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Together, Life is Full – David and Crystal Watts

Most people agree that our lives are marked with a fast pace encompassing careers, family and commitments as we attempt to juggle it all. But Crystal and David  Watts do it all in a remarkably big way. The couple has mastered their full lives handily managing an active, blended family of three, multiple businesses and a devotion to causes they support.

By Cheryl Van Tuyl Jividen  ::  Photography by Mark Humphries

Teamwork is key, says David, “It is challenging at times but for me it’s because I really do rely on Crystal for so much. In my mind, she handles a lot of our lives and businesses, and I handle the other part. There is no way one of us could do it all. Crystal and I have very similar tastes and expectations in life so it’s a comfort knowing when one of us says ‘go with this’ or ‘do that,’ it’s what the other person would have done.” Crystal adds, “We also have great teams helping us which is gold. We have personal relationships with everyone on our different teams and they know the Watts family well.”

Teamwork is key, says David, “It is challenging at times but for me it’s because I really do rely on Crystal for so much. In my mind, she handles a lot of our lives and businesses, and I handle the other part. There is no way one of us could do it all. Crystal and I have very similar tastes and expectations in life so it’s a comfort knowing when one of us says ‘go with this’ or ‘do that,’ it’s what the other person would have done.” Crystal adds, “We also have great teams helping us which is gold. We have personal relationships with everyone on our different teams and they know the Watts family well.”

Both are Texans — David a native of McKinney, while Crystal was raised in the countryside between Crystal City and La Pryor. The couple married in 2014 and share dual passions for the outdoors and wildlife, and a deep admiration for each other. David says, “What drew me to Crystal was and is her desire to be the best at everything she does. She isn’t just my wife; she literally is my hunting and golfing buddy as well. Crystal’s determination and big heart — whether it’s for people or the outdoors — is one everyone can see and is easily attracted to. She rocks!” For Crystal, “David has always been the strongest man I’ve known! When I met him, he had so many dreams and ambitions. He has always spoken to my heart and loved and supported all my plans and dreams,” adding, “One thing that was really special about David was anytime we were together, he always prayed before dinner and I loved him for being such a God-fearing man. He is passionate, witty and spontaneous which makes our journey together an adventure. Most importantly, David’s presence is always there for me and for our family!”

Partnering with his father, David started Upland Exploration after graduating from Northeastern State University (NSU). “We basically started in a garage in Houston in 1997. We credit our success to our relationships with people in the business as well as mineral and surface owners. We have always treated everyone fairly and honestly and it has been returned 100-fold. We got our feet wet drilling 20,000-foot vertical gas wells in western Oklahoma.” With the change in gas prices and the passing of David’s father in 2012, he needed to take the company in a new direction. “So, with the help of my new partner Crystal, we moved the company to Boerne about the same time as the horizontal drilling boom was kicking off. We’ve drilled in Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and the Dakotas. Currently our company is focused in the DJ basin, being Northern Colorado and Southern Wyoming drilling oil formations,” says David. 

Together the Watts also own another oil and gas operation based in Boerne called Mbogo Energy. The name has special meaning says David,” Crystal and I are not only husband and wife, but also partners. We love being on safari (which is Swahili for journey). On safari, its 21-28 days with no phones, computers or bills to worry about. We get to be in the amazing outdoors and with each other, and share the day’s adventures at the campfire. So, once we got married, we wanted to form a company that represented us. Mbogo is Swahili for Cape Buffalo which reminds us of our many safaris together.”  

Having learned hunting and a love of the great outdoors from their fathers, the Watts have a great affinity for the lifestyle. They have hunted worldwide, including South America, Alaska, Canada, Spain, New Zealand and Africa. The passion is a family affair, to include son, Logan Fisher, and daughters, Bailee Fisher and Telli Watts — all holding Texas lifetime hunting licenses. 

Crystal and David support the Texas Wildlife Association (TWA) and serve as directors. They are passionate about the hunting heritage — especially youth hunting — and are actively involved in the Texas Youth Hunting Program, put on by TWA and Texas Parks and Wildlife. Crystal says of their help, “Our hunting heritage is under attack more and more each day. The programs we support help maintain a balanced lifestyle for kids and parents who wouldn’t otherwise be able to enjoy the outdoors in a way that would help them appreciate what is at stake. It helps them make an informed and educated decision whether that be as small as what bush to eradicate all the way up to who to contact in Congress to talk to about pressing issues regarding private land rights.”

They are also lifetime members and are actively involved in the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and National Wild Turkey Federation, both non-profit organizations which they have helped raise over a half million dollars for through hunts they have donated on their Back Porch Ranch, which serves as their family home in the Texas Hill Country. 

