by Peggy C. Schooley
You may not be old enough to remember the late 80’s…but if you are, you may recall that the oil market was on a downward spiral, and the cattle business was in the tank. Some of those issues are what resulted, some years later, in what we know as Joshua Creek Ranch.
“In the mid-80s we lived near Boerne and were raising cattle when we decided to buy some property we’d found up in the hills between Boerne and Comfort. Our grand plan was to move there with our kids and our longhorns…” explained Ann Kercheville, the co-owner of Joshua Creek Ranch, “but the slumping cattle market closed down that avenue.”
She continued “We decided we should stay put on our property on Scenic Loop Road for a while longer, and during that time, my husband, Joe, and I were blessed to go to Scotland where we were able to participate in what are called “driven” pheasant hunts.” (FYI: This isn’t a fish-in-a-barrel hunting event. It is a skilled-hunter outing that uses dogs (usually) to assure only that birds are in the area near where the hunter is working.) “A few years passed by, and one day when we were checking on the land along Joshua Creek, which had remained untouched and fallow (“After all, we had no cattle to run on the property anymore!” Ann reminded me) – when we realized that this was the perfect place for a bird hunting property!”
And so, Joshua Creek Ranch Upland Hunting Resort was discovered! “We opened in 1990” Ann outlined. “But we mostly gave away more hunting than we sold in those early years. But, time passed and we learned a lot and now we marvel to see all that is here now.”
Joshua Creek Ranch’s driving force is multi pronged. “First,” Ann outlined, “we are habitat managers. We provide an environment that brings birds to us because they will have ample food, shelter, and water. We raise pheasants, and have natural quail. It seems they simply don’t want to leave, and generations of birds come here, or stay here, to raise their chicks. We’ve built ponds for ducks and quail and pheasant habitat. Dove abound here, as do white tail and axis deer.”
“Secondly, we provide a total experience for our hunters and lodge visitors. The lodging is beautifully appointed, our beds are covered in the very best of linens, and our chefs prepare the highest level of cuisine. Luxury in every aspect is our goal, and we continue to strive for that every single day.”
“And, last, we want this land to last for our community for a long, long time. About 700 acres on this ranch are in a conservation easement in perpetuity. Included in this easement are a couple of miles of Joshua Creek (until it connects with the Guadalupe River), then approximately one and half miles of the Guadalupe, too. The scenic beauty and serenity of this area is important to us and our community— and to our children and their future, too.”
Ann and Joe Kercheville have tested and tried many different approaches, and learned from each one of them. “We learned that keeping hunting as our number one driver, with a dedication to excellence, we are usually really happy with the results. There have certainly been some trial and error, but each error has resulted in positive changes. The willingness to explore why something didn’t work like we thought it should, and to make changes, is what makes us successful today.”
About six years ago, Joshua Creek Ranch was endorsed by the Orvis Corporation. “They send out evaluation teams to all the hunting resorts and they evaluate all types of aspects of the ranches.”
Starting in 2016, Joshua Creek Ranch was a Wing Shooting Lodge of the Year finalist (for two years), and then in 2018, it was awarded the Wingshooting Lodge of the Year.
Being named a Beretta Trident Lodge was and is an unexpected and fantastic honor. “For this award,” Ann told me, “you are chosen to participate. You don’t volunteer. It is almost impossible to attain!” Beretta Trident is the only system to rate shooting sports venues. It is not an endorsement. Instead, they award “Tridents” for excellence in all areas — from hunting to shooting, to food, to the kennels for the dogs. Much like a Michelin star is awarded to a restaurant, a Trident is awarded extremely selectively and is invaluable to its recipient.
Currently there are only five Berretta Trident Lodges in all of the US, and our own Joshua Creek Ranch figures high on that list. Overall, there are only nine Trident Lodges worldwide.
As a final note, Joshua Creek Ranch is not “just” a hunting resort. Ann concludes for us: “We offer sporting clays, fly fishing, and shooting training. We enjoy each wedding held here on our beautiful grounds, and we host corporate events on a regular basis. In the summer, we offer various water adventures on the Guadalupe and/or Joshua Creek from kayaking to tubing. In fact, you can reserve poolside patios for small group meetings or gatherings. Sit by the pool, have a drink, and barbecue your dinner! You’re welcome anytime!”