Windy Mountain Ranch offers a quality commercial cattle operation with productive irrigation, big game hunting and immediate access to fishing on the Clark Fork River. The Ranch, located in the Deer Lodge Valley – the heart of Montana’s historic cattle country, encompasses 2,751± deeded acres in one contiguous block. The 361± irrigated acres, of which 340± are under pivot, are irrigated with excellent senior water rights out of the Clark Fork River and Peterson Creek with a combination of center pivot and about 20 acres of hand line. The Ranch also has a State of Montana lease on an adjoining 1,903± -acre parcel making a very well-blocked 4,654± total acre Ranch.
The current ownership and management have worked diligently for years to improve the pivot irrigation, pasture fencing, stock-water network and functional appropriate improvements in order to optimize the efficiency of the ranch operation. This diligent effort has created an efficient and well-run cow-calf cattle operation that comfortably runs over 200 AUs on the solid hard-grass pastures during the spring, summer and early fall months, and on the lush riparian and irrigated hay fields during the late fall and winter months. The well-designed pasture network is used on a rotational basis to provide flexibility to utilize and optimize the primary ranch resource – grass. The productive irrigated hay base, planted in alfalfa hay and grass, historically have generated between 4.5 and 5 tons per acre providing all of the annual feed necessary for the Ranch plus a typical surplus of over 1,000 tons of hay that generates solid annual ranch revenue.
The working corrals are primarily steel-pipe construction and handle the demands of the commercial cattle operation effectively. There is a covered facility that houses a hydraulic Silencer chute, and a well-designed and efficient network of sorting pens and corrals. This well-built set of working improvements will comfortably handle large numbers of cattle. With excellent access to all-season county roads and a certified 50,000-pound scale on site, cows are shipped directly from the Ranch.
Well-balanced ranch operations that are well blocked up are becoming difficult to find and are a premium in today’s market. Windy Mountain Ranch will check all the boxes for buyers looking for a very productive and blocked-up agricultural operation that is supplemented by recreation attributes, solid working facilities and appropriate improvements.
The Ranch is within an hour and a half from three commercial airports with private FBOs:
Helena Regional Airport Authority – Alaska Airlines, Delta, and United
Bert Mooney Airport, Butte – Alpine Air Express and Delta
Missoula International Airport – Alaska Airlines, Allegiant, Delta, Frontier, and United
For private aircraft, fuel service is available at the Deer Lodge–Powell County Airport located four miles west of Deer Lodge City Center. At an elevation of 4,688 feet, the 5,800-foot asphalt runway is in good condition and can be contacted on CTAF frequency 122.9. Anaconda’s Bowman Field Airport (3U3) provides two asphalt runways that are in fair to good condition. The airport sits at an elevation of 5,030′ above sea level and can be contacted on CTAF frequency 122.80. The airport is suitable for private aircraft and is easily accessible. Additional information is available on their website: http://www.airnav.com/airport/3U3.
Approximate driving distances from Windy Mountain Ranch to other Montana cities are:
| 5 miles
Windy Mountain Ranch contains 2,751± deeded acres of which about 361± acres are under irrigation. The State of Montana lease is comprised of about 1,903± total acres.
Native Range and Pasture
Sub-Irrigated Pasture / River Bottom
Windy Mountain Ranch has been part of a larger commercial cow-calf operation and the current ranch is estimated by the Sellers to carry about 200 Animal Units on a year-round basis with the annual sale of excess hay. Future management will have several operational options, including expanding the irrigation network and seeding more hay ground, which would increase hay yields to carry more cattle through the winter months or provide an annual revenue stream with additional hay sales. Typically, ranchers in this area feed between two to two-and-a-half tons of hay per cow from late December to mid-May – contingent on the severity of the winter and operational timing, with weaning done in October or November. Calving season on the Ranch typically begins in late February and winds up in late March. The cows graze the irrigated ground during the late fall and are then moved to the sub-irrigated pastures around the improvements and along the Clark Fork River during feeding and through the calving season.
With a consistent soil profile, the irrigated ground has historically yielded around four to four-and-half tons of alfalfa hay per acre on two cuttings. The regrowth is typically utilized as high-protein irrigated-pasture grazing in the late fall when the cows are rotated from summer pasture, weaned, and shipped.
Irrigation water for the Ranch is provided from several sources including the Clark Fork River and Peterson Creek. Windy Mountain Ranch has well-established water rights dating back to 1866. Clark Fork River water is diverted through the Valiton Ditch from a point just upstream of the Ranch. The Valiton Ditch is shared with one other downstream user.
All improvements on the Ranch, including interior and perimeter fencing, irrigation network, cattle handling facilities and houses appear to be in good condition and very functional. An ongoing and active program is in place for maintenance and upkeep of the improvements. Unlike some cattle ranches in today’s market, Windy Mountain Ranch has appropriate and functional improvements that support the operation. The next owners will not be burdened by paying for excessive improvements that do not return capital.
There are three comfortable houses on the Ranch that are utilized by family and management on a full-time basis and one additional home that is utilized seasonally by friends and guests. All of the houses are situated along a bluff that overlooks the vibrant Clark Fork River corridor and offer expansive views of the Flint Creek and Pintler Mountain Ranges to the west.
The ‘Brick House’, which the current owners utilize as their primary residence, is a very comfortable family home with a beautifully remodeled kitchen that has commanding mountain and river-corridor views. The 2,984± square foot four-bedroom, three-bathroom home is heated with forced-air heat and has air conditioning. The home has a separate well and septic system. There is a nicely fenced and landscaped yard with mature trees, an underground sprinkler system, and two concrete RV pads with water and power.
