If I am lucky, each year I get to extend my pheasant season just a bit longer as the result of an invite from my good friends Jim Merten and Skip Hendricks. These two ‘Sportsmen’ along with a few other fellow conservationists have taken 450 acres of Indiana farmland and turned it into one amazing example of just how good it can be if one (or a few) have the will to do something right. It’s called the PQ Ranch.
The ‘Boys’ have groomed the acreage with big and little bluestem and other hardy varieties of grass…along with several nice food plots. Each year they harvest deer, turkey, quail and of course, pheasants from this perfect piece of Hoosierland. I might also add that you could search the world over and not find nicer men than Jim and Skip; these ‘seasoned’ gents are truly representative of Hoosier Hospitality.
Just one morning after I’d given my last final at Edgewood High School…I loaded up my three bird dogs; two shorthairs and one young and wily wirehair…and headed north a couple hours to just north of Attica, Indiana. Way ‘back-when’ Attica was in the heart of Indiana pheasant country, but over the past couple of decades the swath of good pheasant hunting has shrunk and if it weren’t for American Sportsmen like Jim and Skip…there wouldn’t be any pheasants at all in the area. We unloaded the dogs and started meandering from awesome cover to awesome cover…no one was in any hurry and for me it was a treat to enjoy mature conversation (which doesn’t always occur in a public high school hallway).
Bird by bird we picked off a pheasant here and there as my trio pointed and held on a few ringnecks. Little did we know that at one point we would hit a bonanza…a strip of 60 or so feet of milo adjacent to a shelterbelt…which was also adjacent to a large chunk of chest high grass. At this point it became a challenge to keep my pooches in order as my young wirehair was just on the edge (and one point and time went over the edge) of losing his mind. I did the best I could to rein in my hounds and at one point we had a literal covey flush of 7 or 8 roosters which was an incredible sight to see and be a part of.
The PQ Ranch is an incredibly well thought out and managed piece of land and it is reflective of the passion and appreciation by its owners for outdoor adventures; to steal the line from A Field of Dreams… ”If you build it, they will come”. Come is exactly what has happened, as the farm has flourished and while the guys add pen-raised pheasants each year…the number of hens on the farm means that their habitat practices are working. To hunt the ranch is a pleasure…but to hunt it with great men like Jim and Skip, well…that is an honor!