New Offering! Box Elder Ranch
- 12,000 acres (10,318 deeded) in one block
- Elk, Deer, Bear, Lion, Sharptails, Huns, Pheasants
- 20 plus miles of live and seasonal creeks
- Conservation Easement with The Montana Land Reliance
- Excellent management in place
- 500 plus acres of tillable lands for hay production
- Functional 400-500 head cattle operation
“Itʼs the kind of place that mother nature gives you a little more to work with”
– Joe Urick, Manager
• Fronts 5 miles of Judith Mountains
• 12,000 acres (10,318 deeded) in one block
• Elk, Deer, Bear, Lion, Sharptails, Huns, Pheasants
• Conveniently located near Lewistown
• 30 minutes of a 6100’ jet landing strip
• 20 plus miles of live and seasonal creeks
• Conservation Easement with The Montana Land Reliance
• Excellent management in place
• 500 plus acres of tillable lands for hay production
• Functional 400-500 head cattle operation
• Charming set of improvements
• Abundance of protective cover throughout
HISTORY OF STEWARDSHIP: Relatively unchanged since creation, the ranch has been home to Native Americans and then settlers during the homesteading of Montana. Multiple homesteads still exist as an example of history not so long ago. It is believed to have been originally owned by William Fergus, an immigrant from Lanarkshire, Scotland, and the brother of James Fergus, the founder of Fergus County. William’s daughter, Ellen, married O.J. Romundstad, and the Romundstad family owned and operated the ranch until the 1950s when Vernon Taylor Sr. purchased it. Over the years, the ranch passed down through the Taylor family, with Vernon Jr. eventually selling it to his niece, Sarah Taylor Campbell, in 1997. The ranch was just one of many premier real estate holdings owned by the Taylor family. In 2010 Campbell placed a conservation easement on the ranch with the Montana Land Reliance. Joe Urick has served as the ranch manager since shortly after Campbell’s purchase. Under his stewardship and Campbell’s passion, the ranch has been well maintained and is considered an excellent example of responsible land management.
RANCH LOCATION: The Box Elder Ranch is 28 miles northeast of Lewistown, conveniently located against the north slopes of the Judith Mountains. The closest primary source of commerce is Lewistown, with a population of 5,850. Lewistown offers a Municipal Airport (http://www.lwtairport.com) located on 2,200 acres owned jointly by the city of Lewistown and Fergus County. Access from Lewistown to the ranch is to travel north and east 25 miles of Highway 191 and then south and east three miles on Romundstad County Road. Also, nine miles to the northeast of the ranch is the small town of Roy (population of 94) with a K-12 school, café, small convenience store, bar, church, and a fuel/tire shop. Billings (population 119,706) is 135 miles to the south with commercial airlines, major shopping, and additional medical services.
LEWISTOWN: Lewistown, with a population of about 5,850 and is the county seat of Fergus County. Lewistown sits in a very scenic setting surrounded by 5 nearby Mountain Ranges. The community offers two grocery stores, livestock auction yard, nearby grain terminals, five lending institutions, agricultural equipment companies, road and highway construction companies, building suppliers, and medical services. Central Montana Medical Center provides excellent medical care with quality physicians, specialists, and staff in conjunction with the Billings Clinic. Lewistown is an agricultural community located at the geographic center of Montana in the vast Judith Basin. It is a trade center for surrounding large cattle ranches and wheat farms. It is a charming community with a downtown that is clean and historic with tree lined streets. Also, there is a trail system for walking and biking throughout the town and its edges. One of the biggest draws to the area is the excellent outdoor recreation including fishing on Big Spring Creek which winds through the downtown area.
LEWISTOWN AIRPORT: The Lewistown Municipal Airport, located on the southwest edge of Lewistown, Montana, at an elevation of 4,170’ is a general aviation airport and does not offer commercial air service. Commercial air service is available via the Billings and Great Falls airports. The 2,200-acre airport’s infrastructure includes runways that can accommodate regional jet series aircraft. With 45 based aircraft, the airport experiences approximately 15,348 aircraft operations annually and is self-supporting. There are three runways with the primary runway measuring 6,100 feet in length and 100 feet in width. The airports infrastructure and assets are complemented by a safe, secure, business-friendly operating environment with opportunities for growth and development. Skyline Aviation is a service provider for fuel and maintenance.
