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.
Ken is a technical writer and has spent the majority of his career documenting storage hardware and software products for start-up companies. Although start-ups demand long hours, he always finds time to get to the club and break some clays. Ken is not a shooting instructor and he is not a professional shooter. He’s part of the majority of people who love to shoot clays just for the sheer fun of it.
Unless Lars Jacob is running dogs, wetting a fly line or turkey hunting, everything he does revolves around shotgunning. Jacob has been teaching the finer art of wingshooting for over 30 years. He has run programs and gun rooms for the Dutch River Club, Covey & Nye and Orvis Company to name a few. Jacob is the founder and CEO of Lars Jacob Wingshooting, LLC and LJW Roving Syndicate. In addition to instruction, Jacob is recognized as one of the country’s finest gun fitters and recently worked with Perazzi’s Al Kondak to develop the Perazzi Ladies Sporter. He has a soft spot for side-by-sides and has introduced thousands of shooters to the nuances associated with shooting such shotguns. For more information visit www.larsjacobwingshooting.com.
Cigar smoke mingled with fragrances of autumn, marking the twenty-first annual weekend of convivial sporting-clays competitions in the mountains of Virginia by the exclusive Green Jacket Club.
Maybe I should’ve taken that shot.
As the morning chill dissipated, the sky brightened and even distant duck sightings grew more infrequent, it was becoming clear that Charlie and I were about to be skunked. On opening day, no less.
It is the end of a round of sporting clays. Scores are added up and the cards are either turned into a referee or tucked away, never to be looked at again. In either case, only the scores are looked at. All of the data points at each station are usually ignored.
The month of November strikes panic into the mind of this Shotgun Wife since it marks my last chance at planning and orchestrating a holiday season that might possibly be as relaxing and enjoyable for me as for my family and our guests. If I started right away, and devoted these next several weeks to conscientious organization and anticipation of the details of menus, decorations, entertaining, gift selections, etc., I could actually envision myself casually whistling “Deck the Halls” into a delightfully laid-back holiday season.
We showed up on time. Oh dark-30. Parked our car on a pull-off area on a mountain road in Kebler Pass, located in the Crested Butte area. The twins stepped out of their vehicle next to us – dressed in camo, do-rags and running shoes. The reflective tape on their shoes gleamed in the pre-dawn and I thought, “I’m in trouble here.” My hunting boots already felt heavy.
Are you that guy? I was. I think there’s a little bit of him in most of us, and a lot in some. Who is he? He’s the guy who misses a few targets and gets so frustrated that he misses even more. A lot of shooters are just a few misses away from becoming that guy.
Skeet is not a game to me.
I don’t keep score. I ignore many of the rules and conventions. And I like to blaze through a round fast. Really fast. All I’m doing is trying to stay sharp for wingshooting. I don’t particularly want to be an expert at shooting inanimate clay disks.
I’m a Texan so, of course, I’m tuned in to what’s going on in our great state. But wherever you reside, you’d have to be living in total isolation not to have heard about the catastrophic drought, heat and wildfires that have plagued Texas all summer long. Truth is, for us it started a year ago in September 2010, when Mother Nature turned off the rain faucet in our beautiful Texas Hill Country after lavishing us with abundant and timely showers throughout the prior summer. Since then, our average annual rainfall of 30 inches has shrunk to a meager 20% of that amount, a total of 6 inches in a whole year. Spring-fed creeks are bone dry and rivers are a trickle. Parched landscape holds its breath for fear of wind-driven wildfires, and residents sweat out record-breaking high temperatures. Many of us remember our parents and grandparents reciting stories about the drought of the 1950’s, but the summer of 2011 will likely prove to rival those days.
Wanna know what I’m doing right now? Chances are I’m sitting at my computer going absolutely crazy because work is getting in the way of my dove hunting. Good Lord, we get only 15 days of good dove hunting here in California, and the opener this year is on the worst possible day for me. A Thursday. Not just a work day, but a really demanding, frenetic day. And I guarantee you there are mourning doves cooing on the roof over my head.
A lot of people (like me) have gone to a gun store, shouldered their soon-to-be-shotgun, looked down the barrel and thought that it fit just fine. And so did their friend who came along with them, and most likely the salesperson as well.
Having dogs around all the time is just part of my day-to-day life as a hunting lodge operator and wife of a wingshooting enthusiast. They’re everywhere...in my house, my yard, my office, around the lodge, at the ranch kennels, in the hunting guides’ trucks and dog trailers, in the hunting fields and pastures. I mean, literally everywhere. I think we’ve either owned or hosted every imaginable breed of bird dog at Joshua Creek Ranch at one time or another over the past 22 years, including some deaf dogs, three-legged dogs, half-blind dogs, and old arthritic dogs who wouldn't give up hunting any more than their deaf, half-blind, old, arthritic masters. And I love having all those dogs around....IF they’re well trained and have nice manners.
It's late morning on a Saturday in mid-July at Joshua Creek Ranch and seems unusually still and quiet after being abuzz day and night for the past week with high-energy active teenage guests. The JCR staff performs post-guest clean-up dutifully, but with the help of some extra young people. All are anxious to be done with their work and on with enjoying some time off after a very intense week of managing the busy itinerary of the group that just departed. What's been going on the prior week has become one of my favorite activities at the ranch...the Youth Outdoor Adventure Program (YOAP).
I am not a gun nut.
I don’t flip the pages of high-end gun magazines, staring at beautiful guns and sighing wistfully. I don’t need a different gun for every type of hunting I do. And about the only engraving I need on a gun is a serial number.