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Home of -Y 497 Automatic
This is an article that was written about Ray and Becky

Ray & Becky Mataska

When the belt buckle reads 1976 it’s fair to guess that the man wearing it has at least 30
years experience with bulls. And when you hear stories about how he was still getting on
when his kids were in their twenties, you start wondering just how long he’s been at the
game. But the day did come when Ray Mataska finally swapped his rope for a flank strap
and he did it for the best bloodlines available to him. Today he and wife Becky, have about
50 cows on their Petrolia, Texas ranch.

The Mataska’s are trying to breed the best bulls they possibly can and cows that are
worthy of the best bulls. The definition of a good cow to Ray and Becky is good bloodlines
and they prefer those of their late friend Ronnie Roach and his Plummer based breeding.

“He quit rodeoing and added ten cows from Ronnie to our cows and that set up the
foundation for us.” said Becky.  “Those cows were by Automatic, Spook, 819 Roll the Dice,
490 Smart Alec, and 336 Beach Ball and were bred back to bulls like Tequila, Rooster,
and 819 Roll the Dice. Most of our herd today goes back to those original cows.”

The Mataska’s are a straight up and down bunch but, as you drive around their ranch
looking at their cows and hear the words pretty and good looking thrown around, a person
could be forgiven for thinking that Ray and Becky are blind. Something all their cows have
in common is that only their mothers could think they’re beautiful. They’re big framed with
markings that make them look mean and each of them has a set of handle bars that would
make a Harley rider proud. But pretty? That’s not the way I’d describe those rodeo looking
girls.

Ray says that the meanness isn’t just skin deep and that it is bred into them.  But that
doesn’t seem to bother him when he gets out to feed and 50 sets of hooks come racing up
the gully and mingle around him.  
He goes on to say that treating them right and feeding them right helps him produce
quality bulls.

Ray believes that a lot of the animal’s size comes from how you look after them as a baby
and that he probably feeds his cattle more than most people do. “I teach them to eat and
that’s an important thing, especially when you start talking about hauling a bull he’s got to
eat. You do that by teaching them to eat at home and taking their feed with you when you
start hauling.

In fact, Ray’s feed and care program is a testament to him as three of the original cows he
got off Ronnie Roach are still up and kicking at 22 years of age. The cows, numbers CP0,
CP9 and CP18, no longer have teeth so he puts them by themselves so they can’t get
bullied and feeds them soft mix. Last year the Mataska’s got two calves out of the three old
cows. “This may be the first time in 10 years that those three have been empty.” said
Becky. “It’s kind of sad.”

The cornerstone bull of Mataska’s breeding program today is 497 Automatic. Ray saw his
son Jody, a two-time end-of-year Superbull Champion, get on Automatic when Freddy
Cordell had the bull as a three year old. They followed the bull’s career and liked him so
much that they decided to add him to their herd when he finished bucking. Automatic is by
224/Spook out of CP1/Kung Fu and finished his PBR career as a 10 year old with a 21.8
bull rating.

“All of his bulls have bucked.” said Ray. “We’ve kept most all of his heifers and crossed
them to Double Trouble and a Playboy bull we had.”

“Automatic doesn’t have a lot of leg; he’s kind of short so I breed my heifers by him to stuff
with a bit of leg. Double Trouble puts size on them, the Playboy bull he’s got a lot of leg
under him and puts size into them.” says Ray.  

Both Ray and Becky still have a day job and as a result you don’t see many bulls bucking
under their name. You do however see their bulls everywhere including top 20 Classic
bull  #171 Semi-Automatic (Automatic x 129/Ring Eye) now owned by Hebert Bucking
Bulls. Squirt Gun (Roll the Dice x 129/Ring Eye) and Cosmo are also regulars at the
touring pro’s. Shane is another well known Rafter 7r bred bull, his dad is one of Automatic’
s kids, Johnny Walker Red, and his half-sister is Mataska’s cow Nosey Rosey, by 819.

Probably the best known Mataska bull is Jerry Nelson’s M11 Bad Boys Toys (312/Rising
Sun X Toot). The Built Ford Tough Tour regular has also made the trip to the PBR Finals.
Nelson also got California Dreaming (PBR rating 21.5) from the same place. In fact, Jerry
buys most of Ray Mataska’s bulls.

