Clay Hill Ranch
Size: 4,795+/- Acres
County: Freestone County , Texas
PROPERTY OVERVIEW: Manicured, improved hay pastures roll gently into thick hardwood forests on the Clay Hill Ranch, which, by any measure, is an exceptional property. With nearly 4,800 +/- contiguous deeded acres, this East Texas ranch is uncommonly large for the area and very productive. Approximately 650 cultivated acres have historically produced an average of 9,000 round bales of hay in three cuttings per year without livestock production. The owner has recently implemented a cattle feeding program designed to accommodate an Angus herd consistently grazing in numbers between 500 and 750 head under rotational grazing while maintaining a significant hay crop. Two large live creeks, numerous creek draws, two lakes stocked with fish, and more than 20 stock tanks provide ample water for livestock and wildlife. Managed wetlands attract migrating and resident waterfowl. And then there is the game, large and small, whitetail deer, wild hogs, and doves. It is no wonder that thousands of years ago the Caddo Indian culture flourished here.
The improvements on the Clay Hill Ranch are well considered and beautifully maintained. A custom stone ranch house, completed in 2011, has 5 bedrooms and 4.5 baths in 5,898 +/- square feet, with adjoining guest quarters for family and friends. Operational facilities include a 10,000-square-foot equipment barn and office, two modular houses for hunting parties, and a manager’s residence. Located a short distance from Interstate 45, the Clay Hill Ranch is less than two hours driving time from Dallas and less than three hours from both Houston and Austin. Location, productive agriculture, beautiful terrain, abundant wildlife, and gracious and practical improvements – the Clay Hill Ranch is all encompassing.
LOCATION: Clay Hill Ranch is located 7.5 miles west of Fairfield, Texas in Freestone County. The ranch location provides a convenient drive from Dallas (95 miles north), Houston (150 miles south), and Austin (155 miles southwest).
Teague Municipal Airport is located approximately 9 miles southwest of Clay Hill Ranch and offers runway length of approximately 3300 feet.
THE LAND: As the story goes, Freestone County, carved from the larger Limestone County in 1850, was named for a type of indigenous stone found here, though the soil is not particularly rocky. Throughout the county, the soils vary from loamy to claypan with a sandy or loamy surface. On the Clay Hill Ranch, Bermuda grasses and strategically planted food plots for wildlife thrive in the sandy loam soil. At least six types of oak trees – red oaks, live oaks, sand oaks, post oaks, pin oaks, and water oaks – grow in dense groves and forests along with ash, blue jack, elm, and black walnut trees. Junipers give cover to wildlife, river birch grow along the creeks, and bursts of white dogwood blossoms herald the arrival of spring. East Texas beauty abounds over every rolling hay filled pasture and through the dense hardwood canopy.
THE STORY: Every place has its story and so it is with the Clay Hill Ranch. Gunfights, Texas Rangers and Moonshiners first brought this ranch into notoriety. This story begins with moonshine– a hot commodity in Freestone County during Prohibition – and ends with a deadly shootout. In 1928, newspapers breathlessly reported on the Freestone “Moonshine Wars.” The story has only enlarged with time. What happened was this: Texas Rangers were sent to bust up the stills, which the moonshiner didn’t take kindly to. Shots were fired and a ranger died. More rangers were sent for the moonshiner and his sons. They didn’t go quietly. Another gun battle ensued and to no one’s surprise, the moonshiner died in a hail of bullets. His cabin still stands today on the ranch, a relic of a bygone era.
CLIMATE: Summers are typically Texan–hot with July highs in the mid-90s and occasional rains interrupt to cool things off. Winters are pleasantly mild with January highs in the upper 50s and lows in the mid 30s. Freestone County receives about 42 inches of precipitation a year, almost all of that as rain.
ELEVATION: Most of East Texas is only a few hundred feet above sea level and the Clay Hill Ranch is no exception. Rolling hills rise gently from the forests to the hay pastures, from a low of 353 feet to to 510 feet above sea level, a high point with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
WATER: Three spring-fed creeks run through the ranch. The largest two, Hausler Creek and Caney Creek, converge beyond the ranch with Sneed Creek and Walnut Creek. There are also two stocked lakes and more than 20 stock ponds on the ranch. Four operating wells are located throughout and two of the wells serve the primary residence and other improvements.
WETLANDS: There are five managed wetland units strategically placed along the hardwood lined creeks and spring-fed low-lying bottomland that range in size from a 3.25 to 10.5+/- acres. Two of the units have water control structures to permit flooding in the fall and facilitate proper drainage and drawdown in the spring. The flooded green timber, which holds water in the winter, is superb for duck hunting. In dry years, the wetlands can be supplemented with water pumped from the adjacent live water creeks.
Cattle- In addition to the production of superior hay, Clay Hill Ranch pastures are currently being grazed by an Angus herd owned by a notable producer of all natural premium beef. While ranch ownership is not interested in stressing improved pastures, rotational grazing practices yield conservative carrying capacities of between 650 and 750 head while simultaneously harvesting between 1800 and 2000 round bales of hay per year.
