Birch Creek Ranch

Property Map

Birch Creek Ranch

  • Birch Creek Ranch

Birch Creek Ranch

Big Sandy, Montana

Located at the confluence of the Birch Creek and Little Birch Creek drainages a few miles south of the scenic Bears Paw Mountains, Birch Creek Ranch is comprised of 16,415± acres (12,174± deeded, 3,597 BLM lease, and 644± state lease). The ranch is currently operated at 450-500 AU in addition to farming 2,343± acres in dryland grain. There are an additional 518± tillable acres that came out of CRP in 2017 and are currently being grazed. Hay is produced on nearby lease ground. Conversion of dryland grain to grass and/or hay production would produce a balanced cow/calf operation and expand the carrying capacity. Ranch improvements include two residences, each with a nearby machine shop and calving barn, plus a shop and corrals, and approximately six miles of pipeline. The ranch lies 30 miles southeast of Big Sandy, MT in an area known for strong grasses and good crop yields, approximately an hour from Havre, MT and one hour and forty-five minutes from Great Falls, MT. The rolling, diverse terrain supports trophy elk, mule deer and antelope as well as of pheasant, sharptail grouse, and Hungarian partridge.


The ranch is located approximately 30 miles southeast of the town of Big Sandy, Montana, and 6 miles east of Highway 236, known as the Judith Landing Road. Big Sandy is an attractive small town with a 2013 population of 605 and over 40 active businesses listed, as well as the Critical Access Hospital and both grade and high schools. Great Falls lies 80 miles to the southwest and Havre is 35 miles to the northeast on U.S. Highway 87. The nearest commercial air service is Great Falls, which is serviced by Delta, Alaska, and United Airlines with multiple daily flights. Big Sandy offers a paved and lighted 3,570 x 60-foot airstrip at an elevation of 2,689 feet. Havre has two cross-wind runways, with one measuring 5,205 x 100 foot paved, at 2,580 feet elevation, with instrument approaches, AV gas and jet fuel, hangar rentals, and rental cars.


Birch Creek Ranch lies in one of Montana’s reputation ranch areas in the north-central portion of the state. Though the area is closely tied to traditional farming and ranching, it also offers dramatically beautiful scenery that rivals areas in the southwestern part of the state. The two most outstanding topographic features are the Bears Paw Mountains, which are approximately five miles north of the ranch, and the Missouri River, which lies approximately 15 miles south of the ranch.

The Bears Paw Mountains are an island mountain range that extend in a 45-mile arc from the Missouri River northward, to just south of Havre. The highest peak, Baldy Mountain, reaches 6,916 feet above sea level. A Native American legend about a hunter’s encounter with a great bear is the source of the range’s name. Looking at Box Elder Butte, one can see the paw, and Centennial Mountain to the south resembles a reclining bear. West of these buttes lies the Rocky Boy Indian Reservation of the Chippewa Cree Tribe. East of that lies the Bear Paw Battlefield - Nez Perce National Historical Park, where the defeated Nez Perce Chief Joseph gave his immortal speech, “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”

The “Bearpaws” as they are frequently called, receive added precipitation due to their higher elevation, which creates a beautiful, lush environment rich with game and dramatic vistas.

South of the ranch the Missouri River flows through the region known as the Missouri River Breaks. The “Breaks” have been sculpted by eons of wind and water crumbling sedimentary soils, creating stunningly beautiful cliffs and rock formations with intermittently steep and rugged topography. The Missouri River Breaks offer some of the most ruggedly beautiful scenery to be found in the state and are now protected as the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument (UMRBNM).

The Missouri River and the site of Judith Landing are historically significant because of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery, which traveled upriver from St. Louis beginning in 1802. Judith Landing is located near the confluence of the Judith River with the Missouri at the mouth of Dog Creek. Lewis and Clark camped there, noting the clear waters of the Judith and the unique White Cliffs area just upstream. The site later became a fort and the Judith Landing Mercantile trading post was established where settlers came to trade furs and gold. This White Cliffs area, south of the ranch, is now a 46-mile stretch of the designated Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River portion of the UMRBNM.

The region within and around the Missouri River Breaks is well noted for its great paleontological discoveries. In recent decades, intact T-Rex remains have been discovered along with a multitude of land and inland sea creatures. Areas of Birch Creek Ranch are rich in fossils embedded in the sandstone bluffs.

General Description: 

Birch Creek Ranch has been in the same family’s hands for over five decades. The ranch has been operated as a cow/calf operation with a significant grain farming component. The landscape is comprised of a mix of semi-rugged breaks interspersed with timber, fertile benches, and productive farm land. The ranch has significant live water with approximately seven miles of Birch Creek and approximately one-and-one-half miles of intermittent Little Birch Creek. There are also several ponds and six miles of pipeline serving nine stock tanks.

