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.

So while grocery shopping in early June, well into summer by Texas measure, I was perplexed when I couldn’t find fresh okra at our local supermarket. I kept thinking they must have put it in some really obscure place because in two rounds through the produce department those little cartons of okra never revealed themselves. Unlike any male shopper I know, I decided to ask for some directions to the okra. I was stunned by the answer, “We don’t have any okra yet…it’s not been hot enough.” Apparently okra likes genuinely hot weather for producing those tasty seed pods.

That experience really raised my awareness of what an exceptional spring and summer we’ve had in 2014. There’s not a Texas Hill Country resident alive who hasn’t rejoiced in the mild temperatures and frequent rains that have prevailed through June. It’s not to say we won’t be sizzling in August, but thus far, afternoon and evening recreation and outdoor dining are a delight. Just seeing our vast green hay fields and the creek flowing with fresh clear spring water has a cooling effect on the body and temperament. Combine that with a good breeze and partly cloudy skies and you’ve got the perfect outdoor environment. Add the sighting of a lineup of button bobwhite quail trailing closely behind their mother, or a whitetail doe with twin fawns and the experience is taken beyond extraordinary. 

This gentle weather diversion we’re experiencing after 5+ years of record drought and heat has not only delayed the okra crop, but might also be the root cause for the big increase in the number of sporting clays shooters coming out this summer for practice, family fun and charity shoots. I’d be terribly remiss if I didn’t also mention the increased number of corporate shoots that are occurring. Sporting clays is becoming as popular as golf around here for entertaining customers and rewarding employees. Makes me think that shotgun shooting might just be making its way to the new state sport of Texas.

July-2014Shooting sporting clays in the Hills Country course of Joshua Creek Ranch.


Gentle weather is certainly encouraging when it comes to the desire to plan a morning or afternoon of shooting, but the strong economy in this high-growth area of South Central Texas is an equally important factor in the shooting industry growth. Competition is strong among contenders for business in the energy, construction and healthcare sectors and entertaining is often the deciding factor. An invitation to go shoot some sporting clays is rarely turned down, especially during the summer months when there’s no seasonal wingshooting available. It’s an opportunity for the “face-time” that builds lasting relationships.

I couldn’t possibly end this without also mentioning the political motivation to go shooting.  There’s just something about exercising that right to bear arms that always gets a big response in this constitutionally conservative state. It’s just one of the situations where that popular phrase “Don’t Mess With Texas” certainly applies. 

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


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