Travel with ShotgunlifeThere’s bobwhite quail, chukar, partridge and pheasant for the taking in Texas. But there’s more than great bird shooting in Texas. You can drive to Austin, the city that surprisingly has more live music venues per capita than even Nashville, Memphis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas or New York City

In Mexico you can go on trips to shoot ducks, quail goose, and perdiz. Then squeeze in a visit to the magnificent Inca ruins, stunning scuba diving in Cozumel or magnificent deep-sea fishing in Cancun.

Michigan is a pheasant-hunting paradise in the fall -- especially if your lodgings are a rustic lakefront cabin with a wood-burning fireplace.

You could stay in gorgeous San Francisco and make day trips to the “other Napa Valley” for a weekend of great clays shooting and tastings at tiny wineries destined for greatness.

Or you could hop a train -- one of the many rail safaris in Africa that take you to private bird-shooting preserves in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania. And of course, there is plenty of exotic wildlife -- up close and personal.

Luxuriate away your time in the travel section of Shotgun Life. You can travel vicariously or book a reservation. This is a place to explore.


It's FREE, But It's Not for Everyone
Join an elite group of readers who receive their FREE e-letter every week from Shotgun Life. These readers gain a competitive advantage from the valuable advice delivered directly to their inbox. You'll discover ways to improve your shooting, learn about the best new products and how to easily maintain your shotgun so it's always reliable. If you strive to be a better shooter, then our FREE e-letter is for you.

Please fill out this form to sign up.
Your Name:
* Email:
We value your privacy. We will never rent or sell your e-mail address to another company.
Irwin Greenstein, Publisher

Make a loud noise and break something.

There is something instinctive, even primal, about the satisfaction of seeing a clay target smash after a perfect shot. The smaller the pieces, the bigger the rush. That squirt of dopamine that tells your brain you just experienced a perfect moment.

Many shotgun aficionados will argue that clays shooting is merely a warm-up act for winghooting.

After all, shotguns are designed to shoot upland birds and waterfowl. And clays originated as practice sports to keep your eyes and reflexes sharp for the real thing.

Wingshooting is rich in tradition and utility -- giving the sport a timeless quality. Whether it’s a driven shoot in Scotland, a train safari in Africa or hiking the plains of South Dakota, wingshooting takes you back to a more genteel and aristocratic age.

Mark time on the shotgun continuum and you’ll also see that the legendary craftsmen came of age with guns built to put game birds on the table.

Being out in the heather with your compatriots as the birds come flying toward you, and raise your shotgun to your shoulder…well that is what awaits you here. In this section you will find…

  • Upland shooting
  • Waterfowl shooting
  • Popular birds
    • Pigeons
    • Ducks
    • Geese
    • Grouse
    • Pheasant
    • Quail
  • Ammo
  • Special clothes
  • Recipes
  • Destinations
  • Equipment
    • Blinds
    • Calls
    • Decoys
    • Boats
  • Places to shoot

It's FREE, But It's Not for Everyone
Join an elite group of readers who receive their FREE e-letter every week from Shotgun Life. These readers gain a competitive advantage from the valuable advice delivered directly to their inbox. You'll discover ways to improve your shooting, learn about the best new products and how to easily maintain your shotgun so it's always reliable. If you strive to be a better shooter, then our FREE e-letter is for you.

Please fill out this form to sign up.
Your Name:
* Email:
We value your privacy. We will never rent or sell your e-mail address to another company.
Irwin Greenstein, Publisher
Nothing -- repeat nothing -- is more important than safety when handling your shotgun.

Many shooters get so focused on making the shot, that they lose track of what’s going on around them. Once that happens, it’s simply a matter of time until an accident happens with your shotgun.

In this section, you’ll learn about everything you should do and should not do when handling a shotgun. You’ll also discover the most important safety tips regarding children and shotguns.

Ignoring or forgetting the safety basics is very easy to do. Shooters get complacent, over-confident or distracted. Eventually, every shooter at one time or another does something unsafe with a shotgun. This section makes you realize when you do it, how to prevent it and how to spot safety slip-ups in others.

This section is a must-read for every shotgun shooter -- and for anyone who is even contemplating owning a shotgun or being around others who are shooting shotguns.

I’m approaching one of those BIG milestone birthdays.  You know, one of those that ends in a "0", one where the total of your past years is a higher percentage than the total of your expected future years.  One that makes you stop and think about your life:  past, present, and future.

Story and photos by Jerry Sinkovec

Castle Valley Outdoors is an Orvis endorsed hunting and fishing lodge that opened in 2005 in south central Utah. It’s about three hours by car from the Salt Lake City airport, and the drive takes you through some interesting country. The ranch has over 15,000 acres in the valley with ten hunting fields where most of it is dedicated to upland bird hunting with quail, chukars, and some partridge and of course two species of pheasant, the ring neck and the black melanistic available. Other game available on a limited basis are elk, deer, turkey and cougar. When I arrived there was snow on the ground in March, which is unusual for the area as they really never get snow and if they do it’s always gone by February.

On January 18, 2011 Randolph Engineering introduced a shooting-glasses lens advertised as five to six times more impact resistant than standard polycarbonate now widely used by their military and law enforcement clients. Armed with a 12-gauge semi-auto and a box of 1⅛-ounce target loads, we set out to personally verify Randolph Engineering’s boosted safety claim.

 

Most fantasies are better than the actual experience. Occasionally the opposite is true, a well known fact of hunters around Maryland.

It’s a “Wellies Morning.” That means it’s raining, an always welcome circumstance in this Texas Hill Country. It’s a day to don those Wellington boots if you’re destined for the field whether shooting or not.

The middle Tennessee hills are a hidden treasure of superb quail hunting habitat.

Skeet Shotguns

The standard skeet gun is an over/under break action that has screw-in chokes. This configuration is available in just about any gauge from the smallest .410 to the largest 12-gauge.

Some shooters prefer to use a semi-automatic for skeet, also with screw-in chokes.

Either configuration works fine. The most important aspect of a good skeet gun is not the number of barrels it has or its action: it’s the balance and feel of the gun that allows you make smooth swings to hit the crossing targets of most skeet stations.

I know that if you want to hunt wild and hard to find pheasants in Montana you have one of two choices, either cold weather or very cold weather, and lots of hard hunting which means a bunch of miles on foot.

Who but the taxing authority that devised it would ever consider a retroactive tax rate increase a good thing?  Certainly not a conservative thinker like myself.  But such a thing actually happened back when President Clinton retroactively increased federal income tax rates in 1993.  As the president made law with the stroke of his pen, the leader of our household declared we would NOT pay additional taxes, but instead we would work less and vacation more.  That sounded like a great plan to me, as the prior few years had seen very little vacationing for our family since the opening of our year-round hunting/shooting resort.  Some quick calculations determined that a month of vacationing would net us the same tax burden as the old tax rates, so destinations became the next order of business.

