As often happens, this quail had no desire to conform to the well planned flush we’d set up. Instead of flying away from us and across the field, he popped up and flew right between our guide, Ryan Trovato, and my wife, Cherie. I realized Cherie’s view of the bird was obstructed by a tree so I took the shot. The bird fell in a little copse of oaks. “No problem,” Ryan said, “we were going to go that way next, anyway.”
Also see: Upland Hunting Etiquette
As the dogs headed in for the retrieve, English setters, Diamond and Wyatt, locked up on a point. They weren’t even close to where the bird fell, so Ryan called Scooter, the English Cocker flushing dog, back in. We rearranged our shooting positions, and Scooter went in for the flush. A chukar launched; Cherie took the shot and missed. As she reloaded, two quail flushed out. I got the first one and missed the second. As I reloaded, a rooster pheasant cackled up from Cherie’s side and she took him. As the dogs began gathering up the carnage, a few more birds flushed out and we got two more quail, having never stepped out of our position. Apparently, the birds had all gathered in the little copse of woods and provided a featherstorm of action for us.
I then saw an example of canine teamwork I’d never seen before. Wyatt was retrieving a quail when the cocker, Scooter, met him half way. Wyatt just passed the bird to Scooter, who turned and relayed it to Ryan, to go in the game bag. Bird dogs often display levels of cooperation. But this was a first for me. I’d seen the pointing dog drop the bird for the flushing dog to pick up, but never a mouth to mouth pass. Ryan said it was a fairly regular occurrence and he was intentionally training to get the dogs to do this. Finding birds and shooting them is great, but the dogs always make upland hunting rewarding and entertaining.
Seeing something like the perfect display of canine teamwork we witnessed doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it creates memories that are told and retold. Game preserves provide a rich outdoor experience for a multitude of outdoor pursuits allowing expanded access to the rewards of life in the outdoors. In a modern world, most sportsmen wouldn’t have access to great upland, waterfowl, and big game hunting if there were no game preserves. Locations like Joshua Creek, located a few miles off I 10 near Boerne, Texas, is a great example of the best of such locations.
One of the deepest rewards for time in the outdoors is the peace that comes with experiencing nature. Of course, that kind of peace can come from the quiet satisfaction of watching a good dog work the scent of a bird across a field until he pinpoints the location of the quarry. It might be the peace of sitting in a deer stand watching squirrels and sparrows while anticipating the arrival of a trophy buck.
On our SHOT Show road trip visit to Joshua Creek, my wife, Cherie, and I experienced the peace of nature on the back porch of our cabin on the preserve. After a round of sporting clays, we decided to watch the sunset over the hills across Joshua Creek while enjoying the solitude of the back porch of the cabin appropriately named “Porch”. As we sat out on the porch enjoying the sunset, we picked out the sounds of pheasants, doves, ducks, quail, and an owl. Just as it was getting almost too dark to see, a doe axis deer slipped along the edge of the bluff to nestle in under a scrub oak for the night.
As a Beretta Trident level lodge, Joshua Creek Ranch is one of the premier outdoor locations in the country offering almost anything one might desire for a great outdoor experience. Established in 1990, the ranch offers a summer Youth Outdoor Adventure Program, a premium sporting clays course with scheduled competitions, and fly fishing on the creek. The ranch also handles conferences for groups or companies, and is building a new 10,000 square foot conference center that will be ready for next season. For those interested in larger game, there are hunts for axis deer and other exotics that are found in the Texas hill country. In fall, the whitetail season and upland hunting begin, and waterfowl hunts are available. Spring offers turkey hunts, making Joshua Creek a year round outdoor opportunity. Besides hunting and fishing opportunities, Joshua Creek would be worth the visit simply for the first rate lodging, extraordinary food, and wonderful service. Truly a gem among outdoor destinations, Joshua Creek Ranch provides everything needed for a perfect outdoor experience.