By: Buzz Tatom
Venture West Ranches, a Bozeman MT based ranch real estate brokerage, recently took a group of friends pig hunting at the 5T Ranch in Saint Jo, Texas. During three and a half days of hunting, several wild pigs were harvested. The wild pig population in Texas has become a major issue in the last decade and these hunters from Montana got a new experience while helping to control the population. The trip also afforded these Montana boys an opportunity to fly fish for largemouth bass on one of the many lakes on the property. It was a great experience and as a Montana ranch broker, it is nice to be able to show what intensive management in wildlife and fisheries can do for a property’s value.
I have been an owner of the 5T Ranch for the past 18 years. It has been a remarkable experience and it has taught me a great deal about recreational ranches and the values that can be attributed to them. I looked at the 5T Ranch originally as an opportunity for my family to have land where we could build lasting memories and enjoy everything Texas has to offer. What I didn’t realize was just how good of an investment it would turn out to be. I thought the 5T Ranch would turn out to be a good investment but I had no idea what intensive wildlife and fisheries management and the trend of increasing land values and urban escape would do to land values.
Since purchasing the 5T Ranch we’ve seen a 5-fold increase in value in the property. This has been due partly to the building of lakes and intensive wildlife management. The wildlife management techniques we implemented have taken the Whitetail score from mid 140’s to 180-190 class Whitetail. One of the issues that the 5T Ranch is experiencing is the exponential growth of the wild pig population, which is why we brought 5 people from Big Sky, Montana to come and experience some fantastic pig hunting. As a Montana ranch broker, you get to see a lot of wildlife but it is funny to watch the excitement of Montana friends about shooting wild pigs.
This is partly the reason I joined a Montana Ranch brokerage. I get to bring my experience of increasing value of Montana ranches and to help Montana farmers and ranchers find new revenue streams and increase their property’s recreational value. This is important if you plan on selling your ranch or trying to keep it in the family. Everything that I did at the 5T Ranch can be done to a Montana ranch to increase its value. You have to work on some more things such as food plots and fisheries but it is attainable and can have a dramatic effect on the recreational value of a Montana ranch.
For those of you thinking of selling, it is important to understand what you can do now to increase the value of your property at a future selling date. You can increase the value of your Montana ranch by improving fisheries either through building trout ponds or improving trout streams. Many times, a 3-5 acre trout pond can dramatically increase the value of the ranch. The best part about increasing your fisheries is that you get to fish them once populations have increased. It is a great way to create an area to make some great family memories. At the 5T Ranch, we created several lakes to provide fishing opportunities for our family but had no idea that it would positively impact our wildlife populations.
The added lakes unexpectedly increased the wildlife population on our property. We created the lakes for fishing opportunities but saw a residual effect on our wildlife population. The water became a draw to numerous species from other areas that did not have the constant water source. Consequently, the lakes increased the value of the 5T Ranch. We originally removed the cattle from the property to allow grazing areas to recover. This allowed the Whitetail and Quail population to rebound and has produced some trophy Whitetails on the property.
One way of increasing your property’s value is by implementing a wildlife management plan. Making sure that the wildlife on your property has enough nutritious food will help increase the population and overall health of your wildlife. Having healthy wildlife and a solid wildlife management strategy in place will increase the value of your ranch. This can mean additional revenue through selling hunts or increased value to potential buyers.
My experiences at the 5T Ranch have allowed me to gain valuable insight into the process of increasing a property’s value. If you have a plan of potentially selling in the next 5 years it makes sense to involve someone like me in helping you maximize the value of your property.
For those of you looking at purchasing a ranch, it is important to understand the potential that prospective properties have. It is also important to identify opportunities that can be capitalized on to increase a property’s value. Over a period of years, a ranch can be a very good investment that will also create great family memories. Try and find a ranch that has significant potential for future success.
As far as fisheries go, look at current fishing opportunities on prospective properties. Evaluate the size and number of fish in streams and lakes on the property. Is it feasible to construct a lake on the property or restructure the streams to increase fish populations on your property? Possibly there is a stream that cattle have used for 20 years that has damaged or destroyed the stream. By improving the stream or employing the help of an expert you could increase the quality and quantity of fish in your streams and lakes.
For a prospective property, look for a population of the species you want to hunt with land that hasn’t been intensively managed. When I purchased the 5T ranch it had some deer, turkeys, and ducks, but nothing of substantial size or quantity. We moved the cows off the land for a while to allow the grazing land to recover. We quickly saw an increase in the population of deer, turkeys, and ducks as well as added inches to the deer’s antlers. Using the land in a different way and providing ample cover also brought back quail. Nature is very resilient, you just have to give it a chance.
We also constructed lakes for fishing opportunities which attracted more ducks to our property. As an example, we had few Wood Ducks on the 5T but within one year of building two lakes, we had populations in the hundreds. They were given ample cover in the newly flooded creek beds and the acorns dropping into the new lakes became a real draw. Some things that you can do to increase the value of your Montana ranch can have an impact on other areas that you had not thought of. Increasing available food and water will help increase the population and health of the wildlife on your property which will inevitably increase the property’s value.
Acquiring a ranch can be a great investment as long as you are willing to put in the work. However, it is important to realize that owning a ranch can be a great opportunity for your family. It teaches kids about hard work and gets them away from the TV. They have to learn how to take fish off a hook and how to become good stewards of land and wildlife. You will realize that by investing in your fisheries and wildlife for your own enjoyment, you will be increasing the future value of your ranch and teaching your children great skills for life.
If you found this article through a desire to own a Montana ranch or to increase the value of your present Montana property and you would like to discuss your situation with a knowledgeable Montana ranch brokerage firm, I encourage you to contact us to discuss your situation. Also, if you thought this article was helpful you might want to read Montana Bull Sale Auction Report or Buying Montana Ranch, 13 Things to Ponder and another good read is 8 Critical Elements in Ranch Profitability. You may also be wondering How to Get the Most out of Hunting Properties. If this interests you, subscribe to the blog and check out our Facebook page and like us! We will constantly be bringing you new properties and information on Montana Ranching!
Buzz Tatom is a ranch owner and has built, run and sold numerous businesses in his career. This gives him a unique background in helping Montana farmers and ranchers navigate the life decisions that we all have to face. Whether it is passing the ranch on to the next generation or planning for eventual sale, his talents and contacts help save clients money and navigate complicated transactions.
He still owns the 5T Ranch in Texas but now calls Big Sky, MT home. His background in Texas included finding run down ranches and rehabilitating them into show place properties. From building lakes, stocking fish, to managing for wildlife he has a proven record of increasing values of properties that have given families great memories and returns.
His successful business background allows him to have good knowledge in contracts, dealing with people and has a wide variance of knowledge from his experience in dealing with oil and gas companies on his properties to manufacturing background to knowing who to call to get answers.
He has a BBA from Texas Tech University and got his MBA from Southern Methodist University. While at Texas Tech, he played football and was a 3 year starter as a Tight End. He bought into a Printing company at the age of 24 and grew it ten fold by the time it was sold in 2011.
Buzz teaches part time at Montana State University and loves mentoring students. He has been married to the love of his life, Kathy Tatom, for 25 years and has one son(Tate) and 2 daughters(Sayler and Emmy).
His hobbies include hunting, fly fishing, improving the 5T and following his son Tate in his golf career at the Air Force Academy. His life is divided between family, volunteering, teaching part time at MSU and Church.