In the heart of the Edwards Plateau, Flagler Ranch includes 3,600 acres of limestone hills and draws located along the western edge of the Guadalupe River drainage- an area locally referred to as The Divide. Since 1992 the ranch has focused on commercial whitetail and exotic hunting-with many of the trophies taken being of record-book quality.
Equality important in the ranch management scheme is to provide unlimited opportunity for environmental education and outreach. Much of this opportunity provided through the Texas Youth Hunting Program, in which Flagler Ranch has participated for the past 7 years. An estimated 168 days of hunting opportunity have been provided to the youth of Texas through this program. Youth hunters take not only whitetail deer, but many also take the exotic of a lifetime. In addition, the ranch has also hosted hunts for disabled veterans. Future plans include development of bird lists and viewing areas to compliment ornithological curriculums associated with Texas Tech University at Junction, Texas.
Land management practices at Flagler Ranch focus on an ecosystem management approach including soil productivity, improved water availability, and increased vegetative diversity. Although the ranch was historically over-utilized from a combination of traditional livestock, grazing impacts are controlled by managing total animal numbers. All 5 exotic species are strictly managed through commercial hunting and trapping for resale. This system provides substantial ranch income.
An aggressive prescribed burning program is also credited with improving vegetative diversity and controlling invasive prickly pear and regrowth ashe juniper. To its credit, an estimated 2,300 acres of total land area has been positively affected by fire since 2004.
The extensive burning and cedar control program has also improved low-growing wooding cover on approximately 400 acres of the ranch deemed suitable nesting habitat for the endangered Black-capped Vireo. Int this area, vireo populations are monitored by trained ornithologists, and wildlife viewing blinds are planned. To reduce the decline in the songbird populations, a long-term cowbird trapping program has been conducted for years. To further enhance survival of ground-nesting birds, a ranch-wide fire ant control program has been conducted twice thru aerial application. To supplement declining quail populations, annual releases of acclimated birds are also conducted.
Supplemental food plots provide forage for native and exotic ungulates. Use of plots is controlled with fencing based on forage recovery. Additionally, field trials with various combinations of fertilizing, re-seeding, and burning of native range sites are being conducted. Unique plant species are protected from overuse by exclosure fencing.
Water resources on Flagler Ranch are high priority. Six permanent watering sites provide year-round supplement, while rainwater entrapments collect runoff. These man-made diversions provide increased aquifer recharge, reduced erosive potential, and improved vegetative diversity through natural overflows. Two ponds are also stocked to provide fishing recreation.
Known for its use of innovative means of generating income, Flagler Ranch was initially know as Thunder Ranch- actively used as a training site for US military personnel. In addition to private citizens and police & SWAT teams from across the country. Its extensive lodge and housing facilities are also available for weddings and special events. Flagler Ranch also hosts training meetings for the U.S. Elephant Polo team. Hunting cabin decor reflects the heroism of early Texans and their fight to procure the Republic of Texas (Austin, Houston, Crockett, Bowie & Travis.)