RANCH SIZE AND OPERATION: The Box Elder Ranch consists of over 12,000 acres all in one block of which 10,318 are deeded plus lands of State (623 acres), BLM (945 acres), private written lease (316 acres), and private used not leased (152 acres). The property is a true year-round cow/calf operation. Up until the last couple years of dry weather they ran 500 cows plus 100 replacement heifers. Then in the fall of the 600 cows and bred replacement heifers they cull off 100 head so each year they go into the winter with 500 bred cows and yearling heifers. Due to the drought in the last couple of years they have cut back from 500 to 400 head. The cows calve in late spring and then in the fall they sell calves weighing between 500-600 pounds except for keeping 100 replacement heifers. The ranch has numerous pastures allowing for rotational grazing. The pastures have an incredible grass cover. This is evident with having native species such as Bluebunch wheatgrass, Western Wheatgrass, and Green Needlegrass. These grasses are drought-tolerant and excellent forage for livestock and wildlife. An abundance of protection and cover is from Pine and Fir trees in the mountains and the rest of the ranch and creek bottoms is from Chokecherry, Hawthorn, Snowberry, Serviceberry, and Willows. Also, Cottonwoods and Aspens are in the high moisture areas. All this cover and food is beneficial for a variety of wildlife, birds, and livestock. There are over 500 acres of hay land, mainly grass with some alfalfa producing 1200 to 1500 round bales. Most years they don’t buy hay. Since the ranch has well sodded pastures, lots of protection, and good winter water, the cattle don’t need as much hay as other operations. They do supplement the grazing with some protein pellets.
LEASE LANDS: The following State, BLM, and Private lands used by Ranch:
State Lease Lands: 623 + acres (135 aums)
BLM Permit Lands: 945 + acres ( 65 aums)
Private Lands: 316 + acres leased; 152 + acres used but not leased
WATER AND WATER RIGHTS: The ranch is rich in water, with 20 plus miles of live and seasonal creeks. The water traverses the ranch flowing north from the Judith Mountains into the prairie. East to west, Brush Creek, East Fork of Box Elder Creek, unnamed creek in Mitchell Canyon, Box Elder Creek, Badland Creek, and East Fork of Armells Creek provide live water most years. Mitchell Canyon has a spring fed plus runoff creek which joins Box Elder Creek that then meets up with East Fork of Box Elder at the ranch buildings. Other water sources include reservoirs and four wells (manager’s home, main buildings, north of facilities serving three water tanks, and corrals towards Brush Creek). Beavers inhabit most drainages and help contain water for livestock and wildlife. The ranch holds 33 water rights some dating back to 1881. Of the 33 water rights 25 are stock, 5 are irrigation and 3 are domestic. See next page for a list of water rights from the DNRC.
CLIMATE: On average, Lewistown has 196 sunny days per year. The Lewistown area is in a good precipitation zone for Montana. Climate data indicates approximately 18 inches of annual precipitation, including average annual snowfall of 65 inches. Most of the rainfall is received in April, May, and June. Lewistown experiences a relatively low humidity climate throughout the year. As for temperatures Lewistown, as with Central and Eastern Montana, is on the colder side with an average growing season of about 105 days, with the last freeze around late May and the first freeze around early to mid September. During the summer, days are very warm, but nights remain cool and rare freezes occur.
AREA RECREATION: Central Montana is known for its variety of hunting and fishing. The upland bird hunting include ruff and blue grouse, sharp-tailed and sage grouse, Hungarian partridge, and pheasants. Turkey is also abundant with both fall and spring seasons. Central Montana is known for its bird hunting as people arrive from other parts of Montana and the nation. Big game is also an attraction because of its large Elk populations in all the mountain ranges and the Missouri River Breaks. Also hunted are Black Bear, Lion, Mule Deer, White-tailed Deer, Antelope, and Big Horn Sheep (World class in the Missouri River Breaks).
Central Montana recreation is vast and unencumbered by large crowds. Big Spring Creek, Judith River, Missouri River, Crystal Lake, Warm Spring Creek, Ackley Lake, Petrolia Lake, and Fort Peck Lake are the primary water sources for fishing and recreation. Besides the water sources, five area mountain ranges provide a variety of hunting and other forms of recreation. The Central Montana area has quality agricultural land with reliable production of hay, small grains, and cattle. Seventy miles north of Lewistown is the Missouri River. Hunting and fishing opportunities are available through the BLM and Charles M. Russell Wildlife Refuge. Fort Peck is noted for having more shoreline than the state of California. Fort Peck Lake enjoys nationwide recognition as a hot spot for walleye fishing. Each year the Governor’s Cup is held at Fort Peck Lake, which attracts anglers from all over the State in search of large walleye. The lake also offers excellent fishing for sauger, smallmouth bass, lake trout, chinook salmon and northern pike.
