Back in 1881, Sylvester Hanson ventured out of Civil War-torn North Carolina in search of a better life in the wide open spaces of the Western frontier.
He chose wisely. In Montana, he found a pristine chunk of land criss-crossed by the Smith River for his family’s new homestead, thereby establishing a Hanson family legacy that continues today as the Bar Z Cattle Company and Ranch.
The main Montana ranch still sits just west of the small town of White Sulphur Springs, about 1.5 hours north of Bozeman, and the Hansons are still running cattle there as they did back in 1881. But since those early days, they’ve expanded their operation to encompass more than 10,000 of the prettiest acres in the country.
4000 acres on upper Sheep Creek at the old Schmidt place, 2000 acres on the North Fork of the Smith and finally the 4000 acres of the Bar Z headquarters located on the Smith River, round out the total acreage of this truly unique ranch property and Montana fly-fishing ranch.
As it’s been for over 100 years, the then Riverside Ranch Company, has become the Bar Z Cattle Company. The Bar Z is a full-time cattle operation, running about 500 cows and 100 yearlings. The ranch patriarch Elmer Hanson, grandson of Sylvester, had three children and today each owns and operates their own part of Elmer’s legacy. Today John Hanson, the youngest of Elmer’s children operates the Bar Z. His son Dave has helped him run the fishing operation since 1997. A special “Thanks” is due to Elmer, for purchasing the Bar Z and to John for allowing us to fish this beautiful piece of Montana including the Smith River. Each time we get up in the morning and look out at this little piece of Montana we feel very grateful, and not to mention lucky!
The Bar Z boasts a tremendous variety of wild animals including elk, mule and whitetail deer, moose, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, coyotes, black bears, mountain lions, badgers, porcupines, grouse, sand-hill cranes, ducks, snipe, and gophers.
Spending your days on the Smith River is an experience that’s as rare as it is relaxing; as special as it is spectacular. There aren’t many places like this left. Anywhere.
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