A SENSE OF PLACE

"We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto!" I said to Steve Lamboy as we left the small home that serves as the clubhouse for the Arzaga Drugulo hunting club. Steve and I were guests of Paolo Zoli and his father, Giuseppe Zoli, owners of the preeminent gunmaker Antonio Zoli located in the center of Italy's historic arms producing region, Gardone Val Trompia.

Skeet

Unless you’re in a squad with highly ranked shooters who consider 24 out of 25 a miserable failure, skeet is a great sport for mixing, mingling and shooting.

Cheerful support, gratuitous advice and a few off-color jokes are the earmarks of a happy day of casual shooting on the skeet field…made all the better by a perfect 25.

The ruffed grouse is to the forest what pheasants are to the grasslands. But unlike the flashier, bigger plains bird, you can’t bully a grouse around. The “we-got-’em-surrounded” mentality that often works with pheasants – big crowds pushing a section of real estate to pinch birds and force them to flight – won’t get you anywhere in the grouse woods. No, this is one bird that requires finesse.

I grew up in a rural area of deep south Texas in an agricultural community where, as a kid, I conjured up some pretty glamorous and exciting ideas about faraway city life. It’s no wonder I went to college in Dallas and stayed eleven years for a corporate career in Dallas and San Antonio. But in those years the lure of the city life wore thin and eventually wore out. The fates were good to me though and caused my path to intersect that of my intriguing future husband, Joe, who lived on a small ranch just outside San Antonio. His home was surrounded by acres of grassy fields and lightly wooded pastures, reminiscent of the openness where I’d grown up. The only thing better than his place was the man himself and his exhilarating enthusiasm for the sporting life, which was a whole new world to me. He introduced me to sailing, dove and quail shooting, deer and turkey hunting, duck hunting, and snow skiing. I wasn’t just an observer. I packed the spinnaker, shot, cleaned and cooked birds and deer, and came down Aspen Mountain my third day on skies.

Imagine a game of sporting clays without the hassle of a clipboard and pencil.

As you walk up to the cage, you don’t have to search for a place to rest the clipboard that holds the score sheet. Where should I put it? Lean it against the gun rack? Balance it on the railing? Leave it in the cart and remember the scores to write down later? Hand it off to a friend who hands it to a friend and so on until eventually someone in the squad ends up dealing with the clunky thing?

How about a big, juicy Beretta Burger?

Or maybe a spicy Krieghoff Crabcake Sandwich is more to your liking.

Want something with a little more roughage? You can always order the Shotgun House Salad with lots of greens and homemade dressing.

These are some of the menu selections from The Grille at the Sporting Clays Lodge of the Seven Springs Mountain Lodge in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania. You can chow down in the classic chalet setting or grab a table on the 7,000-square-foot deck with a dazzling view of the valley below.

If you own a dog, then the following story will be familiar to you. If not, then perhaps it will inspire you, or at the very least make you chuckle a bit.

Operating a hunting lodge is a lot like managing a household of all boys where company is coming every day. Some of the visitors are like family who've been coming over for years. Some are new acquaintances we're anxious to know better. Regardless, company is coming, so everything must be at its best. That means, getting the household back in order from the guests who've just departed: laundry, house cleaning, menu planning, grocery shopping, lawn and grounds spiffing, and, of course, finding a spot to store the items that the last guests forgot to pack up and take with them.

You can’t imagine the variety of items that are left at a hunting lodge by the boys who come for a stay. More than just the odd sock under the bed, we’ve found hunting boots, every possible layer of clothing, high-tech shooting glasses, gun cases, cell phones, laptop computers, and on and on. The greatest mystery is how some of these things can be left behind and never missed. Honestly, no one calls to claim them....and we’re talking about some highly desirable things from a hunter's perspective.

The day before departure on an Alaska fishing trip several years ago, we discovered that my husband, Joe, didn’t have a light weight summer jacket appropriate for the climate. Given that it was a sweltering Texas day in early July and the nearest shopping center an hour away would not likely be selling jackets, I suggested to Joe that he consider checking out the lodge’s lost and found for something he could use. I’d in fact myself been borrowing a fabulous Boss hunting coat for years on those rare frigid days in my deer hunting blind. Luckily, he found a navy canvas bomber style jacket that fit him fine and the “loan” was made for the duration of the trip.

thumb_Kerchevilles-Fishing-Bear-experience-Alaska-2000
Joe Kerchivelle flanked by Joseph and Joshua Kerchivelle.

The trout and salmon fishing were fantastic and so was the weather. In fact, it turned warm enough one day that Joe didn’t need his jacket, so he left it laying on the bank of the river while he did some wade fishing. Bear were active in the area and it so happened that a big brown bear wandered upon the jacket. He proceeded to have a frolicking good time with that jacket, tossing it around, giving it several good shakes and thrashing it with his paws. Needless to say, no one attempted a jacket rescue and the bear eventually got bored and moseyed away, leaving the jacket where it laid. Amazingly, the jacket came back home to our hunting lodge with only a shredded lining as evidence of its encounter.

Months pass, and when a brisk autumn day arrived in the Texas Hill Country, I got a call from a San Antonio client who asked if he’d by any chance left his jacket at the ranch. He proceeded to describe the jacket Joe had borrowed for that Alaska fishing trip. Can you believe it? A jacket lays around in our lost and found for over a year, goes on an Alaska fishing trip, gets mauled by a bear and then its owner remembers where he left it. I told him we indeed had his jacket, that it had been on quite an adventure and had an amazing story to tell. He was enthralled by the jacket’s story and just wished he’d been in it except for the bear encounter. I assured him I’d have the torn lining repaired and give him a call when the job was done.

A couple of weeks later, I called the client to say the jacket was ready. For his convenience, he preferred to pick it up at Joe’s San Antonio office. So Joe took it into town and left it with his receptionist for our client. Within the same week, our client called me sounding very dejected. “I went to get my jacket and I’m terribly disappointed,” he said. I immediately asked if the tailor had not done a satisfactory job. “It’s not that,” he muttered, “The jacket looks fine. The trouble is that it’s not mine. And it wasn’t the jacket that I wanted so much anymore. I wanted the story that goes with it!”

Ann Kercheville is President of Joshua Creek Ranch. Located in the renowned Texas Hill Country just 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio and 90 minutes southwest of Austin, Joshua Creek Ranch occupies a uniquely diverse terrain including miles of Joshua Creek and Guadalupe River bottomland planted in fields of grain crops for prime upland and deer hunting habitats. You can visit their web site at http://www.joshuacreek.com.

