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Wilkses' Bull Mountain Ranch on the market again

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Elk provide some property owners with a ready-made selling point – private access to great hunting.

A 12,400-acre ranch in the Bull Mountains is back on the market, advertised as “easily one of the best elk hunting ranches on the market” with a herd of around 700 animals.

The property, being offered by Wilks Ranch Brokers, is listed for sale at $14.75 million. The property abuts a full section of state land that the real estate listing noted has “no ground public access."

“With no public access and the lack of hunting in recent years, Bull Mountain Ranch is easily one of the better elk hunting ranches on the market in Montana,” the website listing said. “In the past, there have been many trophy quality elk harvested including one year three bulls with approximate scores of 350, 364, and 375.”

The Bull Mountain Ranch is located in Hunting District 590 where the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks counted almost 2,700 elk in 2019. The population objective for the hunting district is 750 elk.

In addition to “trophy elk,” the property is home to mule deer, whitetails, turkeys, pronghorns and more, the listing said. The ranch is six miles south of the community of Musselshell, about 50 miles northeast of Billings.

“The largest mule deer taken scored 194 while taking a few 180 class mule deer and a 152 whitetail,” the listing said.

The property, owned by Texas billionaire brothers Dan and Farris Wilks, was also offered for sale at the same price in 2019, along with three other Wilks Ranch Montana Ltd properties.

The Wilkses drew statewide attention recently after Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks awarded the brothers’ N Bar Ranch eight free either-sex elk tags as part of its private land access program. The ranch contains one of the largest elk herds in Montana, spread across three counties and hunting districts.

A video accompanying the Bull Mountain Ranch listing features elk and archery hunting footage before focusing on ranching opportunities.

“To the rancher, Bull Mountain Ranch is a place of numerous water resources and excellent grasses for grazing,” the listing said. “To the hunter, Bull Mountain Ranch is an ideal, natural game preserve. Rich pastures of grass, abundant water and plentiful game make Bull Mountain Ranch an exceptional, one of a kind ranch.”

Lack of public access to private property to reduce elk numbers has become a problem for Montana’s wildlife agency as some legislators question why FWP isn’t doing more to reduce elk populations. Some hunters and conservation groups fear the state under new leadership may be moving to a model that would provide landowners transferable hunting tags, in essence monetizing wildlife, which is a public resource. Landowner groups and a market-oriented environmental group are backing such tags as a way to reward landowners for providing wildlife habitat.

Wilks Ranch Brokers is also selling the brothers’ 103-acre property surrounding a private lake in northwestern Montana’s Lincoln County. The 1,100-acre Okaga Lake Ranch is bordered by the Kootenai National Forest with the Yaak River flowing through the property. The land with buildings is listed for $8.7 million.

The Wilkses are one of the largest landowners in Montana, arriving on the scene in 2012 after selling their oil fracking business for a reported $3.2 billion. One of their first purchases in the state was the N Bar, a historic ranch in central Montana that has passed through the hands of a few wealthy owners.


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