Shooting From a Business Perspective

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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.

It’s February now and our operation is humming daily. The guides, dogs, cooks, wait staff, housekeepers and reservation coordinators are in the groove to greet, guide, feed and accommodate guests in a relaxed and cordial way that makes every guest feel special. We never lose sight of the fact that clients and their guests are investing their time and money to come to this award-winning ranch to experience just what we want them to expect: the consistently best birds, guides, dog work, accommodations, food and service this industry has to offer. They have plenty of hunting destinations to choose from, so we want to give them many reasons to keep us at the top of their list of preferences and to choose us at every opportunity. 

“Exciting and Demanding” best describes this business for all our staff in the months of January, February and March. Our hours are basically 24/7 because of the full spectrum of services we offer, resulting in little if any down time each week. For me personally “exciting and demanding” is only half the picture. I can add the descriptions of agonizing, grueling, frustrating, and maddening, as well. Why? Because I’m distracted from client involvement since it’s the time of year that government and tax reporting are at their peak demand for small businesses like mine. You might know the routine as well as I do…..in forms code that would include W-2’s, W-3’s, 941’s, 943’s, 1099’s 1096, SUTA, and more. I’m told we’re lucky to be in Texas or I’d also have state and local income tax reporting to add to the load. And for the year 2012, there’s the five year USDA Agriculture Census, the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Census, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey for Occupational Injuries, all mandatory with the threatening warning messages of “Required by Law” and “Penalty for Failure to Report.” Oh, and if I get complacent and think I’m finished with the filing of the census and survey reports in February, I’m smacked with the reminder that the Corporate Income Tax filing deadline is March 15th. 

This is no exageration, the first 45 days of 2013 I will have devoted myself almost exclusively to government reporting of one kind or another. Exciting, no. Demanding, yes. Agonizing, grueling, frustrating and maddening…absolutely. These bureaucratic demands truly take the enjoyment out of doing business when they come bearing down on the busiest and most exciting months of our business. I’d be interested to know whose idea it was in the first place to make “year-end” and the consequential reporting requirements come right on the heels of Christmas.  It’s the ultimate in poor foresight and planning.

Alright, enough of the unpleasant side of this business and on to the exciting part.  As apprehensive as I felt about this hunting season when it started last autumn with the disappointment of the election and the lagging economy, I’m pleasantly surprised and amazed to find that the 2012-2013 hunting season is the absolute BEST EVER in our 23 year history of upland bird shooting. More clients hunted and harvested more birds than in any prior year. How I had fretted over the need to increase our bird hunting package prices due to ever-increasing prices of feed and fuel and insurance and more. We’d resisted a price increase for years, but a continuously shrinking profit margin finally made it essential. But we’ve had no complaints and business has actually increased. I think people just want to shoot something….and shoot it before ammo is priced out-of-sight or their guns are confiscated or inflation and taxes make all non-essentials unaffordable.

I’m optimistic about what the non-hunting months will bring to the shooting industry. We’ve had more inquiries for spring and summer clay shooting events than ever before from corporations as well as non-profit organizations. We’re getting more inquiries than ever for shooting instruction and practice opportunities for handguns as well as shotguns. The desire by people to learn and practice shooting is becoming a whole new opportunity for businesses like Joshua Creek Ranch.  Who knows, the gun handling skill set may just overtake the golf club skill set before long. Of course, I’m seeing things from a Texas viewpoint, which I must admit is a good perspective to view from.            

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.

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 http://www.joshuacreek.com.

www.joshuacreek.com