He's dodged hockey pucks and flames. These days he's dodging 1-ton bulls.

But for "barrel man" Denny Halstead it's all a day's work.

The trick is playing to the crowd while protecting the cowboys, and he's mastered it. Becoming one of the top 5 in the world at his profession while not making too many "greatest hits."

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"I'm living the dream, I truly am," Denny told me this week after arriving for the Western Montana Fair rodeo events. "I'm very fortunate to do what I do as a barrel man. I kind of got two jobs already. I have a very fun job, but I have a very serious job. The fun job of course, is the entertainment of the crowd and my acts and doing different things to keep that crowd entertained. And of course, the bull riding my job in a barrel man is to make sure that barrels in a position that it's safe for cowboy or bullfighter to get behind."

He admits that it doesn't always end well

"I'll be honest with you, I'm from Canada. I always love coming down here for the July 4th. And then in Livingston this year, I didn't get to enjoy the July 4th. I don't remember it!"

Dodging danger comes naturally to Denny

"I'm an ex-hockey player. My career ended when I was 20," Denny recalls. "I became a full-time Calgary firefighter for 30 years. After about 10 years on the job, Calgary Police and Calgary Fire put on a charity rodeo for children every year and it was quite a big event in Calgary. And a week before their bullfighter and barrel man, who was a big name up there, backed out. And I happened to be at a meeting, I said 'Heck, I'll do it.' And now I travel all over the world and I sit in the top five in the world and I still don't believe I make a living doing it."


Get ready to have fun with one of the best in the world

Denny travels constantly, hitting the North American rodeo circuit, but also down to Australia. With his dog, props like a motorcycle, and the "chicken inflator" (which he wouldn't give me spoilers on), he loves the crowds.

"I love music, I love the sing-along, stuff like that. But I could just as much of an adrenaline rush out of working a crowd as I do work in a barrel. So it's kind of a different adrenaline, but it's still adrenaline."

"I'll be honest with you, some guys have scripts and different things that they do every night. I have a million jokes in this head and I couldn't tell you what's coming out. I don't have a script. When I hit an arena. I just go to have fun."

And you can be a part of it during the rodeo events the rest of the weekend at the Western Montana Fair.

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