I wanted to write a letter to tell ya’ll how much I enjoyed the school and why it was a game changer for me. I could write a ten page letter, but I’ll try to keep my long winded tendencies in check.
I love hunting and being in the outdoors… I always have! I grew up with a shotgun and two dogs running around the woods of North Louisiana and I knew throughout my whole life that I wanted to work in the outdoors. I joined the military because I knew deep down that I would love it as a career. It was a dream career that started in the Marine Corps and ended in the Army. When I was injured, my dream ended abruptly after almost 14 years. I’ve been searching for the place where I fit into society ever since. I wanted to test the waters in hopes that I was ready to get back in the game. I started talking to some of my brothers from the Marine Corps and found out about COAGS. I scrambled to get the paperwork submitted for my GI Bill so I could start classes in August. I called Jeff at least a hundred times during that month worried about getting everything done in time. Every time I called, my spirits were lifted by his positive attitude and encouraging words. I could tell that he really cared about his students. Once I got to the school and checked in, I learned that there were many other veterans there and that Jeff was a veteran himself. That meant a lot to me… It made me more comfortable. Jeff, Theresa, and the crew put their heart, mind, and soul into every class and every client. All of my classmates were great guys and gals. They were the kind of people I enjoy being surrounded by. I always liked to think that I knew a lot about the outdoors, but I learned more during my time there than I could ever imagine about the outdoor industry, horses and mules, backcountry pack strings, camp cooking, and hunting every kind of game you can think of. I actually learned more about business from Jeff than I ever did in 2 years of business classes during college. Real knowledge…
The reason it was a game changer for me is because I was finally able to “focus” my desire to work in the outdoors and come up with a plan. While I was there I realized that there are many opportunities to work in the outdoors doing any number of activities. I’m now contracting with government agencies, wounded warrior programs, and teaching Wilderness and Remote First Aid and CPR classes to those who spend time “outside the golden hour”. I’m also beginning my dream of creating a video documentary series on the heritage of the outdoorsman and our leadership in conservation. I enjoyed packing the mules and horses more than anything. I miss good ol’ Leo… I was assigned to him during the Pro course and working with that stubborn mule was actually therapeutic. Getting out in the mountains and putting the knowledge to use with my classmates was just as awesome. I was diagnosed with PTSD while in service and no amount of traditional therapy could replace my experiences at COAGS… My girlfriend could see how calm and serene I was when she flew in to drive home with me. Jeff impressed her so much that she actually cried because she saw how much of a positive impact the class had on my frame of mind. She got to meet the Miner family, Michael, Nick, and my fellow classmates. My kids saw a more relaxed and focused man when I walked through the doors at home. I found out that not only was I ready to get back in the game, but I could actually put many more of my skills to use than I had initially thought. I plan to bring my oldest son, who is in high school, to a class or two in the near future and get him involved in making our dream of working in the outdoors a family business.
“Thank You”, to the Miner Family, Michael, Nick, all of the guest instructors, and my classmates for a deeply enjoyable experience.
W.B. “Doc” Taylor
COAGS is the best all around Outdoor school that I’ve ever been apart of in my outdoor career of 25 plus years of training, learning and leading. Having been there, it’s the kind of course I want my children to go to and one that I’m proud for having attended.
I was looking for a school that was hunting guide and outdoor oriented, I wanted one that had instructors with real world experience at leading and at running a business. I wanted a school that was up on the latest and most successful tactics, techniques and procedures for being a successful outdoor professional. COAGS is all of that and then some. The Instructors were some of the best that I have ever met. The curriculum is spot on and was no cake walk. Through hands on practical exercises and detail knowledge that was testable I learned more than I thought I could have learned. The facilities were top notch along with the mountains added to the realism of the training. COAGS classes were in the same area that they guide and run the business out of professionally. You learn not only how to guide but also how to run a guide service and how to be an outfitter. As a student, I practiced hands on in all aspects of the guide business from meeting clients and cooking their meals to glassing for trophy Elk and packing it out on a mule.
What I did not expect was that I would make such good friends with everyone in the course. A good number of us had been in the military overseas in some of the same places at different times and I really enjoyed that aspect of the class. Working with the other students together to accomplish everything in the class made the class much better in my view. I can’t express how much better it made the course.