Blixt-slideshow

Here at an altitude of 6,000 feet, the aromas of pine trees, sage brush and spent Holland & Holland shells mingle together in the Big Hole Mountains of Idaho where Lars Magnusson has introduced traditional English driven shoots on American soil.

What is the biggest problem Todd Bender sees with 75% of the skeet shooters he coaches?

You might think it’s a shoddy gun mount, an ill-fitting stock or a chronic flinch.

In fact, after 20 years of coaching and dominating competitive skeet shooting, Todd believes that many clays shooters crash and burn from acute eye fatigue.

It was September 9th, eight days after the West Virginia season opener for mourning doves. At the Shenandoah Valley Sportsmen Club, opening-day hunters had maxed out their limit within hours – arriving home in plenty of time for lunch and chores.

It's late morning on a Saturday in mid-July at Joshua Creek Ranch and seems unusually still and quiet after being abuzz day and night for the past week with high-energy active teenage guests.  The JCR staff performs post-guest clean-up dutifully, but with the help of some extra young people. All are anxious to be done with their work and on with enjoying some time off after a very intense week of managing the busy itinerary of the group that just departed.  What's been going on the prior week has become one of my favorite activities at the ranch...the Youth Outdoor Adventure Program (YOAP).

If you love goose hunting then western Canada is Mecca. Last fall my hunting partner Mark and I planned a trip to western Canada to the province of Alberta. Our connection up there works and lives in the fast growing region and city of Grand Prairie.

I sat across the picnic table from shotgun instructor extraordinaire, Gil Ash, as he drew a simple diagram on the yellow legal pad between us. At first it looked like ripples emanating out, but then he started adding numbers to the curved lines until he finally turned around the pad to face me.

Okay, so I’m an outfitter, and yes, I have a business in Argentina. This article isn’t about any of that. It is about what you need to know if you want to go, and how to figure the cost of going. For 15 of the last 20 years, I was a consumer. I did my research, booked my own flights, paid my money, and went hunting. That changed five years ago, but I believe that, now as an outfitter, with a lot of real world experience, I have a moral and ethical obligation to educate and explain to potential Argentina wing shooting hunters how to put together this hunt of a lifetime and what it really, really costs.

Having dogs around all the time is just part of my day-to-day life as a hunting lodge operator and wife of a wingshooting enthusiast.  They’re everywhere...in my house, my yard, my office, around the lodge, at the ranch kennels, in the hunting guides’ trucks and dog trailers, in the hunting fields and pastures. I mean, literally everywhere.  I think we’ve either owned or hosted every imaginable breed of bird dog at Joshua Creek Ranch at one time or another over the past 22 years, including some deaf dogs, three-legged dogs, half-blind dogs, and old arthritic dogs who wouldn't give up hunting any more than their deaf, half-blind, old, arthritic masters. And I love having all those dogs around....IF they’re well trained and have nice manners.

You are supposed to title your article when you’re finished with it, so I am already doing this backwards since I just wrote the title. But what you see in outdoor television programming, and what is involved in making it happen, are about as backward as it gets. As a viewer, you see the great dog work, the great shots, the great panorama shots of sky, mountains, birds and the successful hunter. What you don’t see is the WORK, on the part of everyone involved, that goes into making that wonderful entertainment we call Outdoor Television.

Having hunted most of the species of upland birds in North America, I’ve come to appreciate the qualities of the chukar. Hunting chukar is an exciting adventure that always includes a surprise or two. Chukars are not only fun to hunt, they are also one of the most hearty birds to put down and typically don’t present a head shot on the rise as pheasant tend to do – making them challenging as well.

I’m a Texan so, of course, I’m tuned in to what’s going on in our great state. But wherever you reside, you’d have to be living in total isolation not to have heard about the catastrophic drought, heat and wildfires that have plagued Texas all summer long. Truth is, for us it started a year ago in September 2010, when Mother Nature turned off the rain faucet in our beautiful Texas Hill Country after lavishing us with abundant and timely showers throughout the prior summer.  Since then, our average annual rainfall of 30 inches has shrunk to a meager 20% of that amount, a total of 6 inches in a whole year. Spring-fed creeks are bone dry and rivers are a trickle. Parched landscape holds its breath for fear of wind-driven wildfires, and residents sweat out record-breaking high temperatures. Many of us remember our parents and grandparents reciting stories about the drought of the 1950’s, but the summer of 2011 will likely prove to rival those days.

A couple of years ago I received a call from a business acquaintance at Benelli USA, the good people who build a great shotgun. The call was an invitation to be a guest on an episode of Benelli’s Dream Hunts program airing weekly on The Outdoor Life Network now called Versus. Not being one to turn down any chance to hunt I quickly accepted without knowing any of the details at the time.

Since this is my first column for Shotgun Life, a bit of background is probably appropriate. I was raised in New England and have been involved in the outdoor sports since a young man. At one time I wrote a weekly column for a newspaper about hunting and fishing. In recent years I have been in the shooting sports industry as an industry professional managing a company that manufactured sporting goods and imported shotguns from Italy. I just recently decided to return to my first love of photojournalism.

The month of November strikes panic into the mind of this Shotgun Wife since it marks my last chance at planning and orchestrating a holiday season that might possibly be as relaxing and enjoyable for me as for my family and our guests.  If I started right away, and devoted these next several weeks to conscientious organization and anticipation of the details of menus, decorations, entertaining, gift selections, etc., I could actually envision myself casually whistling “Deck the Halls” into a delightfully laid-back holiday season.

I was a very unlikely prospect, but Gary Jackson knew better.

The past President of Blackwater Worldwide and ex-Navy SEAL took one look at me and saw my inner commando. It speaks highly of his perceptive powers, because at the time my legs were ready to completely give out from under me, which is how we met in the first place.

"Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door" is attributed to Ralph Waldo Emerson. "Necessity is the mother of invention" is a phrase that was to become a metaphor about the power of innovation.

Although my first shooting trip to South America took place in 1972 I didn't get to shoot in Uruguay until 1997. In retrospect I hate that I missed shooting in that country and enjoying those wonderful people for so many decades. This had been a winter trip, so the duck and partridge seasons were in full swing. Of course, it was summer back here in the USA.

Yesterday was Thanksgiving Day and we had the traditional gathering of family and friends to celebrate and give thanks for our many blessings, starting with this great country and ending with the vivacious young grandchildren buzzing about the house and lawn. But one of our blessings was missing this year. For the first time in 27 years, our oldest son wasn’t home for Thanksgiving and a much loved tradition of our family hunting together over this particular holiday was broken. It set me to thinking about the heart-warming anticipation of traditional gatherings we’ve established over the years, the shooting and fishing activities we’ve inevitably incorporated into them, and the many fond memories we’ve made year upon year.