The location at the confluence of Little Birch and Birch Creeks is quite scenic. The ranch headquarters are comprised of two residences, barns, shops, corrals and other working facilities. From the bench tops one can view seven different mountain ranges, including the nearby Bears Paw Range, the Little Rockies and to the south the Judiths, Moccasins, Snowies, Highwoods and Belts.


The ranch is comprised of 16,415± total acres (12,174± deeded acres, 3,597± BLM lease, and 644± acres State lease). There are 29.8± acres of irrigated hay land along Birch Creek. There are 2,861± acres of non-irrigated cropland, of which 2,343± acres are cultivated for small grain production. There are an additional 518± tillable acres that came out of CRP in 2017 and are currently being grazed.

The most common cropland soil is the Telstad-Joplin complex. This is a productive soil, which has a productive capability listed by the Choteau County soil survey at 45 bushel/acre for winter wheat.

Acreage Breakdown: 
  • Deeded – 12,174± acres
  • BLM Lease – 3,597± acres
  • State Lease – 644± acres
  • Dryland grain production – 2,343± acres
  • Flood-irrigated – 30± acres
Leases & Permits: 
  • BLM Lease - 3,597± acres  |  328 AUMs  |  $2.11/AUM  |  $692/year
  • State Lease - 644± acres  |  92AUMs  |  $9.94/AUM  |  $1,761/year

The ranch has two residences with a complete set of outbuildings associated with each. The first dwelling was constructed in 1971 and is occupied by the ranch owners. It has been re-modeled and has four bedrooms and two bathrooms on two levels. Associated with this primary residence is a 32’x70’ machine shed, a 32’x48’ shop with a concrete floor, and a newer calving barn that is 36x120’ in size with a 10’x40’ maternity room.

A second residence, constructed in 1980, is located nearby. It also has been re-modeled and is ranch-style with four bedrooms and two bathrooms. In addition, there is a 32’x60’ machine shed with a partial concrete floor constructed in 2005 and a 30’x70’ calving barn built in 1997.

There are also four usable grain bins in two different locations on the ranch. Two are located approximately three-quarters of a mile from the headquarters and two are on the westerly side of the ranch. Storage capacity of those bins is 4,000 bushels, 7,500 bushels, and two at 6,000 bushels.


The ranch headquarters along Birch Creek lie at an altitude of approximately 3,200 feet above sea level. Average annual precipitation is estimated at 13-14 inches, and the average length of the frost-free growing season is from 120-125 days. Weather can vary dramatically with some winters being open, allowing cattle to graze out, and others requiring more hay. In general, wind, chinooks, and light winter precipitation contribute to keeping livestock wintering costs in check, by Montana standards. The Western Regional Climate Center published the following statistics for Big Sandy from 1921-2005:

  • Average maximum temps- July 88 degrees; August 86 degrees
  • Average maximum temps- December through February, 28 to 34 degrees
  • Average annual snowfall of 18.79 inches with average snowfall depths under 2 inches in every month of the winter
General Operations: 

The owners operate the ranch primarily as a cow-calf operation with a complementary small grain farming operation. The ranch is currently stocked with approximately 420 mother cows, plus replacement heifers and bulls, which yields a grazing capacity estimate of 450-500 animal units for seven months, or 3,150 – 3,500 AUMs.

The cultivated acreage is used primarily for small grain production. Of the 2,343± dry crop acres, approximately 50 percent is seeded each year and the rest summer fallowed. Estimated yields for winter wheat are approximately 45 bushels per acre with yields for spring wheat of approximately 40 bushels per acre.

The ranch’s 29.8± acres of irrigated hay fields are located along Birch Creek near the headquarters. This acreage is watered by a dike system that spreads spring runoff onto the hay fields.

The owners currently lease privately-owned pivot irrigated hayfields located south of the ranch, which provide winter hay supplies for the ranch and excess hay that is sold. These leased fields are anticipated to be unavailable to a new owner. However, conversion of the ranch to a stand-alone operation can be accomplished by dedicating a portion of the dryland grain to hay production. Conversion of all the dryland grain to hay and grazing would increase the ranch’s estimated carrying capacity to 550 animal units.

The current cow herd is managed for higher weaning weights. Cows calve around February 1, with weaning in mid-October. Weaning weights average approximately 700 pounds for steers and 675 pounds for heifer calves. Cows typically graze out through December, depending on weather conditions. Winter hay requirements under the current management plan are approximately two tons per cow.

Water Resources: 

Livestock water on the ranch is provided by Birch Creek and Little Birch Creek, a number of reservoirs, wells and pipelines.  There are four wells located near the ranch buildings. One of these wells provides water to over six miles of pipeline and nine water tanks. The pipeline provides good livestock distribution on the west and central portions of the ranch. Birch Creek runs through the east and central portion of the ranch for approximately seven miles. 

