Routt County ranch sells for $7.1 million |

Routt County ranch sells for $7.1 million

Realtor: 3,400 rural acres like to be used for oil and gas exploration

Bugler's Ridge comprises 3,400 acres of dense aspen and grassland northwest of Routt County Road 25 just a few miles south of Oak Creek. For a number of years, it has been managed for trophy elk hunting. New owners reportedly are interested in exploring for oil and gas.

— When a limited liability company based in Lampasas, Texas, closed May 18 on the $7.1 million sale of the 3,400-acre Bugler's Ridge ranch outside Oak Creek, the purchase was made sight unseen.

"The buyers never set foot on the ranch," listing Realtor Eric West, of Hayden Outdoors real estate, said this week. "There was just too much snow. They saw it from a distance. They were able to fly it on Google Earth."

West's clients comprised a group of Chicago investors under the Prairie Mountain Corp. They had used the ranch primarily as a very limited trophy elk hunting range and for agriculture. But the new owners, Thunderhead Properties LLC, don't seem interested in large antlers.

"I don't think they bought it necessarily for hunting," West said. "It's an oil- and gas-motivated purchase."

Bugler's Ridge is northwest of Routt County Road 25, which links the southern boundary of Oak Creek with C.R. 132, familiar to many area residents as the route to Dunckley Pass and Trapper's Lake in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area. Little Trout Creek runs through the ranch.

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The topographic map encompassing the ranch is called Rattlesnake Butte.

The transaction apparently didn't go through the Steamboat Springs Multiple Listing Service, West said. His company, with offices in Goodland, Kan., Windsor and Preston, Idaho, marketed the property on the Internet through Cabela's Trophy Properties.

The sellers were asking $7.48 million and had told him up front that they were not willing to significantly reduce the price. It was on the market for two years before he received the offer to buy.

"When it came, I thought it might not close because there are covenants on 67 percent of the ranch that don't allow oil and gas exploration," West said. "We tried and tried (to get the owners) to change that, but it just wasn't going to happen."

The sale contract also was written to include a detailed survey of the large ranch, but the depth of the snow made that impractical. Ultimately, he said, the buyers relented on both counts, and he theorized that they would turn to horizontal drilling to get at oil and gas reserves under the restricted portion of the ranch. Most of the surface rights still are connected to the subsurface rights, he added.

West surmised that oil wildcatters have focused on the area because late in the negotiations with Thunderhead Properties LLC he received inquiries from Shell Oil and several other landmen representing energy exploration companies.

In the end, West split the 7 percent commission, or $487,000, with buyers broker Dan Brewer.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email

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