The ultimate outdoor experience for the discerning hunter and naturalist. Join us — and go Deeper into the Heart of Texas.
Situated near Bay City, Texas, Spread Oaks Ranch is a 5,500-acre working ranch that integrates an actively managed cattle and agriculture operation with wildlife in a setting of ancient live oaks mottes, coastal prairie, and river bottom wetlands. The ranch is situated within the apex of the Texas mid-coast Central Flyway renown for its concentration of hundreds of thousands of wintering waterfowl.
A harmonious system for both birds and agriculture
In addition to its prized Brangus cattle operation, the ranch employs a managed agricultural/waterfowl habitat system in which organic corn, soybean, and rice fields are flooded after harvest. This, in addition to our native aquatic and emergent waterfowl foods, create unrivaled wetlands for migratory shorebirds and waterfowl throughout the fall and winter.
Developing the ideal habitat
The habitat at Spread Oaks Ranch is managed not only for waterfowl and whitetail deer, but for throngs of other game and nongame wildlife—“setting the table” for them, so to speak, to provide the quality wild foodstuffs, habitat, and sufficient resting areas these wild creatures need to thrive. Other wildlife, including bald eagles, alligators, wild hogs, coyotes, myriad species of songbirds, shorebirds, and even an occasional cougar roam the property.
Fishing and clay target shooting
Freshwater fishing opportunities abound in the managed bass lake behind the lodge and along the five-mile Colorado River frontage. In addition, Spread Oaks Ranch has an in-house coastal guide service for saltwater fishing adventures in nearby Matagorda Bay. A clay target field adjacent to the lodge allows guests to hone their shooting skills, and an oversized firepit overlooking the lake provides the ultimate setting for an evening’s wind-down.
Why we do it
Our mission is to provide the discerning adventure seeker with the ultimate outdoor experience. Come join us—and go “Deeper into the Heart of Texas.”
Meet Our Team
Get to know what is special about Spread Oaks Ranch by learning about the team members that keep it running.
Spread Oaks Ranch finance whiz and hospitality director Kim Singleton has a foot in two worlds – one, as an intrepid international traveler who has visited more than 20 countries, and the other as a small-town Texan. This combination of international savoir-faire with down-home Texas hospitality perhaps explains what makes her so adept at her role at the ranch.
Kim grew up in Southern California, where her fighter-pilot dad served as the commanding officer for the TOPGUN program at Miramar Naval Air Station, among other high-level posts. She’s also firmly rooted in the Texas Mid Coast, having lived in the Wharton area for the past three decades before a recent move to Austin.
Before joining the Spread Oaks Ranch team, George “Keoki” Willis IV, who purchased a 50-year-old feed store in El Campo, tapped Kim to assist in launching his new endeavor. She was instrumental in helping him turn an empty, run-down feed store into a vibrant community fixture serving acclaimed “down-home” creative cuisine.
As Kim looks back, she says “I wore all the hats and handled the hiring, training, and even the interior design – including paint, light fixtures, and furniture. I also took care of the bookkeeping and all front-of-house operations. Providing an excellent customer experience meant fine-tuning my ability to anticipate our guest’s needs and making sure that we met them.” Kim will be continuing the tradition at Spread Oaks, ensuring that the quality of your Spread Oaks Ranch experience exceeds your every expectation.
Spread Oaks Ranch Chef Ric Rosser is a master of what he terms “micro-local” cuisine. Ric sources most of the lodge kitchen ingredients right from the ranch, plating such items as grass-fed beef, lamb, poultry, wild game, and fish. Ric also incorporates foraged ingredients such as wild garlic, onions, dewberries, wild grapes, pecans, organically grown fruits, and vegetables and herbs grown in our greenhouse and shade house.
A passion for hunting, fishing, and the great outdoors run through Ric’s inventive cuisine. “I’m nose-to-tail, roots-to-stem – you name it. Most recently I have been experimenting with different forms of charcuterie and focused on different curing styles of hams and bacon in our smokehouse. I’m constantly on the lookout for what wild foods are in season, and how I can incorporate them into my menu. For example,” he continues, “I’ve made a honeysuckle-infused syrup that I use in craft cocktails.”
Rosser hails from Bryan, Texas, and discovered fine dining at the age of 19. He enrolled in the Art Institute of Houston, graduating with a Culinary Arts degree. “I may have received my degree there, but my knowledge truly came from other chefs, by working side-by-side with them,” says Ric. He met and married his wife, Becky, when he was in school. It was a smart move – Becky is Ric’s greatest cheerleader and loves to join him afield hunting and fishing. “In fact,” he adds, “she’s become quite a competent bowhunter … probably better than I am!”
