“Middle-age prime” is the most accurate simplest way to describe this champion cowboy, a successful businessman foremost.
How he keeps all of his entrepreneurship enterprises straight would be too complex for most, likely requiring the fanciest computer.
Yet Jeff Miller’s philosophy for rodeo arena success is clue to logic of his lifetime achievements.
“I try to rodeo smarter not kill ’em with numbers like when I was a kid,” he said “I don’t enter as many but make every run count try not to make mistakes.”
It’s obviously paying off as the 40-year-old Blue Mound cowboy continues beating those rodeo athletes much younger than him. That’s coupled with Miller’s diverse successful agricultural and ranching endeavors.
Highlight for the rodeo cowboy businessman came at the North American Championship Rodeo in Louisville, Kentucky, during November.
Miller was the all-around cowboy collecting $9,894 steer wrestling and tie-down roping in the Great Lakes Circuit Finals Rodeo (GLCFR). It’s one of 12 circuits in the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA).
With total time of 13.5 seconds on three head, Miller won the steer wrestling average adding $3,492 to go-round checks.
He was second in the first and third go-rounds with 4.2-seconds, and 4.4-seconds runs, respectively earning $1,176 per round. His 4.9-seconds run collected $582, placing fourth in the second round.
An 8.4-seconds flag in the third round of tie-down roping added another $2,328 payback escalating Miller to the all-round crown.
Those accomplishments qualify Miller for the RAM National Circuit Finals Rodeo (RNCFR) in Kissimmee, Florida, April 3-4.
The RNCFR, one of the ten largest rodeos of the season, will pay out more than $750,000 to the winners. Miller qualified there the first time in 2002.
Making Miller smile possibly even more than the greenbacks added to his pocketbook at Louisville was accolades for his mounts. Shawby and Fly won the top steer wrestling and top hazing horse awards, respectively.
“I love winning the steer wrestling average and the all-around, but I’m even prouder of my horses,” Miller admitted. “It has been a bag of riches with a lot of good things.”
The Kansas cowboy is no stranger to circuit success. He competed at the Prairie Circuit Finals Rodeo 10 times in both tie-down roping and steer wrestling before switching to the Great Lakes Circuit. He also competed at last year’s GLCFR in tie-down roping.
Tie-down roping at the 2009 RNCFR, this will be Miller’s first time there steer wrestling since 2002.
During the 2019 regular season, Miller’s rig was different than what he’s accustomed. Miller is 10 years older than his traveling partners Jake Johnson, Mapleton, and Tyler Harris, Pleasanton. And Johnson and Harris are 10 years older than traveling partner Logan Wiseman, Paola, a rookie steer wrestler and tie-down roper.
Four of the 12 bulldoggers who qualified for the GLCFR competed on Shawby, Miller’s 14-year-old American Quarter Horse. That included Miller, Johnson, Harris and Bob Loosenort, Hazel, Kentucky.
Miller’s 10-year-old American Quarter Horse, Fly, was their hazing horse.
Horses aren’t Miller’s only famous livestock. Miller annually imports several hundred head of steers from Mexico and supplies the bulldogging cattle for a number of large rodeos.
His bulldogging steers were contracted to the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas, Nevada, for the fourth year this past December. It’ll be his own steers wrestled down at the 2020 RNCFR, where Miller has also supplied bulldogging cattle several times.
“I have a fulltime job in crop insurance, so I don’t think I’ll crack out for the National Finals Rodeo,” Miller qualified. “But I’m excited about Florida. That’s a wonderful opportunity with a lot of added money.”
Growing up in Linn County, Miller and his sisters competed with their horses in local horse shows.
“Then we started going to youth rodeos after encouragement from Wade Wilson of Kincaid,” Miller reflected. “He competed in the Prairie Circuit and has mentored a number of successful timed event contestants over the past four decades. I give Wade a lot of credit for my longevity in the sport.”
Living his dream in high school, Miller collected awards qualifying for and winning at the National High School Rodeo Finals. That earned him a college rodeo scholarship adding to his pocketbook and titles at the National College Rodeo Finals.
Professional rodeo looked like the future to Miller as he kept winning. “Living in a trailer with a couple guys, traveling across the country, breaking even doing what we loved,” he remembered.
But when his good horse broke a leg, Miller, then 29, found no equal replacement. “There was no money, a dang-near worn-out truck, and no winnings to show for in the last six rodeos.
“I could see I was kind of ‘rodeoing’ myself into a hole,” Miller said. “I was in a bind and didn’t have any backup plan.”
That’s when he got a day job. With a business finance degree and a willingness to “try anything once,” Miller worked at a bank for a time.
He’s now a crop insurance agent recruiter for NAU Country Insurance Company along with diverse agriculture partnerships.
The champion cowboy competes in the PRCA rodeos, the United Rodeo Association and the American Cowboys Rodeo Association.
One normal weekend would be shipping steers out for rodeos on Friday morning, competing Friday evening, Saturday morning and night. Then at a youth rodeo on Sunday with his nine-year-old daughter Reagan.
“I probably compete at 40 rodeos annually and we go to about 10-15 youth rodeos every year,” Miller tallied. “My sisters’ children also ride in those events. They become family affairs with the cousins competing against each other.
“My wife Jenni and our daughter are my biggest supporters competing at the rodeos,” he appreciated.
Miller gives back to the sport too annually conducting steer wrestling schools.
Rodeo and business enterprises work well together for Miller. “I like the money, but I really love competing. I’ll always remember what Mom told me when I wasn’t winning much at rodeos.
“She said, ‘You just like to gamble. You just keep going back.’
“I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Miller declared.