Motherwell Ranch Profiled by Fly Fisherman Magazine

A couple years back Motherwell Ranch, a newly listed Colorado ranch for sale, was profiled by Fly Fisherman magazine in a story titled “Colorado Fishing Motherwell Ranch.” The ranch raises the bar as Colorado’s foremost multidimensional mountain ranch. Spanning an enormous block of contiguous deeded land, this 10,350+/- acre sporting paradise is distinguished by its unmatched combination of exceptional privacy, diverse landscape, abundant water, plentiful wildlife and ideal location.  Here are some excerpts from the story:

Atop the mountainous terrain that forms the horizon sits one of the country’s most luxurious fishing lodges. Right out its front door—at an altitude of 8,400 feet—is one of two superb trout lakes, the crown jewels of the 6,500-acre Motherwell Ranch. The ranch also has other smaller lakes and beaver ponds, and a 31/2-mile section of the Williams Fork of the Yampa River.


Dream Lake (near the lodge front door) is a 20-acre lake stocked with brown, rainbow, cutthroat, and brook trout ranging from 18 to 24 inches. These thick trout eat adult damselflies in July, traveling sedges in August, and Callibaetis and midges on most ice-free afternoons. In late summer they cruise the grassy north and east shorelines looking for errant grasshoppers.

With so much food at or near the surface, these fish are extremely surface-oriented. Even when nothing appears to be going on, a Parachute Adams, Dave’s Hopper, or small Stimulator will pick up fish regularly. When the hatches are heavy, the normally calm surface of the lake boils with fish, and a more exact hatch-matching pattern can bring a strike on almost every cast.

Lake dusk cropped web

The real brutes of Motherwell Ranch are less than a mile away in the 30-acre East Lake. While drys will take fish at East Lake, most of the big fish are taken with subsurface patterns. This lake is filled with minnows and olive scuds, and obese rainbow trout weighing over five pounds are a common daily catch. Eight-pound trout will hardly raise an eyebrow. Woolly Buggers, Clouser Minnows, and olive scuds are the preferred patterns, and every boat is stocked with them.

Motherwell lake pano


While you can wade the shorelines at Motherwell Ranch and cast to rising fish, most of the fishing is done from 12-foot prams with electric trolling motors. Guides give on-the-water casting lessons to those who need them, as well as operate the boats, tie on flies, and direct your casts.

The fishing is not difficult on the lakes, and even novice anglers can succeed with short casts and attractor drys, or by trolling a Woolly Bugger. It’s a good place to learn fly fishing, and the lodge has quality tackle to outfit guests.


The Williams Fork of the Yampa River is a small stream (about 30 feet across) that flows through the ranch and has rainbows and Colorado River cutthroats from 14 to 22 inches long that ambush an Elk-hair Caddis or Turk’s Tarantula in river corners and riffles. The stream fishing is more difficult, but the fish are just as willing. The best time to fish the stream is after July 4, when snowmelt runoff subsides.While the Motherwell Ranch has excellent trout fishing, what sets it apart from other destinations is the service and accommodations. The ranch is one of many owned by Las Vegas construction tycoon Wes Adams—one of the biggest landowners in the West—and he spared no expense in building the ranch’s log cabins.

motherwell-092 The log-and-stone lodge has a great room, three deluxe suites, complete wet bar, dining area, game room, and TV area. While outside is a wild, sportsman’s paradise, the inside is almost too posh to be called a lodge. The daily cuisine is prepared by an experienced chef. The Grand Suite has a 50-square-foot shower built with imported Italian marble, a cast-iron bath, and two private balconies. The cabins have views of 100 miles to the north and east, and no lights can be seen after dark.

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For nonfishing guests, there is horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking, and sporting clays. More than 1,000 elk gather in the meadows below the lodge. In the fall, the ranch offers trophy elk hunts.


The Value of Land Leases on Private Property

Leases on private property come in a variety of shapes and forms. These can include but are not limited to agriculture, livestock/grazing, oil & gas pad sites and pipelines, wind turbines, cell towers, power transmission stations and lines and of course hunting and fishing leases. For many landowners, especially new landowners and/or absentee landowners and estate executors the details of lease development, management and administration is not their specialty. In this situation, not only can money be left on the table but security regarding how the property will truly be used/taken care of is skeptical.


If negotiated and managed correctly, leases can be a valuable source of income and assist in maintaining and/or increasing the value of the property. For example, separating a recreational lease into four distinct leases (deer/turkey, quail, fishing, waterfowl) creates more income than a single all-inclusive lease. Leases should be a win-win, if at all possible but a general lack of knowledge by one party can lead to a continued state of discontent. Poorly negotiated and developed leases can lead to many years of headaches for a landowner and loss of property value.

