The Life of a Landman

CNN Money recently had an article on the 25 best jobs in America. On a list of 100 they ranked jobs with the best growth, best pay and the most satisfying work. The position of landman was listed in spot #3. A CNN Money reporter reached out to us to get some insight into what landmen do. With offices across the nation, and landmen from different disciplines and different backgrounds, we were able to provide them with some truly unique landmen experiences. One such story is that of  Brian Kiser from our Denver office. He submitted a story he titled “Have Bike, Will Travel” to The Playbook about a recent assignment that he was given where he was able to really get out in the field. His story tells you a lot about why so many people love being landmen.

Located in the middle of the Unitah Basin, Duschesne Utah is pretty rural. Stark population surrounded by stark beauty, to which the adjacent Starvation State Park is a testament. Centered around Starvation Lake, this ominously named park is framed by the beautiful mesas and buttes Utah is famous for. Three miles from town, down some dirt roads in the park, I found a nice spot on a hilltop being the highest point on the mesa, to park and camp; quiet solitude and 360 degree views of the canyon lands.

I’ve never been too keen on hotels. They seem to remove the opportunity for spontaneity and adventure that traveling can provide. Learning to eschew certain creature comforts has found me in some interesting places over the years. From a tee-pee in New Mexico eating roadkill venison steaks on Thanksgiving, to a drafty squat house during a Tulsa winter full of friendly hobos and pitbulls; I would never trade these experiences for room service and an ice machine. That is not to say this form of travel is for everyone. It’s not. In fact, it appeared I was the only person camped in the entire park. Utah temperatures are already below Colorado  in areas and I supposed that is unappealing to some.

For a week on my private mountaintop I watched the sunset, had campfires, listened to Hand Williams Jr., and fell asleep to roving bands of howling coyotes. And every morning, a quick outdoor shower while watching the sun rise before heading to the courthouse. Who needs coffee when you can pour cold water on your head in 40 degree weather? It’s a jolt to be sure.

During my time in Duschesne, every morning while returning to camp I drove past a large drill site in the midst of being fracked and a new pipeline being buried. I was struck by the unusual inter-connectedness of myself and those workers – their work versus mine. Despite the obvious differences, common ground exists; we’re both functioning as tiny pieces of an Industry supporting an incalculable amount of families industries, and subsidiary infrastructures existing on  a vast, global scale. It was a moment that gave me pause and a little self reflection. So often we’re consumed with the demands of the now – the immediacy of things right in front to four face – that we overlook the bigger picture. As the saying goes, familiarity breed contempt. That is to say, the absence of learning and discovery is the death of thought and growth. I’ve found that for myself, in choosing the unfamiliar, the challenging, the proverbial road less traveled, I’m continually confronting my own preconceptions and redefining my paradigm. And this, for me at least, has proven to be a great thing.