Lonesome Bull Ranch owner arrested, deer euthanized


Texas Parks and Wildlife Department game wardens descended on the Lonesome Bull Ranch this week and euthanized 200 white-tailed deer to test for Chronic Wasting Disease after the owner was allegedly found to be without the proper permits.

The 2,600-acre ranch, located near Sandia in Jim Wells County, is an exotic hunting ranch, but also had deer breeding pens where deer were raised.

According to TPWD, the facility had not met permitting requirements to breed deer.

“We began an investigation before Christmas,” said Capt. Kevin McDonald of TPWD. “We did an inspection and darted some animals and put them down to be able to read their unique tattoos and test them for disease. We found lots of inconsistencies. The facility where the deer were kept belonged to someone else (Fred Rich) and we had taken his license away from him. He leased the facility to another person and they inherited all of the problems.

“If you are trying to draw out a worst-case scenario with bookkeeping and records, this would be it.”

According to sources, Rich, 56, from Portland, had been removed from the Texas Deer Association several years ago for unethical business practices.

Rich was arrested on Wednesday and charged with unlawfully allowing a hunter to shoot a 22-point breeder buck inside an enclosure — a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year on jail and a $4,000 fine, according to McDonald. More charges could be coming and McDonald said the hunter is cooperating with authorities.

Rich posted bond after being arraigned.

All of the deer in the facility were euthanized and their brain stems have been sent for testing.

The Texas Deer Association released a statement, “The Texas Deer Association, founded in 1999, proudly represents the vibrant and hardworking members of the Texas deer industry. Our Code of Ethics strongly condemns any illegal and/or unethical actions in the hunting and deer breeding communities. The TDA has and will continue to take and support action against those who jeopardize the professional and ethical standards of the deer industry. The TDA has offered cooperation and assistance to Texas Parks and Wildlife in their efforts to remove egregious offenders from our industry.”

Photo by Google Earth.

11 Responses

  1. Laney Sloan

    My name is Laney Sloan and I am the owner of Lonesome Bull Ranch. I would like to make a statement regarding the recent incident at the ranch with Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Deer Breeder that was leasing the deer pens located on the ranch property.

    The deer pens were being leased to a licensed Deer Breeder that was not associated with the ranch in any way, nor with any of our ranch personnel. They had their own employees and took care of their own day to day operations at the breeder facility without our involvement (much like a mall that merely leases a space to a retail store).

    On December 23, 2013, TPWD came to the ranch and began an investigation into some violations pertaining to the deer breeding facility. They claim the Deer Breeder was not up to code on certain regulations and was therefore shut down.

    TPWD has very strict regulations regarding CWD (Chronic Wasting Disease) testing and deer identification, among other things . TPWD often uses the Chronic Wasting Disease scare-tactic as a means to shut down deer breeder facilities, when in fact there has never been one whitetail deer test positive for CWD in the entire State of Texas.

    On May 7, dozens of TPWD Game Wardens showed up at the ranch like a swat team, and shot and killed hundreds of breeder deer inside the leased deer pens, and on my ranch land, due to some deer escaping from the pens. They used a helicopter to chase deer out of the thick brush and into the open to shoot them. This also caused many deaths and injuries to our exotic animals that ran from the helicopters into fences and cattle guards. The Game Wardens were also shooting tame bottle-fed deer very near to the Ranch House, where my cousin , Fred Rich lives with his children.

    As expected, not one deer of the hundreds killed tested positive for CWD.

    Fred Rich is also my Ranch Manager, and we are in no way connected to the Deer Breeder that was leasing the pens on my ranch. However, on the same day, Mr. Rich was charged with a completely unrelated TPWD violation that we expect to be cleared up very soon.

    Because of the damage caused by Texas Parks & Wildlife Department and the Deer Breeder, we will not be having whitetail hunts in the 2014-2015 season, in order to replenish the herd and improve our stock.

    Our beautiful 2600 acre ranch overlooking Lake Corpus Christi still has many quality large trophy exotics, amazing South Texas dove hunting, fantastic meat hunting options, and over 40 species of exotics and wildlife, with hunting lodges available that can accommodate any size group.

    Please visit our website for our great prices and more information http://www.lonesomebullranch.com/

  2. Gary

    So TPW arrest a man for shooting a penned deer and then they kill 200+ deer on the same place? Why not just quarantine the facility? Seems they are breaking their own laws. I’m not understanding the logic here.

  3. chip

    Being a native Texan I see a lot of the practices and attitudes toward deer hunting in this state is comparable to “wal-mart vs mom&pops” and in
    my opinion it has got out of hand.I will not be able to afford to give my grandson the same hunting experience that I had at his age unless I want to risk the weekend warrior drinks on public land. A sign of the times I guess.

  4. Tory B. Virdell

    This whole ordeal appears to be a disgusting situation. Gary, I agree with your statements. Is it not possible to quarantine deer to verify the disease? Our deer are an amazing gift from God and must be cared for responsibly with an absolute fiduciary duty that every human’s soul should be ingrained. The slaughter of the whole herd makes me sick.

  5. Clarence Waters

    I went there in Feb17 2014 paid for a 140-150 class shot the deer the guide told me was 146 class when we got back the owner said it was 162 class made me pay 1400 bucks more. When we got home had it scored and it was 142 class….guy got me good

    • Conor Harrison

      That should never happen. If the guide calls it at 140 class, then that is on the guide and the client should never have to pay for the guide’s mistake. Sorry to hear that.

        • Clarence Waters

          And the point is that it was only a 142 class he scored him wrong of cheated me. Deer was not 162 like he said.

  6. Kyle R

    worked with Fred Rich for years and while not an evil guy he will do anything to make money no matter who or what gets hurt in the process.
    This is not the only strange thing that’s happened when ol freds involved and it won’t be the last he is like mr haynie in the show green acres out to scam anyway possible.