It’s Summer….Let’s Shoot Some Clays

Just recently I was looking through some of my favorite recipes for preparing fresh summer vegetables. I came across one for okra gumbo that my grandmother used to make. I must have been an extraordinarily weird kid to have liked okra. Still do, because Grandma’s recipe for gumbo was always made with garden fresh okra. “Delicious” really was an appropriate description.

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Feels So Good to Shoot for Charity

January through March are the very busiest months we have each year at Joshua Creek Ranch. By then many open hunting seasons have ended around the country and the weather is far too savage in certain areas for shooters to enjoy an outdoor adventure. So for those shotgunning enthusiasts who want to continue wingshooting during inviting weather conditions, Joshua Creek Ranch is a popular winter destination. In years past, we’ve focused entirely on our hunting guests during these months — never dividing our attention to include the hosting of significant sporting clays events during this peak of our hunting season.

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When a New Chapter Opens for Joshua Creek Ranch

Realistically we have only two seasons here in this Texas Hill Country. The autumn/winter seasons sort of run together with mostly mild days, intermittent cold nights and lots of sunshine for six to eight months. Then spring comes and all too soon yields to four months of warm (sometimes VERY warm) summer weather, marked by long, sunny, and mostly dry days. As for Joshua Creek Ranch, we have just two seasons as well. They happen to coincide with the autumn/winter and summer seasons. We refer to our seasons here as “hunting” and “farming/construction.”

It’s no great intellectual leap to figure out which time of year is my favorite. Obviously it’s the autumn/winter/hunting season when the torturous temperatures of the Texas summer fade away to brisk mornings in the 40s, and delightfully sunny afternoons in the 60s. It’s paradise, and tends to stay that way for six to eight months.

Not only does it feel like paradise, it looks like paradise. Historically rainy September gives a last burst of growth to the parched yet resilient pasture grasses that endured the hot summer. The upland bird hunting habitat gets better by the day until the first frost that typically comes by Thanksgiving. From then through the rest of the hunting season tufted tops of long golden grasses wave in the afternoon breeze, sheltering quail, pheasant and partridge till their scent is detected by the expert pointing dogs at the Joshua Creek Ranch.

There’s a sound of paradise, too. It’s the “buzz” of the bird hunting business that resumes at Joshua Creek Ranch each October through March. The phone is ringing with requests for reservations, guests are arriving, shotgun blasts are heard in the distance, aroma of the fire pits fills the evening air, porch lights are flickering at all the lodges, and the dining room beckons the hunters with delectable presentations of quail, pheasant, and venison. What fun. It’s like a giant household with company coming and going all the time.

RickterryThe new CEO of Joshua Creek Ranch, Rick Terry.

This particular autumn/winter hunting season of 2013-14, I’ve got still another reason for calling these my favorite months of the year. A new chapter opened for Joshua Creek Ranch in November with the hiring of a Rick Terry as CEO to join our team of dedicated individuals. Rick’s primary objective: enabling Joshua Creek Ranch to raise its services to an even higher level of excellence. And there’s a secondary objective I’m equally excited about: enabling ME to focus on some things beyond Joshua Creek Ranch, like grandchildren, travel adventures with my husband, Joe, and taking time to enjoy this Ranch in addition to working at it.

I won’t deny that it’s hard taking a step back from this business that’s largely consumed me for 25 years. And I probably couldn’t do it except for the encouragement of Joe and my confidence in the professional management and marketing expertise of Rick. But I’ll still have a role and it’s one that really lights a fire in me.

  You know the CEO’s primary objective I mentioned, the one about “raising the Joshua Creek Ranch services to an even higher level of excellence?” Well, I get to be involved in defining and developing the infrastructure for those services. In fact, we’ve already accomplished one of them that is serving our clients right now in this current hunting season. A seldom-used bunk bedroom at Cypress Lodge (our lodge where meals are served) was converted to a private dining/conference room. The flexibility that this opens to guests is fantastic. Couples can enjoy a quiet candlelit dinner in the main dining room while a group of hunters cheer their favorite college football team to victory in the private dining room. A corporate group can carry on a private business conversation over their meal while other guests dine jovially in the nearby comfort of the main dining hall.

Exceptional services and facilities planning are underway as I write. New, high-end private accommodations are on the drawing board, as well as an extension of the sporting-clays course. A duck shooting scenario is in the works and hunting habitat improvements are in the making for spring 2014.

The new chapter that’s opened for Joshua Creek Ranch is an exciting opportunity for our business, our staff, our members and clients, and for me as well. We’re ALL-IN for the plans we have to raise the level of excellence for services at Joshua Creek Ranch. There’s so much to look forward to!

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          

Do Yourself A Favor…Take A Shooting Lesson From a Pro

Ever wonder why some people appear so relaxed and natural while they’re doing something that most of us would consider difficult? How their movements are intentional, yet graceful, with a fluid consistency that make the whole process of what they’re doing look easy? I usually think of artists and athletes in this context who have made their talent their profession…you know the painters, pianists, basketball players, golfers, ice skaters, ballet dancers …and, yes, champion shooters.

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It’s Spring! Get Out There and Shoot Some Clays

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

Servant Hearts

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.

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Shooting From a Business Perspective

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.

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Time Flies…Especially When You Love Your Work

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.

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Something New

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.

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