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Issues can arise at not only the pertinent locations of work but also along the routes traffic utilizes to access those locations. In addition, poor on-site “use” policy and adherence to agreed upon rules by the lessee or contractors often creates tension and lack of appropriate onsite supervision can lead things astray quickly.

A major concern, especially to rangelands is the accidental introduction of non-native vegetative species of forbs, grasses and brush that can be detrimental to the native terrestrial and aquatic sites. The improper reclamation of soils, especially around pad sites and pipelines can greatly decrease the value of those locations; which for pipelines can extend for many miles impacting large amounts of acreage. Likewise overharvesting of game species and rangeland grasses will negatively impact a property while poorly chosen locations for new roads, pad sites, pipelines and powerlines can unfortunately be detrimental to beautiful views, the health of streams/creeks/ponds and cleanliness of the property. Even simple items such as who is responsible for maintaining fences, barns and roads or what happens if a wildfire occurs on the property or the property is sold during the term of the lease all need to be negotiated.


Fortunately, there are companies such as Hall and Hall that can provide a team with a diverse knowledge base regarding all facets of leases. A knowledgeable team understands how to look beyond the scope of the project itself and understand the bigger picture and how a lease and its expanding footprint may impact the ranch as a whole. A good team also understand how and when to “give and take” during negotiations, what hills are worth fighting for and which ones are not, in order to meet the goals of the property representative.


Broker Visit to Ranch at Rock Creek

By: Bill McDavid

Last week I was invited out to The Ranch at Rock Creek to be interviewed as part of an upcoming story that will be aired on French TV. While there, a great opportunity presented itself to film a rodeo from the air. Montana is looking pretty green as we approach summer. Just a few days ago there was a couple of inches of fresh snow on top of this grass. It’s a great time of year to be a Montanan.

The Ranch at Rock Creek Rodeo from Bill McDavid on Vimeo.

Living with Bears

By: Tim Murphy 

The Northern Rockies are arguably one of the most spectacular places to explore on the planet.  The expansive prairie lands extend out of the Great Plains and collide with the mountains in a region that extends essentially from Yellowstone Park well into Alberta and British Columbia.  Portions of this region represent the most ecologically diverse lands in North America.  Hall and Hall has played a role in selling lands throughout this region that include places like Strawberry Creek Ranch, Dancing Wind Ranch, Teton Diablo and others that are directly connected to the Greater Yellowstone and Glacier Park Ecosystems.  It is here where America’s top carnivore resides alongside humans.

The grizzly bear is a majestic animal and commands respect.  For those of us living in Montana, Wyoming and parts of Idaho, it is our equivalent of swimming with sharks.  Simply stated; you have to be prepared before you wander into the woods.  Living with bears isn’t a fearful thing, rather it includes understanding, admiration and preparedness.  However, each year a small percentage of the human encounters with bears results in an attack which can lead to a mauling or worse, death.


Surprisingly, the vast majority of people who travel through the backcountry have little preparation for an encounter.  Sure, many choose to carry bear spray (a deployable canister of essentially mace), perhaps carry a weapon, and take other precautions such as wearing bells.  But a high percentage of people have never actually discharged a canister of spray to understand its effective range or how it reacts with wind.  I doubt most have ever had formal training on shooting a pistol or possess an ability to discharge the weapon with speed or accuracy.  There is also the question of what is the right weapon to carry, where to carry it and what is an adequate caliber and load.

You certainly hear a lot of opinions on this subject, mostly by people who think they know.  The reality is, it’s easy to forget what people tell you and what they do preach is largely not good advice.  When a bear decides to charge, it can cover 40 yards in 2.5 seconds and with adult males reaching 600-800 pounds, there is little you can do to defend yourself once it takes you to the ground.  It’s best to have strategized and practiced a game plan prior to a worst-case scenario.  With this in mind, Chris Forrest, a retired Navy Seal and self-defense instructor, decided to teach an ongoing 2-day course to help people develop a proactive way to defend themselves against an attack.

Chris instructs this class through a company he owns called Tactic.  The course is not designed solely to teach someone how to kill a bear.  In fact, that is the last thing anyone would or should want to do to such an incredible creature.  But if your life is dependent on it, this class will provide you with the reactionary tools to mitigate the situation.  It also will enlighten students to bear behavior, agility and cunningness.


The first day of class is all about weapons training.  For us, it was a complete A-Z course on safety and shooting instruction and included men and women who were complete novices to shooting a pistol.  Three hours of indoor classroom training, and 300+ rounds of outdoor range shooting later, all participants were safely, confidently and accurately handling their firearms.