The Watts also enjoy time at their Aught Six Ranch in South Central Colorado, which has an historic past. “With David having a college background in Social Studies, he’s an incredible history buff. He’s tracked down most of the original homesteads located on the Aught Six Ranch and obtained copies of the original land grants signed by the president at that time for the Homestead Act. We have started creating signs at those locations all over the ranch for people to enjoy,” says Crystal. David shares, “The ranch historically was the playing and hunting grounds for Chief Ouray of the Utes. In 1806, Thomas Jefferson commissioned Zebulon Pike (founder of Pike’s Peak) to search for the headwaters of the Arkansas and Rio Grande. By estimation, two weeks after he discovered Pike’s Peak, he was on the ranch during a blizzard. He lost a couple of men under the conditions. He also harvested some Bison in hopes of surviving the storm. When the storm passed, he made his way through the ranch and found a pass through the mountains that is known as Medano Pass.” 

Crystal, who studied agriculture and business at Southwest Texas Junior College, has long understood the importance of land management and stewardship, “My parents lived off the land and my father owned a pump company. I grew up working with my dad on many ranches and I remember the urgency of getting water to ranchers when they were out.” Now she is an active advocate, “Land fragmentation is a pressing issue among private landowners. Land management is the basis of our existence and if we do not take care of our land, what do we leave for our children and grandchildren?”

The Watts’ older children, who are both in Future Farmers of America, have fostered their own appreciation. They and their friends have worked the last two summers at the Aught Six. “Logan learned heavy equipment operations before he was a teenager. He also has a passion for livestock and has chosen Agri-Business as his degree plan at Texas A&M University (TAMU). Bailee also has a passion for the outdoors and loves working with our youth hunters at the ranch and at Aught Six. While she has said she would like to attend TAMU, she has not chosen a degree yet. She has, however, expressed interest in large animal veterinarian studies,” says Crystal proudly.  

The Watts have even been able to merge business and passion with part ownership in Prois, an all-women’s performance hunting apparel company founded by Kristie Pike. Crystal, a member of the professional staff, field tests the gear and has become more involved with the design and creation of the apparel. “I’ve tested a lot of women’s outdoor hunting apparel and Prois is extremely superior to all,” says Crystal.

Logan, a talented athlete and football player at Brackett High School is the quarterback and a District Offensive M.V.P. for two consecutive years. The high school senior was recruited and committed to play football for TAMU his junior year. After signing a letter of intent on National Signing Day, he’ll begin college and football in May. David, who was a member of NSU’s National Championship football team, is enthusiastic for his son, “Logan is not only special because he is our son, but God has gifted him with amazing speed and athletic ability. After talking with Coach Fisher at A&M and seeing how excited they are to have him on the team, it was a no brainer! We love following our Aggies and we will even love it more watching Logan grow as an athlete at one of the best universities in the country. Being a college athlete on any level and any place is special and it’s not for everyone. Seeing how talented Logan is and watching him throughout his high school career has been a blessing. He has had to overcome many obstacles coming from a small school. The limits can only be set by him.” 

The Watts serve as members of the 12th Man Foundation’s Champions Council and the Diamond Council which support TAMU athletics and student athletes. David says of their Aggie devotion, “My father and mother attended TAMU. My dad played football and later in life he was a 12th Man Trustee. I have unbelievable memories of attending games with my family since I was 4 years old.” 

Their lives are busy, but family time is paramount, “We have been very fortunate that we get to do family things together a lot. Those are normally hunting trips, attending Aggie football games and trips to ski and snowboard. We spend every Christmas, New Year’s and part of the summer at our Colorado property. We had two full family safaris together in the bush and will be taking Telli on her first safari soon,” says Crystal. Ahead there are plans to include African trips, a golf trip to Ireland and their 10-year anniversary trip, returning to Turtle Island, Fiji where they were married.

But much of their time together is enjoyed at Cordillera Ranch where they play golf, and spend time kayaking on the Guadalupe and enjoying the Clubhouse. There are favorite aspects, Crystal says, “The location’s atmosphere and spaciousness are at the top of my list but closely following would have to be all the activities the Club hosts. We’ve had several parties at our home that the Club has catered, we love Chef Isaac’s limitless menus and the staff are all out of this world.” David says it was an obvious fit, “Cordillera has such a beautiful, relaxing environment with plenty of fun activities for all. We love the space and we love the Hill Country. After seeing everything Cordillera had to offer, it was not hard to make the choice.”

It’s a lasting choice that includes ongoing investment in the people and community of Boerne.