Wildlife Resources: 

Birch Creek Ranch has excellent wildlife resources, primarily due to the combined 8.5± miles of Birch Creek and Little Birch Creek that flow through the ranch. Birch Creek runs year round and is a significant drainage for the area, providing excellent habitat diversity for wildlife. Mule deer are the primary big game animal with potential for trophy-quality animals. The breaks along Birch Creek are ideal mule deer habitat.

Elk also frequent the ranch, though they are more nomadic than resident. There are whitetail deer around the headquarters and huntable populations of pronghorn antelope. Bighorn sheep also reside in the rougher breaks in the southerly portion of the ranch.

Upland birds are plentiful with good numbers of Hungarian partridge and sharptail grouse. Pheasants populate the creek bottom and always seem to be present around the ranch buildings.

In recent years the ranch has been leased to an outfitter, primarily for mule deer hunting. This lease provides an additional source of revenue to the owner.


Taxes on Birch Creek Ranch are approximately $10,400.

Mineral Rights: 

A mineral search has not been conducted, so the ownership and status of the mineral rights on the ranch is unknown. The mineral rights owned by the seller will transfer to the new owner.

Broker Comments: 

Birch Creek Ranch is a scenic and productive ranch located in reputation ranch country. The ranch has been in the same ownership for over 50 years, which speaks to the quality of the resource and sustainability of the operation. What sets the ranch apart from other area ranches is Birch Creek, which is a significant drainage in the region. The topography varies from productive farmlands to scenic breaks, with scattered timber, scenic vistas, and the lush riparian corridor along Birch Creek. It’s an excellent production ranch with abundant water, wildlife, and an ever-changing and beautiful landscape.

The Facts: 
  • 16,415± total acres; comprised of 12,174± deeded acres, 3,597± BLM lease, and 644± acres state lease
  • Birch Creek and Little Birch Creek flow through the ranch for approximately 8.5 miles
  • 2,343± acres in dryland grain production
  • 30± acres irrigated/sub-irrigated hay meadows
  • Currently operating at 450-500 AU with the ability to expand by converting dryland crop to grass and/or hay
  • 6± miles of pipeline serving 9 stock tanks
  • Two ranch homes, each with machine sheds and calving barns, plus a shop and working corrals
  • Approximately 5 miles south of the Bears Paw Mountains and 15 miles to the Missouri River at Judith Landing
  • Big game hunting for trophy elk, mule deer, and antelope; upland bird hunting for pheasant, sharptail grouse, and Hungarian partridge
  • Located 30± miles southeast of Big Sandy, approximately an hour drive from Havre, and one hour and forty-five minutes from Great Falls, Montana
  • Newly paved public airstrip located in Big Sandy
Additional Services: 

MANAGEMENT SERVICES – Hall and Hall’s Management Division has a very clear mission–to represent the owner and to ensure that his or her experience is a positive one. Services are customized to suit the owner’s needs. They often begin with the recruiting and hiring of a suitable ranch manager or caretaker and are followed by the development of a management or operating plan along with appropriate budgets. Ongoing services include bill paying, ranch oversight, and consulting services as needed. Even the most sophisticated and experienced ranch owners appreciate the value of a management firm representing them and providing advice on local area practices and costs. Wes Oja, Jerome Chvilicek, Dan Berstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

RESOURCE ENHANCEMENT SERVICES – Increasingly the value of a ranch is measured by the quality of each and every one of its resources. Coincidentally, the enhancement of a ranch’s resources also increases the pleasure that one derives from the ownership of a ranch. Our management services have included the assessment of everything from wildlife habitat to bird habitat to water resources and fisheries and the subsequent oversight of the process involved with the enhancement of these resources. Wes Oja, Jerome Chvilicek, Dan Bergstrom or Brant Marsh at (406) 656-7500 are available to describe and discuss these services in detail and welcome your call.

AUCTIONS - Hall and Hall Auctions offer “Another Solution” to create liquidity for the owners of Investment-Quality Rural Real Estate.  Our auction team has experience in marketing farmland, ranchland, timberland and recreational properties throughout the nation.  Extreme attention to detail and complete transparency coupled with Hall and Hall’s “Rolodex” of more than 40,000 targeted owners and buyers of rural real estate help assure that there are multiple bidders at each auction. In addition, the unique Hall and Hall partnership model creates a teamwork approach that helps to assure that we realize true market value on auction day.  For more information on our auction services contact Scott Shuman at (800) 829-8747.