“Every year, for the past six years when Ray weans his calves off his cows, he’ll keep one
or two and he sells me the rest. I’ve had good luck with Ray’s bulls, it’s like anyone else’s
breeding program some of them may not turn out, but I have good success with the bulls
that buck.”

Ray, like his bulls, is honest. “Ray is probably the most honest guy in the bull business.”
says Nelson. And this sentiment rings true with demand for his heifers, seeing the girls
scattered across America from Louisiana to Utah.

This year’s calf crop will see a new infusion for the blood in the Mataska herd in the form
of Maximus (PBR bull rating 22.3) the 1996 PRCA Bull of the Year and 1997 2nd runner
up PBR bull of the year.   Jody, Ray’s son, now owns Maximus.

Mataska believes in his bloodlines so he isn’t in a rush to see what the bulls can do and
doesn’t buck them with a dummy, preferring to wait until they are three and they never
buck their heifers. “You can cripple one pretty easy when they’re young. They can get hurt
when they’re bucking, they can break bones. 532/Jack Pot, by 819, bucked so hard that
he broke his back when he was two.” said Ray.

From weaning, Ray starts to prepare his young bulls for life on the road. “I get them up
three or four at a time and let them get used to each other. I try putting them together for
two or three months and if they don’t get along, they just don’t get along. I’ll put them in for
a little while and try and ease them in together, Semi-Automatic and the Playboy bull never
did get along and I finally sold the Playboy bull. Some bulls just hate other bulls.”

To start his bulls, Mataska simply puts them on a trailer and starts hauling them, but
stresses that it’s important to put bulls in the trailer together that get along together,
otherwise they can injure each other while being hauled.

To do that he has them penned together at the house where they can be watched closely.
He then gets them used to riding in a trailer together. They don’t get bucked, but get used
to traveling and the sights, smells and sounds of rodeos.

“When you first take them somewhere you can just run them in the arena then back on the
trailer. Then start putting them in the chutes and getting them used to the chute. After a
month or so of that, put a cowboy on them. I take them away from the house; we’ll go
anywhere that’s bucking bulls and start with the flank strap real loose. I just put it on where
it’ll just stay on. That’s usually all you’ve got to do on Plummer stuff, they don’t take much
flank.”

“I give them two or three chances, if they don’t do good the first time. I’ll change the
delivery but nothing really with the flank. You’ve just got to try which delivery works best for
the bull.”

To get bulls seasoned and used to going down the road, Ray says you’ve just got to take
them.

“Take the bulls a short distance and then a little longer and then a littler longer. A short
distance is about one hour from the house and Ray takes them two or three times a week.
The next time he’ll take them to Fort Worth and then further. If the bulls can make it to
Denver, Colorado, then they should be fine.

“Denver is a good place to go to teach them to travel. It’s a long haul, and you can take
them eight hours and rest for the night, then continue on the next day. The bulls will be
gone for a week and they’ll either make it or they won’t.

“A good thing about Denver is that the let out gate goes into a long ally and they’ve got to
run down it to get their flank strap off, and they’ll take off down there and we don’t have
much trouble getting them to learn to get out of the arena.

“In a short ally, the bulls don’t want to go out of the arena because they think it’s just
another pen and that they have to leave a big pen for a small one. An ideal setup at a
house arena would be to have a long ally so your bulls can learn to go out. That’s one of
the main things the PBR look for is that your bulls go out good because if they have to
rope them, that it just takes up time.”

Automatic progeny had a tendency to give trouble in the chutes so Mataska has installed
a “No Hot Shot’ policy because they stir the bulls up. By taking away the hot shot and
having cowboys who can get on and out quick, they help the bulls learn to settle and
behave in the chute. “If a bull is bad in the chute, the hot shot doesn’t do anything but
make them worse. Usually you can just show them a gate or chute and they’ll eventually
go on their own. You’ve got to give them a little more time, but they’ll go. Don’t get in a
hurry, if you get in a hurry with them that’s just as bad as a hot shot. “If you keep them
together, they’ll teach each other, if one goes in they’ll all go in.”

For the Mataska family, bulls and bull riding are quite simply a part of their life. “The boys,
Jody and Himey, grew up at rodeos.” said Becky.  “And it’s just been a natural thing for us
to have bucking bulls; it’s what we’ve always wanted.”
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