Long Time Pheasant Hunter - Matt

A long story from long ago that is still true today.

Matt's only advantage over most is his knowledge of our lease land and the hot spots that many of the farms hold. He has this knowledge through experience of walking each lease to see what is over the ridge. His knowledge of the land to date ensures he has more than enough action for his limited field time than he has time to spend with his dogs.


Dear Jon, John,

long time pheasant hunterFor the first time in 15 years I am sending in some photos from this season. Once again, despite some of the negative rumors I heard prior to the season we had another great year. In fact, I think this was one of my most productive years harvesting over 35 pheasant roosters and many more quail.

I've really enjoyed the variety of habitat and the amount of different farms we've explored over the years.

Hopefully, I'll be able to enjoy another 15 years and 2 more generations of dogs hunting the fields leased by MAHA.

Sincerely, Matt


Brittany spaniels on the huntPhoto from this past season of his close working French Brittany with a Kansas pheasant limits. Matt hunts by himself or his son with his dogs and they enjoy hunting with or without birds in the bag. This year they were able to bring home 37 roosters and close to 20 quail over 11 hunting days, so we're assuming their season was a success.

Matt is like most of us in that we have more ambition to hunt than time. The time he does spend in the field certainly has been for the enjoyment of the day.

Thank you Matt for sharing your pictures. We seem to have fewer Brittany hunters than in the past and those that we do have will enjoy seeing your dogs.


This article was written for a non-upland bird dog owner audience. Bird dog hunters most likely will not enjoy reading this information. Matt is mostly a solitary hunter of Brittany's.

tells the story of th stages of upland bird huntersWhat Matt did for us was to take a picture of whatever he harvested on each of the days he hunted. He typically starts at first light and quits an hour or so before dark. The intent was to show what the typical upland bird hunter can achieve on any single hunting trip.

While his dogs look similar he hunts over two and when one is pictured with the birds that dog accounts for all the birds in that picture.

many get stuck in the counting stageOf the upland bird hunters that have been with their Association the longest, in his case Matt has been a member since 1989, they typically hunt alone to enjoy the solitude and company of their dogs.

While most of the reason for the solitary hunting is two fold and primarily due to the hunter and dog relationship. Extending into that is it is very difficult to find a good hunting partner where dog performance, hunting style and personalities match. The other part of the solitary upland hunter is due to the non-organized hunting style of the most productive hunters and its difficulty for the non-bird dog hunter.

there is more to enhjoy than just the shooting of pheasantsThe non-bird dog upland hunter, typically a pheasant hunter, will approach a field as a geometric problem to be solved equally walking all portions in a predetermined pattern. Bird dog hunters consider wind, contour, cover quality, bird activity and dog feedback that all combine in a field pattern that will completely frustrate the non-bird dog owner attempting to follow along. The difference of course is the amount of bird action that each approach will achieve. While both approaches will yield birds it is most likely the bird dog approach to yield more birds in a shorter period of time. However, the greatest difference is that the non-bird dog owner is more interested in bird numbers in the bag and qualifies a good and bad day based on limits achieved. The bird dog owning hunter qualifies a good day based on dog work such as point leg and tail position, sit at flush, work range, retrieve to hand at sit, stand-off, track and relocate, honoring, retrieving, track and recover runners, etc., be it for a retriever, flusher or pointer.

Many never learn the higher value even when age takes them to gray hairFor those that do own bird dogs, dog ownership alone is not cause enough to make for a successful upland bird hunting partnership between two hunters. All the qualities of a good bird dog hunt listed above must be fairly well distributed between the two hunters and their dogs. Should one be out of sync with the other then the enjoyment of the dog work begins to degrade. This issue itself is the greatest detriment to bird dog owners teaming up for hunts, after this issue it is the hunter's personality that then matters the most.

