Spear Lazy U Ranch is set in the foothills of the Crazy Mountains with their snow-capped peaks to the east, the Bridger Mountain Range is to the west, and the Absaroka-Beartooth Range to the south. The mountain vistas of the Ranch do not disappoint. Within the confines of the deeded acreage is the 7,770± foot Goat Mountain, over four miles of the trout rich Shields River, and thousands of acres of timber, meadows and riparian threads. Spear Lazy U Ranch is a productive cattle operation that teems with wildlife and trout.
Comprised of approximately 6,347 deeded acres, about 465 acres are flood irrigated, 2,250± acres are a combination of scattered and dark timber, and the balance in mountain meadow pasture and riparian acres along the four miles of Shields River that traverse the Ranch. Spear Lazy U Ranch is an attractively blocked-up and contiguous ranch providing privacy in its rugged Rocky Mountain setting.
Under the careful stewardship of the McLeod Family since 1974, the Ranch has been carefully managed to balance wildlife habitat and a commercial cattle operation. The Ranch harbors large numbers of elk, including Boone and Crockett rated 350 to 360 class bulls, as the herds traverse between the adjoining USFS and the lush irrigated meadows on the Ranch along the Shields River. Great care has been taken to protect its natural integrity while at the same time incorporating appropriate improvements where necessary.
Approximately 3,125± acres of the Ranch have been placed under conservation easements with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. These easements provide for additional buildings and improvements, allowing the next owner to put their personal touch on the Ranch. About 3,220 acres are unencumbered, providing an opportunity to conserve additional acres while enjoying the benefits of a conservation easement.
Many geologists claim that nowhere in South Central Montana is the transition from prairie to mountains as dramatic as the approximately twenty-mile stretch from the Yellowstone River to the 11,200-foot Crazy Peak located in the Crazy Mountains.
These “Crazy Woman Mountains,” as the Native Americans sometimes called them, are crowned by 11,214-foot Crazy Peak. With 25 pinnacles soaring to more than 10,000 feet, they are the third-highest range in the state. Ice, wind, and water erosion sculptured them and created the more than 40 jewel-like lakes scattered amongst the sharp saw-toothed ridges and alpine basins. Today, only one ice-age remnant remains Grasshopper Glacier, which clings to a north-facing headwall between Cottonwood and Rock lakes on the west perimeter.
This is Montana – The Crazies: A Dramatic Island of Mountains in Central Montana
After forty-four years of ownership and through the joys of raising children and grandchildren on the Ranch, the McLeod Family has made the decision to close this chapter of their life and offer the Ranch for sale in order to conclude some of their estate planning goals.
Approximate distances from the Ranch to other Montana cities and points of interest are as follows:
There are several local and international airports within an hour and a half drive of the Ranch. The Wilsall Airport (FFA Identifier: 9UI) is about 14 miles from the Ranch, and the Mission Field Airport in Livingston is about 39 miles.
Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (BZN) at Gallatin Field in Belgrade is about a 50-minute drive from the Ranch. Recently expanded, Gallatin Field offers several full-service FBOs and excellent commercial services through Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier Airlines, United Airlines, and US Air. One of the busiest passenger airports in the Pacific Northwest, Bozeman offers direct flights to over a dozen major airports around the nation.
While fish populations are not exceptionally high, the combination of light fishing pressure, excellent habitat in some areas, and nutrient-heavy water allows the trout to become quite large.
Shields River – Big Sky Fishing.com
Also located on the Ranch are sections of Smith Creek and Meadow Creek. Smith Creek offers a private, intimate, small-creek fishing experience for brown and brook trout. Because of its consistent flows, with some relatively minor work to deepen existing pools, this mountain stream has the potential to be a high-quality private fishery.
Located about 37 miles from the Ranch is the Yellowstone River, which originates upstream in Yellowstone National Park and is the longest free-flowing river in the contiguous United States. The Yellowstone is a well-documented and prized trout fishery enjoyed by anglers throughout the world. With a backdrop of snow-capped peaks in every direction, the Yellowstone River provides consistently changing eddies, riffles, and deep pockets to explore. Anglers cast nymphs, dries, or streamers in hopes of landing a native Yellowstone cutthroat, rainbow, brown trout, or the prolific native mountain whitefish. It is one of the seminal experiences in fly fishing to catch the famous ‘Mother’s Day Caddis’ or a salmon fly hatch on the Yellowstone when it coincides with fishable water conditions in May and June.
