Leading the Herd: The 20-Year-Old Ranch Prodigy and His Quest for a Modern-Day Legacy

by | May 3, 2024

Taking the Reigns: Running the Double R Ranch at 22

“I have seven different exotic species on the ranch now,” Colton Rauch explains fondly. “I love animals, and I wish I was around to see the first go around when my grandparents had them on the ranch.”

In a world where youth is often synonymous with inexperience, twenty-two-year-old Colton Rauch’s story defies expectations, painting a vivid picture of determination, passion, and a deep connection to the land. Beyond the conventional ranching operations, Colton’s vision encompasses a rich tapestry of biodiversity and conservation.

Nestled deep in the heart of South Central Texas, the Double R Ranch boasts over three hundred and fifty acres in the beautiful town of Flatonia, Texas. Colton inherited the ranch from his grandfather, and day-to-day operations are overseen by him and his older brother, Tyler. “We’re third-generation ranchers. My grandparents on my mother’s side bought the ranch in 1960, and we came out here every weekend with our grandparents. They were out here all the time raising a healthy herd of cows while they held other jobs,” Colton says.

His grandfather, an avid hunter, wanted to create an appealing stretch of land for other hunters. He spearheaded the introduction of exotic species onto Texas ranches while still maintaining the cattle. Animals from different states—and sometimes other countries—roamed free on the Double R for over twenty years. “In the early 2000s, we had a big rainstorm that knocked a couple of the fences down. We didn’t have any four-wheelers like most ranches today, so we lost about 95% of the animals. It discouraged my grandparents from trying again. But I wanted to bring that back.”

Colton and Tyler have kept the spirit of the hunt alive with their exotic animals and plethora of deer. They offer guided hunts that transport hunters to and from the hunting blinds, on top of their sustainable population practices. “I didn’t offer any hunts to the public so we could grow and maintain the health of the animals. But, now that we do, the coolest thing is when you have a good animal you’ve watched grow up, and you get a hunter out there, and you get to see him put the animal down. You get to see their happiness and excitement; a lot of times, they’re shaking. I get to live vicariously through them.”

But running the ranch isn’t all fun and hunts. Colton’s routine is a dynamic dance with the ever-changing demands of the land. “Day-to-day operations are never set or the same. You can never count on doing one thing that day because something’s going to go wrong. Ranch roads always need maintaining, fences need fixing, and dead trees need cutting. We just finished tilling the whole field yesterday. We weren’t planning on it, but it had to get done.”

Colton says that growing up spending every weekend for more than eighteen years on the ranch helped prepare him for what was to come once he inherited the Double R. “We didn’t even realize it, but we were being trained for this our whole lives. We had to work, but it was so much fun swimming in the creek and enjoying lunch on the ranch made by Grandma. Our grandparents continued to teach us more and more on how to actually run the ranch instead of just working it.” Colton and Tyler made it a priority to visit every weekend until they were confident that they could run the range on their own. “That was an incredible experience. Just being offered the opportunity and the responsibility to live up to the position of becoming a rancher.”

However, even with the knowledge they gained growing up on the ranch, some challenges have required the help of ranching neighbors and friends. “We lost about five cows last year, and I was afraid that there was some kind of disease in our herd. I was panicking, calling veterinarians, and my neighbors said that the grass was really rich in nutrients, so the cows were eating too much,

and the calves were too big. I thought two-foot-tall grass was great for them, but they need shorter grass when they’re nearing the end of pregnancy. It was an expensive lesson, but now I know how to handle it.” Both Colton and Tyler have found that experience is the best teacher. Colton says that no matter how many books or blogs you read, there’s nothing like jumping in and getting your hands dirty.


The day-to-day operations have mostly stayed the same as when their grandparents ran the ranch, but the advent of technology has played a pivotal role in the Double R Ranch’s success and has helped them thrive online. “One of the greatest challenges has been learning newer applications for the ranch, like marketing. That’s something I never considered—I’m a word-of-mouth guy.” Colton propelled the ranch into the digital age, expanding its reach and establishing a connection with a wider audience. He says building a website has been a huge boon for their ranch. The well-designed site features a gallery page with visitors holding their trophies, photos of their deer, and hunting and booking information at the Double R. “I love it. I can reach more people that way, and it gets our name out there. I would very much recommend it for other ranch owners.” In addition to the website, groups on Facebook have opened up more marketing opportunities and a new way to sell farming equipment. “Having that technology is great. It’s been a game-changer.”

As the Double R Ranch continues to evolve, Colton envisions a haven where genuine experiences are cultivated. “We really want to provide people with an authentic ranch experience. Some ranches have attractions like zip lines, but we want to keep ours a legacy ranch. We don’t want to create transactions. We want to create experiences and memories.”

Colton’s perspective serves as a poignant reminder of a ranch owner’s responsibility to the land. He expresses how important it is to never take the work for granted. “It’s an honor to own and work a piece of land that God created for us. A lot of people don’t get this experience, and it’s up to us to keep it going and keep it healthy. I feel blessed to carry on a legacy of people who care for the Earth.”