Whether you like to hunt or simply love the great outdoors, these three phenomenal Texas ranches offer guests a chance to metaphorically let their hair down and get back to nature. From wild animal safaris, exotic game, bowhunting, skeet shooting, ATV adventures, water sports, and even driving and shooting an authentic World War II tank, they have quite literally got it all!
Moon River Ranch
Just half an hour from Waco is a wonderland for the whole family to explore, which includes a safari tour of exotic animals, ATVs, kayaking along the Brazos River, skeet shooting, fishing, and biking. The list goes on and on.
Moon River Ranch has been an event venue for 30 years and only recently opened to the public. “It’s a true rustic ranch,” Event Specialist Kelli Alders said. “Part of our luxury is how true to detail a lot of our accommodations are. It’s a ranch aesthetic, but it’s still comfortable with accommodations that have everything you need.”
This is an ideal destination for a weekend getaway, especially on holiday weekends, where they partner with food trucks and offer a festive atmosphere. However, the ranch is also available for a full ranch rental.
With a plethora of activities offered, it is unlikely anyone will get bored here, but the ranch’s safari is a special event. “The safari tours are one of my favorite things to do on property,” Alders said. “We load you up into an open-air hummer with some feed and go feed the animals. A whole herd of deer will eat right out of your hand. It’s the coolest experience.”
On the safari tour, guests are likely to see a wide variety of mostly docile plains animals, including five different types of deer, antelope, bison, wildebeast, Oryx, and llamas.
The property even sports its own beautiful beaches, as well as catch and release fishing ponds. Sitting on the porch in the main lodge overlooking the pool area is utterly serene and peaceful in the evenings. Watching the sunset over Moon River Ranch is its own little slice of heaven.
Accommodations vary, from the main lodge, which sleeps 50, to the six quaint cabins. The main lodge has three suites, a massive chef’s kitchen, a gorgeous living and dining area with a bar, and a medium room. The majority of the accommodations have full kitchens or kitchenettes. It is encouraged that guests bring their own food to cook, although it is an easy jaunt into Waco for a meal if so preferred. Either way, welcome to paradise!
Poverty Canyon Ranch
Of course, if guests are venturing out to the ranch, often, it is to go hunting. In that case, just north of San Angelo, they will find an unparalleled desert oasis known as Poverty Canyon Ranch.
This top-notch facility offers a five-star experience for hunters and families. “We put a lot of time and effort into making the ranch what it is,” Ranch Manager Scott Knox said. “It took us seven years to get to where we’re at now, and we plan to keep growing until everyone in the state of Texas knows who we are.”
Although the ranch offers a chance to relax and unwind, the primary purpose of the ranch is to hunt. Typically, they only house one group on the ranch at a time, so guests receive the VIP treatment every time they visit.
“We wine and dine you,” Knox said. “It’s all a one-on-one deal.” He noted that the ideal group size they prefer is no more than five hunters, although the lodge can sleep up to fourteen people.
The hunting experience is tailored to meet specific interests, whether guests want to hole up in a deer blind or sit on a stunning hillside. With droves of cedar and mesquite trees, they have a lot of hardcover and rough terrain, which can make for a challenging hunt to bag a whitetail deer or numerous other kinds of game, including axis, Blackbuck antelope, and an assortment of other types of deer and rams.
According to Knox, their most challenging game is the Nilgai antelope, which are skittish creatures. “If you don’t sneak up on them, they’re gone before you can tell they have left,” Knox said. The lodge is cozy, and the Poverty Ranch team does their best to always make it feel like home. Not to mention, the views from the lodge, which overlook the entire ranch, are utterly breathtaking. “Our views are second to none in the state,” Knox said.
They have a full-time cook that has an expansive repertoire and provides three square meals a day, from breakfast favorites to homemade soups and sandwiches for lunch to juicy ribeye steaks for dinner.
So, for anyone looking for a quiet experience with a few good friends, Poverty Canyon Ranch is a fantastic choice. If hunting is just not your style, there are plenty of things to do on the ranch, such as going to see the on-site private masseuse. And who would not appreciate some time on the 1,000-yard gun range?
“I would say what we have to offer is a luxury experience for people who don’t want to spend a lot of money on a luxury experience,” Knox said. “We’re a well-kept secret, but I don’t want to keep it a secret anymore.”
When developing Ox Ranch, owner Brent Oxley set out to create a dream vacation, a magical place where friends could get together and hunt, shoot tanks and fully automatic weapons by day, and imbibe good whiskey and eat exotic meats, including rare treats like zebra, by night. It is safe to say he succeeded.
Even Ted Nugent said, “Ox Ranch is the finest hunting ranch I’ve ever seen. I thought I had died and gone to a bowhunting heaven. We didn’t see hundreds of deer; we saw thousands of deer!”
Ox Ranch sits on 18,000 acres of what they claim is the best Texas Hill Country hunting land. The property is legendary for its native and exotic hunting, which includes the popular whitetail deer, elk, hog, fallow deer, axis, addax, Corsican sheep, water buffalo, and dozens more.
“The main thing guys are hunting out here are whitetail, Axis and Blackbuck,” Chief Operations Officer Kris Helms said. “There are plenty out there, but it’s a challenge. Still, we’re 100 percent about making our customers happy.” With ten full-time professional guides, it is practically guaranteed guests will bag the game of their dreams.
The ranch has recently opened up the safari side of the ranch, which is a fun excursion for the whole family. The safari tour includes an array of more exotic animals from Arabian Oryx to Gemsbok and Himalayan tahr. Potentially pettable animals include a rhinoceros, kangaroo, and a giraffe named Buttercup, just for starters.
When they refer to Ox Ranch as a luxury ranch, they are not joking around. They have a hilltop cabin they call a high-class luxury cabin, which sleeps ten singles or 20 couples and features its own pool and hot tub.
There are also eight charming luxury cedar cabins and a 6,000 square foot lodge with accommodations and shared spaces. After a hunt or tour, this is where everyone gathers for a refreshing snack or hearty meal. Their on-site chef whips up everything from buttery biscuits and gravy for breakfast to perfectly grilled lamb chops or wild game cheeseburger for dinner.
If you want the full Ox Ranch experience, request the Wild Game Dinner, a seven-course meal that features various types of exotic game. The chef is happy to even prepare a treat from your own hunt – say the backstrap from your deer, as a delectable appetizer – one you will not soon forget.
If you did not think this experience could get more exhilarating, you were wrong. Ox Ranch is home to DriveTanks, the world’s only live-fire tank adventure where you can drive and shoot real tanks, artillery, and machine guns in a single location.
The tanks include a U.S. Sherman, British Scorpion, and Russian T-34/85, which you can take on a combat course and maneuver around obstacles and traverse water crossings. Incidentally, this collection of tanks is recognized as a museum. When you get tired of that, you can shoot off a few dozen rounds on the historic anti-tank and artillery guns. Watch out, Rambo!
The activities to partake in at Ox Ranch are seemingly endless. Helms also recommended exploring the multitude of living caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites, arrowhead hunting, stargazing at the observatory, 4×4 off-roading, or jet ski racing. It looks like you might have to stay longer than a weekend to fit it all in.
“It’s just something you have to see in person, and once you do, you want to get everyone you know out here,” Helms said. “Everyone who comes out here definitely leaves with a smile on their face.” It would be hard not to!