RANCH RECREATION: Perfectly positioned, this north-slope ranch is an ideal wildlife habitat. Thick mature-growth timber along the steep south boundary is a perfect haven for wildlife. Paired with ample water skirted by a brushy cover, the forgiving landscape has all the features to attract and keep wildlife.
For most of the year, elk are residents of the ranch. Calving and rutting activity are often seen from the headquarters. Trophy-quality elk are not uncommon, with a significant population of bulls and consistent bulls in the 360-380+ range. Substantial herds of white-tailed and mule deer are always present along with antelope. This vast and diverse topography is also home to Black Bears, Mountain lions, and Turkey. The live water and thick riparian, coupled with thousands of acres of native grasslands, are ideal for upland hunting. The ranch boasts solid numbers of Sharp-tailed Grouse, including multiple Leks. Pheasants and Hungarian Partridge are also plentiful. The alpine areas are home to Rough Grouse and Blue Grouse.
Additionally, 157 other non-game species frequent the landscape and are ideal for wildlife photographers, birders, and outdoor enthusiasts. Currently and in the past, the ranch has been hunted by close family and friends, along with some guided hunts by a local outfitter.
HUNTING DISTRICT: The ranch resides in Montana Hunting District 412-20, 411-21; the HD is a draw for Elk, antelope, and a general season Deer. The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) agency manages a designated hunting area within the Judith Mountains. Hunting districts in Montana are established to provide hunting opportunities and to manage wildlife populations within specific regions of the state. Hunting in the 412 Hunting District is subject to specific regulations, which may vary yearly depending on wildlife populations and other factors. Common game species found in the 412 Hunting District include Elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, lion, bear, and antelope, plus species that may be hunted in the district include pheasants, sharptailed grouse, Hungarian partridge, and turkey.
CONSERVATION EASEMENT: A Conservation Easement was placed on the ranch in 2010 with The Montana Land Reliance. All the land except for about 500 acres on the southwest corner (T17N, R20E – Sections 15, 21, 22) is under easement. A few notable mentions in the easement are subdivision, development, and oil, gas & mining exploration. The ranch can be divided into three units/parcels, as long as the each of the three parcels is at least 1,000 acres. The easement allows for construction of three new residences, five primitive cabins, and one indoor riding arena. These structures and other improvements (roads, utilities, etc.) are subject to reasonable terms in the easement. A copy of the full conservation easement is available upon request.
TERRAIN AND TOPOGRAPHY: Central Montana is known as “where the mountains meet the prairie.” The Box Elder Ranch is just that. The elevation spans from 4,000’ to 5,500’ on the most southern peak and off the ranch and nearby is Judith Peak at 6,428’. The ranch is well blocked, spanning over five miles wide by five miles long. Flowing north are six main drainages live and seasonal water throughout the ranch. The creek bottoms are lined with mature growth trees of chokecherry, serviceberry, willow, and hawthorn offering ample protection for livestock and wildlife. Prairie benches and sub-irrigated bottoms separate the drainages. The Box Elder Ranch has a dramatic and diverse landscape.
RANCH SUMMARY: The Box Elder Ranch stands out as a legacy property. The natural strengths and features of the ranch have lead to its success. Naturally, the property is exceptional primarily due to the lack of human interruption. Five named drainages of mostly free-flowing live water allow for seamless grazing and easy access to clean water. Wildlife and livestock both benefit from the abundance of water. Almost the entirety of the ranch is still native range. Fertile soils and sub-irrigation have allowed for productive crops even during drought. Such ranch features have consequently allowed wildlife numbers to grow creating a legendary big game and wing hunting opportunity. Years of pride and diligent care have left the ranch in impeccable position, all while being an untouched canvas.
The offered price includes Seller’s Black Angus cattle (280 Bred Cows, 60 replacement heifers, 14 bulls) and Seller’s equipment on the ranch. Not included are 109 head of Red Angus cattle and personal property owned by the Manager.
2022 Real Estate Taxes: $19,070.
Phillips Realty has been authorized by the Seller to be their Exclusive Real Estate Agent. The information provided by Phillips Realty for the offering is subject to errors, omissions, prior sale, change or withdrawal from the market without notice, and approval of purchase by Seller. Information regarding land classifications, potential profits, acreages, crop yields, building sizing, carrying capacity, potential profits, etc. are intended only as general guidelines and have been provided by sources deemed reliable, but whose accuracy Phillips Realty and Seller cannot guarantee. Prospective buyers are advised to research the facts according to their own satisfaction and own independent investigation and be aware that the photographs may have been digitally enhanced.