A Sportsman’s Paradise Since 1980

Whether it is called a dream hunt or a dove hunter’s ultimate experience, the opportunity to test wingshooting skills in a setting like the Joshua Creek Ranch should be on every shooter’s bucket list.

What sets Joshua Creek apart from other facilities catering to the migratory & upland bird crowd in South Central Texas is their lodge, exquisite setting and other 5-star facilities. A trip to Joshua Creek Ranch is not just a hunt, it’s an experience much like savoring a glass of smooth aged whiskey. It provides a high quality, memorable experience.

“We have been dove hunting here at the ranch for about four years and only hunt from Sept. 1-30,” said Craig Gaudlip, director of outdoor operations for the 1,300-acre hunting ranch and resort that is nestled in the picturesque Texas Hill Country just outside of Boerne.

“What we offer is a more personalized experience. We cater to small groups, most of the time no more than six hunters, so our hunts are more like a small bunch of friends getting together for some fine wingshooting,” he said.

“We provide a lot of one-on-one attention, bringing bottled water to our guests, picking up birds as they are shot and just making this a private, enjoyable experience,” Gaudlip said.

Although doves typically provide top-notch shooting opportunities throughout the 30-day season at Joshua Creek, during the few periods when the action slows down, the ranch offers wingshooters the rare opportunity to test their skills at hand-thrown pigeons in a shooting ring just south of the pro shop.

During the last two weeks of the dove hunting action, hunters also have the option to double-dip with an upland game bird hunt or even fly fishing and kayaking along the Guadalupe River that serves as the northern border of the ranch.

The migratory bird wingshooting experience is another way to savor one of the nation’s ultimate hunting, shooting, lodging and fine dining sites that could be described as the crown jewel of hunting lodges and an upland bird sportsman’s paradise.

“Our goal is to deliver the best experience, end to end, and to provide the best free range hunting in the world,” said Kevin Welborn, director of marketing, sales and guest services for the ranch.

With that goal in mind, the facility has earned the title as one of the top three Orvis Endorsed Wingshooting Lodges of the Year in both 2016 and 2017. In addition, Joshua Creek Ranch Guide Eric Harrison was named the Orvis Endorsed Wingshooting Guide of the Year for 2017.

Joshua Creek is also one of the select few operations in the world that is both Orvis endorsed and recognized as a Beretta Trident Lodge for Excellence in Upland Bird Hunting.

“I’ve been here for 12 seasons and I love what I do,” said the 34-year old Harrison, who hails from Kentucky but jumped at the opportunity to live and work in Texas.

“Joshua Creek has a great team here. I think we are the best place to hunt in Texas and probably in the entire United States,” he said.

“I feel really honored to be named the guide of the year. That is quite an achievement, but my focus is always on providing my hunters with a great experience and to do a great job for them,” he added.

Welborn pointed out that Harrison is the most requested guide by the large cadre of repeat customers who visit the ranch year after year.

The facility has been open to guests since 1990 and is the dream operation of Joe and Ann Kercheville, who purchased the property in 1986.

Originally, they planned to develop the ranch as a site to raise a herd of registered Texas longhorn cattle. They had a change in plans after taking part in driven pheasant hunts in Scotland in 1988 and 1989.

They noted the similarities between the Scottish hunting terrain and the Texas Hill Country ranch; and picked the brains of fellow Americans who were investing their time and money to travel across the Atlantic for fine pheasant hunting that was unavailable in the U.S.

That prompted them to embark on creating an operation staffed with top quality employees dedicated to providing an up-scale wingshooting and hunting experience for every guest on every visit.

The ranch features a combination of fertile creek and river bottom land — Joshua Creek runs through the property — in addition to lightly wooded grass pastures rimmed by limestone bluffs and ledges. This serves as prime time wildlife habitat for dove, quail, pheasant, mallard duck, white-tailed deer and Rio Grande turkey hunting.

Another featured element of the hunter and shooter paradise is the opportunity to bust a few clay targets at two 10-station sporting clays courses and a wobble trap set up.

The main bird hunting season is September through April, with trophy Axis deer hunting offered year-round.

“We take about 35-40 trophy Axis bucks off the property every year — I don’t know anyone who can match that,” Welborn said.

“We book about 10,000 to 12,000 guests and members a year, making us one of the highest volume hunting lodges in the world. We continue to expand our staff and have grown every year we have been in operation,” he added.

The icing on the cake at Joshua Creek has to be the lodging available for guests interested in relaxing and enjoying Texas Hill Country comfort after their memorable outdoor experience.

Fine lodging facilities, in addition to the main Cypress Creek Lodge featuring a full-service English Cocker Bar complete with a cigar humidor, include the spacious Guadalupe Tree Haus overlooking the Guadalupe River with accommodations for 18; the 13-room Branch Haus featuring a 2,400 square foot meeting and conference room and a terrace overlooking Joshua Creek; the two-bedroom Covey Haus with a view of Hill Country sunsets; and even more equally spectacular lodgings.

“We have members and guests who have been hunting with us for more than 20 years. We rely on our large number of repeat customers but welcome many newcomers each year.

“Helping them all have a memorable experience is what we do every day,” Welborn said.

By Ralph Winningham