WALLER, Texas – Whitetail deer in the wild don’t migrate; they remain in an area about the size of seven square blocks all year. But, this year, some of the most prestigious of the species in the country are making a move south about 250 miles this December 2020.
The Refuge Herd—an old, established herd from which 90% of the Whitetail deer herds in Texas can claim a pedigree—will be transported by air-conditioned blackout trailers from Glenn Sodd’s “The Refuge” ranch in Corsicana to the RS Deer Ranch owned by Roy Douglas and Shirley Ann Malonson in Waller County, Texas as a result of a full sale of the herd.
These 380 deer that make up The Refuge Herd have been in development since the late 80’s. Glenn Sodd, a lawyer with a love for the outdoors and a piece of land near Corsicana along the Trinity River began breeding Whitetail deer when there were only a handful of breeders in Texas. He was interested in creating strong bucks with trophy antlers in order to attract hunters to his land in order to sustain it. When he began consistently turning up bucks with over 200-inch scores in the early 2000’s, it became a true family-owned business, and his son-in-law Chris McSpadden took on the operation. Chris did everything from marketing and sales to feeding and caring for The Refuge Herd of Whitetails and has done so for the last 20 years. “It’s high maintenance, and it’s not a cheap business to be in. The deer need a lot of attention, and as much as we love and respect this herd, as our family changes, we needed to shift our business to fit those changes.”
So they put the word out to Derald McMaster and Greg Carswell at Big Time Whitetails and Exotics that they were looking for a buyer for the whole herd. “We thought of two or three of our very best clients and told them that this herd was going to be available for sale. The Malonsons were the ones who saw the true vision of what owning this herd meant to the industry and to their business. We couldn’t be happier for all parties, including the herd itself,” says McMaster, who runs the marketing side of Big Time Whitetails and Exotics and will be handling all the marketing and sales for RS Deer Ranch going forward.
Though the change is bittersweet for Chris McSpadden and his family, they’re thrilled to have the Malonsons take over the herd they’ve created over these 30 years. “We don’t just have a financial value on these animals, we have a deep respect for them. Sometimes, we lose one that we’ve raised, and, I tell you, it chokes you up.” You don’t always hear ranchers speak this way about their livestock, but Chris does.
What makes sense about this transfer of this herd from one family to another is that Roy Douglas and Shirley Ann speak very similarly about their own herd: “Our deer are easy to handle and deal with because we are out there with them every day. They love peanuts, and they are happy to see us coming because they know they’re about to get a treat.”
Shirley Ann’s love for their animals is evident in the way their herd responds to being handled for movement and breeding. Shirley Ann evaluates the fawns in the summer and watches them grow daily into majestic adults. is an asset as the Malonsons take on this new journey with The Refuge herd. That kind of daily care is a large part of the secret to The Refuge Herd’s success story.
“The Malonsons are everything we could have hoped for this herd. They’re honest, driven people who have a desire to make this herd even better than it already is. The world needs more people like them,” says Chris McSpadden when asked why he chose to sell this well-known herd to the Malonsons when there are over 957 deer breeders in Texas.
Much has changed around the RS Deer Ranch since 2008. They now have two thriving Whitetail herds certified by the Texas Animal Health Commission with one of those herd at the highest tier of certification as well as some of the best Fallow deer in Texas. 70 acres of their 251-acre ranch in Waller County are dedicated to the deer in their care. RS Deer Ranch is permitted for 500 deer, and they have the seasoned facilities and know-how to make a home for the 380 in the Refuge Herd. “I plan to sell off most of my own herd but the very best because with a herd as special as The Refuge, there’s no need to mix them. They’re pretty perfect as they are.”
The Malonsons maintain hunting lodge facilities as well as deer breeding operations for Whitetail and Fallow deer on their RS Deer Ranch, convenient to Houston by 50 miles and College Station by 35. With the accumulation of The Refuge Herd, Roy Douglas and Shirley Ann, are now set to become one of the leaders in this billion dollar industry in Texas.
For more information about the RS Deer Ranch: 979-921-9908.