South Texas is the perfect real estate for folks who enjoy pleasant year-round weather. The birds think so too. Hundreds of species of birds flock to the Rio Grande Valley every year. There are so many birds here that the World Birding Center set up operations at a state park in Mission, Texas.
There is no defined northern boundary for the South Texas region. The southern part of the region is known as the Rio Grande Valley, and the eastern part of the region along the Gulf of Mexico is known as the Coastal Bend.
Geography & Economy
Much of the area is dry and covered with grasses, thorny brush, and cacti. There are some lakes. Temporary water bodies known as resacas are formed in the region when channels from the Rio Grande River are cut off after the river changes direction. River direction can change after a flood. The average rainfall is 20”-32” (per the National Climate Data Center). The subtropical region of the lower Rio Grande Valley is very humid.
Common vegetation includes southern live oak, live oak, honey mesquite, wax myrtle, and Texas wild olive.
The economy of the region includes a mixture of leather and allied product manufacturing, support activities for mining, petroleum and coal products manufacturing, fishing hunting, and trapping, pipeline transportation, justice public order and safety activities, support activities for transportation, ambulatory health care services, oil and gas extraction and museums historical sites and similar institutions.
The South Texas region is home to Texas tortoises (a protected species), jackrabbits, javelinas, Texas horned lizards, and an abundance of birds along the border and coastal areas. The World Birding Center Headquarters is located at the entrance of Bentsen State Park in Mission, Texas. Rare animals include the jaguarundi, ocelot, and white-nosed coati. 105 species and subspecies of snakes, of which 15 can be dangerous to humans, are found in Texas. These include pit vipers (copperheads, cottonmouths, rattlesnakes) and North American cobras (coral snakes). The western diamondback rattlesnake lives in every part of the state, other than the easternmost part.
An “Annual Public Hunting Permit” allows residents to hunt almost all year long on close to one million acres of land: targeting white-tailed deer, feral hogs, quail, turkey, rabbits, squirrel, alligators, and more (all counties have an alligator season). Resident hunting licenses for the 2022-2023 season were $25 for adults and $7 for youth and seniors. The license is “valid to hunt any legal bird or animal (terrestrial vertebrates)."
Culture & History
Cabeza de Vaca, a Spanish explorer, wrote about the Native Americans of the region after living with them in 1528. Food and shelter were provided to him and his sailors when they were lost. He was most impressed that the villages with different spoken different languages all communicated by using a common system of sign language.
Spanish cattle were brought to the island of Hispaniola in 1493. These animals were what would eventually become Texas longhorn as ranching grew and spread through the 16th and 17th centuries. The first cattle ranch in Texas was started at a Spanish mission in the 18th century, the Goliad mission. The cowboys who worked the ranch were the Native Americans living at the mission. Native Americans, Mexicans, and African Americans are recognized for their important roles in the history of Texas. “They were pioneers who created ranches and farms and took care of livestock," according to Texas Parks and Wildlife (TPW).
Counties & Cities
The 28 counties included in the South Texas region recognized by comptroller.texas.gov cover approximately 37,800 square miles. The counties are: Aransas, Bee, Brooks, Cameron, Dimmit, Duval, Edwards, Hidalgo, Jim Hogg, Jim Wells, Kenedy, Kinney, Kleberg, La Salle, Live Oak, Maverick, McMullen, Nueces, Real, Refugio, San Patricio, Starr, Uvalde, Val Verde, Webb, Willacy, Zapata, and Zavala.
The region's economic centers are located in Webb County and Nueces County: the cities of Laredo and Corpus Christi.
Some of the largest ranches in Texas are found in the South Texas Region. This includes the 825,000-acre King Ranch started by Captain Richard King in 1853. The ranch acreage is larger than the state of Rhode Island. In the present day, the ranch has interests in cattle ranching, farming, luxury retail goods, and recreational hunting.
The South Texas Region also includes the 640,000-acre Briscoe Ranches, 500,000-acre O’Connor Family Ranches, 310,500-acre Nunley Brothers ranch, and the 255,000-acre Jones Family Ranch. You’ll need a fair amount of land if you would like to try to keep up with the Joneses.
But every great ranch starts with a little land. You will need enough land to meet the requirements for the animals you intend to raise. Stocking rates can vary from one cow per acre to one cow per 150 acres in Texas.
Find Ranches in South Texas
Interested in moving to the South Texas region, or just want to learn more about the area? Our agents with West and Swope Ranches are experts in the local South Texas real estate market and are ready to help you find the land, ranch, or farm property to meet your needs.
Contact us online or call 844-888-3384 to start your search for South Texas ranches and land today. To learn more about ranch living in Texas, you can find local information and real estate news on our blog or discover more with our Coordinates Land Magazine.