The Yellowstone Region is renowned worldwide for its fly fishing, whether on high-mountain lakes and ponds, spring creeks, or floating down the Yellowstone River. There are also many lakes and reservoirs in the Crazy Mountains ideal for fishing if one is willing to venture into the rugged mountains of the Crazies.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks – Region 3
1400 South 19th, Bozeman, MT 59718
Hiking in the Crazy Mountains is just minutes away. The northern section of the Crazies hosts an impressive 20 peaks stretching over 10,000 feet. A single trail runs the range’s 50-mile length with smaller spur trails that lead hikers back to the prairie below.
Winter entertainment includes cross-country skiing, sledding, snowmobiling, and snowshoeing right from your doorstep. Downhill skiing is within reasonable driving distance with the legendary powder skiing of Bridger Bowl just 24 miles away.
In June, the community hosts the annual Wilsall Rodeo, a two-day, small-town rodeo. The event attracts thousands of people. Chico Hot Springs in the Paradise Valley is located approximately an hour’s drive from the Ranch. This rustic boutique resort offers two open-air natural mineral hot springs pools, a restaurant specializing in modern American cuisine, and a day spa. Dogsled treks originate from this location during the winter months and horseback riding in the summer.
The north entrance of Yellowstone National Park is about 83 miles from Wilsall. From the North Entrance, which is open year-round, opportunities abound to witness the Park’s incredible wildlife as well as the famed Mammoth Hot Springs. The North Entrance also hosts the Historic Hotel and dining room, and the Boiling River, which is one of two sanctioned swimming areas in the Park.
There is also shopping and a multitude of gourmet restaurants available in nearby Bozeman. This picturesque college town, situated between four mountain ranges, has a charming downtown area, a vibrant cultural scene, and many art galleries. Just a half-hour’s drive away, the eclectic town of Livingston, nestled along the Yellowstone River, offers diverse dining opportunities, art galleries, a robust 4th of July event including a parade, and a PRCA rodeo making this town exceptionally welcoming.
Spear Lazy U Ranch is comprised of about 6,347± deeded acres. The approximate breakdown of the acreage is as follows:
|Timber and Scattered Timber
Irrigated Hay Meadows
Improvements and Roads
Summer irrigation typically begins in early- to mid-June. Historically the Ranch has harvested a single cutting of hay in mid-July. The hay base for the Ranch consists of the Upper Freeze Meadow which contains about 300 acres of grass hay, and the Heifer Meadow containing about 165 acres of grass hay and 60± acres of alfalfa meadows. These meadows have historically been irrigated for a period of about six weeks during the growing season. Fertilization of these hay meadows takes place in the late spring prior to the irrigation season. These meadows, consisting of a mixture of brome, timothy, fescue, and clover grasses, yield on average about two tons per acre on one cutting of hay. Hay meadows are irrigated following the hay harvest to generate good regrowth for late fall and winter cattle grazing.
With proper management and pasture rotation, the Seller believes the Ranch could comfortably run about 200 to 250 mother cows on a year-round basis. Current management has historically operated the Ranch running about 150 mother cows leaving ample grass for the elk and wildlife. It cannot be overstated that the elk population on the Spear Lazy U Ranch and the surrounding USFS is abundant. The Seller has done a masterful job of managing the resource for both cattle and wildlife. Normally cattle are not required to walk more than a quarter to a half of a mile for either spring or tank water. Springs are abundant along the side hills and foothills of Goat Mountain and along the meadow bottoms, flowing springs, and creeks, as well as the Shields River which provides fresh livestock water sources.
The current owner has worked diligently to ensure abundant water flows in the Shields River to maintain a healthy fishery. According to the current management, there are ample water rights available to irrigate for a second cutting of hay while maintaining healthy water flows in the Shields River.
The high mountain meadows and timbered hillsides along Goat and Scab Mountains are utilized in the late spring and summer. In mid-June about 53 pairs are turned out into the US National Forest Grazing Permit No. 20013P until early October. Deeded pasture “Section 12” is fenced in with the USFS Grazing Permit which encompasses about 1,360 acres of additional federal grazing ground. Larkspur exists in many of the mountain pastures with intermittent Loco Weed. The current management has had good luck with Silent Herder to manage this pasture issue. Those cattle not moved to the Grazing Permit stay on the deeded mountain pastures.
