Tracking the Elusive Buckle Bunny
by Lorraine A. DarConte
I´m here at La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros in search of the elusive "Buckle Bunny", aka “a country gold digger,” “wrangler inspector,” or “cowboy groupie.” According to Wikipedia: “A Buckle Bunny is a female fan of rodeo who purposefully seeks encounters with contestants who have proven successful in their events. The term is named for the buckles that are awarded to the winners in rodeo.”
Buckle Bunnies may or may not be able to ride a horse, but they sure as heck admire those who can. Buckle Bunnies can be tricky to track because they blend in well with the average rodeo fan and rarely, if ever, admit to being a Bunny. In the confines of the dusty rodeo grounds, they strut in search of the oh-so-rugged, and sometimes naive, rodeo cowboy.
Bunnies on the prowl dress for the kill. They wear tight jeans, skimpy tops, fancy boots, push-up bras and oversized, flashy belt buckles to lure in their prey. However, they should not be mistaken for rodeo aficionados who innocently don similar outfits, or the “wannabes” who seemingly attempt to pass themselves off as the real thing by wearing T-shirts bearing suggestive slogans such as, “My Weakness is Cowboys”; “Wicked Wench of the West”; and the ever popular, “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.”
There are subtle signs that the trained eye can look for to help sort the wannabes from the diehard groupies. Wannabes often have grown children in tow, usually females who could be mistaken for their sisters. After all, 40 is the new 20. Maybe they just want a little attention and an excuse to wear tight, sexy, outfits for a few hours. Oh, come on, who doesn’t? Wannabes, unlike some of us, just happen to have the guts to do it. Chances are good they’ll go home with the kids and put the pink boots and matching hat back in the closet until next year. Real Buckle Bunnies can bat their eyelashes at record-breaking speeds and stop a cowboy dead in his tracks with a quick but lethal flash of sex appeal.
Buckle Bunnies track their prey alone and/or in packs, sometimes slowly circling a small group of cowboys, looking for an opportunity to pounce, sometimes going straight for the kill — “Hi, I’m Sierra! ” — stunning them with cheerful, perky banter and a well-timed hair flip. They strategically position themselves at the contestant entrance, and if they’re lucky or have connections, inside the chute area. Bars and nightclubs that cater to the cowboy crowd also serve as a bunny’s hunting ground. Here in Tucson, I’m told, one such watering hole is Cactus Moon, a place where Buckle Bunnies can showcase their own “two step.” Being a pretty bunny has its advantages, but those in the know have honed other skills, such as cooking and dancing. Sometimes a little fancy footwork is all that’s needed to land the cowboy of their dreams.
A wrangler may never know what hit him until he wakes up the next morning in the bunny’s warren — just as she planned, or, just as he planned.
There are, of course, cowboys who are ready, willing and able to be “trapped” by a Buckle Bunny. Only time will tell whether it’s a relationship that will last a lifetime or only the run of the rodeo.
Most cowboys don’t mind the attention, though sometimes they’re a little surprised by it. According to the Peek brothers — Josh, Jon and Jeremiah — who were interviewed at the National Western Stock Show by Rocky Mountain News reporter Penny Parker, girls have asked them to walk slowly so they can photograph their cowboy butts.
“Sometimes during autograph sessions, girls slip their [phone] numbers in your pocket,” says Josh, who met his girlfriend at a rodeo (though she’s not a Buckle Bunny). “Buckle Bunnies are looking for a good time, hanging out in bars looking for cowboys and are out to dance,” says Josh. “There’s nothing wrong with that. We never look down on anybody in our sport.”
Rodeo isn’t the only sport with bunnies. They have multiplied and staked out other arenas. There are also end zone bunnies (football), puck bunnies (hockey), basket bunnies (basketball), Beckham bunnies (soccer) and ball bunnies (baseball), who often can be seen wearing pink, sparkly “Mrs. Jeter” T-shirts.
Strange as it may seem, Buckle Bunnies have gotten a bum rap over the years, which is pretty unfair considering being caught by one is, for the most part, a victimless crime. Calamity Cate, the publisher of trueCOWBOYmagazine (www.truecowboymagazine.com), which features "Buckle Bunnies" on the cover of her e-zine, would like to change the world’s perception of these often-misunderstood creatures.
However, Calamity's version of a Buckle Bunny is a little different from the more notable one. "trueCOWBOYmagazine is dedicated to raising awareness of the wild mustangs and our western heritage. The glamorous, sexy women, our Buckle Bunnies, on the covers are meant to attract attention — and then when we've snagged your attention, to educate the average reader, true cowboys and cowgirls and the "urban" ones, about the mustangs’ plight to remain free-roaming."
“A sexy cowgirl is universal,” says Calamity, “and I think ‘Buckle Bunny’ is a charming catch-phrase, although, to some, it can be a negative one. To those I say, get over it! By featuring women that are beautiful, sexy, intelligent, compassionate on the covers and inside tCmag, I hope to achieve two things; to raise awareness of the plight of the wild free-roaming mustangs, first and foremost, and, secondly, change the Buckle Bunny image."
Let’s hope Calamity Cate is successful so that more people globally are aware of the mustangs in the USA and that Buckle Bunnies everywhere can stand tall — whether it’s to raise awareness of the wild ones, feel good about themselves or get a better look at the cowboy in the tight Wranglers on the other side of the grandstands.
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