Judging by the hordes of non-Texans that flock here each weekend during whitetail season (this year, the general season kicks off November 3 and goes through January), Texas can rightfully lay claim to being one of the premier deer destinations in North America. And with more than four million white-tailed deer scattered across the state, there’s no shortage of opportunities to bag a trophy. But not all guided hunts are created equal. The following outfits offer plenty in the way of world-class trophy deer, but they also provide something further: the allure of history, an abundance of stunning scenery, and the kind of service you’d expect in a luxury hotel. (Note: Book early. Waiting lists can be a few years long.)
Sombrerito Ranch: This lovely 11,000-acre South Texas spread was originally part of a Spanish land grant. Now owned by Bill Carter, the founder of Carter’s Country Outdoor Stores, it has garnered renown for consistently producing some of the best trophy bucks in North America. Guided hunts are priced by Boone and Crockett score and range from $2,850 to $14,750.
King Ranch: The quality of the deer is top-notch, but the mystique and historical wonder of the place is what sets it apart (not to mention its legendary size: more than 800,000 acres). It’s also relatively economical. A one-day hunt for a management buck goes for $1,850, while a multiday trophy hunt will set you back $6,000.
Ford Ranch: This 32,000-acre Hill Country holding first entered hunting lore back in 1892, when a record-setting 78-point whitetail known as the Brady Buck was killed here. Today, trophy hunts are available for $3,400.
Y.O. Headquarters: The Schreiner family, which owned much of this land from 1880 to 2015, may have introduced the first exotic wildlife to Texas hunting grounds, but this is still a premier Hill Country destination for deer. Whitetail packages are priced by Boone and Crockett score, from $2,850 to $15,350.