Rafter D makes things happen

Don and Mary Jean Dees walk among their bucking bulls at Rafter D Rodeo in Sterling.

Mike Higgs | Altus Times

Horses at Rafter D Rodeo running up to Don Dees from the pasture.

Mike Higgs | Altus Times

Tate Murray getting thrown from a Rafter D bronco at the Mangum Rodeo.

Mike Higgs | Altus Times

Founded in the early 1940’s by Odus C. Dees, upon his returned from World War II, Rafter D headquarters is just southeast of Sterling.

He registered his brand and it has since been passed down four generations, first to his son Don, then on to Don and Mary Dees, and Jean’s four children, Jeff, Dusty, Darla and Jamie Dees.

Also in the family business are their five grandsons and six granddaughters.

Don and Mary Jean Dees always remembered what Odus instilled in them — if you work hard, hold your head up, take the good times with the bad and always do your best each and every day — things will work out.

Married for 50 years, the Dees raised their family with wholesome values and a passion for the true spirt of rodeo.

Rafter D Rodeo was started in the early 1970’s and the company is family owned and operated. They have more than 1,000 head of livestock stamped with the Rafter D brand.

“Jeff is our pickup man,” Mary Jean said.

Jamie is the announcer and his two sons Chauk and Bandee help run the stock at their events.

Darla helps Mary Jean as rodeo secretary and timekeeper, utilizing her four daughters, Dara, Paige, Jadyn, Emma and Jeff’s daughter Mikayla to help with the entries and back-up times.

Using mainly their own stock for their rodeos, the grandchildren not only help run the animals at the rodeos, they also perform in many of the events.

Jakob, their grandson, was one of four top riders picked from his division to compete in this year’s High School National Finals, in Gillette, Wyo.

Raising everything from bucking bulls and horses to sheep for the children “mutton busting,” they have received national acclaim for their bucking stock and had a top-selling bull in 2006.

“In 1999, and for the following seven years, we had the top selling bulls at the Fort Worth (Texas) stockyard,” Don Dees said.

The Rafter D’s bucking bulls have performed at some of the biggest rodeos in the country, including Cheyenne Frontier Days, Wyoming; Houston; San Angelo, Texas; San Antonio, Texas; Dallas Stampede, the National Finals Rodeo and the PBR Finals in Las Vegas.

A Rafter D Horse was one of the highest selling animals at the Simon Bucking Stock Futurity and Sale at the Lazy E Arena in January of 2015 and 2017.

“Don tends to his own stock everyday, 365 days a year,” Mary Jean said.

From feeding and watering, to making sure the animals are in prime shape for bucking, they are closely involved with the animals.

“He is like a horse whisper. The animals just come right up to him,” She added,

While driving out to view their stock, it was evident that this was true.

The massive bulls, which buck off the riders on the weekend, came right up to Don.

Their bucking horses actually came running — a majestic sight to see.

Don and Mary Jean Dees said they are humble and passionate about their work and that with all they have accomplished — all the awards and accolades — they realize they are living their dream.

“We give the glory to God for making this happen,” Don Dees said.

Don and Mary Jean Dees walk among their bucking bulls at Rafter D Rodeo in Sterling. Horses at Rafter D Rodeo running up to Don Dees from the pasture. Tate Murray getting thrown from a Rafter D bronco at the Mangum Rodeo.

Reach Mike Higgs at 580-482-1221.

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Source : http://www.altustimes.com/news/13580/rafter-d-makes-things-happen

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