Fly-Tying and Scavenging

Farmers plow, miners excavate, politicians philander, and fly-tiers scavenge. It’s a simple truth I cannot escape. I have an overabundant supply of fine pheasant tails—a material that, let’s be honest, is truly irreplaceable on only a handful of patterns. Despite that fact, I see feathers, and I must collect. I’m like a banjo minnow, plumes of long stems and barbs triggers a genetic response somewhere deep inside and I must add them to my collection.

North Dakota is probably as comparably close to the North Pole as you can get without leaving the lower 48. Cold air and snow drifts, followed by more cold air and snow drifts, and a vast, sometimes empty landscape more akin to Santa’s Fortress of Solitude than a setting where any sane person would reside. My truck’s temperature gauge displayed negative digits for four days straight now, and according to the weatherman, there’s no chance of it even warming up to a balmy 10 degrees.

But I’ll take it. It’s a small price to pay for the ace-in-the-hole.

North Dakota + Pheasants + Acres of farmland + In-laws with “connections” = Enough said.

The snow was falling, the wind was blowing, and the birds were flighty, but a few short walks through the tall brush along some tree rows, a brisk zig-zag through frozen sloughs, and some questionable long-range Hail Mary lead shot projections, and I had my three-bird limit. Store bought materials pale in comparison to what you can find in the wild.


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