Day Trips: Exotic Wildlife Tours, Mountain Home

Excursions to the wildlife habitat give a look at a Texas legend

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Exotic wildlife tours at the Y.O. Ranch Headquarters west of Kerrville are a continuation of a Texas legend.

The story began when Charles Schreiner drove longhorns up the Western Trail to Kansas to raise capital. The enterprise grew into an empire of mercantile, banking, and ranching on the Texas frontier. He also experimented with raising exotic breeds of sheep.

In the 1950s his son began importing African animals to the ranch. The first were surplus stock from the San Antonio Zoo. The wildlife menagerie grew to 22 species plus the ranch's bison, longhorns, cattle, and sheep, says Debbie Hagebusch, director of tourism for the ranch.

Among the gazelles, giraffes, and wildebeests are foreign species that are either extinct or endangered in their native range. Hagebusch says the animals do well because of careful herd management and a habitat that is similar to their home.

The ranch offers two-hour bus tours, private tours in an open-air ATV (which is really special), and five-hour deluxe tours. The excursions allow visitors to look around the historic ranch, interact with the animals, and have lunch.

Captain Schreiner purchased the ranch that grew to more than 600,000 acres in 1880. He named it after a cattle brand purchased from Y.O. Coleman. In 2015, the heirs sold 5,300 acres that became the Y.O. Ranch Headquarters. The new owners have breathed fresh life into the ranch's operation, especially the unique lodging options.

Y.O. Ranch Headquarters is near Mountain Home in western Kerr County. Reser­va­tions are required. A visit gives a behind-the-scenes look at wildlife from around the world on a working ranch. For more info, call 830/640-3222 or go to

1,380th in a series. Follow “Day Trips & Beyond,” a travel blog, at

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

More Day Trips
Day Trips: Angel on the Wind
Day Trips: Angel on the Wind
Heaven’s hood ornament adorns memory park in Palestine

Gerald E. McLeod, Feb. 16, 2018

Day Trips: Chocolates El Rey, Stonewall
Day Trips: Chocolates El Rey, Stonewall
Importer of Venezuelan chocolate brings food of the gods to the Hill Country wine district

Gerald E. McLeod, Feb. 9, 2018


Y.O. Ranch Headquarters, Charles Schreiner, wildlife tours, Mountain Home

AC Daily, Events and Promotions, Luvdoc Answers

Breaking news, recommended events, and more

Official Chronicle events, promotions, and giveaways

Updates for SXSW 2017

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle