The Role of a Ranch Management Company

By: Justin Bryan

Historically, the most reliable predictor of a successful farm, ranch, or recreational operation is a competent, honest, and qualified management team. This team should have the owner’s interests at heart and possess the attributes necessary to effectively manage the property. In the end, their oversight of the property and relationship with the owner will have profound long-term implications toward the success of the property and ultimately influence those who may desire to purchase it in the future.

pronghorn-yellowstone

The real pleasure a landowner receives from ownership is obtained when he/she is confident that the property is being properly supervised.  When this occurs, the owner, family, and friends will be able to enjoy it as intended both from the operational and the recreational point of view. The enjoyment of ownership is what we term the “psychic return” and is a significant part of the “return on investment” derived by the landowner. Each landowner has his or her own unique needs – large and small – and matching those with the correct management system is the key to successful property management.

bull-creek-037

For the on-site landowner who is consistently present and knowledgeable regarding rural property management, the ability to guide the daily tasks and develop valuable relationships with the staff creates a healthy environment to thrive upon.

In contrast, many rural properties are owned by on-site individuals who lack a real understanding of the unique aspects of rural property management. This can often result in poor overall performance of staff at which point ownership ceases to be enjoyable. A common example of this would be a situation in which the principal managing family member passes away and an inexperienced family member is required to fulfill the duties. Then there are the true absentee landowners. This inherently creates the most challenging situation for staff and owners to communicate clearly. Often the managing director of an absentee-owned property is an estate executor or a successful business person who, although accomplished in their chosen field, lacks knowledge in real-world rural property management. Procuring the right people in place who “ride for the brand” and perform their job as expected can come in a variety of forms to meet the requirements of each type of landowner.

3

In terms of management, each type of landowner is afforded a few options regarding administration and on-the-ground labor. Their requirements might involve simply livestock and/or agriculture, or they might involve a mix of livestock, wildlife/fisheries and the maintenance/restoration of buildings. These choices include traditional staffing, farm and ranch team consultants, or a hybrid mix of traditional on-site staff with consultant oversite. Each of these staff options have pros and cons and must be evaluated by landowners whose needs are unique unto themselves. The selection of the system that best fits the owner provides the opportunity for the “return on investment” – either psychic or financial – that is desired.

texas ranch for sale, lucky star ranch, texas rangeland

Traditional Staffing

It is a unique individual who chooses to be a beneficial source of labor and knowledge on a rural property. Ranch employment is not your average everyday eight-to-five job and, therefore, necessitates a high-level of personal commitment.  Be it a livestock guy or gal, wildlife biologist, or all-around ranch hand, reliable and competent employees are a must. To alleviate poor hiring choices, those individuals who are well-vetted by someone who truly understands what is required on the property and knows the owner’s expectations often have the best opportunity to succeed. These individuals provide a stable platform upon which a property can thrive. The relationships that can be built between an owner and long-term staff are rewarding as both entities work in conjunction to develop the property and see it flourish over time. Staff turnover, when it occurs, can, unfortunately, be the most expensive, stressful, and time-consuming issue in farm and/or ranch ownership causing the enjoyment of ownership to begin to wane.  If and when employees leave, they take with them the comprehension of what is actually required to permit a property to operate efficiently and effectively – from water systems to haying, livestock to bill paying, to hunting operations. Their knowledge of the property derived from a long tenure can be challenging to replace.

Farm and Ranch Team Consultants

Acquiring the services of a rural property management firm is an option available to landowners, especially absentee landowners or estate executors who desire to immediately have in place a proven team focused exclusively on their needs. This independent focus allows the firm to work with and typically mentor the on-site staff, and it allows them to always be part of the solution for the landowner and never part of the problem. A firm such as this can effectively manage the increasingly complex federal and state environmental regulations, changing national and world markets for livestock, crops and timber, critical water and mineral rights issues, and tax considerations on any given property. The firm’s experience with multiple successful operations gives them a high level of current knowledge and practical expertise for these details to be dealt with correctly and in a timely and professional manner. In this situation, the owner/executor is assured that the property is being taken care of properly. In addition, a history of professional management is, without a doubt, a major advantage if and when the decision is made to sell a property.

Hybrid Management

A hybrid management scenario occurs when a landowner desires to have competent staff on-site in combination with supervision expertise from a management firm. This allows for the management company, which has extensive exposure to a diverse array of operations, to provide operational oversight on a broad spectrum of ranching enterprises while the boots on the ground fulfill the daily tasks. A hybrid system is commonly utilized by all three types of landowners who desire to maximize profits and minimize potential headaches.

DSC00196

Desirable Management Services

  • Budgeting, accounting and bill paying
  • Creation and execution of natural resource development and business plans
  • Asset evaluation including land, equipment, structures, herds, crops, fish, wildlife, and other tangibles such as the human resources available
  • Product sales and marketing services
  • Recruitment and hiring of management level personnel
  • Direct management and/or consultant services to staff
  • Periodic oversight of operations
  • Direct management of deeded properties, leases, and grazing allotments

Such services are most often chosen a la carte per the landowner’s needs. These can be as complex as the cost-benefit analysis of financing farm equipment, restoration of wetlands and/or native grasslands, or habitat mitigation credits. Or as simple as periodic oversight, bill paying and monthly reports or consultation with or mentoring of staff.

2

Managing quality rural real estate properties, be it commercial farms or ranches or prime recreational retreats, can be a daunting challenge. This is particularly true for absentee owners, but even full-time resident owners can often benefit from the outside perspective of an experienced farm/ranch management firm. Ultimately such services should ensure that details of the property are being properly taken care of to allow the landowner to fully enjoy his/her property with family, friends, and business associates.

Hall and Hall is one of the few companies that provide management services and the recruitment of management level employees on behalf of landowners across a broad geography and property type. Please feel free to contact one of our offices if we can be of help. It is the stated purpose of our management group to make the ownership of rural land a positive and worry-free experience for our clients.

 

Elk Hunting on Montana Ranches

By: Keith Lenard

September is the cruelest month. The crisp autumn air hearkens nostalgically and golden aspens beckon us to the mountains during still-long days. For the first time this year, the light lengthens and falls softly across the broad Montana river valleys, setting off a riot of glinting sparkles across our pristine trout rivers. Snow dusts the tips of close peaks like whip cream on a sundae. Elk bugle in the high country and majestic herd bulls round up large harems of cows. And the wind just shifted and sent the whole lot running down the mountain.

N Bar Elk090
It’s not over, you tell yourself. There are plenty more elk in them there hills and you shoulder your pack and go searching for the next magic moment. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege to hunt many of our listings during bow season. The Dempsey Creek Ranch and the Hoover Creek timber property are just a few that can be mentioned. In fact, I got my first archery elk on Dempsey Creek, courtesy of the gracious new owners that had just acquired the property to continue their family’s legacy of cattle raising.

N Bar Elk095
Montana ranches for sale in our current inventory offer a multitude of exceptional properties with abundant, private elk and deer hunting opportunities. In western Montana, the Sula Peak, Warren Peak, Miller Lake and Lone Cypress Ranches each offer exceptional solitude and scenery, not to mention large elk. In central Montana, properties such as the Bull Mountain Ranch, Lippert Gulch and Elk Basin fill the bill. The IX Ranch, a legacy offering that is also rich in cattle-raising history, provides some of the best elk hunting in the world, with a hunt area that offers some of the most coveted permits in Montana. Colorado and Wyoming ranches for sale offer an equally rich and diverse opportunity to purchase your own wildlife nirvana.

N Bar Elk027

Regardless of whether you’re a hunter or just a wildlife enthusiast that marvels at the seasonal ritual of jousting monster bulls, Rocky Mountain ranches for sale provide a smorgasbord of rural land investment opportunities that will provide you and your family endless memories of sapphire skies, snowy mornings and bugling elk.

I haven’t managed to get my elk so far this bow season. Although I’ve been within 50 yards of elk every single day that I’ve been out, I haven’t managed to close the gap into bowshot range. I guess the cruelty and wonder will continue.

N Bar Elk110

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.

motherwell-074

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.

motherwell-099

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.

Motherwell front gate evening webmotherwell-072

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.

motherwell-085

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.

151007181935-waggoner-tractors-farming-super-169

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.

Outstanding in your field-1

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.

IMG_1825

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.

grass-fed-beef-from-flickr

Ranch Broker Road Trips

By: Tim Murphy

Each year Hall and Hall travels nearly a million miles in pickup trucks, small aircraft, helicopters and ATV’s.  I don’t know a single one of us that has to refer to a map to know where we are going.  To each of us on our own regional turf, this is familiar territory and nobody does road trips better than we do.  Our partners, management staff, appraisers and lenders all have depth in this industry far beyond our collective colleagues and countless miles and hours behind the wheel.  It’s what makes us effective at what we do and valuable to our clientele.  Our opinions are generally quite calculated because we have “been there” many times before.

BN-NM638_0414HE_J_20160411172646

A million miles sounds like something only a trucking company could accomplish.  It’s a daunting number to think about, but consider what we do and where we go.  We are extremely fortunate to live and work in one of the most beautiful places in the world and sell unique and at times massive assets within this market.  Driving thousands of miles to me is not something I dread, rather I cherish it.  On any given year I discover a new canyon or secret trout stream that most people are not aware of.  We see the best and worst of all seasons as they roll in and out.  Through the windshields we often see things that few other do.  Truthfully, I never tire of this and often take the time to pull over and photograph something interesting.

miller-lake-094

Photography dovetails perfectly with our careers. I have been fortunate to work with many incredible professionals such as Kenton Rowe and Craig Hergert who are masters of the art.  One thing that I never knew about the hobby is that it ultimately causes you to look at everything differently.  Primarily, you see how light reacts to certain subjects.  For better or worse (I think better), you never look at anything the same ever again.  You appreciate beautiful landscapes just a little bit more than the norm.

dancing-wind-253

The best opportunities are often the ones you don’t see coming.  Upon completing a multi-day tour with clients in the Cody, Wyoming region, I was blessed with an opportunity to take a personal adventure home across the Beartooth Plateau.  The plateau is located on the east side of Yellowstone Park.  A primitive highway ascends to 11,000 feet extending for nearly 70 miles above tree line connecting the communities of Red Lodge, Cooke City and Cody via spurs of this road.  It rightfully is claimed to be one of the most scenic byways in North America, potentially in the world.

That day, I could not have timed better as the high-country was just out of winter slumber coming a bit late as parts of the region received 200% snow pack.  At 10,700 feet my thermometer read an exceptionally pleasant 64 degrees contrasted to the predicted 94 at Red Lodge below at lower elevation.  Thick wedges of snow and ice still dotted the landscape and I stopped at the Gardiner Headwall to watch skiers descend off a cornice and into a cirque to the lake below.  A short distance later I spotted a band of mountain goats 100 yards or so off the road.

_N8A6126

There was a place to pull over so I parked, grabbed my camera and walked downslope a bit to take a few images of them.  The light was high in the sky so I was not hopeful on any sort of quality but the ground was a complete carpet of wildflowers, the air was fresh and I was having a moment just happy to be alive and sitting in that location.  The goats were feeding towards me so I stayed put and watched as several very young kids fed and played amongst the nannies.  The kids were snow white and just starting to figure out how to forage.

_N8A6199

The band continued coming closer, and closer and closer. They leveled off at 10 feet and literally fed right through me.  They knew I was there but did not feel threatened despite me aiming a large camera at them and snapping 220 images hoping/praying one would turn out.  I think a few did indeed and you can see the culled photos in this gallery link- Beartooth Goat Gallery.    I found it amusing to stand up after 45 minutes to find a crowd of people had gathered above me many of whom were commenting that they were taking photos of me taking photos of the goats!  I was pretty neat from my vantage point, I am sure it was from theirs as well. This was a solo experience, and I rather enjoyed it.  It is often that we are fortunate to share these experiences with clients.  It’s a rewarding part of the process for all of us.

_N8A6156-Pano

 

Chasing Gentleman Bob – Quail of the Rolling Plains

By: Justin Bryan

Bobwhite quail are a boom and bust species. With an average life expectancy of one year, their reproductive ability must be able to make the most of a good situation. For us in the Rolling Plains region of Texas, a “good situation” is defined by maintaining 100% usable quail habitat on any given property. This includes an abundance of nesting sites, escape and loafing cover, and praying for cooler than normal, wet summers. Fortunately, we can control the range conditions (i.e., quail habitat) through proper grazing, unfortunately we cannot control the weather.

blog

Below is data collected by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, which represents the mean number of quail observed along defined routes per year for the Rolling Plains.Notice the “booms” and “busts”? Those once again are tied to range and weather conditions and more importantly represent years you can hunt and years you likely should not. As quail enthusiasts, we would like to hunt good populations of wildlife quail every year.

12

Our goal as quail managers is minimize the drop in the “busts” and maximize the increase in the “boom”. We do this by implementing mechanical, chemical, prescribed fire and judicious grazing techniques to enhance the habitat and then pray it rains. For more information on quail habitat management in Texas, contact Justin Bryan at 325-260-5883.

DOZER PRICKLY

blog1

blog2