The 1,971± square-foot modular house, built in 2005, has three bedrooms, two bathrooms and a nice screened-in porch. The house is heated with electric forced air, and has an electric hot-water heater. The fenced yard is nicely landscaped with mature trees and has an exceptional tree house. The house is on a separate well and septic system. Located near the home is a detached oversized two-car garage, and a 60′ x 40′ heated shop with concrete floor that is easily accessed through double doors. The shop is complete with running water and a bathroom. Also near the home is a 30′ x 36′ parts shop which is heated and has a concrete floor. Attached to the shop is a 30′ x 54′ pole barn with dirt floor that contains five parking bays that are utilized for covered equipment storage.
The working facilities on the Ranch are a well-thought-out network of barns, sheds, pens, vet rooms, and corrals. This provides a very functional base for commercial cattle operation and handles the current animal units comfortably. Typically the cows and heifers will calve out in the surrounding calving pens, which all have reliable year-round stock water, but when necessary, these heavies can be easily brought into either the pole barn or the calving barn. Both of these facilities are set up with jugs and vet rooms.
The 105′ x 180′ pole barn has a dirt floor and contains covered feed storage, 16 bays of equipment parking, and a heated vet room. The covered cattle-working facility is comprised of a network of pens including a sweep-and-alley system that leads to the hydraulic Silencer squeeze chute. The center section of this pole barn has been used historically as a small roping arena, but is currently utilized as covered storage for small-bale horse hay.
The 60′ x 30′ calving barn is heated and has five permanent calving jugs, an additional jug with temporary panels and a large vet room with hot water. This facility, which is well insulated and heated with natural gas, is able to maintain comfortable working conditions in any weather.
There is a well-designed equipment shed that is a 36′ x 108′ metal building with 10′ x 18′ roll-up doors on each end providing for convenient drive-through access. The shed is complete with electrical service and has a dirt floor.
The working facilities are serviced by two electrical lines with 200-amp service running to the pole barn and 100-amp service running to the calving barn that also runs the certified scales and tanks. There is a 50,000-pound scale that is certified annually in conjunction with the two 10,000-gallon buried fuel tanks. The buried tanks – one diesel and the other gasoline, also have an active monitoring system. There are also two 1,000 gallon above-ground fuel tanks and ample space for equipment and material storage.
The Ranch has several historic log buildings that are now utilized for storage. The largest, a 16′ x 33′ log building with a metal roof, is very functional and has water and electricity. It has been used as the primary location for additional storage and for family 4-H projects over the years.
For a complete list of water rights please contact the Swan Land Company Bozeman Office at 406.522.7342.
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.
The hunting and fishing opportunities on the Ranch are truly exceptional. There is immediate access to the Clark Fork River from the Ranch and offers great fishing on several miles of river and great riparian habitat for white tail deer and waterfowl that dominate the lower portion of the Ranch. The upper Clark Fork River has been historically challenged by upstream mining, but has rebounded incredibly well in the past several decades to become a great fishery that is ideal for summer wet wading or even floating with a small raft or pontoon boat. The winding nature of the river lends itself to riffles, deep pools and undercut banks that are filled with brown trout that regularly exceed 20 inches – sometimes by a lot. There are prolific hatches on the river for fly fishers, and conventional tackle has been used very successfully by the owners over the years. No matter how good the fishing is on a given ranch, there will come a day when avid anglers will want to explore other options and there are several notable and famous Montana rivers within close proximity to the Windy Mountain Ranch including the Big Hole, Rock Creek, Blackfoot, Little Blackfoot and Missouri Rivers. All are world-renowned trout fisheries and offer ardent anglers fishing opportunities on a year-round basis.
The big-game and waterfowl hunting on the Ranch is very high quality and the current owners regularly harvest trophy bull elk, white tail and mule deer. There are also good numbers of antelope on the Ranch, including some great bucks. The Ranch is part of Montana FWP District 215, (http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting) which allows deer and elk hunting with a general tag, but antelope tags require an annual draw. Located in the corridor of the Pacific Flyway, the duck and goose hunting on the Ranch can be nothing short of phenomenal, as large flocks of water fowl descend on the productive Deer Lodge Valley on their annual journey to the south for the winter. Late fall fishing is very good during waterfowl season and the Ranch ‘cast and blast’ is an embraced event.
Well-balanced and blocked-up cattle operations in Montana are rare in today’s land market, especially one with the versatility, productivity, hunting and fishing of Windy Mountain Ranch. The Sellers have worked diligently for many years to improve the irrigation, pasture fencing, stock-water network and improvements in order to optimize the efficiency of the Ranch. This effort has resulted in one of the finest balanced cattle operations on the market today with a strong irrigated hay base that produces over 1,000 tons of excess hay annually.
Those who have tracked ranch values in Southwest Montana for the past several years will find the Ranch’s offering price to be very competitive in today’s market. The Ranch is a must-see for producers looking for consistent water and grass in one of Montana’s classic ranching communities.
The Sellers intend to execute an IRC 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange and buyers may be required to accommodate those timelines.
OFFERING PRICE and CONDITIONS OF SALE
- All offers to purchase or letters of intent must be in writing and accompanied by a wire transfer of 5.0% of the purchase price to the escrow account at Stewart Title Company in Missoula;
- Earnest money deposits will be placed in escrow with Stewart Title Company in Missoula;
- All Prospective Buyers must demonstrate to the satisfaction of the Sellers absolute financial capability to purchase the Ranch prior to scheduling an inspection of the Ranch;
- 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 by a deed;
- All of the water right claims controlled by the Ranch will be transferred to the Buyer at Closing, and all of the mineral rights which the Sellers actually own will be conveyed to the Buyer at Closing;
- Buyers’ Brokers are welcomed and invited to contact Tim Anderson in our Bozeman Office for information regarding Cooperation Policies.