HOOPER -- When you talk to 79-year-old Junior Naisbitt about his shots and chemotherapy to fight cancer, he says nothing about pain or being brave.
Naisbitt was diagnosed with liver, lung, colon and stomach cancer more than two years ago and was given two months to live.
But today, he says he has not felt better in a very long time.
"I feel pretty lucky," Naisbitt said. "Some guys said treatments made them so sick, they couldn't stand them. One guy said, 'I'd rather die than take those treatments,' and he did. But they just seem to make me feel better."
Perhaps such statements aren't surprising coming from someone who rode bulls for decades and worked cattle for half a century.
Naisbitt's cancer doesn't seem to hold a candle to the kind of tough challenges he has already faced.
When he was honored at the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo for outliving the doctor's predictions, Naisbitt said there were plenty of people who reflected on how tough he was.
"I told them I am tough," he said. "I am beating this cancer."
Naisbitt said he was one of seven Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association cowboys who were rodeoing heavily in the 1960s, six of whom were putting Hooper on the map.
Naisbitt doesn't claim to have been one of the greats. He said he won just enough of a paycheck to get him to the next rodeos.
"I wasn't even famous but I went to all the big rodeos," he said.
But he did rub shoulders with some of the rodeo greats of that time. His favorite story is about riding in a parade with top cowboys, including Jim Shoulders and Casey Tibbs, at the Madison Square Garden rodeo.
The tale is one of his stories of survival on the road that are most entertaining.
Naisbitt said he always had enjoyed a dream of being good enough to ride bulls at Madison Square Garden in New York City.
And he got four chances to do so, but just by the skin of his financial teeth.
The first came when a buddy from California called him and invited him to travel together to the event.
They bought their plane tickets and were on the road without one time discussing their plans for lodging or eating while they were gone.
They had about $6 apiece once they had rented their hotel room for the week, and the friend suggested they purchase a huge sandwich from a cafe for $4 that they would nibble on throughout their stay.
And then they figured out that they could earn a dollar a day exercising other cowboys' horses at the arena.
"We'd both get a couple to ride and lead a couple," he said. "We could make $3 or $4 a day."
Naisbitt said the rodeo committee figured the cowboys were bored, so they asked them to be in the grand entry and to ride in several parades.
Naisbitt was willing to ride, but when he got to the rodeo grounds to pick up his horse, he discovered that he was to ride a 4-year-old wild mustang stallion that was at the rodeo for the wild horse races.
"I finally got his head in the corner to where I could get on him," Naisbitt said. "He took off running and ran to the cowboys on the tame horses."
Naisbitt said Gerald Roberts, the 1948 world champion bull rider, told him he'd get along OK on that mustang because he was a cowboy.
"I got that wild horse to buddy up with them old, gentle bull-dogging horses," he said. And he explained that in the process, he got to know the famous cowboys he was riding with pretty well.
Another one of Naisbitt's favorite tales is about a trip to Reno, Nev., when he was first married in 1960.
He said he had decided he was a farmer and no longer a cowboy, but his wife, Myrene, had thought differently and entered him just before they were to leave.
Naisbitt got there and found that the other cowboys had discovered he was to ride a money-winning bull that had proved itself in California. They each asked him, independently of the others, to split 10 percent. That meant if either of them won any money, they would pay the other 10 percent of their winnings.
"I split 10 percent with 13 guys," he said. "If I had won, I would have gone in the hole. I would have had to pay three extra guys."
Naisbitt got bucked off. But four of the men he split with did place in the money, and each paid him 10 percent.
But Naisbitt and his wife stayed in Reno a little too long, losing all their money but $1 on gambling.
On his way out of the casino, Naisbitt said he put that last dollar on the roulette table and he won $34, enough to get him and his wife a tankful of gas.
But that tank only got them to Elko, where he said he gambled his last bit of change again and this time he got enough money to get back home to Hooper.
Naisbitt got his start as an 8-year-old in a little rodeo in someone's backyard in Plain City in 1942.
"There were eight of us kids entered with $1 entry fees, and I won first," he said. "After that, I got to go into little amateur rodeos. We could win at every one."
It was in 1951 that Naisbitt started into the PRCA. At his first rodeo in Vernal, he won a third- and fourth-place split on his first bull.
After that, he and his Hooper buddies went to four large rodeos in the area each year for the first four years.
"None of us got bucked off," he said.
Except for last year, as a spectator, Naisbitt hasn't missed a Wrangler National Finals Rodeo since it moved to Las Vegas in 1985.
The cowboy said his favorite feature of the world's top rodeo is a special room set aside for Gold Card members, those who are older than 50, who rodeoed with the PRCA for at least 10 years and who paid their dues for 20 years.
He said in that room, he announced that he'd been going to Ogden Pioneer Days since it was ranked among the top 10 rodeos in the country.
He said another man, Taylor Decker, announced that he'd been going to the Ogden event since it was ranked in the top five in the country in the 1940s.
Naisbitt said he has followed the success of the Ogden Pioneer Days rodeo.
He said the show has gone from being one of the top five in the country to being ranked around 35th, but that it has started back up with improvements the committee has made.
"Ogden Pioneer Days is still the best rodeo in the country," he said, noting the differences in the way he personally ranks the show. "I like to go there and see the folks that rodeoed with me, but there aren't many of them that are still alive."