Blue Mountain Peak Ranch has some of the most beautiful hunting sites in Texas Hill Country. Hunters find themselves in a land of rolling hills, steep ravines, springs, running water, fields, and forests that were present in this part of the country 150 years ago. There are four blinds on the 832-acre ranch with feeders that go off at dawn and dusk. Competent hunters can hunt away from the blinds by setting up their own stands. If you wish to participate, you need to be at the ranch for an orientation 3 daylight hours before hunting.
A new podcast episode is out! Click here to listen to the full episode with guest Richard Taylor in Mason, TX.
After a successful career in computers and technology, Richard spent many years searching for the perfect place to begin his next adventure. In 2001 he purchased 832 acres in Texas Hill Country and named it the Blue Mountain Peak Ranch due to its position as the highest point in Mason County.
Richard and his partner began improving the ranch by cutting Ashe Juniper, first themselves and then with teams of people with chainsaws and with prescribed burns. The removal of bison, traditional livestock management, and a changing climate have contributed to Ashe Juniper exploding across the landscape of Hill Country. Containing the Ashe Juniper to the ravines has led to less runoff and more rainfall absorption, an increase in native flora and fauna, and a rebirth of springs and creeks.
During our conversation, Richard and I talk about his selection criteria when shopping for a ranch, how the work done on his ranch influences San Antonio and Austin’s water supply, and the ways he controls Ashe Juniper, commonly known as cedar to locals. We talk about the importance of a goal statement for most aspects in life, how rising land prices require us to rethink the economic models around land ownership, and the increase in species diversity after controlling the cedar, deer and cowbird populations.
NB: Richard misspoke about the general timeframe to build an inch of topsoil. In the references section of the show notes (found here) I’ve included a link to just one of many articles that cover this topic. Soil formation rates vary across the planet with slowest rates occurring in cold, dry regions and faster rates in hot, wet regions.
There’s a lot packed into this 42-minute episode, so I hope you enjoy!
1:30 – Searching for a property at the top of its watershed
3:02 – Fire suppression and the invasion of ash juniper, commonly known as cedar
6:11 – Can you control cedar?
7:39 – Restoring the native seed inventory
10:16 – An intro to the science behind prescriptive burning
14:45 – Seeing an increase in biodiversity after fire events
17:07 – An example of linked species, the web of life
18:26 – Black-capped vireos, short-tailed hairless lizards, and student research on species diversity
20:41 – Improving water features on the ranch
21:28 – Resources helping the eco restoration efforts on the ranch
23:54 – Return of milkweed and monarch butterflies
25:04 – Sequestering carbon in our grasslands and building up the soil
26:00 – Barriers to others accessing these resources, using prescribed fire, et cetera
27:22 – The value of collaborating and sharing information with your neighbors
30:00 – Cost of land, population growth, and lessons from the Golden Mile in Massachusetts
33:59 – Partnering with Texas Parks and Wildlife to improve wildlife habitat
37:24 – An introduction to cowbirds and their impacts
39:20 – Ecotourism including hikers, bikers, campers, and student researchers
40:03 – Reiterating the impact of water on this ecosystem
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Blue Mountain Peak Ranch has hosted NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Services) for land management classes and training sessions on prescription burns. We also host Youth Ranch Workshops, Hunting by Orphans, Youth Hunts, and many school groups. Scientific studies have been accomplished by Texas Tech and Texas A&M to measure the results of our improvements. In addition, the Botanical Research Institute of Texas has conducted surveys on the ranch.