The list of superlatives used to describe upscale shooting clubs and lodges often can seem infinite, and the marketing messages delivered by such establishments are rife with them. That’s fair enough, considering that the “product” the typical luxury wingshooting outfitter puts forth is indeed spectacular, exquisite, 5-star, et cetera. That said, it is not uncommon to come across a self-description that causes one to wonder if a business has gotten carried away. Prime example: Texas’s Big Easy Ranch touts itself as being “A Sporting Club Like No Other.” Those familiar with the establishment know that Big Easy qualifies as a legit high-end sporting resort and has racked up numerous awards and endorsements. But does the 2,000-acre Colorado County sporting complex live up to its “like no other” billing?
From a hunting perspective, Big Easy checks all the boxes. It offers everything a discerning wingshooter would expect from such a place. Its guides, dogs and habitat are exceptional, and the variety of hunting (walk-up and driven hunts for pheasants, chukar and quail as well as waterfowl hunting over rice and millet plantings) is extensive. The lodge offers a wide array of world-class big-game opportunities as well. Also on site is a pro shop stocked with premium gear.
The ranch’s clay shooting serves both as a complement to the hunting packages and as a separate activity. The latter is possible because of the considerable resources Big Easy has pumped into its facilities. The 12-station clays course was designed by Cory Kruse, who has won too many national and world shooting championships to list. Great targets, covered stations and water areas contribute to an ideal setup. Shooting lessons and schools featuring Kruse and other accomplished instructors can be arranged.
As wonderful as the hunting and clay shooting are, a strong case can be made that Big Easy’s guests can have as much fun with a 7 iron as they can with an over/under. The centerpiece of the golf facility is a nine-hole, par-3 course that is the brainchild of international course designer Chet Williams. The course makes use of its Hill Country setting by featuring interesting elevation changes and picturesque waterfalls. Additional amenities such as a driving range (with covered bays), practice green and pro shop are available and serve as the venue for Big Easy’s Academy of Golf, where golfers work with top-level pros and state-of-the-art equipment and technology to knock down their handicaps.
When not shooting, golfing or enjoying other activities such as fishing (for five species, including trout), visitors are enjoying Big Easy’s lodging and dining. The centerpiece of the complex is the 12,000-square-foot main lodge. It includes a lounge, dining area and bedrooms and is appointed with the finest décor and furnishings—from vaulted ceilings and stone fireplaces to sporting art, a big-screen TV and a custom billiards table. The outdoor area includes patios, fire pits and a 70-foot zero-gravity swimming pool that might be the number-one showstopper in the entire compound. The dining experience at Big Easy falls into the upper strata of the culinary universe. The Camellia Grill’s menu is comprised of regional and international dishes featuring wild game, prime beef, fresh seafood and locally sourced fruits and vegetables. And the wines? The lodge’s 750-bottle wine program won a 2020 Best of Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. Enough said.
Fine accommodations and dining are the norm at luxury wingshooting lodges. Great hunting certainly should be a given too. Some lodges also boast of having world-class clays facilities, while others proudly offer fishing or golfing options. None of these individual things are unique to Big Easy, but the aggregation of all of them is extremely difficult to find. So much so that it squarely can be said that Big Easy is indeed a sporting club like no other.
Photos courtesy of Big Easy Ranch.