This is the final installment in our three-part series, The Triple Crown of Sporting Clays Resorts. In the first installment, Shotgun Life Editor, Deb McKown wrote about The Greenbrier. The second installment brought us to The Homestead. To wrap it up, Deb now writes about the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort.

How many times has this happened to you?

After a successful sporting-clays lesson, the very next time you shoot with friends, step into the station supremely confident, drop two shells into your shotgun, exercise your pre-shot routine and call pull, everything you’ve learned during that hard-earned, one-hour session has gone out the window as you watch the target continue its trajectory unmolested — a scenario that repeats itself over and over during a day of intensifying frustration.

I had never thought of Mexico as a bird-hunting destination, but spending a week there has really changed my perspective. Some of the most exciting and fun hunting I've experienced recently can be had out of Los Moiches, Mexico where a variety of bird hunting is available along with excellent fishing and train touring as well.

My husband Joe and I just finished a delightful late lunch at the top of Aspen Mountain in Colorado with our good friends Toby and Liz from Cincinnati, Ohio. We had met them in Scotland several years ago when we went on a driven pheasant shooting trip in the beautiful Port Patrick area.

For most people, The Homestead resort conjures up visions of golf, tennis, horseback riding and a romantic evening of four-star cuisine.

You’d think that Jack Bart is merely standing on Post 1 of a trap field, high-rib shotgun mounted, ready to call pull. In some circles, though, the 30-year veteran, clays-shooting instructor is straddling a so-called “chasm” that separates early adopters of new technology from a more pragmatic community of “wait-and-see” skeptics.

While Argentina gets the great bulk of wingshooting travel press, neighboring Uruguay offers gunning that's every bit as good. Since I've made nearly 50 trips to Colombia, Argentina, Bolivia and Uruguay I guess I have to be considered a veteran at shooting there. But on every trip I've learned something, often times I've learned a great deal.

The other day I received a call at my Joshua Creek Ranch office from the wife of a wingshooting client. She asked if I remembered a newsletter we’d sent out several years ago that had a piece in it comparing the benefits of men having dogs rather than wives. She was in hopes of getting a copy of it to share with friends. I did vaguely remember it, but to tell the truth, searching for that particular newsletter rated about minus two on my scale of things I needed to do at this particularly busy time of the hunting season. 

Part 1: The Greenbrier

You know a road trip is going be great when, on the first leg of it, Johnny Cash comes on the radio and sings "Ghost Riders in the Sky."

Your SUV is packed with sporting clays guns, ammo and shooting gear and Cash's renegade ballad sends a shiver down your spine. You wonder, Does it really get any better than this?

For us, the answer would be a resounding yes.

Sporting clays is often described as golf with shotguns and now the new Professional Sporting Clays Association intends to commercialize that depiction with five national broadcasts on NBC Sports beginning April.

Reportedly, wild-west bad men Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid escaped to Bolivia, much to the consternation of authorities here in the USA.

March 1, 2012 is the beginning of the final month of the upland bird hunting season at Joshua Creek Ranch (JCR). In my mind, I picture the calendar as twelve monthly segments arranged in a circle. October through March segments appear smaller than the other months, and if my circular calendar were placed over the face of a clock, those six months of October through March would be all jammed up between 10 o’clock and 2 o’clock.  That’s how fast the hunting season seems to go compared to the rest of the year.

We anticipated an extraordinary weekend of shooting and dining, since we also had dinner reservations at another great American institution, the Culinary Institute of America in nearby Hyde Park.

After months of anticipation the Nad Al Sheba Sporting Championship in Dubai set new high standards for a sporting clays tournament with an inaugural event that attracted more than 550 shooters from all four points of the compass. A total prize fund of $735,000 made it the richest clays shoot ever staged with cash paid out to 50th in the Men’s Division and 30th in Ladie’s, which provided plenty of motivation.

I pushed through chest-high sorghum and tall Jose wheat grass, thumbing the external hammers of my stunning 12 bore Watson & Hancock as if plucking banjo strings. Even in the chilled air the fragrance of the grasses was intoxicating. Rock-hard washboard ground tested my calf-high leather boots and kept me off balance. Eyes darting from dirt to sky, I tried to reconcile walking agility with being ready to get a quick shot at a pheasant.

What's wonderful about being of the female gender these days (and really for at least the last 40 years) is that it’s okay to be whatever you want to be. Truly, there are no professional or social limitations on whatever you choose to do, at least not in America. You can be a career professional, a stay-at-home mom, a politician, a lady of leisure (it helps to be independently wealthy), a volunteer for charitable causes, a homemaker/ gardener/chef/Martha Stewart want-to-be, etc., and by any standard of measure, any option you choose is okay. Each is respected and quite acceptable across all segments of our society.

The same goes for gals in the outdoors. We can have as much or as little involvement in it as we want and whatever we choose is okay. But in my opinion, more is better especially after seeing all the fun the guys have been having for 22+ years at Joshua Creek Ranch where there’s wingshooting, sporting clays, fly fishing, and deer and turkey hunting. For more than just my own business reasons, I’m an advocate of women getting more involved in the outdoors, especially the sporting life. Women deserve to enjoy the exhilaration and gratification of breaking that target and bagging that bird and hooking that fish…and they possess all the natural instincts to quickly develop the skills to be successful at it.

But I want to regress a moment to the idea that whatever level of involvement we ladies want is okay. We may just want to walk along on the upland hunt, watching the dogs work and applauding the shooter who bags a double; or lounge in the shade observing the quiet concentration of the fly fisherman casting his line to the trout held up behind a boulder; or keep score for the sporting clays shooters competing for who’ll buy the beer at the end of the round.  Just to be out there observing/absorbing/adoring the great outdoors at any level of participation is rewarding. 

The level of comfort we have participating in sporting activities really depends on how much opportunity we’ve had to practice. Like swimming or riding a bike, it helps to start when you’re young so it’s practically automatic as an adult. But whenever you start, some expert coaching along the way and plenty of practice can bring those skills to a very high level. BUT it’s okay for us gals to settle for a mediocre skill set and measure our success in fun. We’ll always be welcome with an “acceptable” level of competence so long as we bring along a good sporting attitude. Besides, ladies, you may not want to outperform the host who invited you. It could put future invitations in jeopardy, especially if that host is your boyfriend or husband.

3-12-jcr-girl-hunter-weekenOne of the lady food bloggers tries her hand at sporting clays at Joshua Creek Ranch.

