At St. James Sporting Properties, it is obvious that we work hard to promote the wildlife, fish, and various recreational opportunities that exist on every one of our ranch listings. What may not be quite as obvious is how aware and appreciative we are of the Agricultural roots that many of our ranch listings possess. 

There is a historical misconception that a ranch is either an agricultural property or recreational property. Understandably, owners of these ranches can be solely focused (or even against) one or the other. This article will help show the benefits of aligning yourself with a brokerage like ours that can realize and maximize both of these vitally important ranch attributes.

Realizing a Ranch’s Agriculture Value/Attributes


Agricultural production not only benefits the landowner, but it keeps America’s ranching and farming families alive and well. America’s need to be self-reliant has never been greater. Agricultural production is one of the main areas in which we Americans can largely be independent from the who is of the global supply chain. It’s important to remember the effect that maximizing the agricultural component of a property has on our country as a whole.


It goes without saying that the ultimate goal of agricultural production is to make a profit. There are different lease options available that benefit both the landowner and the agricultural tenant. Whether it be a Cash Rent, Crop Share, Net Share, or a hybrid approach, ranch owners who are primarily focused on hunting or recreation may still reap the benefits from leasing the land to an agriculturally focused tenant.


Many of our western states/counties assess property taxes at a significantly lower rate if used for agricultural purposes. Even if a landowner gains a relatively small profit from the ranch’s agricultural production/income, the tax benefits of qualifying as an agricultural property are well worth it. 


It’s becoming more and more common to see a ranch represented with its “Total Acres”. This is because the ranch owner, in addition to their deeded land, may often possess grazing/recreational permits on adjoining public and/or private Land. Whether it be National Forest, BLM, State Land, or nearby private property, these permits help expand the ranch’s grazing potential and carrying capacity while, at the same time, lowering the chance for over-grazing of the deeded land. Some state and/or private leases offer an agricultural lease as well as a recreational lease. This help expands a ranch’s grazing and hunting area at a very minimal cost to the owner/tenant. 


It’s worth pointing out that the majority of property enhancements created to help farming and livestock operations can also benefit wildlife (i.e., Stock Tanks, Irrigation, Grass/Hay, Crops, Tree Rows, Shelterbelts, Noxious Weed Control, Nutrient Supplements, Winter Feeding, Predator Management, and Erosion Control). The list goes on, but more often than not, ranches with agricultural components tend to attract and hold more wildlife. 

Realizing a Ranch’s Recreational Value/Attributes


In the same way an owner can lease their land to an agricultural tenant, a livestock/farming focused rancher can also lease their land out for recreational purposes. Again, one has various options to choose from depending on their situation. These may include: leasing the hunting/fishing rights to a licensed outfitter, booking private hunting/fishing clients on their own, accepting a trespass fee for hunters to travel through the ranch, or (in some states) selling hunting permits assigned to the ranch to 3rd parties.


In certain states, like Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Idaho, qualifying ranches may obtain big game landowner permits separate from the general public draw. In these states, those tags may be sold or gifted to a 3rd party hunter and provide an additional source of income for the ranch owner. While other states, like Wyoming, allow for big game landowner permits, they are only valid for use by the landowner’s immediate family. Still, that does add value to the ranch and can help separate properties that qualify for landowner tags from those that don’t. *Please refer to each state’s wildlife agency for more details.


There is no better way to add value to a property than to enhance the live water that’s on it. Improving the fishery and wetland habitat not only adds enjoyment, but value, for the landowner. Working with Fishery & Wildlife Specialists to maximize the ponds and rivers’ ability to hold fish, waterfowl, and water itself, is always money well spent, especially in the West!


John Muir once said “In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” There is value, be it economically, functionally, visually, or spiritually, in allowing a ranch to be what it has always been: A unique combination of water & winds, plants & animals, challenges & rewards, and peace & quiet. In an ever-growing world, the value of connecting with nature and the wild things that call it home has never been more important to future landowners


Most of us would agree that the time spent with our family and friends in the outdoors are some of the most memorable moments in our lives. At the end of the day, there is immeasurable value in having a piece of land to call your own. A place where family and friends can gather and explore. A place where a granddaughter’s first fish, or a grandfather’s last deer, is worth more than anything else money can buy.

In conclusion, we understand the economic and intrinsic values that a ranch’s Agriculture and Recreational opportunities has to offer. Call the specialists at St. James Sporting Property today to see how we can bridge the gap between Ag & Rec in order to truly show everything this western land has to offer!

Mike Callan is a Real Estate agent licensed in CO, ID, WY, MT.  He can be reached via email [] and phone [970-406-8335].