APPRAISALS - Staying abreast of ancillary market influences in ever-changing economic conditions requires a broad professional network to tap into. Finding an appraiser who not only understands the numbers but also the differences in value from one area to another is a critical part of making an informed decision. The appraisal team at Hall and Hall, formed entirely of Accredited Members of the American Society of Farm Managers and Rural Appraisers (ASFMRA), has that critical network of brokers and lending professionals. This professional network coupled with diverse experience across multiple regions and market segments allows our appraisal team to deliver a quality product in a reasonable timeframe.  For more information contact our appraisal team at (406) 656-7500.

SPECIALIZED LENDING - Since 1946 Hall and Hall has created a legacy by efficiently providing capital to landowners.  In addition to traditional farm and ranch loans, we specialize in understanding the unique aspects of placing loans on ranches where value may be influenced by recreational features, location and improvements and repayment may come from outside sources. Our extensive experience and efficient processing allows us to quickly tell you whether we can provide the required financing.

Competitive Pricing  |  Flexible Terms  |  Efficient Processing
Tina Hamm or Scott Moran • (406) 656-7500 
Mike Hall or Judy Chirila • (303) 861-8282
Monte Lyons • (806) 698-6882
J.T. Holt • (806) 698-6884


Following is a Montana law required disclosure.


Montana law requires that BUYER’s and SELLER’s be advised about the different types of agency relationships available to them (MCA § 37-51-102 & 37-51-321).  A real estate agent is qualified to advise only on real estate matters.  As the client or as the customer, please be advised that you have the option of hiring outside professional services on your own behalf (legal and tax counsel, home or building inspectors, accountant, environmental inspectors, range management or agricultural advisors, etc.) at any time during the course of a transaction to obtain additional information to make an informed decision.  Each and every agent has obligations to each other party to a transaction no matter whom the agent represents.  The various relationships are as follows:

SELLER's Agent:  exclusively represents the SELLER (or landlord).  This agency relationship is created when a listing is signed by a SELLER/owner and a real estate licensee.  The SELLER's agent represents the SELLER only, and works toward securing an offer in the best interest of the SELLER.  The SELLER agent still has obligations to the BUYER as enumerated herein.

BUYER's Agent:  exclusively represents the BUYER (or tenant).  This agency relationship is created when a BUYER signs a written BUYER-broker agreement with a real estate licensee.  The BUYER agent represents the BUYER only, and works towards securing a transaction under the terms and conditions established by the BUYER and in the best interest of the BUYER.  The BUYER agent has obligations to the SELLER as enumerated herein.

Dual Agent:  does not represent the interests of either the BUYER or SELLER exclusively.  This agency relationship is created when an agent is the SELLER's agent (or subagent) and enters into a BUYER-broker agreement with the BUYER.  This relationship must receive full informed consent by all parties before a "dual-agency" relationship can exist.  The "dual agent" does not work exclusively for the SELLER or the BUYER but works for both parties in securing a conclusion to the transaction.  If you want an agent to represent you exclusively, do not sign the "Dual Agency" Disclosure and Consent" form.

Statutory Broker:  is a licensee who assists one or more of the parties in a transaction, but does not represent any party as an agent.  A licensee is presumed to be acting as a “statutory broker” unless they have entered into a listing agreement with the SELLER, a BUYER-broker agreement with the BUYER, or a dual agency agreement with all parties.

In-House SELLER Agent Designate:   is a licensee designated by the broker- owner/manager (of the real estate brokerage) to be the exclusive agent for the SELLER for a specific transaction in which the brokerage has the property listed and the BUYER is working directly through the same brokerage also.  This agent may not act on behalf of any other member of the transaction and works for the benefit of the SELLER, but still is obligated to the BUYER as any SELLER's agent would be.

In-House BUYER Agent Designate:   is a licensee designated by the broker- owner/manager (of the real estate brokerage) to be the exclusive agent for the BUYER for a specific transaction in which the brokerage has the property listed and the BUYER is working directly through the same brokerage also.  This agent may not act on behalf of any other member of the transaction and works for the benefit of the BUYER, but still obligated to the SELLER as any BUYER's agent would be.

Subagent:   is an agent of the licensee already acting as an agent for either the SELLER or BUYER.  A "SELLER agent" can offer "subagency" to an agent to act on his behalf to show the property and solicit offers from BUYER’s.  A "BUYER agent can offer "subagency" to an agent to act on his behalf to locate and secure certain property meeting the BUYER's criteria. 

_____ of Hall and Hall is the exclusive agent of the Seller.

NOTICE: Offering is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change or withdrawal without notice, and approval of purchase by owner. Information regarding land classifications, acreages, carrying capacities, potential profits, etc., are intended only as general guidelines and have been provided by sources deemed reliable, but whose accuracy we cannot guarantee. Prospective buyers should verify all information to their satisfaction. Prospective buyers should also be aware that the photographs in this brochure may have been digitally enhanced.