Ann Kercheville

Ann Kercheville

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

Thursday, 01 November 2012 23:43

Optimism and Opportunity

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.

Tuesday, 02 October 2012 23:14

The American Dream – Keep It Alive

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.

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… 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.

Thursday, 02 August 2012 09:34

The Law of Natural Consequences

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


Sunday, 01 July 2012 00:00

Left Behind

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

Thursday, 31 May 2012 22:12

Full Circle

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.

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.”

Sunday, 01 April 2012 09:29

Ladies, The Sporting Life Beckons

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:

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

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.

Wednesday, 01 February 2012 08:36

Husbands, Wives and Dogs

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. 

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