King County Wolf Creek Ranch

Written by Wyman Meinzer

Two horsemen sat on the edge of the Blanco Canyon in 1879 and observed a seemingly river of animals moving north west. Curious about such a phenomenon, they closed the distance and were astonished to see the flow of creatures was indeed literally thousands of animals, all Texas gray wolves, (Canis lupus monstrabilis) moving many abreast, heading out of the rolling plains onto the Caprock. Removing pistols from holsters, the men shot among the trotting wolves only to have the animals veer slightly, but still remaining on their headlong migration north west.

Wolf trap at mans feet

Today the only reminder of a land that supported such wildness is a marker in Yellow House Canyon, along the road in Mackenzie Park, that documents the sighting of that day. It was indeed a pivotal time in history as the wolves prey species, the southern plains bison, had been almost driven to extinction in a mere four years, and the wolves were seeking new country in which to settle and exist.

But not all those now extinct canines left the Texas range, and for some three decades following that great exodus in 1879, a handful of the big Texas wolves remained in rougher, almost inaccessible country, foraging out into the night to become a nemesis to stock growers throughout cattle country.

In 1895 the demand for an effective means by which ranchers could capture these remnant outlaws prompted the famed trap company, Newhouse, in Oneida New York, to manufacture a trap specifically for capturing the Texas gray wolf. Thus the time honored Newhouse 4 1/2 became the favored method of capture in big ranch country. To specify its main function, the name “Wolf” was cast on the trap pan.

King County Wolf Creek Ranch with Snow

Perhaps 25 years ago one of these big traps was discovered on a ranch neighboring the King County Wolf Creek division of the Gibson Ranch. I viewed that trap and have often wondered about its owner and why the trap was never retrieved. The answer has eluded me as has the information on the faded photo of a Texas gray wolf that had been captured on the ranch, December 20, 1909.

Some ten years ago I received a call from Mike Gibson, urging me to come out and see what he had found. On the Wolf Creek Division, along Wolf Creek, another big Newhouse 4 1/2 trap had been discovered, less than a mile from the discovery site years before. But this trap was different. Still in excellent condition and strong enough to hold a wolf, the heavy metal link attaching the drag to the trap was twisted, as if the metal jaws had once held an animal of great strength. Could it be true that this trap had actually captured one of the last Texas gray wolves in existence, and the animal escaped with the trap to finally twist out and live out its life with three legs? It is a question that has no answer, but is fodder for the imagination to those who hold dear the wonderment of history before our time.

The King County Wolf Creek Ranch continues to exude that feeling of a time long past, its canyons and ridges holding secrets of intrigue for those of us who appreciate a land still touched lightly by the hand of modern times.

20,617 acres of rangeland surrounded by historical ranches with like history, the Wolf Creek Division offers a time capsule of sorts, with whitetail, coyotes, bobcat, wild turkey, wild boar, dove, and quail in productive years, to fire the imagination of those who are seeking a moderate size ranch with amenities ready for use. 

The Cottle/King Water Co-op supports 28 watering sites for both cattle and wildlife as well as a 6,000 square foot barn and 2,200 square foot native stone home featuring high speed internet. Out on the range are three sets of cattle pens in excellent condition, a 500 yard shooting range, and an elegant but simple native stone half dugout for campouts or evening outings.

For those seeking a property priced realistically and offering a glimpse into a wilder past, the King County Wolf Creek Ranch is an excellent choice for the investor, rancher or recreation buyer. Call for an inspection as we believe you will agree!