The originator of rodeo steer wrestling, or bulldogging, African-American cowboy Bill Pickett was born in 1870 in Travis County, Texas. With four brothers, he established Pickett Brothers Bronco Busters and Rough Riders, which advertised “catching and taming wild cattle a speciality.”
Bill Pickett’s technique for subduing a stubborn steer involved grabbing its horns, twisting its head up, and biting its tender nose or lower lip. By the early 1900s he and other performers were “bulldogging” steers in this manner as a rodeo exhibition. The biting technique, however, soon was replaced by twisting leverage that “threw” the steer. The event remains a central part of virtually every rodeo venue.
Among the first black cowhands in rodeo, Bill Pickett was a featured performer with the Miller Brothers 101 Ranch and Wild West Show for over a quarter century. He died in 1932 of injuries received from a rogue horse.