by Scott Sacry
Devyn vs. Darbacious has a nice ring to it. In one corner you have the bull, Darbacious, unridden and looking to retire on top. In the other corner you have the bull rider, Devyn, the up and coming 15-year old star, looking to propel a blossoming career as a bull rider. Only one can notch the victory and gain the spoils.
The match between the two will happen on Saturday, July 9th during the Twisted Nut Festival at the Darby Rodeo Grounds. It will be the show-stopping last event of the festival. But no matter who comes out on top, there is one true winner – research for testicular cancer. Funds raised for the match will be donated to Bitterroot Health for research on testicular cancer, with Bitterroot Health matching all the money donated.
The Twisted Nut Festival is a two-day event featuring barrel racing, bareback riding, and bull riding (more information and tickets at darbyrodeo.org). The driving force behind the festival is Cal Ruark, the director of the Darby Rodeo Association. “On Friday we will bring Darbacious and Devyn out in front of the crowd and raise the pot,” says Ruark. “First, we will auction off a hat donated from the Double H Custom Hat Company, then we will start what is called a paddle call. Whoever wants to join in will sign up to make matching donations, starting from the price of the hat down to $100.” If Darbacious wins, all the money will go to the research for testicular cancer. If Devyn wins, he will get the pot, and he has already agreed to donate half back to the cause.
Ruark’s passion for the Darby Rodeo Association and the Twisted Nut Festival is contagious. This will be the third Twisted Nut Festival. The idea started when Ruark heard people asking why no one in the rodeo world raised money for the men. He stewed over the question and his answer was to use a rodeo to raise money for testicular cancer and the Twisted Nut Festival was born.
Ruark has mixed emotions about the outcome of the match, as he has emotional ties to both the bull and rider. Darbacious, whose name is a combination of Darby and the famous bull Bodacious, has been a staple in the area for years and has never been ridden (for the full eight seconds), according to Ruark. This will be the last time Darbacious will compete in the ring as he is retiring after the event. Ruark has formed a strong bond with the bull. “I never thought I would love a damn bucking bull,” said Ruark, “but I’m really attached to him.”
Ruark has known Devyn Hundley since he was a boy. “Years ago I gave Devyn my old gear bag, that’s how much I thought of him. It’s funny, we now live right next to each other. He’s always meant a lot to me, we’re pretty close.” Devyn is fresh off winning the 2022 Montana High School Rodeo Association state championship in bull riding in Great Falls. He started riding sheep when he was four years old, then progressed up the levels, riding bigger and bigger animals. “Devyn is destined to do great things in bull riding if he keeps healthy,” says Ruark.
Devyn doesn’t like to overthink things when riding, he prefers sticking to the basics and following his routine. “I try not to have a plan going into it,” says Devyn. “I just ride him jump for jump, stay in the middle, two feet on the side. I don’t like to play games. It doesn’t matter which way they go, I just ride them jump for jump.”
“If Devyn rides the bull, I’ll think it’s cool,” says Ruark. “If Darbacious bucks him off, I’ll think it’s cool. It’s a win-win deal, no matter what happens. If the bull goes out on top or Devyn comes out a local hero, I’ll take either result. Either way we’ll be putting on a great show and raising money for a great cause.”
Devyn exudes a quiet confidence, and when asked about his chances of riding Darbacious, he says, “Yeah, I think I will cover (ride) him.” To which Ruark responds, “I wouldn’t expect any other answer.”