Moonshine Ranch

La Veta, Colorado (Huerfano County)
$10,900,000Sold
6,200 +/- Deeded Acres

With an abundance of big bulls and bucks, Moonshine Ranch is, pound-for-pound, one of the finest trophy-quality big game hunting properties in Colorado.

Huge Discount on Trophy Hunting Property
Featuring
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  • Approximately 6,300 deeded acres; 4,000 acres BLM lease
  • 2.5 hours from Denver, 3 hours from Denver International Airport, 1 hour from Pueblo, CO airport
  • 200 acres irrigated meadow
  • Three newer homes, including 2015 3-bedroom, 3-bath lodge; 2013 3-bedroom (large), 2-bath headquarters/manager’s home; and a totally remodeled 2-bedroom (bunk room with room for 8 beds), 2-bath guest cabin with power and good well near the northern boundary
  • 70×120 insulated, heated, monolithic cement floored shop with walk-in cooler and two 12×14 electric overhead doors
  • Two thriving trout ponds with reproducing fish up to 8 pounds
  • Lots of elk with potential for 340”-380”+ bulls. Mule deer, bighorn sheep, black bear, and Merriam’s turkey, as well as some antelope, blue grouse, and of course mountain lion, roam the property as well.
  • An excellent system of highly improved roads throughout all areas of the ranch
  • All new 5-strand perimeter and pasture fencing
  • Carrying capacity of 200 mother cows year-round, and cattle handling facilities including 27×60 calving shed and working pens
  • Diverse terrain ranging from lower open meadows to gently rolling ponderosa and oak-covered hills on up to alpine aspen/spruce/fir forests with mountain meadows
Introduction
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Moonshine Ranch, at 6,200 deeded acres, is one of the finest mountain hunting properties in the western United States. With elevations ranging from 7,500 to 10,000 feet, this property boasts an incredibly diverse and stunning landscape with irrigated meadows, high mountain lakes and ponds, seeps, springs, seasonal creeks, and old-growth aspen and timber stands. The ranch is home to high numbers of elk and mule deer and is one of the few properties in Colorado that can consistently produce 340”+ bulls and 180”+ mule deer. The ranch easily accommodates 200 mother cows year-round. Moonshine is handsomely improved and very well maintained with a 2015 lodge, manager’s home, guest cabin, a 70×120 heated shop, and cattle facilities.  The 2018 Spring Fire burned 60-70% of the ranch.  Pre-burn, the property was worth almost double the current price.  While the burn has indeed affected the viewsheds, if anything, the hunting has improved since the burn.  The “burn discount” is more than priced into this incredible property.

Lay of the Land
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Moonshine Ranch is nestled among several dramatic peaks in the southern Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Local landmarks Mount Maestas, Rough Mountain, and Silver Mountain (named by local miners mining silver and gold in the 1800s) flank the southern boundary of the property; Sheep and Little Sheep Mountains lie along the northern boundary, and the western boundary is more-or-less the top of La Veta Pass.

The lower elevations of the ranch are comprised of irrigated and non-irrigated meadows traversed by cottonwood-lined creeks and rolling Gambel Oak/Ponderosa ridges and mesas. The higher portions of the ranch are dominated by a classic high-country ecosystem, with stands of mature aspen, fir, and spruce, and pastoral mountain meadows. The entire property is blessed with an abundance of water, including 3 seasonal creeks traversing miles across the ranch, and countless high mountain ponds, seeps, springs, and bogs.

The 2018 Spring Fire burned 60-70% of the property. None of the buildings/improvements were affected whatsoever. Almost immediately after the fire, the owner engaged a team of experts in wildlife biology, rangeland, and forestry management who created a comprehensive plan to rehabilitate the property in an effort to maximize hunting, rangeland, forestry, and aesthetic values. No expense was spared. Crews have aggressively salvaged burned timber where topographically practical, mulched and masticated understory and brush to facilitate quick regeneration, and reseeded over 4000 acres. Roads were rebuilt and hillsides terraced where practical with erosion control in mind. Ponds were drained, dredged, refilled, and restocked. The result today, after almost 3 years of work and over $1MM in expenditures, is remarkable. Aspen stands are regenerating quickly, the grass, oak brush, and general understory and range conditions are healthier than they’ve been in many decades, and the quantity and quality of the game is higher than it was pre-burn. The embedded “burn discount” (the property was arguably worth almost double in today’s market pre-burn) presents a truly extraordinary acquisition opportunity for the buyer who is not averse to the changed aesthetic and who understands the long-term wildlife, forestry, and rangeland benefits of a burn.