Just recently we had the perfect group of ladies demonstrating “FUN” as the prevailing factor in the outdoors when a group of lady food bloggers was brought together at Joshua Creek Ranch by huntress and chef, Georgia Pellegrini. The purpose of the weekend was to introduce these guests to wild game cooking, with a sideline course in shotgun shooting and fly fishing. Most of the gals had never shot a shotgun and many had never been on a ranch. You’ve never seen such whimsy and delight among a group of highly skilled professional women. The best part was their footwear of choice on a Texas hunting ranch. Follow this link to see the stories they wrote and the phenomenal photos they took: www.joshuacreek.com/about/news-media/news.

In April another group of ladies will come for a retreat called Casting for Recovery. Their outdoor experience at the Ranch will be to teach them to fly fish. But while they’re here, volunteers skilled in much more than fly fishing will lead them through sessions aimed at fostering their recovery, restoration, and resolution as they journey through their experience with breast cancer.

3-12-casting forrecovery001Women experience the joy of fishing at the Casting for Recovery breast-cancer retreat at Joshua Creek Ranch.


Throughout the summer from mid-June through mid-August, young ladies ages 8-15 will be among the participants in the Youth Outdoor Adventure Program (YOAP) at Joshua Creek Ranch. Although their numbers are in the minority within the group, their mastery of the skills taught is consistently on the superior end of the rating spectrum. It’s not that unusual for us to see a girl win the overall Best Camper award. It’s been fun to see some of these outgoing young women grow int enthusiastic shooters and hunters as adults. I’ve even had a few girls come back to confirm a truth I told them when they were as young as 8 years old: “Guys do love a girl who can shoot!”

The opportunities to enjoy something in the outdoors are as vast as the outdoors themselves. The important thing is not so much what you’re doing or how well you’re doing it, but that you’re sharing the experience and creating memories with people who are important in your life. So get out there this spring and summer and have some fun.

Ann Kercheville is President of Joshua Creek Ranch. Located in the renowned Texas Hill Country just 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio and 90 minutes southwest of Austin, Joshua Creek Ranch occupies a uniquely diverse terrain including miles of Joshua Creek and Guadalupe River bottomland planted in fields of grain crops for prime upland and deer hunting habitats. You can visit their web site at http://www.joshuacreek.com.

The opportunity to shoot sporting clays on hallow ground doesn't present itself that often, but you can do it in the area of Manassas, Virginia where the battles of Bull Run were fought.

Depending on which side of the Mason-Dixon Line you're standing, it's called either the First and Second Battle of Bull Run (as it's known in the North) or the First Battle and Second Battle of Manassas (the Southern name for it). The first battle took placed July 21, 1861 while the second, larger battle was fought August 28-30, 1862.

The idea of Touch-and-Go actually has its roots in aviation. New pilots use it to learn how to land and take off again. You come down for a landing, touch the runway with your wheels, and then push the throttle forward to take off again.

What does Touch-and-Go have to do with consistently breaking targets in sporting clays? It has to do with how you approach the target, touch it, and then pull ahead for the proper forward allowance — or lead as most people call it.

As the co-founder and president of a hunting resort with 22 upland bird and deer hunting seasons under my belt, this question should be easy to answer, right?  And when answered literally, the solution really is quite simple….when hunting season ends, you work to prepare for the next hunting season.  That’s it, that’s the primary off-season objective. This easy answer works especially well if you’ve got a reliable source of funding to cover all the expenses associated with the six months “off-season.”

This installment is the fourth and final part of Deborah McKown's series on clays shooting in the San Francisco Bay Area. In part I, Deb reveals a little-known skeet field inside San Francisco city limits. Afterwards, Deb and friend Diane visit a nearby micro brewery with a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean.

A sporting clays training session that drew top instructors to South Carolina in mid-June could change how the sport is taught to the majority of shooters using the new “Coordinated Shooting Method.”

May is generally mostly work and very little play around Joshua Creek Ranch. But I can’t see the calendar closed on May 2012 without telling you about some wonderful occurrences that made that month particularly memorable for us at Joshua Creek Ranch.

This article is the third part of Deborah McKown's four-part series on clays shooting in the San Francisco Bay area. Part I reveals a little-known skeet field inside city limits. Afterwards, Deb and friend Diane head to a nearby micro brewery with a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. In Part II, Deb and Diane shoot skeet and trap at a place that resembles a covert terrorist camp. Afterwards, they visit an interesting mix of wineries in the "Other Napa Valley." Now here is Part III...

It doesn’t happen too often that I’m left behind on a hunting trip that I think I’d really enjoy. But it happened this past week when my husband, Joe, went to Argentina with three friends for duck, dove, and pigeon shooting. Being left behind in Buenos Aires during their hunt would have been an intriguing adventure, but even that invitation was not extended. All of which led me to ask, “What’s a Shotgun Wife to do when she’s not invited to join her shotgunning spouse on a hunting trip to a desirable destination?”

Looking at it in hindsight now that the week is almost done, it’s not a hard question to answer when you’ve got a wingshooting and deer hunting destination of your own to manage.

The fact is that summer is the time for me to get all my special projects done while we’re not tending to hunting clients every day of the week. That includes some habitat management, some structural maintenance, some personnel policy updates, etc., etc. But my favorite projects by far are those that involve the upgrades to our facilities and lodging; these projects always satiate my passion for creating the overall aesthetic appeal of Joshua Creek Ranch to our year-round guests.

Joe likes to tell our clients, friends and relatives who inquire about his retirement plans that he can’t possibly consider retirement as an option because his wife is too busy spending his money on her projects at Joshua Creek Ranch. I can’t deny the accusation. I sincerely love making the ranch a hunter’s paradise, from success in the field to enjoyment in the dining room to comfort in the accommodations. I have to admit, too, that it can get a little dangerous to Joe’s financial well-being if I’m left alone for long to dream up endless ways to improve the Ranch for the enhancement of our clients’ satisfaction.

For example, this week while Joe was off hunting without me, I worked out the details for converting a bunk room at the Lodge to a luxurious suite for guests during the hunting season. The idea became overwhelmingly exciting to the point that the drapery and upholstery fabrics are now purchased, the furniture arrangement is determined, and the safari theme includes hides and memorabilia collected during some of our own hunting trips.

A little later during this week of Joe’s absence, the minor maintenance issue of a light fixture shorting out over a bathroom lavatory led to a not-so-insignificant renewal plan for the entire bathroom. Trust me: you’re going to like this improvement next time you’re at the Ranch.

Okay, I’ll confess that the entire week wasn’t devoted to furthering Joshua Creek Ranch client enjoyment. I did also meet with our taxidermist about mounting the bobcat I shot one early morning a couple of years ago while hunting a particular Axis buck. It took my son’s enthusiastic response to the unexpected turn of events that resulted in shooting a bobcat rather than an Axis deer to convince me I had a trophy to be proud of. It’s taken me this long to decide where to display him in our home filled with Joe’s trophies and how to mount him to best reveal his beautiful coat. But those decisions are now made. All that remains is for me to spend some time scouting around the ranch for the perfect weathered limb for him to be standing on.

