Our Guides & Staff
Colorado Trophies guides and staff are the stars behind our operation! We have been blessed to put together our “Dream Team!” Hunters have consistently remarked at how our guides are such a cohesive a team, the Chefs provide top notch food, the hosts offer warm and welcoming hospitality, and our cleaning crew provides clean, comfortable five star accommodations.
We offer one guide for every two hunters, making the hunt very personable. One-on-one guided trips are also available for an additional fee. Colorado Trophies has a teamwork ethic at our very core; therefore, there is no rivalry between guides. Our principle goal is to achieve the highest quality hunting experience for each and every hunter that is possible! Our guides huddle and break on “One Team, One Dream!” as their motto.
All of our guides begin with a deep passion for hunting and have spent years honing their outdoor skills. For many, the love of the hunt and the outdoor experience is a heritage passed on from their fathers and grandfathers. All of our guides enjoy furthering this heritage of hunting in the great outdoors with the fathers and sons of this generation.
Colorado Trophies begins our process of finding great guides by looking for a certain type of man, the rare kind… the kind of man who is hard working, honest, and ethical. We look for a man who displays a connection to, and understanding of the beauty of life and the careful compassion and respect it takes to maintain the balance of our God given creation. Additionally, we look for a man with the drive and intensity of one who pursues excellence and success.
Many of our most experienced senior guides came to Colorado Trophies as paying clients, and after a mutual admiration developed, they completed training and successfully transitioned into a guiding role. Whereas some guides went through the Guide Apprenticeship Training program and then crossed over to being a paying client. Thus, many of our guides have truly walked a mile (or two+!) in the shoes of our paid clientele.
Our current guide team, who understands our core values and principles, nominates new prospective guides. Next, the prospective guide sends a resume, with references, and undergoes a rigorous interview process, in order to make it to the guide apprenticeship-training period. In our guide apprenticeship process, multiple senior Guides mentor and train the future guides. This training consists of:
- Learning the core principles of Colorado Trophies, and our teamwork ethic.
- Safety for clients, the surrounding area, and themselves is a top priority!
- Learning our ranches, boundaries, BLM and Forest Service permitted lands.
- Learning how the game move and migrate, and where they bed down.
- Learning how to approach the game, and to do “set ups” as well as calling and bugling the elk into range.
- Attending a mandatory, twice daily, guides meeting with all guides.
- Going out on numerous hunts and game retrievals for many weeks with different senior guides to learn the unique strategies of guiding.
- Learning the Colorado Trophies method of field dressing the game, and how to care for the meat, cape, and trophies.
- Learning how to quarter and cape if retrieving game from challenging terrain, and the safety involved.
- Learning how to hoist the wild game at the skinning poles and how to care for the meat and the possible mount.
- Learning how to welcome guests, take care of them during their stay, and cater to their physical capabilities in the field.
- Learning how to help hunters practice and safely site in at the 3-D Archery range, or the Rifle range.
- Learning how to take pictures of successful hunts to save the memories by highlighting the animal, the hunter, and the beautiful surroundings.
Our hunters formally evaluate all of the above training items weekly when they fill out our Hunt Report card. The comments made by our hunters are taken seriously and have resulted in numerous changes and positive upgrades to our guides, staff, equipment, and our business.
Our guides LOVE what they do and their passions truly shine through!
The most popular men in camp are Jeff Donaldson (pictured right) and Brian Batten (pictured left), our Executive Chefs! No matter what the weather or how challenging the hunting may get, everyone looks forward to coming back to the lodge for the 3 wonderful daily meals, which are pure culinary delights!
Upon arriving at the lodge, you will be welcomed with the sweet aromas of good home cooking, VIP style. We will hold off your hunger until dinner with savory hours devours while you get settled and sighted in. The first dinner of each week is meant to exceed your expectations of just an ordinary hunting camp. We typically serve some variety of a hand crafted salad, a tender, bacon wrapped filet, adorned with rich béarnaise sauce, along with whipped Idaho potatoes, and roasted vegetables. After dinner we provide an orientation to help you prepare for the upcoming week, and then we will serve a delicious dessert, like a Vanilla Bean Crème Brulee with berries, to top off the night!
Our Chefs are highly trained, hard working, and professional. You will notice that they are always the first to rise in the morning, and are often the last ones to go to bed at night! The Chefs are so good at what they do… they seem to pull it off with ease!
After a nice post-lunch nap many hunters visit our COFFEE AND COOKIE BAR, before heading out for the early afternoon/evening hunt.
However, if you and your guide are staying out all day, the chefs will prepare a sack lunch for you to take with you into the field. For hunters who are delayed from getting back to the lodge in time for lunch or dinner, our chefs will happily plate a meal for you to have upon your return.
If you would be so kind to let us know in advance of any dietary restrictions, our chefs can make modifications to most requests.
Most hunters travel hundreds of miles, with the hopes and dreams of harvesting a nice trophy or two! Many begin their journey as complete strangers, but any anxiety of being in new surroundings is quickly alleviated when welcomed with open hearts by our Hosts, Don and Gretchen Colander.
Don and Gretchen are Tom’s parents, and have helped in many roles with Colorado Trophies for many years! In the early years of our business, they worked as our cooks, providing great home cooking! Don and Gretchen have become indispensable, with their multiple talents and organizational skills.
Gretchen has an uncanny ability to remember names, and often times even what each hunter and guide prefers to drink at mealtime! It’s her hard work and attention to detail that keeps us running smoothly! Gretchen is known for her warm “victory hugs” at the skinning poles when the harvested game comes in. Not only is she rooting for you, she is praying for your safety and success too!
Don is our fix it man! He is great at working a problem and has the most ingenious ideas! Don also transports the wild game to the meat processor, nearly two hours away. Don is an artist, especially with woodworking, and you certainly will find him whittling away at his next creative project. Don’s sense of humor is infectious, and often gets him an elbow in the side from Gretchen!
Yes, even though many begin their Colorado Trophies journey as strangers, by the end of the week you will leave as dear friends. And for the wonderful hunters who have been coming year after year, you now are a cherished part of the family!
We strive for our accommodations to be top notch! We want you to arrive to a warm and inviting atmosphere at Wing Shadow Ranch, and we know that cleanliness matters! Our trustworthy cleaning crew works hard to make each room, bed, and bathroom fresh and clean! Knowing that hunting can be a messy sport, our Head of Housekeeping, Laura Denney stays right on top of it with her “dailies”. She gets into the details by providing extra pillows, cleverly folded towels, emptied trash cans, spotless bathrooms, and crisp new vacuum lines can be found in the carpeting. It’s our desire that you find the lodge delightfully decorated, well appointed, and efficiently run.