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Backpacker Magazine – September 2005

What Would Davy Crockett Do?

He'd toss the titanium stove and build a big fire. Our man enrolls in a traditional guide school and learns how to survive - and think - like an American original.

by: Michael Mason

Though classes at COAGS are often large, I'm fortunate to have just four classmates. After unpacking, I find two of them, Sam Morse and Billy Dills, practicing elk calls on the broad lawn outside the lodge. "You want to make sure they're in estrus," Sam advises. "Otherwise, they're just going to think you're sick." A former college football player, Sam just sold his computer business in Bailey, CO, and wants to start an outfitting company with the profits. Billy, an erstwhile law student from Tulsa, hopes to ditch the bar for a career as a hunting guide. Over ribs and chicken that night, I meet my other classmates: Becky Bushell, a web designer from Pearland, TX, and Danny Day, a retired railroad worker from Billings, MO. Like Sam and Billy, they want to make the leap to a life in the wild. Becky is an experienced equestrian thinking about becoming a river-rafting guide. Danny runs a small horse-boarding operation with his wife but would rather wrangle a job with an outfitter.

Most of the students at COAGS hope to become hunting or fishing guides. Not coincidentally, most everything the instructors teach about the outdoors, they teach from a sportsman's point of view. That is partly why I chose to come here. To many backpackers like me, hunters are the other outdoorsmen, the Ones In The Orange Vests. We all value access to public lands, but we experience them in completely different ways. Hunters approach the outdoors, it seems to me, much more as our great-great-grandparents did: They wrestle it to the ground. While hikers are content to observe ("Behold! An elk!"), hunters feel that observation is but the first step toward utilization. I want to know if their hands-on approach to the wild can help urbanized gorp-munchers like me who, despite our environmental sensitivities, feel nature slipping from our lives.

"To many people," Jeff says, "camping is driving the RV up, plugging it in, and boom, we're having a great time. The majority of people enjoy being with the masses. I don't, especially when I'm hunting. So how can we get into remote country without killing ourselves?" It's my first day of class and already I gather that Jeff and I want, essentially, the same thing: to find solitude in the wilderness, and avoid an early grave.

We are sitting at picnic tables outside the lodge, and today's topics include packing and orienteering - what to take to the backcountry, and how to use a compass, map, and handheld GPS to get around once you're there. Our first lesson: While the prospect of tragedy may seem remote to many casual hikers, it is never far from Jeff's mind. He holds up a fanny pack derisively. "This thing? You see a lot of city people wearing them now, but this won't carry the equipment you need in a survival situation." He piles the table high with essentials: rain jacket and pants, rope, water container, oversized orange trash bag (for use as an emergency shelter), scope, two GPS handhelds, pencils, compass, maps, liquor, knife, markers, flint striker, lighters, hat, gloves, scalpel, thread, duct tape, metal matches, a saw that cuts both wood and bone.

A bone cutter? Two GPS units? Apparently I've been hiking in the woods all these years completely unprotected, as unprepared for disaster as the poor Enron dupes who loaded their 401Ks with company stock. The exhaustive list illustrates how he and I perceive the wilderness differently. Like many backpackers, I regard the outdoors as a place of rare danger, an open-air amusement park in which the rides only occasionally malfunction. But to professional sportsmen like Jeff, who once worked on a mountain rescue team, the wild is a vast blue-green appliance that safely produces what you want only if you know which buttons to push. And despite the high-tech gear, I realize it's me, not Jeff, who has strayed from the path of the original mountain men. In truth, Jeff's practical, prepare-for-anything approach can be traced directly back to Davy Crockett, who quite literally went forth loaded for bear.

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Oct 02, 2012

OUCH!! $250,000 !! Too bad Jeff Miner doesn't own anything, the Ball's will be lucky if they ever collect a dime from him. He's got a couple junker vehicles, not worth $1000 total.