Then, of course, my week of abandonment would not have been complete without the “girls’ night” when a dear friend, her sister-in-law from California, and my sister joined me for an evening at the Ranch. We celebrated my friend’s birthday with champagne and pizza. How’s that for misbehaving while my hunting hero was afar working hard to save the Argentine crops from devastation by ducks, dove and pigeon.

There is one task I’m ready for Joe to resume as soon as he sets foot on the Ranch. As much as I adore these precious 8 and 10 week-old English Cocker puppies, they define the phrase “what a mess!” But they have learned the meaning of the command “outside,” meaning you can’t come in my house.

I don’t know if I’ve done enough damage to avoid being left behind on his next sensational trip. Time will tell.

 

Ann Kercheville is President of Joshua Creek Ranch. Located in the renowned Texas Hill Country just 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio and 90 minutes southwest of Austin, Joshua Creek Ranch occupies a uniquely diverse terrain including miles of Joshua Creek and Guadalupe River bottomland planted in fields of grain crops for prime upland and deer hunting habitats. You can visit their web site at  http://www.joshuacreek.com.

It's the dream of every American wingshooter to visit the British Isles for a driven shoot.

Imagine shooting a clay target every 1.2 seconds with a goal of shattering more than 3,000 within 60 minutes and suddenly you’re in Dave Miller’s boots as he attempts to set a new high in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Dale Spartas might be the luckiest guy I know, for I’m very envious of the fine double guns he owns – as well of his Camp Swampy. On second thought Spartas has no doubt simply worked harder than I have – acquiring all those wonderful shotguns – as well as Camp Swampy. Dale and I were staying at Camp Swampy recently, using it as our base camp for hunting Hungarian partridge.

Living on the ranch where I work affords me the good fortune of an incredibly short and beautiful commute from my home to my office. The only things I miss from my former 30- minute morning and evening commutes are the news and talk radio. In my brief five-minute morning drive not long ago, I turned on the radio to hear Glenn Beck talking about a camp where kids are out seeing nature in action. He talked about how nature teaches patterns in life for everything, even families. One thing he said that really got my attention were these words: “plug in means tune out.” Glenn was referring to the modern trend of youngsters being entertained by electronic devices rather than engaged in outdoor activities.

We see evidence of this when 100+ youth ages 8-15 attend the Youth Outdoor Adventure Program (YOAP) over the summer months at Joshua Creek Ranch. The first-timers do suffer withdrawal when they realize they’re allowed no television, internet, cell phones, electronic games, etc. Their 10 days at YOAP are all about the outdoor sporting life. You could call it iOutdoors. But there’s no iPhone app for it. The application is 100-percent, real natural outdoor settings with their hands on real shotguns, rifles, bows, arrows, fishing rods, kayaks and oars. Yes, the application requires nimble fingers and quick reflexes, but not for pushing buttons.

Anyway, I agree with Glenn Beck about nature being a great teacher. You can’t be out in it without noticing the wondrous intricacies of how miraculously it works. I’ll share some examples that we loved seeing these kids observe:

One of the favorite recreational areas at the ranch is spring-fed Joshua Creek. The kids love swimming and fishing there, but last summer the drought was so severe that we had no flowing water in the creek. This year when kids returned they were awed to see the effect of rain on the creek. And when we had a night of thunderstorms while those kids were at the ranch, they were filled with anticipation about the impact the rain would have on the water flowing in the creek. The next day they were happy to see the significant rise in the water level, but not so pleased to see the temporary muddy condition created by the runoff that were both a consequence of bountiful rainfall.

At the beginning of each and every session of the youth program, we have a traditional initial activity. Counselors vie for the opportunity to paint a face on a sacrificial watermelon. The kids are gathered round while the caricaturized melon is set on a rock wall about 20 yards away. With all eyes fixed on the happy green face, a counselor mounts a shotgun, takes aim and shoots the unsuspecting melon-head. The explosion of red mush splatters in every direction. The effect astounds the kids and the lesson is taught. They’re about to engage in 10 days of a fun sport that can have deadly consequences if not conducted in a safe manner.  

kercheville-08-2012A couple of boys at the Joshua Creek Youth Outdoor Adventure Program learn shotgunning.

We watched another of the laws of natural consequences unfold during one of the youth program sessions. Every year a pair of barn swallows return to our office porch and attaches their nest to one of the ceiling joists near our front door. For some reason, these adorable little birds just love to nest right over doorways where, of course, they leave an incredible mess. But they are so much fun to watch that the mess is tolerable for their short migratory duration. Last year, this pair had four hatches out of their summer nest under the porch. But this summer, the second hatch ended badly. It happened during one of the youth sessions that it was time for the fledglings to learn to fly and leave the nest. The parent birds circled the nest incessantly to demonstrate how to fly, sometimes stopping to perch on the edge to deliver a chirp of encouragement. One by one the little birds stepped onto the edge and took their first brave leap into winged flight. But among them was one fledgling that would not get off the edge. The parents kept circling and swooping. They even lit on the ground below the nest as if to demonstrate that it would be safe to land there if his first attempt to fly was not successful. But he never would take the leap. After a long while, the parent birds gave up, departed, and did not return. The baby bird just continued to sit on the edge of the nest. Then later when we looked, he had gotten back into the nest. The parents never returned, the baby bird never got back on the edge and so he never took the leap to fly. He died in the nest. We talked about how these parents had done everything they could for their fledgling. They’d fed him and made him strong enough to fly, they’d demonstrated flight, they’d continuously encouraged him, they’d even shown him that he could safely land just below the nest if necessary. But they couldn’t make him take the leap, so they finally gave up and so did he. It was a tough life lesson to watch, but an incredibly valuable example of the law of natural consequences.  

To intersperse the action of shooting, archery, and river sports with the intrigue of little things like catching just the right bug that will lure the big fish of the day is to take those steps that ultimately create a life-long bond with that great teacher, nature. Interestingly, when the 10-day sessions of the Youth Program end, there’s no mad dash for iPhones when the kids get picked up. In fact, there are generally clamorous petitions for staying longer or coming again next year. Nature and real outdoor experiences have an appeal that often outshines those fascinating electronic devices

 

If you're into fried seafood, hand-carved decoys and the pleasures of small-town life then the 38th Annual Waterfowl Festival in Easton, Maryland was the place to spend a leisurely autumn afternoon.

Dave Miller, CZ-USA’s shotgun product manager and sporting clays master class shooter from Grain Valley, Missouri, set out to do what no man has done before − to shoot 3,000 sporting clay targets broken in one hour.

