When lifelong Glen Rose resident Terry Starnes’ cellphone moos, you know you’re dealing with a real cowboy.
“I always wanted to be a cowboy ever since I was a little kid. I just couldn’t figure out how to do it,” Starnes said.
Starnes grew up on a farm and a ranch working alongside his father and grandfather. He also participated in 4-H and finally started competing in rodeos during high school.
“I rode bulls and team roped for a while,” Starnes said. “But I had to work, too. It was more of a hobby.”
He remembers the first time his mother came to watch him ride a bull and said she wasn’t too thrilled at the prospect of letting her son ride.
“She didn’t care much for it,” Starnes said. “But she always supported me.”
Starnes graduated in 1971 and continued competing in upper end amateur rodeos to lower end professional circuits.
“I always thought I wanted to (make it a career), but never jumped out there and did it. You either gotta do it or you don’t,” Starnes said.
Finally, in 1983, Starnes decided to trade the bulls for a less dangerous gig.
“I always tell people I quit riding for two reasons,” Starnes said. “One, I wasn’t very good. Two, I wasn’t getting any better.”
That’s when fate gave Starnes a push down his pathway to cowboyhood.
“I went to watch a rodeo with a buddy in Mullin, Texas,” Starnes said. “Five minutes before it started, he told me he had volunteered me for something.”
Turns out, the announcer originally hired to do the gig never showed so Starnes’ buddy said he knew someone who could step in.
Starnes walked into a booth equipped with only a 50-watt speaker, microphone and tape recorder.
“It wasn’t a very fancy set up,” Starnes said. “I basically just called names, times and scores. At the end of the night the guy that put it together asked me how much I wanted. I told him to pay me what he thought it was worth and he paid me $50. I thought, hey, that’s $25 an hour. I’m kinda diggin’ this deal.”
Starnes has kept busy ever since, calling names and recording the score from every corner of the country. He announced at more than 40 events last year alone. He knows almost every airport in the country and said he has more frequent flyer miles than he has time to use.
“I was in Kalamazoo, Michigan last week,” Starnes said. “Last year I went from Arizona to Maine; from South Texas to Ohio. I’m gone from home about 200 days a year.”
Starnes said that sometimes his wife Shelley travels with him and helps do sound and music when she has the time.
“Otherwise, she does pretty well as my travel agent,” Starnes said.
But Starnes isn’t one to sit around on the other 165 days of the year. He started raising bucking bulls about six years ago.
He runs about 40 head and is excited he got into the blooming market on the ground floor.
“It’s following in the ‘hoof prints’ of the horse industry, but we’re not making some of the mistakes they made along the way,” Starnes said.
“That’s my retirement, but I’ll never retire,” Starnes said. “I may slow down, but I’ll never retire. I may slow down in three to four years. I’ll be 60ish by then. It’s been a pretty fun ride so far and I’m not planning on getting off anytime soon.”
But Starnes isn’t stopping there.
“My son (Marty) and I own a company. We make belt buckles and jewelry,” Starnes said. “I was up at 7 a.m. today engraving two buckles.”
He made his first belt buckle in 1986 and now the duo crank out 300-400 a year.
“I sleep generally between midnight and 6 a.m.,” Starnes said. “My mom is 78 and tells me I have to slow down,” Starnes said. “I ask her which third of my life I should cut out. None of my work is real hard, but it’s steady.”
Starnes said his mother, who recently had minor surgery, was up and ready to go the day after.
“She’s always working,” Starnes said. “My mom cleans three houses for fun. My dad was the same way. Gee, I wonder where I get it from.”
About that time, Starnes’ pocket started to moo. It was time to hit the road and haul a few bulls to Fort Worth.
Never a moment to waste for this cowboy.