Jim still making a mark

Stockman Jim Nunn.
Stockman Jim Nunn.

IT’S a traditional stockman’s sport, so it’s fitting a traditional stockman would be competing.

Jim Nunn is 81 years old but as keen as ever to be contending this year’s bronco branding event at the Stonehenge Rodeo.

Jim has worked in the beef industry for most of his life, starting out as a first-year stationhand when he was 17 in South Australia.

When Jim was working on stations, bronco branding was the main method used to process calves. Nowadays, with better infrastructure and calf cradles, the iconic task has almost become obsolete.

“When I was doing it for work we weren’t racing against the clock. You might have 200 calves to brand so we were just racing to get it down before the sun went down,” he said.

“Now it’s just about getting together with my mates, and catching up with my old friends.”

Although Jim keeps telling people he “wants to retire” from the sport, he said he still thoroughly enjoys it.

What he loves most about the sport is that he can compete with his sons Matthew, Luke, Cameron and Peter.

Depending on work commitments, some of his adult children may help make up his team for this year.

“A few years ago we took out the Australian championships, me and three of my boys. You can’t get much better than that,” he said.

Jim forged a long career working on large cattle properties, including Kidman’s Anna Creek and Durham Downs Station.

He worked his way up from stationhand to head stockman, then to manager.

Now he owns his own property, Sunnyside, which is about 80km outside of Stonehenge, Queensland.

In 1991 Jim introduced bronco branding to Stonehenge. It was the first rodeo in Queensland to host the event.

“It’s a tradition for Australia,” he said.

“Bronco branding would have been done for 200 years, so we want to keep it alive.”

In his team, Jim has the job as the catcher. Riding his horse, Harry, Jim has to identify the un-branded calves in the mob, head rope them and pull them over to the rails.

He said the secret to bronco branding was teamwork, but there was a little luck involved.

“Sometimes the calf you need will be right in front of you,” he said.

“But when you have to go looking for it… that’s when you can lose your time.”

Jim recalls his fastest time as being about two minutes 30 second.

“When you are pulling the first one over the rail you have to be looking for the next one,” he said.

“We have won a couple of times over the years, but we have lost a couple as well.

“The main thing is that you enjoy it.”

Jim said sometimes it was hard to make up a team, so he had to scout around for people on the day.

“This is a sport for young or old – you can do it.”

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