The food is dangerous at COAGS. You will have to gird your Loins. There is plenty of it and it’s all great!! If you don’t watch it, you’ll gain weight like I did.
I am an outdoor professional and I’ve been one in the US Military and Civilian life for over 25 years. I am a Licensed Guide for Hunting, Hiking and Camping. I am also an NRA certified level three Rifle Coach and a certified Rifle and Pistol instructor as well as an NRA Hunting Instructor. In the winter time I teach Alpine, Adaptive and XC skiing. As you can imagine I have done a lot of training to be an outdoor professional and I have been to a lot of schools and seen a lot of instructors in my career. COAGS is the best all around outdoor school that I’ve ever been a part of.
– John L Cuntz, MAJ (USA Retired)
– July, 2013
” I attended the basic guide program in April 2013, having searched for the best possible introduction course, I heard about COAGS and their response and course guidelines made me commit to this School. Coming all the way from Africa provided its own challenges in terms of bringing the correct equipment, but Jeff and his team were more than willing to assist and were very welcoming. The course instruction was well thought out and well prepared. Instructors were passionate about their fields and we were fortunate to have some very talented individuals not only teaching but also attending the course. The course would be beneficial to anyone who wanted to learn more about the outdoors as well as those who wanted to use the course as a starting block for a professional career.”
– Ivan West
Jeff and the COAGS staff,
Just wanted to say thank you for the awesome two months that I had when I attended COAGS! Jeff your instruction and teaching is second to none. The food was great and the housing suited the program. You guys always had words that inspired me. Whether it was the “man in the glass” poem, or just simple words of wisdom. I met some great students as well while I was there, some of them I grew a bond with and all of them I want to keep in contact with.
I came out to COAGS to pursue my dream of being a professional hunting guide, and left COAGS with a new outlook on life and even more ambition to pursue my dream. Again thank you COAGS Jeff, Theresa, Nick, Michael and of course Jordan, you all have made an impact on my life, helped me realize there isn’t just a one way road, that you can choose any direction and with the right attitude get to where you want to go. I will see you guys soon, until then take care and continue to do the great job that you are doing!!!!!!
– Jeremy Knight
– July 2013
I recently attended COAGS in August 2013. I had an awesome time with Jeff and the employee’s there. I have been hunting for 10 years and thought I knew it all when It came to whitetails. Little did I know what was in store for me at COAGS. I gained tons of knowledge I never even thought about when I was in the woods. I learned how to approach clients and lead them on a unforgettable adventure, while managing the animals they were hunting. I learned how to age and score the animals on the hoof and make sure the client killed a good mature animal to insure the future growth of the herd. It was definitely an unforgettable experience for me and would recommend it to anyone looking to start their career in the outdoor industry.
– Zac Hearon
While serving overseas the notion of the Rocky Mountains on horseback became an almost nightly topic of conversation within my platoon. Upon returning to the states, I contacted COAGS. Within 2 months
I arrived in Colorado and discovered that the Basic Course offered exactly what I was looking for.
A year later, upon graduation from the Advanced Backcountry Horsemanship Program, I feel that my horsemanship skills have increased 10 fold, and again I am returning home feeling rejuvenated. I received a firm handshake from Jeff, (and a hug from Theresa). They wished me well and I truly believe I am leaving here a richer man. The time spent here is something I will cherish forever, and the skills that I have developed have opened up lifetime worth of adventures in the backcountry that I fully intend to utilize.
I would (and will) recommend the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School to my friends and family, as well as to anyone who has ever felt drawn to horses, to the mountains, or even to a relaxing escape to the outdoors.
James D. Graham
United States Navy Seal
Security Services Consultant, G.S.S.I.
I could have gone to Hawaii or a dude ranch but I wanted something real. COAGS is very real, yet seemed a magical place, and time was suspended for the two weeks that Ken (my husband) and I were there. I worried about our age and about “keeping up” with the other students and so many other things. It took two years before I got up enough courage to actually go to COAGS. I worried for nothing.