Day two began at a property north of Bozeman where wild animals are kept and trained for the movie industry.  It was here the class was able to experience what it feels like to stand next to an 850-pound male grizzly bear named Adam.  Despite the fact that he is a total sucker for Girl Scout cookies, and loved to have his belly rubbed, the fact that the trainers carried weapons was a reminder that this is still a very dangerous animal.  With the bear standing mere feet away with no cage between us, the feeling was a little uneasy.  On command, this bear could act aggressive, run at full speed, and display his athleticism.  We learned about aggressive posturing and trivial things such as their ability to climb a tree as fast as they can run on the ground dispelling the myth about climbing a tree to escape an attack.

Todd Orr, a Montana native who grew up in Ennis and has spent the last 20+ years working in Montana’s backcountry for the USFS, was also present.  Todd was mauled twice by the same bear last fall and the YouTube video he posted to his friends recounting the event went completely viral.  Todd is an exceptionally seasoned woodsman and has had many encounters with bears over the years.  Todd recited his story as we stood near Adam the bear.  Todd elected to remain in the back of the truck during our discussion and you could completely understand his sense of fear and respect of the creature that stood in front of us.  As experienced as Todd is, he was still not prepared for what happened last fall.  Despite a full discharge of spray as the female bear barreled towards him, it was not enough to deter the mauling.  This is not to say that bear spray is not a good deterrent; it is, but in this incident it proved to be somewhat ineffective.  Todd’s weapon remained holstered and was eventually ripped away from his body.  All Todd could do was remain in a balled-up position protecting his neck with his back to the bear, and pray that she would stop chewing on him and return to her cubs that she had cached over the hill.  Todd was lucky, and to do it again he would have had his weapon and spray in a ready position the first time he saw the sow with her cubs.  He had just seconds to react, and the remainder of the time he had to just keep his ground game together trying to remain silent and still while protecting his vitals.  Hearing this story, complete with emotion, while standing next to a very large carnivore, was gripping to say the least.


The balance of the course was spent back at the range where we practiced deploying and discharging inert cans of bear spray at moving and active targets.  Where to carry the spray was important, and realizing that you will likely only have time to discharge it from a holstered position was an epiphany.  We then moved back into pistol training putting another 200 rounds through our weapons.  At this point the class was drawing, aiming and firing with precision.  The final challenge was to test our abilities on a target that moves towards the shooter covering the distance it spans in roughly 1.5 seconds.  There, the class was tasked to spray on the first assault, and shoot on the second.  It was then when the realities set in of what was going to work for the individuals.  Revolver versus semi-automatic, carrying spray on the left belt, right belt, or chest.  Regardless of what your personal preference is for defending yourself, the end result was that all 13 students in the class were able to do so effectively in under two seconds.  In all cases, we walked away feeling confident that we were as prepared as we could possibly be, and more so than perhaps 95% of the people who recreate and live with an expanding population of this incredible animal.  Like wearing a seatbelt, you use it and hope it never has to save your life.  To me, this was a class that anyone who spends time outdoors in the Northern Rockies would benefit from.


Photos from the class (photo credit Fred Brault).

Four Bear Ranch Profiled by LA Times

Four Bear Ranch, a 1,246-acre Cody, Wyoming mountain retreat and hunting property once home to “Gunsmoke” writer Ron Bishop, was recently profiled by The Los Angeles Times. While the article incorrectly states that Bishop owned the ranch, he did live in the Olive Fell house courtesy of the Weiss family – the owners of the Four Bear Ranch at that time.

An excerpt from the article reads:

“Set within a basin adjoining the Shoshone National Forest, the ranch has art and literary ties that precede Bishop’s ownership. Printmaker, painter and sculptor Olive Fell once owned the property, which has a guesthouse named for the noted artist. Adding to its pedigree, author Ernest Hemingway purportedly visited the ranch on a number of occasions.”

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Four Bear Ranch is an exceptionally convenient, easily accessible but totally private wilderness retreat near one of Wyoming’s sought-after communities. The ranch has a complete and totally appropriate set of improvements sited in one of the most dramatically beautiful locations imaginable. Wyoming’s status as a tax haven with no state income and inheritance tax cannot be ignored as well. It should also be noted that there are no conservation easements on the ranch, nor are there any other easements through the ranch.

Randy Shelton Interviewed by “City Streets and Country Roads”

Hall and Hall Partner Randy Shelton was interviewed by “City Streets and Country Roads.” He discusses the ranch real estate market and Hall and Hall’s history at the 14:45 mark.

City Streets Country Roads – Real Estate from Community Seven Television on Vimeo.