As luck would have it, the lock on the display box broke when seller tried the key. I decided to trash the display box to ensure I got the knife in good shape. Knife arrived today. I gave the brass a gentle Flitz, the stag a little rub-down with mineral oil and the blade got washed with alcohol.
Awesome knife! Heavy knife too. Those were my immediate impressions when I held one of Schrade's bowie-pattern knives for the first time.
I did some digging and I believe it was Bull Riding Hall of Fame inductee Ty Murray who was originally presented with this knife for having the highest total score in a three-ride event. Schrade made a black 3OT "Ty Murray" SFO with a gold-plated shield so he had that connection to Schrade as well (through UST).
I contacted The National Western Stock Show through their website. This is the storied rodeo in question. They were very helpful and while they weren't able to check a data-base of those records (at this time) they did supply me with a newspaper article that seems to contain the information I was after.
The Billings Gazette, Montana, January 14, 1998.
It lists "Total on three: 1, Murray, 259, $16,000". I take this to mean that the sum of the scores from his three rides was 259 and that his prize winnings were $16,000 (plus a nice Schrade knife!) as a result. Fun fact: Murray made his first
million dollars at the age of 23. He is certainly a hard-working success story. He was inducted into the Bull Riding Hall of Fame in 2018.
I feel pretty lucky to become the owner of this knife without having to ride even a single bull. It would have been a journey hundreds of rides long to become the original Series Champion at this event. They are Tough Co. material no doubt.
The large mirror-polished blade is close to flawless and reflections look great in it. The thick-looking gold-fill on the etch is brilliant. The mix of black and brass spacers at both ends of the sambar handle is a classy touch. I like the gentle contours of the guard. My scans still don't do it justice. Too many competing reflections.
Thanks again to those who helped me try and unlock the original display box.