Words alone don’t describe the beauty of the mountain scenery, the kiss of the sun, wind, and brief rain showers on my face. The bluest skies and whitest clouds, ever changing above the Aspens, evergreens and mountains, with a view that just went on for as far as the eye could see and sending the imagination soaring, even beyond that. No painting or picture could ever really capture the beauty of the high country with the colorful wild flowers, scattered beneath the trees, among the grasses of the hills and valleys. The rugged, majestic mountains seemed to stand guard, all around the Gold Camp Ranch and COAGS.
The animal life was amazing. Down below the trail while hiking, our class saw a very large and majestic elk, just lying down, resting among the trees and rocks. There were rabbits, birds and chipmunks that scurried everywhere, on chipmunk business. The horses and mules were so big (not like on tv!) They scared me half to death at first, but I actually miss “Casper” the black mule that I rode. They were beautiful animals and I’m glad I have the pictures and memories of the rides and scenery that they allowed us to enjoy. They were so warm and soft to touch and had different personalities, just as people do.
I became fond of and appreciated all of my fellow students, in just two short weeks and often wonder how they fared after I left. You, Jeff, Theresa, Daniel and little Jordan were wonderful and I learned so much from just watching all of you. Theresa was my hero. Each teacher who came to teach us was special, each in their own way. All of the people were somehow warmer and more open than people are in the cities and suburbs. Our class, without discussing or planning it, began helping and taking care of each other and to actually share chores we didn’t have to share. That’s an amazing thing and something I’ve never experienced before. We all were fed and ate like ranch hands. An amazing variety and amount of food at every meal and in between. The kitchen was always open and food was always there for anyone who wanted a snack. Even an apple for your horse was to be had.
Ken and I both found courage and self reliance at COAGS and thank all of you for that. Next year we plan to ride the mules down the Grand Canyon and go white water rafting. I can’t wait! Thank you COAGS, for a wonderful experience that I’ll never forget. I’d urge everyone, young and old, that has a thirst for a real life adventure to take the Basic COAGS course. It isn’t easy and that’s what’s so wonderful about it. Last but not least, I had fun! The fun part surprised me and I loved COAGS. Ken and I both are so very glad we went and will never forget it. Those two weeks were pure magic.
Best Wishes Always,
Linda & Ken Burgh
Plainfield, IL 60544
My name is Annette Larue-Reynolds and I attended the Basic course in May of ’03. I had no idea how great the class would be. I learned so much and found it to be VERY empowering as a woman. I will never again be afraid of the wilderness. I can now confidently guide a group of people on a simple trail ride or a week long camp-out. I can read and understand a map of the wilderness, make a shelter, cook good food on an open fire, and perform basic first aid. The teachers at COAGS made sure I understood everything and I learned alot from the other students as well. I never felt belittled for the silly questions I asked, and in fact, got alot of extra help when needed.
The facilities were better than I hoped for and the food was great, and I was a vegetarian when I arrived, but Theresa’s cooking was so good I converted.
I own my own horse and thought I wouldn’t like the ones they had , but all the horses were excellent and I learned how to properly handle mules as well as horses and mules in a large group. It is hard to get experience handling animals in groups and it’s very important to have that experience when working on a ranch. I got a job on a 40 horse ranch the day I got home because they knew I had gone to the school. I was even able to show the owner of the ranch a thing or two (respectfully, of course).
Please let me know if you need any photos from the class…I have some really good shots if needed!!! Hi to Theresa and Bandito, Dancer, and Beaudacious, oh, and my favorite mule, Big Jake!!
I will attend COAGS again in ’04 and will bring my new husband, cause he doesn’t like the fact that I may know more than him!!
Thanks for a life changing experience!! And, see you in September!!
I love you guys!
Howdy Folks, My Incredible Journey. That is how I would describe the COAGS experience. The professional and dedicated owners and instructors made it all happen. The many learnable skills and a different culture of life style can be guaranteed, along with every turn, a “Kodak moment”. Perhaps the best of the best is the comradeship with the many new friends you meet.
I highly recommend this school, COAGS; an incredible journey for any person who loves the outdoors, animals, and fine folks.
Jackie L. Farver