Locale

Moonshine Ranch lies in the southern Sangre De Cristo Mountain range in southern Colorado, 2.5 hours south of the Denver metro area.  20 miles southeast of the ranch is the quaint mountain town of La Veta, CO (pop. 800), with art galleries, restaurants, a museum, theater, lodging, and shopping. 25 miles east of the ranch is Walsenburg, Colorado (pop. 3000), with restaurants, groceries, a hospital, and lodging. There is a commercial air service in Pueblo, Colorado, which is an hour’s drive from the ranch.

Climate

  • Average annual precipitation: 50.0 inches
  • Average January temperatures: High 45°, Low 10°
  • Average July temperatures: High 85°, Low 52°
  • Days of sunshine per year: 300+

Improvements

The main lodge, built in 2015, features 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms (comfortably sleeps up to 8), a chef’s kitchen with stainless appliances and granite countertops, a dining room, and a huge great room with a fireplace, bar, and vaulted ceilings and windows overlooking the property and surrounding mountains. The lodge is positioned high up on a hill with stunning views of the ranch and surrounding peaks. It is tastefully appointed in rustic elegant style with natural wood material and finishes. There is a lower level walkout garage/storage area, and the home is equipped with a state-of-the-art security system with cameras; high-speed satellite internet, tv, and wifi; high fuel capacity backup generator, water filtration, and sprinkler system.

  • Manager’s Home – The manager’s home, located at the ranch headquarters, is a 2013 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom triple-wide modular with an attached Trex deck.
  • Guest Cabin – The guest cabin features two bedrooms, including a bunk room which can sleep 8, two bathrooms, a full kitchen, laundry room, breakfast room, and den.
  • Working Facilities – At the ranch, there is a 70×120 insulated, heated, monolithic cement floored shop with a walk-in cooler and two 12×14 electric overhead doors. Also at the headquarters are the cattle handling facilities, including working pens and a newer (2015) 27×60 calving shed.
  • Fencing – Moonshine Ranch is entirely perimeter and pasture fenced with new 5 strand barbed wire/t post fencing. The fences are in excellent condition.
  • Interior Roads – There is an impressive system of highly improved interior ranch roads allowing for easy travel to practically every spot on the property by 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Sporting Features
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Hunting

Seasoned Colorado hunters know well that there are only two or three areas in the entire state which consistently produce 340”+ bull elk; Moonshine Ranch sits smack dab in the middle of one of those regions, and this property is an absolute elk factory. This is just one of those special spots, blessed by ancient migration patterns, where elk want to be during the calving, summer, and breeding seasons. One would be hard-pressed to find any property anywhere in the world with a more intense rut with high-quality animals. During the peak of the rut, 330”+ bulls are seen daily. It is sincerely not uncommon to see 370”+ bulls at Moonshine, and the proof is in the pudding – many 350”+ bulls have been harvested at Moonshine Ranch over the years. The property has been hunted exclusively by owners and close friends – there has been no commercial hunting on this property for at least 15 years – with extremely conservative harvest and resource management principles to promote big bulls and overall herd health. It is difficult to over-emphasize the uniqueness of experience this property offers for trophy elk hunting. Archery bull elk tags are unlimited, and the first rifle season draw is historically undersubscribed, so unlike many areas where this kind of quality hunting exists, securing licenses/tags has not been a problem at Moonshine.

While elk are clearly king at Moonshine, the ranch is also home to good numbers trophy-quality mule deer, Bighorn Sheep, Black Bear, and Merriam’s Turkey. Current ownership has not focused on mule deer hunting, but the listing brokers have personally seen bucks in excess of 190” on the property. Bighorn sheep thrive on and around the ranch. This area has produced numerous 180”+ rams and is recognized as one of the very best in the state. Merriam’s Turkeys are plentiful, as are black bears.

Fishing

There are two self-sustaining stocked trout ponds at Moonshine Ranch with trout up to 8 pounds. Both ponds are spring-fed with consistent inflows and outflows and are deep enough for trout to easily survive over winter and reproduce.

Ranch Attributes
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Ranch Operations

With 6,200 deeded acres and 4,000 acres of BLM, the property will easily accommodate 200 mother cows year-round. There are 200 acres of flood-irrigated hay ground. There is a set of working pens, a 60×27 calving shed at the headquarters. The ranch is well watered with dirt tanks, creeks, and natural ponds. Fencing is excellent – the property was entirely re-fenced around the perimeter and BLM land in 2013.

Water Rights

All water rights owned by the Seller will be conveyed with the property.

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