Prescription for Summer Fun ‘til Dove Season Comes Around

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.

 My husband, Joe, has a serious passion for wingshooting, and owning a hunting ranch gives him ample opportunity to shoot at his convenience. Consequently, from the time we opened Joshua Creek Ranch in 1990 his interest in clay shooting was so-so. That is until we replaced our old manual traps with wireless automatic traps in the summer of 2010. I’d suggested this investment from time-to-time over the years, but he wasn’t on board with the idea until 2010 when it somehow became “his idea.” Needless to say those traps arrived pronto. Whoever convinced him to make this move has my eternal gratitude because it has changed his whole perspective on clay shooting…. plus it has obviously pleased other sporting clays shooters who are now coming more and more frequently.

So impressed was Joe with the automatic traps that our course grew almost immediately from ten stations to twelve. I guess he needed more variety of targets since he was shooting clays almost every day. I’d say sporting clays now ranks third among his passions, right behind wingshooting and fly fishing. 

Joe says he’s broken the code for enjoying the outdoors in Texas’ summer heat. Here’s his prescription for the code which he does his best to get a daily dose of: work all day at his investment firm, arrive home at the Ranch in late afternoon, change into shorts and shirt, gather the shotguns he’ll be shooting that evening, and head for the sporting clays course.Yes, I said “shotguns” (plural)! He enjoys practicing with different gauges at the various stations, always challenging himself to break clays with the smallest gauge possible. If you’re wondering how he totes multiple guns around the course it would be in his pickup truck on the roads he had built just so full-sized vehicles could navigate the course’s Hill Country terrain. 

Have I mentioned that there’s a pair of swim trunks hanging from the driver’s outside mirror of his truck and a fly rod strapped from the hood to the roof? That’s because the prescription calls for Joe’s next destination for the evening to be Joshua Creek. He shoots clays till he’s in a sweat, then gets in the creek to cool down and cast a line to the Blue Gill and bass. He can only last about 30 minutes in the creek because the spring water, shade of the cypress trees and the light breeze start to make him feel cold. That’s when he gets out of the creek and proceeds to the next prescribed step: drive around the Ranch checking predator traps he set the prior evening. If he’s caught a pesky critter, he’ll dispatch him with the pistol holstered next to him. He tries to get all this achieved by sundown so he can be home in time for the final step of the prescription:  watch a gorgeous Texas sunset with his Shotgun Wife.

Nice routine, don’t you think? It’s one we like to recommend to our summer guests, but with a more leisurely time-frame. Shoot clays in the morning before the temperatures rise, and get in the creek in the afternoon when temps start to sizzle. It’s a great way to spend a summer day in Texas. But when Dove Season opens on September 1st, the priorities turn to shooting those whitewing and mourning dove. It’s a “Farm Assistance Program” you know, to keep those pesky birds out of the ripe grain crops. And they’re great meat for the table, too.

If summer’s the good life, then hunting season’s the GREAT life on steroids. There’s another routine we highly recommend to our guests who are wild for wingshooting. I’ll tell you sometime about Joe’s prescribed routine for fun during the hunting season. 

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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