Prior to bulls being turned out on the USFS Allotment with the cows, they must first test negative for trichomoniasis, a disease that causes pregnant cows to abort. Bulls are left with the cows on the Grazing Permit for the duration of the summer grazing season. Typically, the Ranch utilizes virgin bulls on their Grazing Permit. There is only one other ranch that runs cattle with the Spear Lazy U Ranch on the national forest allotment.
When cattle are gathered off the forest permit, they graze the hay meadows and river bottoms until mid to late November when the snowfall typically begins and hay feeding commences. Calves are shipped in mid-October with steers weighing on average 680 pounds and heifers tipping the scales around 600 pounds. The top 30-50 heifers are retained for replacement heifers.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, Spear Lazy U Ranch has 56 water rights with priority dates ranging from 1858 to 1964, with the majority pre-1900. There are 19 irrigation rights, 31 stock rights, 3 domestic rights, and 3 wildlife rights. A complete water rights report is available to qualified buyers by contacting our Bozeman office.
All water rights in Montana are subject to eventual re-adjudication by the Montana Water Court and, as a result of that process, may be changed as to the validity, amount, priority date, place of use, and other such changes as the Court determines. The Sellers have made all of the filings currently required and will transfer the water rights as they currently stand with no warranty of future viability.
Two conservation easements, which encompass about 3,125± acres, have been placed on portions of the Ranch with the Gallatin Valley Land Trust. The first easement was granted in 1996 and provides “The right to construct residential homes or other buildings or facilities within the Home Ranch Parcel.” The Home Ranch Parcel consists of a 200-acre area located at the existing Headquarters. Both easements prohibit division of the property but do allow for normal agricultural practices and some commercial use. To receive complete copies of these conservation easement documents, please contact our Bozeman Office.
The Ranch was originally established as “Goat Mountain Ranch” by railroad tycoon James J. Hill along with a number of other ranches in the Shields River Valley. Hill, quoted for saying “Give me Swedes, snuff, and whiskey, and I’ll build a railroad through hell”, would entertain guests at the Ranch to enjoy its plentiful hunting and fishing. He was made famous primarily for his major force in the construction and management of the Great Northern Railway and is often referred to as the “Empire Builder of the Northwest.” Upon his passing, James J. Hill passed down the Ranch to his son Walter Hill. Celebrities and tycoons of industry were known to frequent the Ranch. During the prohibition era, lore has it that Walter had a still situated along one of the many springs that flowed from Goat Mountain, attracting many of the social elite from the more urban areas to Goat Mountain Ranch where they could be entertained away from the public eye.
The Ranch was purchased in 1974 by Bruce and Peggy McLeod. Bruce brought his family’s ranch brand from South Dakota when he and his wife Peggy acquired the ranch in the Shields River Valley. The McLeod’s have managed the Ranch as a commercial cow/calf operation while balancing the need to provide ample forage for wildlife throughout the year. During the term of their ownership, they have prided themselves in being conscious stewards of the land; continually striving to find the harmonious balance between running a commercial cattle operation while maintaining a healthy wildlife population. The late Peggy McLeod was known in the Valley as a conservationist with a love for cattle, the land, and the abundant wildlife and fishing resource the Ranch provided her family.
John Shields was with Captain Clark’s party during the return journey, exploring the upper Yellowstone to its confluence with the Missouri. Captain Clark gave the name of Shields River to a tributary which flows out of the Crazy Woman Mountains, east of Bozeman Pass. The name, “Shields River,” is shown on modern maps, preserving the legacy of America’s epic transcontinental exploration.
Inside the Corps – Private John Shields.
The Ranch has an elevation gain of approximately 2,100 feet, with the highest point being the peak of Goat Mountain at 7,770 feet above sea level, and the lowest point at around 5,670 feet above sea level in the southwest corner of the Ranch. The improvements sit around 5,750 feet. The elevation of Wilsall, Montana is approximately 5,057 feet.
The average annual precipitation in Wilsall is approximately 20.21 inches of rain and 89 inches of snow.
Average maximum temperatures in June, July, and August range from 68° to 78° Fahrenheit. In December, January and February average maximum temperatures are between 33° and 36 ° Fahrenheit. Summer nights average about 40 to 45° Fahrenheit. Winter average minimum is 13° Fahrenheit.
This is an area that receives a good amount of sunshine throughout the year with an average of 186 sunny days. (per U.S. Climate Data)
Electricity is provided through Northwestern Energy. Telephone is provided by Century Link and internet service is provided via Hughes Net. Propane service is provided by Northern Energy in Clyde Park. The Ranch hauls all of their domestic trash to the County Transfer Station in Wilsall. There is limited cell coverage available through Verizon on certain locations of the Ranch.
