Josh Crumpton is a seventh-generation Texan and calls himself the Chief Executive Outdoorsman of his company Spoke Hollow Outfitters in Wimberley, Texas. He is also the primary steward of Spoke Hollow Ranch, a 1,000-acre spread nestled within the city limits of the fast-growing Hill Country town he calls home. He is a passionate advocate for hunting, fishing and land stewardship, and has made it his life’s mission to connect more people to the outdoors.
His path to his calling has been a circuitous one. As a youngster, his family spent a lot of time in Colorado, where he learned to fly fish. He also enjoyed kayaking, rock climbing and camping. As a young adult, he began a career in the restaurant business in San Antonio, and a busy work life and a young family led to a dearth of time for outdoor pursuits. He left the restaurant business to become a wine broker and distributor, and the success of that venture led to an early retirement. Finally, he had time to spend with his family and to re-kindle interest in the outdoors.
Spoke Hollow Ranch proved to be the perfect setting for both. The ranch has been in Josh’s wife Jeanie’s family since the 1940s. As the land passed down to the next generation, Josh and Jeanie emerged as the family members most interested in taking on its stewardship.
“My wife and I started coming out here and this is where I started making that connection back to nature,” said Josh. “We love this place and we slowly started little projects here and there.”
Josh’s experience in the restaurant industry contributed to his interest in sustainable farming as a way to provide food for his family.
“I planted a garden and quickly realized that I’m a terrible gardener. I’d put all this time and energy into providing food for my family, and it was obvious that was not going to work. So, I thought maybe I should learn to hunt and provide food that way. I wanted to have a deeper connection with nature and the land.”
He’d done plenty of research and understood that hunting can play a role in conservation. So, he embarked on a self-directed journey to learn more. He taught himself about guns and gun safety, took hunter ed, and attended a butchery class. When he felt ready, he harvested his first deer about ten years ago.
“Looking in the eyes of that deer, I cried. It brought an overwhelming feeling and acknowledgement of what I had done, which is take a life. But when I began processing that deer, that remorse and sadness faded away and it changed to acceptance. It changed to a feeling of place in the order of nature, a feeling of fulfilling my place as an eyes-forward predator in nature.”
It also filled his freezer with meat for his family. Over the next ten years, he hunted more, learned more, and became a seasoned hunter. That opened the door to a new business venture to support his family and his land.
“Taking care of land is expensive. That’s why a lot of people end up selling land they have inherited because they just can’t take care of it. As my wife and I took over stewardship of this land, we began to look at what we could monetize to help pay for some of the conservation and improvements that we wanted to do on the ranch.”
Spoke Hollow Outfitters was born. The company offers guided outdoor experiences from field to stream and everything in between. Crumpton welcomes all but is especially focused on providing opportunities for those who may have little outdoor experience.
“What I have observed is that there’s a high demand for not just outfitting but education. I’m not interested in just being an outfitter and a guide. I’m interested in being a mentor and educator, someone who opens the doors, and literally opens the gates for people to come and step into this space and become true conservationists who understand the larger picture.”
With more than 95 percent of land in Texas privately owned, Josh also sees it as a duty.
“We have a responsibility to connect people to land because if they don’t have a connection to it, how are they going to care about it? How are they going to conserve it? Having more people understand why it is important to conserve this land we love is how we’re going to keep this planet a nice place to live for my five children and everybody else’s children and their children, too.”
Josh was honored to be asked to join the ranks of Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s We Will Not Be Tamed ambassadors. We Will Not Be Tamed calls us to appreciate the wildness of Texas, the vastness of our Texas spirit and why we should be inspired to conserve it.
“Texas Parks and Wildlife Foundation’s mission of conserving the wild things and wild places of Texas is central to everything I believe in. I’ve been involved with Stewards of the Wild and the Foundation for more than a year now, and I’ve seen its impact firsthand. I want to help further that impact and hopefully leave a lasting mark.”