WAYNOKA, OKLAHOMA -- If you want to hear a good rodeo story you have to get up early or stay late, away from the noise and excitement.
That's where you'll find people like Brian Dunn and Vernon Barnes trading on their experiences in the arena.
Dunn says, "I love hearing the old stories and how things were and how things are, and comparing them."
Brian's grandpa taught him everything he knew about the rodeo game. He's been a bull fighter and barrel man for 30 years.
"I hung in my granddad's back pocket," says Dunn, "I wanted to be a cowboy."
Vernon started riding bulls and broncs in the early '50's
"When I was growing up, if you made $50 in the bull riding well that was pretty good," he recalls.
It's early in the morning. The stock hasn't made a peep yet. The chutes are empty which gives these two cowboys a chance to compare medical files and respective generations.
Brian's bum knee has him thinking about how much longer he can fight bulls.
Vernon says he knew when to hang up the spurs and one rodeo in 1968.
"I bucked off on three bulls in a row, and I thought, 'well, you know it's time to quit anytime a guy does that.' I haven't been on once since."
Most cowboys would agree that the rodeo stock is better now than it's ever been. The cowboys who want to can practice more often.
But the question of who was tougher will always be at issue in those quiet places where rodeo memories are kept.
The 77th annual Cimarron River Stampede is set for August 8-10.
Vernon Barnes was a long time rodeo chairman. Brian Dunn is this year's rodeo clown entertainment.
For more information on the event go to http://www.cimarronriverstampede.com