It was 7 am Monday morning in Spokane when I picked up Mark and Puck to begin the three hour drive to the portion of the Columbia we would hunt for the next two days. After loading Mark’s gear including Puck, my Tahoe was packed to the ceiling with all of the gear required to hunt ducks. Most of the gear was designed to keep our bodies as warm as possible, but as all duck hunters know, the reels of decoy lines, decoys, stools, camo, dog food, water, waders, boots and the list goes on, all just to bag a few ducks is necessary as I was to beginning to understand.

What a wonderful summer it has been at the Ranch, the first half with mild temps and frequent rains, and the last half, a real sizzler…..hot and dry. But throughout it all, sporting clays enthusiasts have spent a lot of time and ammo having a heck of a lot of fun here, especially the last half of August when shooters were practicing for the Dove Season opening September 1st.

This article is the second part of Deborah McKown's four-part series on clays shooting in the San Francisco Bay area. Part I reveals a little-known skeet field inside city limits. Afterwards, Deb and friend Diane head to a nearby micro brewery with a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean. Now here is Part II...

I remember vividly the first day I shot helice. I was at the Dallas Gun Club, training for an International Trap World Championship selection match when I heard some guys on the next field yelling, laughing, and making fun of each other between shots. It didn’t take long for me to get distracted, so between rounds, I wandered over to see what was going on. And by “wandered over,” I mean I finally stopped ignoring the grown men yelling, “Hey, girl, if you think THAT game is fun, come over here and shoot this one!” 

No turkey is safe when Lee goes hunting with Lady Luck.

Lee Harwell has a golden horseshoe tucked away where the sun never shines. Always has and always will. We’ve hunted together for nearly 40 years and regardless of the game, Lee has always returned from a day in the field with his quarry, or a good story. Most often, he drags home both.

When we first opened Joshua Creek Ranch for hunting and sporting clays, I was very cautious about the terms used to describe our business, using words like “game preserve” and “harvesting game” to soften the impact on anyone who might be offended by wingshooting or deer hunting.  When asked what kind of work I did, I preferred to lead with the fact that at JCR we shoot clay targets rather than jumping right in with the truth that the primary targets around here are birds and deer.  The last thing I wanted was to be confronted by anti-gun or anti-hunting activists.  Even when I was confronted, I’d listen politely, reply with something like “to each his own,” and escape the scene as quickly as I could.  I always avoided situations that might erupt in confrontation if I started delivering volumes of facts and figures about the valuable effects of hunters on wildlife populations and their habitat, or about the positive impact on crime rates when citizens own guns.  I was too kind, not wanting to offend anyone; after all, they had a right to their own opinion.  I was one of many naïve people who thought that the freedoms we enjoy in America weren’t endangered and couldn’t possibly be lost, at least not in my lifetime.


On a hot August day last year, James Ashcroft visited Atholl estate, for a day of sweltering sport after the well-heeled Scottish grouse, a gamebird beyond compare

Henry Hopking’s secret weapon to boosting your clays scores is his brilliant high-tech “Brain Cap.”

Actually, it’s a miniaturized electroencephalography (EEG) recorder, about the size of a .410 shotgun shell, that clips to the side of a ball cap. Along with sensors inside the cap band, it noninvasively charts the voltage fluctuations of your brain and sends the real-time images via Bluetooth to an iPhone or Android app. The catch is that it’s not available for sale without prior training by Mr. Hopking in his “Brain Training Company” program called “Get the Mental Edge.”

No, I’m not talking about Bill Murray’s character in that annoying movie and no, I am not now playing for the other team.  But I am thinking of a gentleman from the prairie: Mr. Bobwhite. 

In “Shotgun Wife” a month ago (October, 2012), I revealed my political preferences by encouraging Americans to get behind the 2012 election of conservatives at every level of government. That was a risky move for me since I really dislike confrontations and knew I was potentially inviting that very response. But I had to take the chance and brace myself for the possible backlash because this election is all about rescuing the future of our great nation from its march toward socialism and financial collapse.

Having been in the outdoor related business for 50 years, I’ve met only one other person who’s a better hunter than Jimmy E. -- and that man is deceased.

Jimmy E. is, without doubt, the most prolific hunting and fishing guy I’ve ever met. I’ve known him for a very long time, and I can testify that if there’s 100 days in a hunting season, Jimmy E. has participated in 90 of them.

The Golden State may not have a reputation as a top destination for hunters, but it’s home to half of the quail species found in the U.S.

I’m glad when Thanksgiving comes early in the month of November as it did this year, because it’s always the week after Thanksgiving that I put up our Christmas decorations. It seems disrespectful to the Thanksgiving tradition to adorn the house with Christmas decorations prior to the celebration of Thanksgiving. But I love elaborate Christmas decorations; it’s a trait I inherited from my mother and grandmother. And because of all the work involved in putting up all those decorations, I like to have them up early and keep them up for a long time….like a couple of months. Plus I like to add a few new ones each year. But most of all, I like putting all of the beautiful decorations we’ve collected over the years in different places around the house than they were last year. It makes them seem new all over again….this shotgun-toting Santa here, that toy-laden sleigh there, this new ribbon on that favorite old wreath, and best of all, adorning our Christmas tree with the ornaments that we’ve collected from our travels all over the world for 30 years. Just decorating the tree is a trip down memory lane that takes us back to Africa, Argentina, Scotland, Hungary, Austria, England, Canada, Alaska and on and on.

Three-hundred targets, three sporting clays courses, 48 hours.

The eight of us piled into three cars to meet the challenge.

We left from Greater Baltimore on Friday morning. The group split up according to breakfast habits. Us four, not real big on lumberjack specials, decided to sleep the extra 30 minutes and grab a last-minute coffee at home.

Wing shooting on the farm where I grew up in Montgomery County Illinois, about 25 miles south of Springfield, in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s was pretty much limited to pass shooting doves down by the pond, jump shooting ducks on local farm ponds or hunting quail along the fence rows and Osage orange hedge rows that bordered most farm fields and pastures in those days.

As we enter a NEW YEAR, I remember a few years back, as a middle-aged adult, commenting to my dad about how fast time was passing. His response was, “Honey, you haven’t seen anything yet. When you get to be my age, time is avalanche speed!” Well, I’m not yet to the age Dad was then, but time around Joshua Creek Ranch seems to be accelerating more rapidly with each passing year.

Beretta U.S.A. introduced the first four affiliated sporting venues of the Beretta Trident Program at a special reception and press conference for invited guests and press at the Beretta Gallery in New York City on Thursday, May 20th.

One of shotgunning’s most underutilized live resources is the pest pigeon population. Generally pest pigeon shooting here in the USA has little resemblance to the woodpigeon shooting that is so popular in the British Isles. In England woodpigeons are usually decoyed, and you hire a guide who has the birds scouted, the land owner’s permission to hunt, and all the equipment so that clients can enjoy great sport.

