Don Payne Makes Steady Strides in Regular Season to Qualify for First NFR

Meet the NFR Athletes is presented by Montana Silversmiths

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Christopher Thompson

After finishing within the Top 50, but never better than No. 32, the last two years, Stephenville’s Don Payne has earned his first trip to the Thomas & Mack in 2023.

During the final days of the regular season he battled the bubble to claim that No. 15 spot with $84,612, beating Tristan Martin and Cameron Morman.


Greeley Stampede (Colorado), $13,471

Payne was the second highest money earning bulldogger in Greeley. His fastest run of the rodeo came in Round 2 when a 3.7-second run landed him in a tie for third in the Go-Round. With a time of 12.6 on three head, Payne ended the rodeo second in the Average to make the Greeley Stampede his biggest payday of the regular season.

Dodge City Roundup (Kansas), $12,195

Payne’s second highest payday of the season came in Kansas. After two Rounds, and times of 4.4 and 4.5 seconds, consistency was key in getting Payne another second place Average finish and a hefty check.


Durant Pro Rodeo (Oklahoma), 3.4 seconds

A series of 3.4s would be Payne’s fastest time of the year and the first came in June. By four tenths of a second, the Texas cowboy picked up a $1,700 win in Oklahoma to kick off the spree.

West Texas Fair & Rodeo, 3.4 seconds

The next 3.4 came as a Round 2 win in Abilene, Texas. After a no time in Round 1, Payne went for the Round on Day 2 and got the job done to add another $1,700 to his season earnings.

Springhill PRCA Rodeo (Louisiana), 3.4 seconds

As the regular season began to come to a close, Payne saved one his best for last. In his neighboring state of Louisiana, he threw down another 3.4 to finish third and add yet another $1,500 to his season earnings to help cinch that first NFR qualification.


Sitting Bull Stampede (South Dakota), 3.6 Seconds

One of Payne’s successful Cowboy Christmas runs came in Mobridge, South Dakota. He was two tenths of a second faster than the next cowboy, Holden Meyers, and this win came with a $2,300 paycheck and a boost of momentum that saw him win the Ute Stampede a few days later.

Gooding Pro Rodeo (Idaho) 3.6 seconds

In August Payne tied for his lone PRCA Playoff Series win of 2023, which came with a of $3,760 after he stopped the clock at 3.6 seconds It was sweet redemption for him as he missed the money there in 2022.

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