The range of bird dog hunters most often expressed as personality does follow that of the "Stages Of Hunter Development" commonly read in a variety of articles. For the bird dog hunter these stages follow directly to that of their dog training skill level ranging form the first bird dog where the basic level of performance is yet to be demonstrated to that many dogs later when the hunter seeks truly the tranquility of the day above all else.

self guided hunters in competition on free land access have a must get them before the otehr hunter attitudeThe first stage of a bird dog owner is that when a hunter trains and hunts his first dog. That may have been as a child growing up under the mentorship of a seasoned bird dog hunter or a late in life hunter that decides to cross over to the realm of the bird dog. At this point there is much indecision and concern about dog performance and the hunter frequently does not have the wherewithal to accurately assess and effectively adjust the differences between the dog's current level of demonstrated performance and that which is desired. The new dog owner typically responds with desire and confidence gained from reading a book or two and that fragmented information gleaned from more experienced dog owners. This hunter plunges headlong into upland bird hunting and will achieve the widest range of possible results. Success is measured primarily by the number of birds in the bag and frequently so regardless of the dog's performance with all birds within shotgun range shot at whether pointed, flushed or jumped.

Association upland bird hunters are more relaxed and satisfied at the end of their hunting tripThe next stage in bird dog hunter development is that when some level of experience is gained on dog training either through book reading, seminar attendance or joining a dog club or attempting the field trial circuit. This is the stage where the greatest disservice to bird dog hunting occurs by the hunter's ego becoming the all important measure of success. This may certainly gain momentum to becoming out of control should that success come more easily than deserved by the hunter and due to the quality of the dog. This is a case where the dog's capability exceeds that of the hunter. The hunter of course takes the credit. Success is measure by field trial performance, bag limits achieved and who has the better dog with such hunters rank ordering others based on dog performance alone.

Further development of the bird dog hunter occurs, for those that do not get stuck in the ego mode, when one progresses to work to refine his desires in the dog's performance through more closely matching dog performance development to his desired hunting style. Pointing, flushing, retrieving, hunt range, check back, retrieve to hand at sit, sit at flush, good on pheasant, quail, sharp tail, ruffle grouse, etc., become the focus of effort rather than bird counts. Dog performance becomes an issue not so much for recognition by others or a "body of experts" it is more for the hunter's hunting enjoyment. This is the stage the hunter refines for himself that which he is after for the long term and not just for that next season, field trial or hunt test. This is also the turning point to the final stage in the bird hunter development that has traveled from the bird count stage where good and bad days are measured by limits, through recognition (ego) stage where dog performance and hunter quality is rank ordered amongst other dog owners, through this one where it is on refinement of what is really desired to the final stage of tranquility.

Throughout the season pheasant hunting in Iowa or KansasThe tranquility stage is achieved when the bird dog hunter becomes a master having mastered his own personality for what he truly wants through being able to train and hunt dogs to his desired standards, recognizes dogs are not perfect and accept less at times, does not seek the approval or recognition of others and limits are not the objective. The enjoyment of the day watching dogs work birds becomes paramount. This is most easily achieved by hunting alone with the dogs as the presence of any others not at this level detract from what is most likely the greatest recreational and enjoyment activity for that hunter. This reason far more than all others is the cause of the solitary bird dog hunter.

Much to tell that only by experince is truely learnedLet's tally: 1 hunter, 2 dogs, 11 hunting days, 37 pheasants, 14 quail. Matt and many others will say it is not the birds in the bag it is the quality of the dog work and those that seek quality dog work will always get birds. These hunters are typically the best shots as they do not pressure themselves and they are shooting for the dog, not for themselves. For these hunters the birds will come and they will achieve more limits than others. They get limits as a secondary product - what many seek as the only objective.

More Of Matt's Hunts

Open, habitat less, no bird country to some who do not know where to hunt.

No stress long day hunting

Birds for those that try.

It is about the life experince of tranqulity that hunters hunt for life

Memories beyond the hunt for many.

The young is about accomplishment the old is about the fun of the moment

Dog action only dog loving bird hunters can understand.

dogs never complain are always happy and make the best pheasant hunting companions

One more good day the dogs always have more than the hunters


Open Land Hunting
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Traveling Hunter Concerns
One Bad Pheasant Season
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Upland Birds
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