Since upland bird hunting is our primary activity, it’s a given that the six months of October through March are without a doubt the busiest ones of the year here at Joshua Creek Ranch. The season begins in October at a gentle pace and continuously accelerates to breakneck, full throttle, race pace in January, February and March. I think the closing of whitetail deer season in early January, followed by the closing of the bobwhite quail season in late February, contributes largely to the increase in the demand for preserve hunting of upland birds the first three months of each New Year. By March, it’s the only hunting that’s left for the avid shotgunning enthusiast.

You may want to send a heartfelt letter of gratitude to Mr. Gao Ren, chairman and CEO of China Linen Textile Industry, Ltd., for getting yourself a real deal on a private membership at the River Bend Sportsman’s Resort in Fingerville, South Carolina.

There’s a state of mind that numbs you to hunting adventures, even though the drive is only two hours east. Planted in front of a computer for another 12-hour marathon, collapsing after dinner on the sofa in big-screen semi-consciousness watching fighters with shaved heads tattooed to the max sporting nick-names like “The Refrigerator,” “Meat Missile” and “Freak Show” square off in the MMA octagon to kick, elbow and pummel their opponent’s faces into bloody goo, it’s sublimely painless to slip into a rut barren of outdoor aspirations.

A year ago this time, as we entered the final month of the upland bird hunting season at Joshua Creek Ranch, I wrote about the challenges of that season, having endured a drought of historically severe proportions.  Thankfully spring rains blessed us in 2012 and the resilience of the wildlife habitat was nothing less than miraculous.  We entered the 2012-13 upland bird hunting season last October in good condition in every way:  restored habitat, hard-flushing, strong-flying birds, well-trained pointing and flushing/retrieving dogs, enthusiastic hunting guides, seasoned cooks, and conscientious office staff.

The timing was perfect…

Fausti USA offered us its lovely Dea Duetto side by side combo just as we wrapped up planning a road trip to the exclusive Bray’s Island Plantation in Sheldon, South Carolina.

Dog trainer extraordinaire Robert Milner wants to ask sportsmen a personal question: Would you discipline your own children with a shock collar?

Isn’t it annoying when your “must-do’s” demand precedence over your “wanna-do’s”? Tax returns, end-of-school projects, business meetings, honey-do’s, and more keep you anchored indoors exactly when the call of the outdoors is beckoning with the lure of the spring season. After a long winter’s stay indoors, even daylight savings time doesn't necessarily extend enough daylight to capture adequate hours for resuming your favorite warm weather outdoor activity. Unless you’re a golf or tennis pro, a landscaper or construction worker, you often find yourself stuck indoors for that emotional tug-of-war. This is certainly the spot I find myself in during these glorious spring days.

There's something about the instinct to hunt that drives men to the hunting fields regardless of the weather. But when the hunting season is over, other priorities (like those honey-do lists) seem to win the battle for your time, even though paradise-like outdoor conditions exist. So here’s an idea you're gonna like: “Get your Honey to wanna do what you wanna do.” And the best example I can think of is…go shotgun shooting!

I wish I could claim the credit for this idea. But the truth is that several of our regular guests have already cracked this code. One, in fact, brought his wife to Joshua Creek Ranch for their first date, later proposed to her here, and then had their engagement party at the Ranch. She’s taken shotgun shooting instructions from our NSCA Level 2 instructor and become quite a shooting enthusiast herself…even after the wedding!

Another lever that works really well is for the kids to wanna do what you wanna do. Mom will most times go right along with what the kids wanna do for fun. And even if she doesn’t, it’s a great time for Dad to enjoy and bond with the kids. Just last weekend I was delighted to see a man and his son approaching our office who had been at the Ranch for Axis deer hunting late last summer. My delight grew when I saw his wife and daughter right behind them. All had come to claim some family time together and all wanted to shoot. The ladies chose to rent 20-gauge Beretta double guns, while the father chose to challenge himself with a 28 gauge and the son (determined to have the best score) chose a 12 gauge.

IMG 1100A family outing on the Joshua Creek Ranch sporting clays course.

Another approach that works for young ladies is to teach them a unique skill that makes them appealing to guys. We have a long-time member with two beautiful college-age daughters. Although he and his wife are recently divorced, Dad has remained actively involved with his girls. The time he once spent attending their high-school sports events he’s now using to introduce them to shotgun shooting at Joshua Creek Ranch. Thanks to our instructors they’ve taken to the sport like champs. Dad encourages them with the offer of all the targets they want to shoot. It’s a whole new world for these young ladies and is consequently making them quite popular with their young men friends as well as quite proficient with their shotguns.

At Joshua Creek Ranch we're doing our part to put lots of appeal into the idea of shotgun shooting together as a couple, a family, or a bunch of buddies. Unlike most shooting facilities, Joshua Creek Ranch has the bonus of accommodations and meals worthy of Beretta’s Two Trident rating for excellence. Add to that the convenience of a fully-automated sporting clays course set in the scenic Texas Hill Country; plus complimentary access to Joshua Creek for a dip in its clear, cool spring water after shooting and you’ve got an offer too good to refuse.

We call it the “Stay `N Shoot” package. Available all spring and summer, it offers guests 24 hours of unlimited clay target shooting at the wobble trap or the sporting clays course, both available from dawn till dark. The package also includes highly acclaimed meals and accommodations like our wing shooters so enjoy during the hunting season. Your Honey, sons, daughters, and your buddies are all gonna wanna put their must-do’s aside and take you up on the invitation to join in this kind of spring and summer fun in the outdoors.

Can’t stay with us overnight? Then we'll keep you inspired to come shotgunning often with the offer to buy an access card loaded with 500+ targets at a discounted price. Can’t get out here before our office closes at 6 PM? Just give us a call to tell us the time you'll be on the course and we'll make it available to you with that access card you bought. Can’t find someone to go shooting when you’re wanting to go? Our automatic trap controllers have a delay feature enabling you to pull targets for yourself and still be prepared to shoot.

Okay, you’re out of excuses. Now let’s shoot some sporting clays.

Ann Kercheville is President of Joshua Creek Ranch. Located in the renowned Texas Hill Country just 45 minutes northwest of San Antonio and 90 minutes southwest of Austin, Joshua Creek Ranch occupies a uniquely diverse terrain including miles of Joshua Creek and Guadalupe River bottomland planted in fields of grain crops for prime upland and deer hunting habitats. You can visit their web site at http://www.joshuacreek.com.

©2017 SGL Media LLC
Developed and Hosted by Annatech LLC

Irwin Greenstein
Publisher
Shotgun Life

PO Box 6423
Thomasville, GA 31758
Phone: 229-236-1632

igreenstein@shotgunlife.com