Oct 02, 2012


Sep 23, 2012

Jeff, you can't even figure out who writes these comments about you? Past investors, do the math Jeff, as of September 21, 2012 you should have received your notification of judgement against you. Let's see, more than $250.000.00 owed to Mr and Mrs. Ball for fraud. What was it, $100.000.00 plus in civil damages and over $100.000.00 in punitive damages? Oh yeah, your innocent allright!
Surely you can't be so ignorant as to think all the persons writing their comments in this article have no knowledge of your slimy background. Oh and yes I understand you are being pursued for criminal actions also, in New Mexico and Colorado. The wheels of justice turns slow when you are a victim, but justice is finally catching up to you.
Better get busy hiring lawyers, you are going to need them. Don't worry your little brain about who writes these comments, worry about how your going to pay what you owe and how you'll do your time.

Jeff Miner
Sep 14, 2012

I would sure like it if all the people that have written on this page would reveal who they are. I and Theresa went through a Full New Mexico Trial over the purchase of Chama River Outfitters. That trial ended in the end of June 2012. As of today there still has not been a ruling in that trial. I would also like all of you to get your FACTS correct if you are going to slander me in public. I will wait your responses, and please write down your name if you are 100% sure of what you are talking about. As for the Former Investor, the fact is that Theresa and I have a court ordered Judgement in Mesa County Court that stipulates that you owe us several Thousands of dollars, and we have NEVER been paid a penny of that judgement. Now for the person that says we are Banned for LIFE in New Mexico, this is also false, my New Mexico License is fully intact and Valid. Again please know your facts. I stand here to defend my Family and Myself to this Slander and Defamation on my personal character. Please stand up and acknowledge yourself. Outfitters License in CO. is #2621 and NM is #4577 Now for the person that says don't rent or sell anything to us, reveal yourself and let Me know what you think we owe You. Thank You for your time Jeff Miner

Aug 29, 2012

Well it's about time that folks are catching on to these thieves !!! Yes, all of the above is correct. Horrible reputation in their community and across the country. Lie, steal, owe everone $, write bad checks. It's a wonder that Jeff isn't in jail yet..but he time is coming. ANOTHER word of caution.....NEVER rent to them !!!! not a house, a horse pasture, or even a storage won't get paid. Oh and if you sell them anything...get cash upfront.

Former investor
Aug 24, 2012

Jeff and Theresa are the biggest scammers in the outfitting, guiding, educational and equine business I have ever found. As an investor who met Jeff and Theresa, they thrive on those who need to live an exciting life and have money to invest and pray on those whom have an existing business and want to or are ready to retire. If you come in contact with these bottom feeders, run like the wind. They are predators.
They NEVER tell the truth and will someday receive their penance for their actions.
They are thieves, liars, predators and the lowest form of flesh that exist. Contact the above Cache Creek outfitters, any citizen of Collbran CO., the Colorado Outfitters Assoc., the New Mexico Outfitters Assoc., their convictions in New Mexico where they have been banned for life from hunting, guiding and outfitting.

Aug 22, 2012

AGREE 100% Jeff and Teresa Miner ARE complete phony LIARS. BEWARE. Jeff will lie thru his teeth and then go to church and tell more lies. And then his lovely wife Teresa will totally back up his lies.
Complete scammers who are run off of every outfit they work for.

Aug 22, 2012


Jul 02, 2012

Agreed, they are the biggest fakes! How about Jeff being a Deadbeat father who owes over $100,000.00 in back child support and has been running and hiding for years! Check out New Mexico Court website they were being sued for Verified Complaint for Breach of Contract, Civil Fraud, Conspiracy, conversion and Tortious Damage to Reputation not to mention they were outfitting without a license! Check out the Chama Rivers website, there is a disclaimer about doing any business with Jeff Miner! Be careful doing business with him he is not trustworthy!

Jul 02, 2012

Asher 42
Jan 03, 2012

Jeff and Theresa miner are the biggest fakes in the outfitting industry. Call cache creek outfitters in New Mexico,or the Colorado Outfitters Association...they cannot be trusted whatsoever


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