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Due to its access to public lands and healthy big game numbers, northwest Colorado is an epicenter for local and visiting hunters. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife more than 262,000 big game hunting licenses will be issued in 2017. As more hunters discover this, many dream of acquiring their own private land or a hunting cabin to pursue the pastime – from a small wilderness plot to a 1000+ acre trophy ranch with elk just off the porch. Fortunately, there is a diverse range of recreational hunting and fishing properties across the region.



While the digital world and such real estate websites as Zillow, LandWatch.com and HuntingLands.com can help with the process, identifying potential properties within a desired location and price range is just the beginning of the process. Once the decision is made to buy or sell a rural property, or even if you’re curious about the  true value of a hunting parcel, a myriad of real estate due diligence begins, including reviewing title issues, access concerns, surveying easement and boundary considerations, proximity to utilities, availability of domestic water, financing and more. A true recreational ranch dictates a whole new set of investigative skills on top of the standard real estate process.

To understand a property’s recreational attributes, nothing substitutes actual time on the land. Understanding how the property has been hunted in the past includes assessing topography, feed and bedding areas, water and wallow locations, timber, game migration and flow patterns, adjacent properties and more. While modern technology puts a lot of essential information at your fingertips, knowing where to find it and how to analyze it requires expertise and knowledge gained only through experience.

Hunters often complain that it takes a lifetime just to understand the CPW Big Game brochure, and decipher the detailed information on CPW’s website. Researching data on the Hunting Statistics, Herd Management Plans, Draw Results and Preference Point pages of its website provides past and future hunting license allotments, historical draw results, preference point statistics, future herd management plans, advantages of the land preference program for minimum 160 acres and ranching for wildlife program for large acreages. What value is a hunting ranch if the game is not present, or licenses are limited and may take 18 years to draw for a particular big game? Hunting license fees contribute to CPW’s data research and the discriminating buyer will use CPW’s information to their advantage.

Additional investigation of any deeded water and mineral rights may also be a key component to land valuation, land management, and  past and future land uses. Understanding the deeded water priority system, and amount and types of historical uses is vital to the future ability to improve and impound onsite water, herd management and overall hunting attributes.

Also, understanding the mineral rights, whether intact or severed, area mineral exploration and any mineral leases may be vital to long­-term hunting management.

Other land planning instruments such as conservation easements or USDA land enhancement programs may also be appropriate to reduce capital costs and long-term planning (funding sources like Routt County’s Purchase of Development Rights Program can pay landowners for conservation). Placement of a conservation easement on a property does not require allowing for public access to the land, and the landowner can retain future development rights.

Whether you review properties online or consult a professional ranch broker, searching available recreation ranch and land opportunities is only the first step to finding that perfect place and working your way through the complex process of purchasing or selling. The current market has a diverse range of available properties. To make the right choice, put in even more time than you would on a successful hunt to fully understand a recreational property’s attributes.

About the author: Ren Martyn is a ranch broker with Steamboat Sotheby’s International Realty with over 20 years of experience in land, water and mineral resources. Contact Ren by email or at 970.846.3118.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2017 issue of Colorado Hunter Magazine.