Pheasant Hunting the PQ Ranch with Jim Merten


While this is a fly fishing site, many of you who have followed for a while know that I have long been an upland bird hunter, pheasants to be very specific. Truth is that I find a large number of similarities between pheasant hunting-following a good bird dog…and chucking a streamer in search of a big smallie, trout, northern or musky. The puzzle is the allure. Pheasants and trout for example can be at times somewhat easy and at other times a true calculus problem. The game of figuring both out is what keeps me coming back.

I will even go a step further; I feel like I have a pretty good grip on two parts of this side by side love of mine, pheasant hunting and streamer fishing. I have for a long time built and then been very good at developing and reading my bird dogs. I have never owned a dog that I didn’t start with as a very young puppy, usually around 7-8 weeks of age. I know my dogs; their ins and outs and what makes them tick. I know when they are hot, bored and at times…ready to lose their minds. This innate ability has allowed me to use any of my good bird dogs like a thermometer. I know when they are hot and when good things are about to happen.
Pappi, my dog, pheasant huntingLikewise, I have developed over the past couple of decades, a real ability to read the water that I am fishing. I am not sure how best to put it…but I can ‘see’ where fish should be. The more I have honed this skill, the better fly-guy I have become. I waster fewer casts and in turn, waster fewer opportunities. I would like to say that this skill was also an innate skill…but I am not sure that was always the case. What I do know is that the more I catch, the better I get. The more often I can put a large trout in the net; the more frequently I am able to lip a big smallie…the more I retain and this is the critical connection…the more I recall my next time out in similar situations.

Today’s video, while short, was without question one of the most enjoyable two hours I have had in 2017. Why you might ask…didn’t seem like anything too incredible? Two or three hours, unencumbered by any phone call, deadline or student issues…when combined with one of the nicest and most enjoyable men I know in Jim Merten…well, believe me when I say this, whatever nirvana is, this was on the doorstep.
Jim Merten, pheasant huntingI hope that as you watch you can appreciate the beauty of the P/Q Ranch. Environs with incredible habitat like this just don’t happen, they are planned and there is a lot of what I like to preach to my students, “Sweat-Equity” involved. Hard work by good men who at their core have the very best interest of all of nature at hand. If I were a pheasant, I’d want to live on the P/Q Ranch; that is except for the times when me and my wirehairs and shorthairs come calling.

So, enjoy the video, I only wish I had a professional film crew at my beckon call so that you could watch as my pair of bird dogs, Pappi and Macy, comb, weave and bob their way through the chest high grass in search of America’s king of gamebirds…the ringneck pheasant.

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