TEXAS’S BIG RANCHES ARE STILL SELLING FOR BIG BUCKS
“Even when interest rates are high, people want a place where they can hunt actual bucks.
The ranch is the foundation of much of Texas’s history and myth. The land is baked into our state’s DNA; early Texans were drawn to its abundance.
Sam Middleton started selling ranches in 1971, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. His Lubbock-based company, Chas. S. Middleton and Son, has been in business for more than one hundred years, and Middleton has been involved in selling some of Texas’s most famous ranches, including the Matador, the Four Sixes, and, in 2016, the Waggoner Ranch, which was likely the biggest ranch sale in history. He recently sold T. Boone Pickens’s 65,000-acre Mesa Vista Ranch, located in the farthest reaches of the Panhandle.
Texas Monthly: How would you describe the ranch market when you started fifty years ago?
Sam Middleton: Everything was focused on livestock. There was no recreation market. All of our ranch sales for my first ten to fifteen years were focused on agriculture, livestock, and farming. I remember following my dad around back in the early days. We’d be on somebody’s ranch, and they’d say, “Sam, if you ever want to come out and shoot some quail or something like that, you’re welcome.” The landowners did not perceive the financial value of recreation or hunting. They didn’t charge for it. We never get an invitation like that anymore.
TM: When did that change?
Middleton: It just evolved over the years. The first person that I ever sold a ranch to who was focused on recreation was an oilman out of Arkansas. He wanted to come to Texas and buy a quail-hunting ranch. This would have probably been about 1988. I sold him a fifteen-thousand-acre ranch in Kent County [halfway between Abilene and Lubbock], and he bought it just to hunt quail on. I couldn’t imagine somebody would do that. I think it sold for eighty-five dollars an acre, and today it would probably bring ten times what he paid for it.”
To read the full article, click here.
Photo Credit: Original Author