Blake Hortenstine graduated from Highland Park High School but found success in a job that requires a four-wheel drive and a Ranger bass boat. After graduating from Texas A&M University, he worked as a hunting guide, helping executives land quail, deer, hog and turkey. The Preston Hollow resident traded game management for real estate focusing on ranches. In 2003, he launched Hortenstine Ranch Company, LLC. In December of 2011, he partnered with Cash McWhorter. He is the father of Rollins, 9, and Hayes, 6.
What did you study at Texas A&M?
I got a wildlife management degree. I didn’t think I’d do anything with it. I went down to King Ranch and guided there just out of school for about a year. But then it was time to get serious about my profession, so I moved back to Dallas and did commercial real estate. It was cutthroat. You tell me something, and I’m going to trust that’s what it is. I’m a handshake kind of person. Some of the people I dealt with in commercial real estate would look me in the eye and say, “Oh no, you’re totally good. We got you covered.” Then they’d just cut you out of the deal.
How did you go from ranching to real estate?
I did [ranching] for 15 or 20 years, and then I said, “What am I doing throwing 50-pound feed sacks around on a ranch when I can close one real-estate deal and make the same money that I would make working 365 days a year out in August in the dust?”
What did you do after that?
Henry S. Miller had a farm and ranch division. I was there for five years as an agent. I got my broker’s license, passed the test, and then after about six months, I was sitting at my desk in my suit and tie. That was company policy, but it doesn’t make sense for a farm and ranch guy. I thought, “Hey, I can do this on my own.”
Where did you grow up? Is the accent for real?
I grew up here in Dallas. I guess if you have an accent, you don’t realize it. I always enjoyed the outdoors. My dad took us hunting, fishing and camping. We’ve got a family place down in Wimberley on the Blanco River. I didn’t grow up in a big ranching family. My dad is a banker.
What was your dad’s advice?
“Do something you love. Banking has been good to me, but you should really love what you do.”
What’s your typical day like?
You don’t know where you might need to go to show a property. Somebody may call and they want to go look at a $3 million ranch, and they say, “Tomorrow is the only day I can do it.” Once, it was after one of the worst ice storms. I hooked on the trailer with the Polaris Ranger and drove down to Hico, sliding the entire way. It took me four hours to get there, and we drove around the ranch in the freezing cold for two hours. I’m not a rancher. A true rancher is somebody that ranches for a living. That’s their sole source of income. There are a lot of people that have a job here and they own a ranch and they’re an attorney, and they make a lot of money, so they’re not running any risk. A real rancher is out every single day, watching every nickel and very careful what they’re feeding their cattle.
How long have you lived in Preston Hollow?
Since 2003. It’s quiet. I’ve got good neighbors on both sides.
Tell me about your sons.
They love the outdoors. All they want to do is fish. My oldest, Rollins, loves equipment. He’s all about tractors, skid steers and mowers. He mows the yard and weed eats and blows and has probably as many tools as I do. And then Hayes is a fishing machine.
What do you do for fun?
I still hunt and fish. I like to go run around Bachman Lake. It’s therapeutic.
What are your most essential items for work?
A pickup truck, a toolbox full of tools and a cell phone.
What kind of truck do you drive?
A GMC Crew Cab pickup, four-wheel drive. We’ve got a Polaris Ranger. I’ve got a little place that I bought about 12 years ago southeast of Albany, [Texas]. I haven’t built a house on it or anything, but I’ve been doing a bunch of land management work and just go out there and run the chainsaw and get dirty and enjoy that. I’ve got a water trough. There’s been times where it’s like, “I’m sweaty, I’m dirty, and I need to go to a meeting.” I’ll get in the water trough with a bar of soap, put on fresh clothes, and off I go.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
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