Jason Dent has a reputation to uphold. He’s a 13-year award-winning rodeo bull rider, the United Rodeo Association Rookie of the Year in 2002. He’s a tough cowboy with scars and stories to match with his seasoned bull-riding buddies.

So how do you top an exciting, energetic, extreme-sport occupation?

“I bought some wild clothes at a church ladies’ thrift sale in Osceola,” said Dent. He painted on some make-up and added a funny floppy hat.  “I go by Whistle Nut, cause I’m always whistling,” said Dent. This is, of course, after he told a rodeo contractor there was no way he’d be a rodeo funnyman, that he’d never be a clown.

“It was a little crazy, but it felt exactly right,” said the tall, lean cowboy from Humeston.

Dent, 34, recently performed at the Winneshiek Fireman’s Bull Bash in Decorah, a fundraising rodeo for seven county fire departments.

Last year, Dent was named the United Rodeo Association 2013 Finals Funnyman. “Don’t get me wrong, I mean I was a pretty good bull rider, but as a clown you get a guaranteed check every time,” said Dent with a chuckle.

A high-powered, double-bred, wrangler-rivets bucking bull nam­ed Ole, son of Little Yellow Jacket, is now part of Dent’s act. When Ole was a 2-year-old, he wasn’t that interested in bucking, so Dent bought him and spent another two years training him.

Dent said he coaxed Ole with wafer cookies during training. “He’s 8-years-old now, has a banana horn and one crooked flat one, weighs just under 1,900 pounds. And he’s about as good as it gets in my opinion.”

Dent’s wife, Holly, is the make-up artist and assistant with just about everything for the act, including lugging the metal teeter-totter to the ring and keeping an eye on kids playing on the chariot designed and built by her husband.

Dent admits there’s always danger involved in the show. “I’m not so sure it’s not self-inflicted,” says Dent with a big grin. “I’m high spirited and high energy, so it suits me.”

“A lot of people get the clown confused with the bull fighters, the other two guys out in the ring,” explains Dent. “The bull fighters are the guys that put their lives on the line more than me. I’m paid to keep the crowd engaged when the rodeo is not happening. The bull fighters are there to protect the cowboys.”

“The fans are the best,” said Dent. “I can’t deny that I like people, and the crowd offers constructive criticism. You can tell by their facial expressions and body language whether they are having a good time with you or not, so I know if I can keep moving forward or maybe change something.”

When Dent is not scheduling up to 20 rodeos over the summer, you can find him crafting metal art in his farm shop near Humeston, a talent Dent credits to all those years in 4-H. Dent repurposes “found” metal into sculptures, commercial metal products and mechanical contraptions for his rodeo act, like the teeter-totter and the chariot.
Dent majored in agricultural business and rodeoed at Northwest Missouri State University. He also farms and raises rodeo livestock. In his down time, he auctioneers. It’s all part of his business model, ImagineRodeo.com.

“Rodeos have always been a huge part of my life,” said Dent, going back to his cowboy grandfather who worked for a Wyoming Hereford ranch as a head herdsman.

“It’s nothing but high energy and a great time.”