Jeff Shouse was born in Iowa, his parents living in Iowa City at the time while his father was finishing up his engineering degree at the University of Iowa. His parents wanted a change of pace from the Midwest, so by Jeff’s second birthday, his family had relocated to northern California, eventually settling in Tahoe City on the north shore of Lake Tahoe. Jeff’s Dad is an avid sportsman, so it was only natural that from an early age, Jeff was exposed to a heavy dose of the outdoor lifestyle with a big emphasis on hunting and fishing. Jeff also was a passionate skier in his early days by virtue of living in the Sierra’s, home to some of the best ski areas in the west.
In 1975, a job opportunity presented itself in Montana, and Jeff’s dad decided to pack up the family and head north to Bozeman – a move that was destined to have a huge impact on Jeff’s life. There were good local fishing opportunities in California, but hunting opportunities were somewhat limited. “Dad would take me back to Iowa or South Dakota once a year to hunt pheasants and quail with my Grandfather and Great Grandfather. We had a few relatives that owned farms with birds, and hunting with four generations of Shouse’s on those trips created very memorable and impactful experiences for me. Once we got to Montana, skiing took a back seat to hunting and fishing for me. There was just so much opportunity to spend time in the field – I always had a pocket full of tags and along with the bird hunting, pursued bowhunting big time.”
Jeff graduated from Bozeman High School and subsequently received a BA degree in Political Science from Montana State University. He played football, baseball and threw javelin in track all through high school. “Between school and a hectic sports schedule, I was always pretty busy, but I fished and hunted as much as I possibly could around that other stuff. If I didn’t have a practice after school, I was headed to a trout stream with fly rod in tow.” Jeff worked as a fly fishing guide in the summers while going to college. One of his regular clients offered him a compelling job opportunity after he graduated from college, which took him to Amarillo, Texas. It was here that Jeff got his first taste of the real estate business, where he was involved in leasing, property acquisition, and sales of commercial property. While the big game and bird hunting in north Texas was great, there was no trout fishing, and after many long road trips to Colorado and New Mexico to chase trout, Jeff decided that he needed to get back to the mountains of Montana.
Rowing a drift boat on the river again, Jeff recalls thinking about how many of his fishing clients were always asking about Montana property purchase opportunities, particularly as it related to hunting and fishing acreage. “I realized here was an opportunity staring me in the face. I knew the country intimately and understood the sporting lifestyle as well as anyone could.” Jeff acquired his real estate license in early 1988, and signed on with a Bozeman-based farm and ranch real estate firm. In 1990, Jeff put together one of the most memorable deals of his real estate career, where he listed and sold the 5,200± acre Buttleman Ranch west of Bozeman which featured roughly four miles of a premier tailwater fishery called Willow Creek. “This property transaction represented the epitome of what I wanted to do – market and sell the lifestyle that I live.”
A few years later Jeff was offered a partnership opportunity with another well-established Bozeman broker, and stayed with this firm – Country West Ranch & Land – for about 14 years. It was here that another Live Water Broker, Craig Janssen, started his real estate career. Afterwards, Jeff started his own firm – Western Ranch Properties – which he ran for 6 years before joining the Live Water Properties’ team in early 2013.
Jeff has really enjoyed his tenure with Live Water and appreciates the platform that the company provides in assisting him with putting sellers and buyers together in meaningful, sometimes life-changing transactions. “I’ve had a few clients tell me that the work I did for them in finding that ‘perfect property’, has impacted their lives in more positive ways than I’ll ever know. Boy, that’s humbling, gratifying, and something that I’m really proud of. I’ve been at this a long time and I’ve sold a lot of dirt. I love the business; not being tied to a nine to five regimen, setting your own schedule and determining what goals you want to accomplish, driving those rural backroads in beautiful country and meeting a myriad of interesting people with a broad variety of backgrounds. I’ve always got a fly rod or shotgun in the truck, and usually one or two bird dogs. The best way I know to show a fishing property is to literally ‘test the waters’ – put a fly rod in someone’s hands and let them see first-hand if the place fits the bill. Or turn a few dogs out to see if we can get some points on a pheasant or a covey of Huns. This really is my job…what’s not to like? A lot of these properties will sell themselves – you just need to learn when to get out of the way.”
Another sideline passion for Jeff centers on music, especially bluegrass. At age 14, Jeff was dabbling with guitar while his younger brother was trying to learn banjo. After some time, his brother moved on to other things and Jeff started “noodling” with that 5-string. “I watched John Hartford play banjo on the Glen Campbell show and that got my attention. Soon afterwards I heard Earl Scruggs play the theme song to the Beverly Hillbillies and I was hooked for good!”
For the past 40+ years, Jeff has been exploring the banjo, which has led to stints with a number of Montana-based bluegrass bands and opportunities to play countless venues – from private functions to concerts to festivals such as the Big Sky Big Grass and Grand Targhee Bluegrass Festivals. He is also a collector of vintage pre-war Gibson Mastertone banjos.
Jeff stands behind the life mantra of “Live Well.” In other words, he believes it is important to try to check off some of those bucket list items as the opportunity presents itself, “as life invariably will get in the way if you don’t.” His passion for fly fishing and hunting has taken him too many interesting locales including Russia, Norway, Cuba, Argentina, Chile, and extreme northern parts of Alaska and Canada, to name a few.
Whether there is a question about a sporting property in the Rocky Mountain West, or the second verse of “Same Ol’ River” by Sam Bush – Jeff will probably have the answer. Connect with Jeff here to learn more about Montana land and ranches for sale.