Hay & Forbs- About 650 acres planted in Jiggs & Tifton 85 Bermuda grasses produce an average of 9,000 4’x 6’ round bales per year from three cuttings. The horse-quality hay has been tested to have a protein factor of 17 or better. Many of the pastures have been over-seeded with Ball Clover, a legume and natural fertilizer that restores nitrogen to the soil when it dies off in late spring.
About 200 acres of food plots planted in clover, wheat, and oats have been strategically located in the middle of the property to provide forage for deer and other wildlife. The soil in the hay fields and food plots is tested annually to determine the best fertilizer mix to maximize output. Potash was applied in 2016. Wooded areas controlled on a burn schedule to encourage the growth of forbs, nutritious native broadleaf plants, for deer and wildlife.
FENCING: The ranch has 20 miles of exterior low fencing consisting of 5-strand barbed wire. Most openings have cattle guards instead of gates to facilitate travel. Interior cross fencing with gates or cattle guards is new, as is a pipe gate at the ranch entrance. All exterior fence lines were cleared in 2015.
ROADS: All-weather roads, built over a caliche base with large culverts where needed, provide excellent access throughout the ranch.
WILDLIFE: Clay Hill Ranch is known for its excellent hunting opportunities – so good, in fact, that East Texas Outdoors Magazine has written about hog hunting on the place. The oak groves, hardwood forests, creeks, and food plots create a terrific habitat for whitetail deer and wild hogs. On the low-fence ranch, where hunting is fair chase, the deer population has been judiciously managed with supplemental corn and protein feed placed at strategic sites. While it is typical to see a 120-130” buck on Clay Hill, this ranch is also home to larger Boone and Crockett sized deer in the 170-180”class. This Level 3 ranch in the Texas Managed Lands Deer Program, the past 16 years of voluntary habitat management have attracted Freestone county’s finest. Reports and details available upon request.
At the peak of waterfowl migration, thousands of puddle ducks converge on the managed and natural green timber wetlands. Mallards, widgeons, gadwalls, teal, pintails and wood ducks flock to capture floating acorns, abundant smartweed, and planted millet in the shallow water hardwood bottoms providing unforgettable moments in time.
The ranch has been in the Texas Managed Lands Deer Program for 16 years and is currently at Level 3. Participation is voluntary in the Texas Parks & Wildlife Program, which supports wildlife habitat management on private lands. Reports and details are available upon request.
The Lodge- Constructed in 2011 near the entrance of the ranch, the primary residence, also known as The Lodge, is comprised of five bedrooms and 4.5 baths in a very livable 5,898 SF (per CAD) of air conditioned living space. The ranch-style house has a stone exterior and a standing-seam metal roof, shaded by large, mature live oaks. A sprinkler system waters landscaping around the house.
Guest Quarters- An adjoining guest quarters for family and friends is located a short walk under a breezeway from the main ranch house complete with a living room, fully equipped kitchen, bedroom, bath, and a laundry room.
The Cabins- The hunters’ cabins are nestled in a grove of hardwood trees. In the center of the camp is an outdoor kitchen with a custom wood fired pit that doubles as a wood-fired grill. Concrete pathways connect the cabins and the outdoor cooking/ gathering area lending itself to moonlit fires, family events and the hunting parties basecamp.
Barn- The 10,000-square-foot equipment barn has an office, bathroom, and game-cleaning station.
EASEMENTS: Three gas pipeline easements cross the property. Food plots currently grow in the easements.
MINERAL RIGHTS: Seller will convey all mineral interest owned with an acceptable offer. There are two gas wells located on the ranch with only 44 acres leased around each well. Furthermore, the ranch is pooled in seven additional wells located off of the property with associated royalty income.
- Electricity is provided by Navarro County Electric Cooperative
- Clay Hill Water Supply Corporation provides water
- There are four domestic water wells
- Improvements are served by propane gas and septic systems
- The primary residence has a like-new, maintained CAT 60 KW backup diesel generator with a belly tank
SCHOOL DISTRICT: Teague Independent School District
TAXES: 2016 Taxes were ~$21,777.52
BROKERS’ COMMENTS: Clay Hill Ranch is one of the best low- fence, large ranches anywhere with beautiful rolling terrain and inspiring vistas. The property has been very well managed to promote outstanding hay production and wildlife habitat. Large populations of whitetail deer, wild hogs, ducks, and dove together with stocked lakes present excellent recreational opportunities for hunting and fishing. Top-quality improvements, live water, contiguous acreage, hardwood timber, minerals, and proximity to Dallas, Houston and Austin make this ranch a rare find.
Cash McWhorter- Broker/Partner, 469-222-4076 mobile, firstname.lastname@example.org
Casey Berley, ALC- Broker, 214-422-7253 mobile, email@example.com
Blake Hortenstine- Broker/Partner, 214-616-1305 mobile, firstname.lastname@example.org