John's Journal...

The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School with Willie Webb, Jr.

COAGS’ Graduates and Their Futures

Greg MillerEditor’s Note: The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School (COAGS), of Cripple Creek Colorado, is a unique learning environment which includes indoor classroom instruction and outdoor, hands-on activities that provide the students with the groundwork needed to attain success in the outdoor-recreation industry. Although most of the students aspire to become employed in the outdoors, COAGS welcomes any outdoors enthusiast who wants to become more comfortable in the wilds to participate in any or all of the courses.

What Are the Types of Outdoor Opportunities?

The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School welcomes any individual wanting a career in the outdoor-recreation industry. COAGS has been in operation for the past 13 years, and has had several thousand students graduate from its courses. Throughout the years, students have found opportunities across the United States with some even venturing into Canada and Costa Rica. Most COAGS students enroll for the hunting side of the industry; however, students find opportunities in all aspects of the outdoors. The COAGS website,, has a list of careers found in the outdoor industry, including hunting guides, videographers and park rGreg Millerangers to working on guest ranches. However, most of the students who contact the school about employment are in the hunting industry. Too, outfitters from all over the United States contact COAGS searching for employees. One of the 2006 job postings stated, “We’re currently accepting resumes for part-time and seasonal hunting guides to join our team. We specialize in guiding high-end clients for both big and small game in Alaska, New Mexico, Texas and Wyoming. We don’t work with horses or mules, but with trucks, ATVs, boats and airplanes.” Another job said, “Needs assistant guide, August 10 through September 15, for moose, black bear, dall sheep, and possible brown bear on the Kenai Peninsula. Fly into Anchorage, horseback, packing, wall tents and spike camps.” Other possibilities are: fly fishing in Alaska, working in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in Montana or the Jim Bridger Wilderness in Idaho; and, whitetail outfitters in Pike County, Illinois, Hondo and Carrizo Springs, Texas, and west-central Alabama. The COAGS family has worked all over, and graduates look to their alma mater for other graduates to fill positions.

Many of the COAGS graduates become guides, and several own outfits themselves. Some graduates have even become members of the COAGS staff. The May 2005 COAGS Basic, Pro Guide and Advanced Horsemen classes are an excellent example of determined graduates finding careers in outdoor industry. Joe Wilson started Adobe Ranch Outfitters, LLC, www.adobeGreg; Jeremy Williams is with 5 J Outfitters,; and, Tony “Chewy” Tabaka began Professional Guide Service. These three started up or bought existing outfitting businesses in Arizona, Texas and Minnesota. Miles Bate instituted his own predator-control business in Texas. Mark Stone from West Virginia found a new career as an instructor at COAGS, and Willie Webb, the COAGS cook and instructor, is starting a writing career and manages a small private farm in Mississippi during the off-season. Diane Rudy is the cook for an outfitter in Colorado, and Cheryl Martel found herself in Arizona guiding hot-air balloon rides. Tito Bertalacchi guides in south Texas, Richard “Bubba” Dickie has gone to Wooden Rifle Outfitters in Wyoming, Tony Doucette works for Golden Eagle Outfitters, and Jace Rigby has found employment guiding deer hunts in Texas and turkey hunts in Alabama. Nolan Mick is a part-time fly fishing guide during the summer. Another 2005 graduate, Kevin Johnson, spent the fall guiding for big game and the Pack String Ranch in the Flat Tops northern Colorado, spent the spring in Key West, Florida, driving a parasail boat and headed back to Colorado in the summer of 2006 to work for a guest ranch until hunting season began. Also, Melanie Regan, 2004 graduate, uses her horsemanship skills acquired at COAGS to land a job at a YMCA camp in Missouri.

Today, COAGS has a course just on white-tailed deer – the Whitetail Pro Guide and Management School. In this first year, students from the Whitetail program have gone all over the United States: Jeremy Barner is working for Vinegaroon Wildlife outside of Del Rio, Texas; Casey Cambre went to guide at a very up-scale operation in south Texas; and, Charles Hogan and John “Buck” Sparks are both working at the La Bandera Ranch outside Greg Millerof Carrizo Springs, Texas. Gary Luck moved his family to South Dakota to guide for an outfitter, and Ken Roberts landed a job at Pushmataha Plantation in western Alabama. Other whitetail graduates now guide for outfitters in Illinois, Iowa, Colorado, South Carolina, Texas and Nebraska. Lauren Fegan, a 2006 graduate, found work in Wyoming at several different operations leading family day-pack trips.

Many of COAGS students have also had the opportunity to make television appearances: Sheldon Pedranzan was the featured guide on an episode for the “Northern American Hunter” show; Randall Reagan guided a store manager from the Cabela’s Buda, Texas, store on “Cabela’s Outfitter Journal TV”; and, Chris Vaughn guided Mark Kayser on “Blackpowder Hunting & Guns TV”. Other graduates have been on “Bushnell Outdoors”, and “The Choice and Better Built Outdoors” with Brock Ray. Graduates have also guided well-known outdoor writers and celebrities, including Joe Byers, Jim Zumbo, Dave Maas and Babe Winkleman. Men and women from all walks of life the last 13 years have used COAGS to open doors and broaden their horizons to careers in the outdoor-recreation industry. Whether sportsmen want to gain new skills or obtain confidence in their own abilities, the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School has prepared students to follow their dreams and make life-changing decisions.

If you’ve dreamed of making a living outdoors, then go to the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School’s website,, or call, 1-800-714-4864. Remember, attending a COAGS course is not just an investment in your future, but an investment in yourself.

Check back each day this week for more about "The Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School with Willie Webb, Jr."

Day 1: Whitetails and Dreams
Day 2: What You’ll Learn at the Colorado Outdoor Adventure Guide School
Day 3: The COAGS Experience
Day 4: What is COAGS?
Day 5: COAGS’ Graduates and Their Futures


Entry 375, Day 5