, and sidekick to, his dad, Bruce Bohnen, a lifetime-cowboy as well.
Of the 56 cowboys at the most recent competition, Bohnen contended, “I didn’t do anything different than anytime I’m on horseback working cattle.”
Employed since the first of October at Jason Shamburg’s Grassland Growers back-grounding-lot, northwest of Alta Vista, Bohnen has done considerable day work for ranchers over a wide area.
As a member of the fourth-place 2i Feeders team of Allen, Bohnen acknowledged, “I didn’t miss any of my loops, when I was supposed to rope. But, I really have a passion for getting right on the head of cattle, whether doctoring, mugging or cow milking.
“As soon as a critter is roped, I try to be the first one there to help get it down. If somebody else is on the head, I’ll do my part whatever it is, tie, milk, run the bottle. I never shirk my responsibility,” insisted Bohnen, verification for the breast-collar signifying his “Top Hand” status.
Bohnen is quick to credit Jason Gibson, Grady Gibb and Adrian Vogel, other members of his team. “We work well together. I really appreciate them,” he acknowledged.
Yet, Bohnen is also especially proud of his closest-teammate: the big, blue roan gelding, Iceman.
“He’s ‘snorty,’ kind of goosey, not the best rodeo horse, nor the ‘cowiest.’ But, Iceman’s a real horse in the pasture,” Bohnen credited. “I’ve never found cattle Iceman couldn’t catch and handle on the end of rope. He’ll really pull and go all day.”
Bohnen credited Iceman’s breeder, John Voss of Logan, for his Blue Valentine-Hancock-Redman horse program.
“John has lots of integrity and doesn’t compromise in producing this kind of horses. I’m riding four of them; they get the job done.”
From helping his dad, starting and grazing cattle, Bohnen participated in open rodeos, went on the high school circuit and competed at National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association events while attending Garden City Community College.
“I’ve always liked to team rope and have been going to jackpots most of my life,” Bohnen said.
After a year of college, Bohnen worked for the Bar S Ranch at Paradise. “Then, I just bounced around, did a bunch of day-work, had feedlot jobs, worked for the LE Ranch in New Mexico, ended up back at Cottonwood Falls,” he reflected. “It’d take a while to tell you where all I’ve been, and what I’ve done.
“But, there are a lot of cowboy stories with every one of them,” assured Bohnen, who worked at Spencer Harshman’s back-grounding-lot near Hymer before taking his present position.
“I’ve always had some colts to ride. Several times when an arena was available, I’d just train horses for a few months, until something else came along,” Bohnen noted.
“I like to develop rope horses, and I’ve done some horse trading,” he admitted.
Attending saddle bronc riding school, Bohnen evaluated, “I got along, so it looked promising to win some rodeos. I thought I had enough talent back then, but I never did pursue it.”
Every cowboy has a favorite horse, and despite appreciation for Iceman, Bohnen has affection for a 1,400-pound red dun Zantanon-bred gelding called Lotta-Bottom.
“He’d pitch every time I got on him, then he’d go fine the rest of the day.” Bohnen said. “Bottom was the fastest horse I’ve ever ridden. I tripped rank bulls on him.
“Dad owned Bottom and decided to sell him. We still hear stories about Bottom bucking people off. But, he never got me. I really liked him,” Bohnen said.
Bohnen is anticipating the World Championship Ranch Rodeo, this month in Amarillo, Texas, which his 2i Feeders team qualified for by winning the Meade ranch rodeo.
“There are lots of good cowboys and top teams there, but we’ll hold our own. I’m confident of that,” Bohnen evaluated.
Bohnen and his wife, the former Tiffany Hendrix, have two children, Charli, three; and Trip, 16-months.
Planning to continue “making cowboy stories to tell,” Bohnen “likes his job,” plans to day-work on-call, compete in ranch rodeos and someday have a place of his own to train rope horses. “That’s my goal I guess,” he assured.
Many people like to read Western novels, and most are romantic exaggerations of cowboy life. But, when “Clint Bohnen Tales” is published, everyone will be true.