For the prior several months our minds had been toying with the idea that our climate just might be returning to some level of normalcy when winter rains began to relieve the parched Texas Hill Country of the ravages of the historic drought of 2011. And although April blessed us with mild temperatures and bloomed with a glorious profusion of abundant wildflowers like we hadn’t seen in three years, it was also uncharacteristically dry, causing “drought doubts” to start creeping back into our heads.
But May dispelled the doubts with the delivery of eight inches of rain without the major flash flooding that can sometimes accompany such situations. The famous Texas wildflowers took note and extended their season, grasses sprang up everywhere (some less desirable things, too, like thistle), and wildlife was on the move in celebration of the feast sprouting wherever they poked their noses. Starvation wasn’t their fate after all.
May 2012 gave Joshua Creek Ranch’s free-range axis trophy hunters their best month of harvest ever, which brings me to the string of occurrences that made May particularly memorable.
We had the pleasure of having Champion Professional Bull Rider Luke Snyder among our axis trophy hunters. He came with Steve LeBlanc, famous wildlife sculptor and host of Ford Trucks Takes PBR Outdoors and Larry Sletten, Orion Entertainment’s Vice President of Videography and the magician behind the video camera. Their purpose was to get Luke on film hunting an axis trophy buck for the Ford PBR Series to air on NBC Sports in Fall 2012.
Since I don’t qualify as a professional axis trophy hunting guide, I didn’t get to go on the hunts with them, but I did get a sneak preview of some of Larry’s video footage and what a wildlife performance it was. Not just deer, but turkey, pheasant, skunk, porcupine, song birds and more. And, of course, I got to see Luke’s harvest first hand, a magnificent 32-inch axis trophy buck he says will go over the fireplace of his new home with his new bride come November.
Well, time did permit and Steve LeBlanc, too, got his axis trophy buck. In fact, enough time permitted for them to also shoot the hilltop automatic sporting clays course, fly-fish the spring-fed Joshua Creek, and fish from kayaks, too. It was a marathon of fun stuff all within the “time permitted.” Long ago we dubbed that “power leisure.”
The evening before they left, my husband, Joe, and I had dinner with Luke, Steve and Larry to celebrate the success of their hunts and the filming. In the course of the conversation that evening, it came up that Luke’s fiancée is the daughter of a property owner with the finest private water on the Frying Pan River, a gold metal trout river in Colorado. I saw Joe’s eyes light up. We have a home on the Frying Pan River, and being an avid trout fly-fisherman, Joe knows right where that choice private water is. Luke knew right where our place was, too, marked by the giant cottonwood carved into a trout totem pole. The plan is this: if Luke’s on the Frying Pan visiting his in-laws, Larry and Steve should come stay with Joe at our home on the river. There they’ll all three wait hopefully for an invitation from Luke to join him for fly-fishing the finest stretch of the Frying Pan River. Time will tell.
May went on to include an annual gathering of the Texas Side-By-Side Club for a morning shoot of their fine guns on the sporting clays course followed by a lot of bragging and bantering over lunch on the patio. A wonderful surprise for Joe and me that day was seeing a delightful West Texas rancher friend, Pete, whom we’d met on a pheasant and grouse shooting trip to England a couple of years ago.
Turns out he’d been invited to join in the day’s event by a local Boerne participant named Sid that we got to meet. I remember from our chats with Pete while in England that his single life on his West Texas ranch sounded pretty remote and Spartan. Well, he’d since sold that ranch, moved to Midland (still pretty remote), got married to a lady who wasn’t thrilled to live in Midland, so they’re looking to live near Boerne. Fantastic…if that happens, Pete can come shoot with us often here at Joshua Creek Ranch!
Now here’s the part I love, where the thread runs full circle in this wonderful world of sporting life lovers. The very next day, Pam and Mark come out to the Ranch to shoot a few clays. Pam is a full-time marketing executive with the San Antonio Rodeo Association, so I can’t wait to tell her about Luke Snyder’s visit to Joshua Creek Ranch. She’s thrilled and I promise to let her know when the show about his trophy axis hunt will air. But then the conversation turns to her new shotgun. She and Mark live in Boerne and she just bought the gun from her neighbor Sid. You guessed it, the same Sid I’d met the day before who was shooting in the Side-By-Side Event. When I said we’d just met Sid, she asked if we’d met his friend, Pete, who was moving to Boerne and loves to shoot.
Now the best of all worlds will be if we see a full double circle completed out of this story. That would mean that Joe, Steve and Larry got to trout fish with Luke in the finest stretch of the Frying Pan River.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.