John's Journal...

A Sister's Get Back: From Poverty to Riches

A Realistic Look at Texas Trophy-Deer Management

Click to enlargeEditor’s Note: If you tied Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, Fort Griffin, cowboys, bar girls and a shoot ‘em-up Wild West adventure together with two wildcat oil men and a broken-down truck, you’d get the unbelievable tale of Stasney’s Cook Ranch in Albany, Texas. The Stasney’s Cook Ranch, once one of the largest shallow-well oilfields in the world, produces some of the finest hunting in the nation today. Every hunting and fishing trip I make to Stasney’s Cook Ranch always produces a trophy, which is often not the animals I take or the fish I catch, but rather the stories I hear, the people I meet, and the photography I shoot. Recently, I took a hunting trip to the Stasney’s Cook Ranch. For the next two weeks, you’ll read one of the wildest tales ever told and find out about tClick to enlargehis fine hunting spot in the Lone Star State. Full of betrayal, luck and riches, this tale is one of the most-fascinating tales to come out of the Old West. Johnny Hudman is the ranch manager today.

Question: Johnny, if you wanted to make money from this hunting operation, how many deer would hunters have to take each season and what would be the quality of the deer taken?
Hudman: We’d have to at least double the number of bucks taken each year, from 50 to 100, including both management and trophy bucks. Most people don’t understand the costs involved to produce a trophy buck. The cheapest way for a hunter to get a trophy buck is to go to a ranch or a lodge that raises trophy bucks and spend the money to take one, because if you try to raise the trophy buck yourself, you’ll incur more expenses over a longer period than the landowner who grows trophy deer. By the time you spend money for a lease, a vehicle to drive to the lease and a vehicle to hunt from, seed for planting green fields andfertilizer for many years, you’ve got a tremendous amount of expense, possibly twice Click to enlargeas much as you’ll spend if you go to a lodge or a ranch that historically grows big deer. Then if you calculate what you can have made if you’re working instead of planting green fields, putting out fertilizer and lime and putting out feeders and keeping corn in them, you’ll quickly see that hunting on a trophy ranch or at a trophy lodge is the cheapest route to getting a trophy buck.

Remember that most of the trophy ranches in Texas are owned by very-wealthy individuals who have earned their money from gas, oil or other businesses. These ranches are primarily for their hobbies and recreation. Many ranch owners get much-moreClick to enlarge satisfaction from saying, “We took 50 bucks off our ranch that scored from 145 to 160 on Boone & Crockett,” than ifthey’ve taken all 50 bucks themselves. Most ranchers who have big ranches have taken big deer, and they don’t feel they have to take trophy bucks each season. There’s a lot of satisfaction that comes with being able to say, “My ranch took more trophy bucks this year than yours did.” The Stasney’s Cook Ranch is open to the public because the Stasney family couldn’t possibly take enough deer to keep the herd in balance and continue to produce trophy bucks each season. Therefore, allowing the public to hunt these lands and take trophy and management deer is good for the deer herd and keeps the herd producing trophy bucks each year. Dr. Stasney once told me, “Our ranch is a great place with plenty of wildlife, and it would be a shame not to share it with the public. So, we need to open-up the ranch and let more people come out here and enjoy the land and the wildlife.” We have about 90% repeat business, and we generally book deer hunts one year in advance. Now, we’ve always got room for hog hunters.

To learn more about Stasney’s Cook Ranch, write P.O. Box 1826, Albany, Texas, 76430, or call (325) 762-2999, or visit

Next Week: We’ll look at hog hunting at the Stasney’s Cook Ranch and the opportunities to view unusual wildlife at the ranch.

Check back each day this week for more about "A Sister's Get Back: From Poverty to Riches "

Day 1: The Story Behind the Tale
Day 2: From Starvation to Salvation
Day 3: Longhorns
Day 4: Wildlife, Too
Day 5: A Realistic Look at Texas Trophy-Deer Management


Entry 450, Day 5