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Ranching and exotic animal hunting near Kerrville…

Posted by on December 14, 2014

DECEMBER 13, 2014. It was cold and blustery at Buckhorn this morning, so we decided to put the town of Kerrville in our rear view mirror and take a drive in the country. We wanted to see some of the large ranches outside of town and get some photos of the animals we hoped to find there. Heading the Jeep north and east toward Harper, our first stop was at the Ridge Marketplace on South Ranch Road 783, where we had lunch in the Cafe with our friends Dan and Robyn. This is their second winter at Buckhorn, so they’re our source for local restaurant and attraction recommendations. Good choice, you guys!


Entrance to the Ridge Marketplace, a great spot for country comfort food dining. 

CAFE AT THE RIDGE. The Cafe at the Ridge is about seven miles from Kerrville, on Harper Road. It’s a country marketplace with not just a charming, rustic cafe but also a fabulous on-site bakery and a garden area with tempting handcrafted gifts and treasures from the Hill Country. Everything on the cafe menu is “made from scratch” and served by the nicest servers we’ve found so far in the great state of Texas.  I ordered a grilled center-cut pork chop, served with a mushroom-sherry cream sauce. It came with potatoes mashed with the skins and fresh rosemary, fried green tomatoes, a garden salad with cold, crisp greens and a tasty house dressing and freshly baked cornbread from the bakery. The dessert offerings were tempting, but after such a large lunch I had to decline. We’ll return soon to try the chocolate meringue pie or one of the other homemade bakery items. This place is going on our list as a “go to” dining spot in the area. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and live entertainment at night…can’t beat it.


East Beach at Galviston, Texas.

ROBYN HAD A GREAT IDEA! After lunch Robyn mentioned that she’s really been wanting to take a trip to the beach. Well, I jumped at that one! It’s been way to long since I’ve smelled salt sea air! The long and the short of it is we’re now planning a several-days-long outing to explore the towns of Corpus Christi and Galveston on the Gulf Coast, with the thought that maybe we’ll re-group there for a month or two next winter. For this trip, we’ll leave our motorhome at Buckhorn and drive our Jeep to the Gulf…about a three hour trip…and spend three or four nights in a hotel while we look around. Our trip to the beach will no doubt be the subject of a photo-rich blog post, probably soon after the holidays. Stay tuned for the blow by blow details and my photo essay.

RANCHING NEAR KERRVILLE.  After lunch we resumed our mission to see some local ranches. We drove past some really huge ones, each with massive masonry and wrought iron entry gates and each announcing itself with a huge arched metal sign at the entrance such as “Turkey Run” or “Broken Spur Ranch.”  Although the area supports lots of cattle and other domestic animal ranching, what makes it unique is the number of hunting ranches. When I first learned of this, I assumed that these hunting ranches just offered seasonal white tail deer hunting. Little did I know how much more than that is involved in the sport here in the Hill Country.


World Record Water Buffalo harvested with a Crossbow on Broken Spur Ranch near Kerrville. The trophy fee for this guy would set you back about $8,500.

ABOUT EXOTIC ANIMAL HUNTING. Ranches in the Hill Country are world renowned destinations for exotic animal hunting. The animals are imported, sold at auction and bred to populate the huge ranches, many consisting of several thousand acres. Ranchers offer guided hunts and lavish lodge accommodations and pride themselves on hunters’ success. With no seasonal restrictions on Exotics in Texas, from Trophy Axis Deer, American Buffalo, Blackbuck Antelope, Zebra, Fallow Deer and more, hunting enthusiasts comb several hundred thousand acres of ranch land in the Hill Country searching for trophy game year round. The hunts are guaranteed to rival African Safari standards. All methods of hunting are available: Rifle, Bow, Handgun or Crossbow. The daily hunting fee including food andlodging is usually several hundred dollars and the trophy fee, depending on the type and size of animal, can easily exceed $20,000. This is big business!

“Exotic” refers to non-indigenous or non-native animals that landowners have introduced to Texas ranches. The first release of exotics into Texas occurred around 1930, when a group of Nilgai Antelope were released on a ranch ini South Texas. At this time, there are more than 200,000 exotic game animals of 67 different species found in the State, most of which are in the Hill Country. Hunting exotics is a year-round sport.

WE’LL STICK TO PHOTOGRAPHY: We love seeing these animals free to roam in the wide open spaces of the hill country. We’ll stick to shooting with our cameras and long lenses, however. The idea of killing these magnificent animals for sport doesn’t appeal to me at all. I know… I’ve heard all the arguments about population control, hunting for food and eliminating the old and unproductive animals so the younger population will prosper. Hunting just isn’t something I’d enjoy.


The trophy fee for this Ram wouldn’t be cheap, either.


For a mere $25,000 you can become the proud owner of a rare female African Bongo Antelope. That’s right, folks, one of these will set you back $25,000 clams! And that’s not negotiable!

WE SAW SOME ANIMALS, BUT NO EXOTICS. That will have to await a hunting ranch tour if I can finagle it or a visit to the Kifaru Exotic Animal Auction House in Lampasas. Another day and another blog post. But just as a teaser, I’ll tell you that the House sells Llamas, Camels, Bison, Zebras, Buffalo and…well you get it: A whole bunch of African imported “wild animals” you’d only expect to see in a zoo. Amazing! Some of these animals aren’t purchased for hunting…they just hang out on the ranches of wealthy Texas landowners. Why not? Raising, breeding, selling and hunting exotic livestock are exciting aspects of ranch ownership in Texas. Whether you want to breed and sell exotics for profit, raise them for hunting or just enjoy watching them, they add s fascinating dimension to these Texas ranches.  Texas is a big money state! Having a ranch with exotic animals to entertain you is an expensive proposition!


This guy was on a goat and sheep ranch we discovered on today’s adventure. 



This llama was anxious to meet us at the fence line. I was going to pat him on the nose until I saw his really huge teeth. I dawned on me that I don’t have a clue about judging a llama’s temperament! Better safe than sorry, right?













Now here’s a Texas Longhorn if I’ve ever seen one! This guy was so friendly he’d have gotten in the Jeep and gone home with us if I’d have invited him!



This one looks like he needs to go through the carwash!



Some of these ranches stretch for miles and miles!


And Christmas hasn’t been forgotten, even way out here.

WE’RE GONNA COME BACK. We ran out of time today, long before we had a chance to see and photograph everything we wanted to shoot. For example, there were some miniature spotted donkeys not much bigger than large dogs. And some longhorn cattle were just strolling along the road right next to us in the Jeep. We’ll be back again with our camera batteries charged, and I’ll add pictures right here. I really like it here in Texas! There’s so much to see and do.

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