Buckle to Feature Bullfighter

An Abilene native will be honored with his likeness on the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo buckle.

Ethan McDonald, who grew up in Abilene and now lives in Paola, Kan., is the feature on this year’s rodeo buckle.

The son of John and Mary McDonald, the McDonald family returned to Abilene when Ethan was an eighth grader, after living in Colorado and Minneapolis, Kan. As a kid, Ethan and his family traveled with John, who transported bucking bulls to pro rodeos across the country.

But every year they’d be back for the Abilene rodeo. Ethan remembers those days. “Abilene, to me, was ‘that’ rodeo,” he said. “You’d see the big rodeo names, like (multiple-time world champions) Trevor Brazile, Matt Austin, Ty Murray, the who’s who of rodeo.”

John raised bucking bulls, and at practice sessions at the arena at their house, Ethan was called on as bullfighter. While in college at Ft. Hays (Kan.) State University, he helped with college rodeo practices. In college, he was encouraged to get his PRCA membership, which he did in 2011.

From 2011 to 2019, he worked as a bullfighter at rodeos across the nation, including the Abilene rodeo, from 2014-2018.

He loved it, especially when he worked in front of his hometown crowd in Abilene. “Being able to be part of it, I really enjoyed it. At first, I was the guy at the back of the chutes, watching, then I became part of the production.”

It was fun for him to showcase his bullfighting skills to his friends and family in Abilene. “A high school coach or teacher would come up to you and want to say hi, almost like you were a celebrity.”

Ethan retired from bullfighting in 2019, to spend more time with his wife, Madison, and their growing family, including daughter Landri, age six, and sons Calvin and Miles, ages 5 and 1 and ½.

He misses it. “I miss the adrenaline and the camaraderie,” he said.

He follows in his dad’s footsteps as a feature on the buckle; John is on the 2002 buckle.

He’s honored to appear on the 2023 buckle. “It’s cool, knowing you’re part of a niche group.”

The annual buckle auction for the rodeo will be held Sunday, July 30 at the Abilene Elks Club at 417 NW Fourth Street.  Buckles numbered one through ten and number 500 will be auctioned off.

Social hour for the auction begins at 6 pm, with the auction to follow at 6:30 pm.

The rodeo takes place August 1-4 at 7:30 pm each night in Abilene at Eisenhower Park. For more information, visit www.WildBillHickokRodeo.com


Story by Ruth Nicolaus for the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo


Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo Buckle Features

1st series

1989 – Bruce Miller, saddle bronc riding

1990 – Cary Bryant, calf roping

1991 – Jon Greenough, bareback riding

1992 – Tracy Brunner, steer wrestling

1993 – Donna Samples, barrel racing

1994 – Paul Whitehair, bull riding

1995 – 50th anniversary of the Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo

2nd series

1996 – Gerald Roberts, saddle bronc riding

1997 – Phil Bryant, calf roping

1998 – Mark Brunner, bareback riding

1999 – Jim Janke, steer wrestling

2000 – Guy Winters, Sr. and Guy Winters, Jr. team roping

2001 – Stacy Krueger, barrel racing

2002 – John McDonald, bull riding

3rd series

2003 – Steve Davis, bareback riding

2004 – Ty Brant, calf roping

2005 – Jared Roberts, saddle bronc riding

2006 – Bob Pound, steer wrestling

2007 – Scott Bankes and Billy Randle, team roping

2008 – Shaleigh Smith, barrel racing

2009 – Geff Dawson, bull riding

4th series

2010 – Jerry Short, bareback riding

2011 – Wayne Bailey, steer wrestling

2012 – Keegan Knox, saddle bronc riding

2013-  Duane Carson, tie-down roping

2014 – Karl Langvardt and Steve Zumbrunn, team roping

2015 – Micah Samples, barrel racing

2016 – Jimmy Crowther, bull riding

5th series

2017 – Glen Dawson, bareback rider

2018 – Andrews Rodeo Co., stock contractor

2019 – Mike Mathis, rodeo announcer

2020 –  75th anniversary buckle (no rodeo due to Covid)

2021 – Lecile Harris, rodeo clown and specialty act

2022 – Dustin Brewer, bullfighter

2023 – Ethan McDonald, bullfighter