LIVINGSTON - For a guy with a whole bunch of money, Russell Gordy keeps a fairly low profile.

"I'm a pretty quiet guy," said 51-year-old Texan who explained that he "started out dirt poor and got lucky" in the oil and gas business.

His new neighbors say they don't know much about him.

"He's kind of a mystery guy," said Jonathan Foote, an architect and builder who recently sold him a ranch. "All I know is he bought my ranch."

Dave Viers, the real estate broker who put together the 44,000-acre deal combining seven ranches in two counties, described Gordy as friendly and prone to wisecracks.

On Friday, Gordy returned an earlier phone call from the Chronicle to his Houston home.

He'd just returned from a grizzly bear hunting trip in Alaska, where he was disappointed that his guide made him use a rifle instead of a bow.

"I don't believe in subdividing," he said. "I won't do that. I'll definitely never develop" the new ranch.

At some point, he might consider putting a conservation easement on the property, he said, but not in the immediate future.

Though he made his money in energy, he said he won't drill for gas on the property, nor will he develop wind energy.

"I just love that country," he said. "It was a unique opportunity to put together a bunch of land without much state or federal land in it."

This is his fourth ranch, including one south of Casper, Wyo. that measures more than 70,000 acres.

He responded with a good laugh when asked if he planned to make any money on cows.

He also said he was shocked to learn that this purchase, at more than $40 million, is the most expensive ranch deal in Montana.

"I just thought it was a beautiful property," he said. "They don't make land like that any more."

But, as Viers pointed out, "in some places, they sell houses for that much."

Viers put the deal together after Gordy looked at one ranch in the area and decided it wasn't what he was looking for.

Gordy owns, helps manage or is a director of several oil and gas companies in Texas, some of which focused on exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. His holdings include S.G. Interests, Gordy Oil Co. Gordy Gas Corporation, San Juan Compression LLC, SG Interest Inc. SG Methane Co. Inc., Garnee Gas Co. LLC, Rock Creek Ranch, Inc. and Lone Star Land and Cattle Co.

He graduated from Sam Houston State University in Texas in 1972 with a bachelor's of business administration degree and is a certified public accountant. He's been generous to his alma mater, according to its web page.

He hunts big game in Africa and Alaska and speaks with a pronounced southern accent. He said he doesn't plan to live here because "my wife can't stand the cold" but will be a frequent visitor.

He loves to hunt upland birds, which abound on his new ranch.

"I'd rather hunt birds than eat," he said.

Though he's been very successful, he's kept a low profile in his home state. Since 1985, his name hasn't appeared in the Houston Chronicle, according to a search of that newspaper's library.

He said he'll probably build a home on the ranch, but plans no other big changes.

"I won't mess it up," he said. "I think people will find I'm a good neighbor."

Scott McMillion is at scottm@gomontana.com.

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