Ol James Holler is a diverse piece of property that possesses the true characteristics of the Niobrara region. It has tremendous beauty, thriving wildlife, and approximately one mile of one of the great rivers of America. Owned for over 35 years by a devoted conservationist, it has been loved for all that it is. And as a waterfowl, upland bird, and turkey hunter, it provided him Merriam’s Toms every year, but was never hunted by him or any others for the large whitetails known to be in the area. With vast amounts of bur oaks, cedars and pines, and tiny openings breaking them up each holding the promise of hunting memories made… with a hay field running along the river’s cover edge with a history of producing alfalfa… with the piece and privacy that comes from a holding of this size, Ol James Holler is a place to see.
The Niobrara River is not just the premier recreation river in Nebraska; it is a unique crossroads where many species of plants and animals coexist unlike anywhere else. Water quality and the relatively free-flowing nature of the Niobrara support diverse life while unique fossil-filled sandstone cliffs host over 200 waterfalls. Known for such beauty, biological significance, and paleontological resources, and the fact that it is enjoyed as a superb canoeing river of the northern Great Plains, in 1991, Congress designated 76 miles of this watery ribbon of life as part of the National Wild and Scenic River system – meriting special protection and recognition.
From the high plains of eastern Wyoming to its confluence with the Missouri River 535 miles downstream, countless springs feed the Niobrara as it flows through the Sandhills region – one of the largest grass-stabilized dune regions in the world.
Probably one of the most interesting attributes of all, is the fact that there are actually portions for sale of the ecosystem it supports. One of which is Ol James Holler. Informally named due to it’s reminder of other such places where tiny valleys between charming hills create individual environments, both beautiful and productive to those who love to hunt… or just explore nature as it goes about its own business day after day.
This 760 acre land holding has been cherished by a devoted owner, who has a pedigree and commitment to, in wildlife and it’s proliferation for over 35 years. An avid turkey and bird hunter, he has enjoyed annul harvests of Merriam’s Toms every year of it’s ownership, but has not chased any other species on the land during this time, not allowed any other hunters to do so as well. And with Keya Paha historically producing some of the most Boone & Crocket entries of any Nebraska county, and knowing of Whitetails that scored in the 170s and 180s taken within the immediate vicinity, any savvy deer hunter’s mind must wonder just what old giant buck or bucks might be living secretively on “the Holler”.
Its land is diverse. At various points a visitor might think he or she could be a number of places. Looking from the lowest elevations along its roughly one mile of river frontage up into the mosaic of trees valleys and rolling hills, it could easily remind anyone of the Rockies foothills. Down in the tunneled corridors, surrounded by trees and cover, Missouri, Tennessee, or other forested places might be nearly interchangeable. And perched atop one of the vantage points looking down through cuts and brakes that expose yucca pants in the openings between Cedars and Ponderosa pines, it says nothing other than “western”.
From the same upper views, one can get a good look at the magnificent Niobrara itself. Like Prairie Rivers, it is wider than deep, complete with sandbars and braided channels, and it ideal more to mammals and birds than deep flowing rivers known for fish. Though not long known for waterfowl as a principal interest, Canada geese have been building populations that roost on its slow meandering flows and islands of sand – one of which reported to hold a few thousand birds not too far downstream.
Another very interesting feature is Rickman Creek. What a beautiful little thread of year-round water source. It even produces tiny sandbars letting you know you are still in the area known for the grainy soil. And weather or not this is the place to find the most success hunting turkeys or deer; it certainly would have some tremendous atmosphere.
Hunting and Hunting Potential
To a turkey hunter, it is obvious. And on most visits it would be an anomaly to not see a turkey, or a lot of them! But to a deer hunter, the potential is oozing! Almost as if designed by Mother Nature saying, “please put a food plot here”, there are so many small openings that create nearly too much over-choice in deciding where to put a stand, where to plant what, and where to start running cameras. Yes, it smells of deer, no doubt. But with an owner who never hunted them or allowed it, there is no proof… no “grip and grin” pictures… no lies that have grown over the years. But what also isn’t existing, is a bunch of unsuccessful hunters or those holding pictures of 2 year old 8 points that don’t go over 100 inches. This is one of those that might be the ultimate sleeper… but it is for the adventurer to find out.
One of which particularly outstanding sites is the riparian hay meadow. It is approximately 53 acres and in distance about 3,000 feet long. And it runs basically along the river with only a corridor of prime deer habitat between it and the water itself. It is higher elevation only slightly but enough to grow alfalfa. And apparently it did just that prior to the current ownership. As a matter of fact, when walking the property the first time, what was revealed almost as if it was nothing, is a 200 gpm irrigation well out into the meadow about 50 or so yards from the deer cover. Yes!! However, it has not been used in a very long time. Therefore, though the well is certified, the 35 acres it watered are not. Recognizing that this well would put those acres immediately at a higher value, it would be nice to price it accordingly. But looking into getting them certified, there would in fact be a real possibility of getting it ranked and done. However, it would take the time to do so. And rather than go through that wait, the owner has decided not to value those acres at any higher price, and rather just let them be a bonus to someone who will get it done. The point of which is that if at least 35 acres were planted into alfalfa running the edge of the riverine habitat, it would likely be one amazing hunting site for the deer it would “own!” And though this is only talking about irrigated alfalfa, it is likely a place that could grow dry land alfalfa regardless, and the plant’s extremely long roots could find sub irrigation easily.
And as a bonus to an otherwise deer/turkey property, the Niobrara can be hunted according to land ownership. Though ducks would only be a few, goose hunting would probably be productive and growing.
On the property is a home site. One abandoned two-story home holds it’s own stories that are long gone. But the current caretaker has a double wide that would work for a modest hunting cabin. Warm and dry, complete with an old, but beautiful wood burning stove, in addition to it’s central heat and air, this could be a great place for someone who wants just to get out and hunt with a place to eat, tell lies with his or her buddies, before getting a good night’s sleep before starting the process over the next day.
Yes, Ol James Holler has a lot! And when looking at value, it’s clear that it exists in an area that hasn’t quite caught up to the prices associated with other hunting destinations. Yet, regarding whitetails and Merriam’s turkey, it should be worth as much as those other haunts.
Ol James Holler
Ol James Holler