The Seller hereby makes known that there may be variations between the deeded property lines and the location of the existing fence boundary lines on Spear Lazy U Ranch. The Seller makes no warranties with regard to the location of the fence lines in relationship to the deeded property lines, nor does the Seller make any warranties or representations with regard to specific acreage within the fenced property lines.
The Seller is selling Spear Lazy U Ranch in its “as is-where is” condition which includes the location of the fences as they now exist. Boundaries shown on any accompanying maps are approximate. The maps are not to scale and are for visual aid only. The accuracy of the maps and information portrayed thereon is not guaranteed nor warranted.
The Seller will convey with the Ranch all mineral, oil, gas, geo-thermal, hydro-carbon and gravel rights that they own with the Property, subject to reservations by previous owners. They make no representation as to the quantity or quality of any mineral or other subsurface rights appurtenant to the Ranch.
Adjacent to the expansive Gallatin National Forest to the north, the idyllic setting of Spear Lazy U Ranch provides numerous opportunities for recreating, horseback riding, snowmobiling, and hiking on the vast trail network on the Ranch and the adjoining USFS land. The serene waters of the Shields River are actively sought out by buyers desiring privacy without isolation on a Rocky Mountain ranch property. Attractive live-water properties, harboring large populations of elk, with enough size to provide a sense of privacy and security, and within close proximity to an attractive urban center, such as Bozeman, are unique and highly desirable in Montana. These are all qualities that Spear Lazy U exhibits.
Spear Lazy U Ranch offers a highly-coveted fly-fishing opportunity in a very accessible location on Montana’s renowned Shields River, combined with a quality big-game hunting experience at an offering price of $2,400 per acre – a value in today’s highly active recreational property market. The Ranch is priced competitively to those landholdings that have traded hands in the Valley over the past several years while controlling one of the most significant stretches of the Shields River in the entire Valley.
With significant variances in hunting regulations throughout Montana’s hunting districts, often times the inability of land owners to acquire tags to hunt their own ranches can create a high level of frustration. The Ranch’s position in a general-tag hunting district should incentivize buyers circulating in the Rocky Mountain ranch market seeking the ability to big-game hunt with friends and business associates.
The Ranch reflects the McLeod Family’s commitment to land and water stewardship through water conservation and environmental preservation. Rarely do these “real lace” family-owned properties ever become available for purchase. For the first time in nearly 44 years Spear Lazy U Ranch can be purchased – a new cycle of enjoyable ownership can begin for those with the discernment to recognize what a remarkable opportunity this offering truly is.
OFFERING PRICE and CONDITIONS OF SALE
Spear Lazy U Ranch, as Previously Described Herein, is Offered at $15,250,000 Cash. The Conditions of Sale Are as Follows:
1. All offers to purchase must be in writing and accompanied by an earnest money deposit check in the amount of 5.00% of the Purchaser’s offering price;
2. Each offer must also be accompanied by the name and telephone number of the Purchaser’s private banker to assist the Sellers and their agents in ascertaining the Purchaser’s financial ability to consummate a purchase;
3. All Purchasers must demonstrate to the Seller’s satisfaction unquestioned financial capability to purchase the Ranch prior to scheduling an inspection;
4. Earnest money deposits will be placed in escrow with Security Title Company of Livingston, Montana;
5. The Sellers will provide and pay for a standard owner’s title insurance policy. Any endorsements requested by the Buyer or any lender will be at Buyer’s expense. Title to the real property will be conveyed via a deed;
6. All of the Ranch’s water rights will be transferred to the Purchaser and all of the mineral rights which the Sellers actually own will be conveyed to the Purchaser at Closing.
7. Buyers’ Brokers are welcome and cordially invited to contact Listing Agent, Mike Swan, for information regarding Cooperation Policies and Commission Splits.
The Seller reserves the right to effect a tax-deferred exchange for other real property in accordance with provisions in Section 1031 of the Internal Revenue Code. The Buyer will not be required to incur any additional expenses nor to step into the chain of title on any property which the Seller may acquire.
This entire Offering is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change or withdrawal without notice and approval of purchase by the Seller. Information regarding land classifications, acreages, carrying capacities, crop yields, potential profits, etc., is intended only as general guidelines and have been obtained from sources deemed reliable; however, accuracy is not warranted or guaranteed by the Seller or Swan Land Company. Prospective Buyers should verify all information to their sole and complete satisfaction.