Operating a hunting lodge is a lot like managing a household of all boys where company is coming every day. Some of the visitors are like family who've been coming over for years. Some are new acquaintances we're anxious to know better. Regardless, company is coming, so everything must be at its best. That means, getting the household back in order from the guests who've just departed: laundry, house cleaning, menu planning, grocery shopping, lawn and grounds spiffing, and, of course, finding a spot to store the items that the last guests forgot to pack up and take with them.
You can’t imagine the variety of items that are left at a hunting lodge by the boys who come for a stay. More than just the odd sock under the bed, we’ve found hunting boots, every possible layer of clothing, high-tech shooting glasses, gun cases, cell phones, laptop computers, and on and on. The greatest mystery is how some of these things can be left behind and never missed. Honestly, no one calls to claim them....and we’re talking about some highly desirable things from a hunter's perspective.
The day before departure on an Alaska fishing trip several years ago, we discovered that my husband, Joe, didn’t have a light weight summer jacket appropriate for the climate. Given that it was a sweltering Texas day in early July and the nearest shopping center an hour away would not likely be selling jackets, I suggested to Joe that he consider checking out the lodge’s lost and found for something he could use. I’d in fact myself been borrowing a fabulous Boss hunting coat for years on those rare frigid days in my deer hunting blind. Luckily, he found a navy canvas bomber style jacket that fit him fine and the “loan” was made for the duration of the trip.
The trout and salmon fishing were fantastic and so was the weather. In fact, it turned warm enough one day that Joe didn’t need his jacket, so he left it laying on the bank of the river while he did some wade fishing. Bear were active in the area and it so happened that a big brown bear wandered upon the jacket. He proceeded to have a frolicking good time with that jacket, tossing it around, giving it several good shakes and thrashing it with his paws. Needless to say, no one attempted a jacket rescue and the bear eventually got bored and moseyed away, leaving the jacket where it laid. Amazingly, the jacket came back home to our hunting lodge with only a shredded lining as evidence of its encounter.
Months pass, and when a brisk autumn day arrived in the Texas Hill Country, I got a call from a San Antonio client who asked if he’d by any chance left his jacket at the ranch. He proceeded to describe the jacket Joe had borrowed for that Alaska fishing trip. Can you believe it? A jacket lays around in our lost and found for over a year, goes on an Alaska fishing trip, gets mauled by a bear and then its owner remembers where he left it. I told him we indeed had his jacket, that it had been on quite an adventure and had an amazing story to tell. He was enthralled by the jacket’s story and just wished he’d been in it except for the bear encounter. I assured him I’d have the torn lining repaired and give him a call when the job was done.
A couple of weeks later, I called the client to say the jacket was ready. For his convenience, he preferred to pick it up at Joe’s San Antonio office. So Joe took it into town and left it with his receptionist for our client. Within the same week, our client called me sounding very dejected. “I went to get my jacket and I’m terribly disappointed,” he said. I immediately asked if the tailor had not done a satisfactory job. “It’s not that,” he muttered, “The jacket looks fine. The trouble is that it’s not mine. And it wasn’t the jacket that I wanted so much anymore. I wanted the story that goes with it!”
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.