Located minutes from Ryegate and an easy hour north of Billings, this 6,805± deeded acre ranch also includes 1,120± acres of state lease. It lies along Careless Creek, which offers approximately three miles of productive creek bottom and five ponds. With approximately 150 acres of flood irrigation and around 2,600 acres of dryland farming, this ranch offers a fair bit of diversification. A 4,000 square foot farmhouse with detached three-car garage is the primary improvement. Thousands of acres of well-watered rangeland allow one to run an estimated 300 animal units depending upon the use of the farm ground. The bird hunting is outstanding as the ranch has a 320± acre state-approved game preserve, which allows the release of pheasants, huns, and chukars. Antelope and mule deer hunting is also excellent.
Just the Facts
- Less than one hour to Billings
- Ten minutes to Ryegate
- 320± acre bird preserve
- Excellent deer and antelope hunting
- 4,000 square foot farmhouse
- Three miles of creek bottom
- 6,805± deeded acres
- 2,600± acres of dryland farming
- 150± acres of irrigated farm ground
The ranch is located minutes east of Rygate, Montana and accessed from Highway 12. The entire ranch lies north of Highway 12 and east of Highway 238. Consisting of approximately 6,800 deeded acres, there are 2,600± acres of dryland farm ground, 150± acres irrigated farm ground, and the balance is native range. The native range varies from steep foothills to open basins and steep draws with sandstone outcroppings and a few pine trees. This range country is watered by springs, approximately 3.3 miles of Careless Creek, various sized reservoirs, wells, and a pipeline system to numerous tanks. The rangeland looks north to the Snowy Mountains and west to the Crazy Mountains. There is a three-level remodeled farmhouse overlooking the ranch that is accessible from both Highway 12 and Highway 238.
The Careless Creek Ranch offers the ideal property for one who is interested in both agricultural production and quality hunting with populations of deer, antelope and upland birds. The land offers the ability for an owner to earn a significant income from farming, which actually compliments the hunting resource. Those features, combined with excellent access just an hour from Billings, make this an exceptionally desirable offering.
The Careless Creek Ranch is located approximately 12 miles west on U.S. Highway 12 of Lavina and just minutes from the small town of Ryegate, the county seat of Golden Valley County. Billings, the largest city in the state, is just under 60 miles from the ranch and provides the closest commercial airport. Multiple national and international carriers provide air service to Billings Logan International Airport.
In a brochure advertising Ryegate published in 1914, we have taken the following quote: "The Great Musselshell Valley, of which Ryegate is a part has been well known for forty years. It being along about the year 1871 that the cattle men began to use its rich grazing lands for the special winter quarters of their stock. Ryegate is a truly western town.”
Ryegate has limited goods and services, so the nearest town to acquire staples is Harlowton, less than 30 minutes from the ranch. Here you can find the basic staples needed to operate the ranch. As mentioned, Billings is less than an hour and is the most cosmopolitan city in the region. The list of amenities available in Billings is too extensive to list here, but suffice it to say, the fact that the ranch is such an easy drive gives it a substantial premium.
The Musselshell River Valley is widely known for its easy winters and beautiful and productive bottomlands along the meandering course of the Musselshell River. Its foothill grazing land puts good gains on cattle as long as it is not over grazed. In general, the Musselshell Valley has remained an area dedicated to farming and ranching. It has only been in the last decade that the area has had any influence from recreational buyers. There has been some conversion of rangeland to dryland farming, but otherwise, there has been little change in the character of the valley over the last two or three generations. This river valley is among the best in the state for agriculturally focused buyers.
Careless Creek Ranch includes large riparian bottoms and meadows with adjacent foothill pasture. Elevations vary from around 3,000 feet on the river bottom to 4,100 feet on the upper bluffs and rangeland.
The climate in this area is generally considered mild, similar to the Yellowstone Valley to the south. Winters tend to be open without large amounts of snow accumulation. It is estimated that annual precipitation is between 12 and 14 inches. The average high temperature in summer is 83 degrees ,with a nighttime average of 51 degrees. The average temperature in the winter months is 38 degrees, and the nighttime average is 13 degrees.
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
- 148± acres of gravity flood irrigation
- 2,600± acres of dryland crop
- 4,057± acres of rangeland
The home is a 4,000± square foot older home with five bedrooms, three baths, two kitchens and a detached three-car garage. The lower level has been recently updated and provides a lodge-type experience for guests and hunters. At this time, there is a new remodel taking place on the upper levels of the home, which is expected to be completed the fall of 2021. The home has fiber optic high-speed internet.
Property taxes are estimated at $7,000 based upon past years.
Good water resources, abundant feed, and a diverse topography create an amazing habitat for a plethora of wildlife and birds. With wheat fields and timbered coulees, both whitetail and mule deer are plentiful. Trophy-class deer have been harvested during both archery and rifle seasons. Antelope are seasonally abundant and huntable populations exist. Wild pheasant, huns ,and sharptail grouse are native to the ranch, while a commercial bird preserve permit allows the release of pheasant, chukar, and Hungarian partridge to enhance the opportunities.
Other plentiful species on the ranch include sandhill cranes, wading birds, golden and bald eagles, swallows, goldfinches, meadowlarks, and doves. Numerous raptors, furbearers and predators balance the diverse ecosystem.
The Careless Creek Ranch has been operated as a farming operation raising cash crops including spring and winter wheat, barley, corn, sunflowers, lentils ,and soybeans for the last 12 years. The grass is currently rented to a neighboring cattle producer. Previous to the current owner, the ranch had been operated as a cattle ranch raising alfalfa and other forage crops used to balance the grazing component. The owner has currently partnered with a large-scale farmer who is interested in continuing to farm the land if a new owner so desires. The ranch has been leased to a responsible outfitter for the last two seasons providing an additional source of income. Also, there is a commercial bird preserve permit that allows stocking of pheasant, chukars, and Hungarian partridge.
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