Ric is renowned for his ranch culinary adventure weekends, curating chef-led experiences to your desires. Daytime activities often include foraging, egg-gathering and chicken-keeping, butchering, canning and preserving, charcuterie, mixology and craft cocktails, and whole animal and live-fire cookery. In the evening, he’ll match his fabulous cuisine with wines amid settings that include the wine cellar, the terrace, and the vintage chuck wagon venue.
Rob Sawyer spent his youth on Maryland’s Eastern Shore chasing ducks and geese before or after school nearly every day. After graduating from the University of Florida with an MSc. in geology, his oil and gas career afforded him the luxury of pursuing his hunting passion to a dozen states and four countries.
Rob’s been in Texas now for almost 30 years and traveled most of the state to experience its diverse waterfowling opportunities. His journeys ultimately led him to chronicle Texas’ fabled waterfowling history and culture. The result was his first book, A Hundred Years of Texas Waterfowl Hunting: The Decoys, Guides, Clubs, and Places, 1870s to 1970s, (Texas A&M University Press, 2012) followed by Texas Market Hunting: Stories of Waterfowl, Game Laws, and Outlaws in 2013. His third book, Images of Texas Waterfowl Hunting, was sponsored by Spread Oaks Ranch and is available for purchase online. His third book, Images of Texas Waterfowl Hunting, was sponsored by Spread Oaks Ranch is is available for purchase online.
Rob is putting the same energy he had for waterfowling history into creating world-class duck habitat at Spread Oaks Ranch. Now when you talk to him, his conversations are less often about wooden decoys, sink boxes, or punt guns, and more often about what food the ducks are swarming before your hunt!
Paul Berner was raised in central Houston and currently lives in La Porte with his wife Jenna and their 5 dogs. If you’ve visited the ranch in the past, you’ve probably had Paul as one of your guides – regardless of what you were pursuing. He’s equally skilled at guiding for ducks, sandhill cranes, geese, deer, and hogs.
In his role as deer and hog manager, Paul emphasizes an enjoyable outdoor experience as much as the quality of the kill. He’s the one who can tell you about the elusive 140” river bottom whitetail buck or about the behavior of the giant high fence bucks. Paul is also the resource for your questions about cross bows, scopes, and the latest in thermal technology.
Although the management role keeps him plenty busy, Paul will still be guiding, particularly for waterfowl. He says that when he spends time in a blind with friends and ranch guests, watching the skies for ducks and working his dogs, “I remember why I love this sport, and why I like to share it with others.”
Dogs are the No. 1 reason I hunt,” says Thomas Flowers, who has been hunting since his youth and guiding for the past 10 years, primarily for Eagle Lake-area outfitters. “I’m passionate about dog training; it’s like watching your kids as they learn and grow. When I bring my dogs into the blind, it creates an experience that everyone can enjoy, as they reap the rewards of the dogs’ teamwork.”
His first dog, Belle, a yellow Labrador he acquired as a freshman at Texas A&M, is now 11. “She’s still fantastic,” says Flowers, “but I don’t hunt her as often as she’s slowing down a bit.” Stepping into the breach is his 6-year-old, hard-charging black Lab, Hattie, a Master Hunter blue-ribbon winner. “She’s an exceptional retriever,” says Flowers, “and had puppies in May. I’ll keep one, and one will go to Paul (fellow Spread Oaks Ranch Guide Paul Berner); it will be so exciting to see these dogs grow up and develop.”
A Wharton, Texas, native, Erin Jansky has been guiding for more than 10 years. As a youth, he primarily hunted deer—that is, until his uncle Tim Soderquist coaxed him into joining him on a duck hunt. “Tim introduced me to duck hunting and when I dropped my first duck, a bluewing, I was hooked,” he says. “Waterfowling has been an addiction of mine ever since.”
“It’s been astounding to witness the amount of habitat that has been built on the ranch over the past few years, and the amount of habitat that’s been restored and put back into working order,” says Jansky. “It’s been pretty cool to watch it all form and come together, and to see the numbers of ducks increase season over season.”
One of Jansky’s favorite memories from the past year’s season is from the last weekend of duck season. “We set up in layout blinds in a thick bank of fog,” he recalls. “We could hear the ducks on the roosting pond and gradually, we were able to coax them in—teal, pintail, and gadwall. With full straps, we headed back to the lodge for an ample breakfast, then set out our goose spreads, and were rewarded with both specklebellies and snows.”
Go deeper into the heart of Texas
Just 90 minutes southwest of Houston. Connect with us to learn how you can share in the experience.