YORK - York varsity wrestling coach Brett Mauler grew up on a ranch in the Sargent/Burwell area.
Growing up on a ranch meant a lot of hard work, but it also meant access to land on which to hunt and fish throughout the year.
At the age of nine, Mauler shot his first coyote and he was hooked for life.
“My grandpas, Randy (Mauler) and Vince (Hulinsky), taught me how to deer hunt and that was the first thing. I always went coyote hunting with my grandad,” said Mauler. “They (his grandfathers) didn’t really have a lot of money growing up and they couldn’t really play sports because they always had to work. So they learned to hunt and fish and those were the hobbies they spent doing with me. I was the only grandkid for a long time so I spent a lot of time with my grandparents, growing up.”
Fishing came later.
“My family wasn’t really big into fishing, but one of my best friends, Tyke Kozeal, and his dad would take us when we were really little. It just kind of hooked us and I had a really good fishing partner,” explained Mauler. “His grandpa is obsessed with fishing -- he gave me my first pole, some lures and he would always take us with him. We still go fishing several times a year, to this day.”
Mauler and Kozeal grew up together. They played sports, hunted, fished . . . they also worked their tails off on their family ranches.
Mauler said his childhood was unique, but he wouldn’t change it for anything.
“Growing up in Sargent there wasn’t really anything else to do. Our parents were really serious about sports, so our goal was to win state championships. Then we would also hang out, hunting and fishing together,” Mauler said. “Most kids never get to experience anything like that. Best thing was that most of our families had land and that is a big part of this hobby.”
Once during a 33-day break from school over the holidays, Mauler and Kozeal hunted or fished for 31 of the 33 days.
“That was just insane. We either hunted or fished every day and we would just go from goose hunting, ice fishing, coyote hunting to duck hunting and then start all over again,” Mauler explained. “We were so exhausted that we would fall asleep where we were for four to five hours, get back up and do it again.
“I have never had a hotel room on any of the fishing trips that I have taken. We went out to Colorado for fly fishing -- it was nine degrees at night and we slept in the car for six days. We never went out to eat, we brought all of our food with us. We ate peanut butter and jelly on tortilla shells, we had bologna and spam,” Mauler stated. “We froze our butts off. We would stick our waders underneath the car, get in the car and warm up. It was tough sledding, but we went out and got to fly fish for six days for $200 bucks apiece.”
Mauler and Kozeal took advantage of the bargain cave at Cabela’s to build up their extensive hunting and fishing gear.
“If you want to go fishing and hunting you have to build up your gear and supplies. So we would go to Cabela’s bargain cave where everything was always on sale. They had deals all the time, it was the best,” said Mauler.
Hunting, fishing, coaching wrestling and working with kids are all passions for Mauler.
He has also found someone to share his life with and they will be married in the summer. Giltner’s Shelby Hinrich, an athlete who excelled for the Hornets in her high school days, has agreed to say “I do.”
She’s also on board with the outdoor life. They went on a 14-mile hike in Colorado together just to get to a special fishing place.
“That was dumb, it was so hard. My knees were killing me,” Mauler said. “I had knee surgery and they were just bugging me. I knew there was a lake up there with a small flow coming in and we caught a bunch of cutthroats.”
He always knew that before he got married, there were three things he wanted to have.
“A pickup, boat and a dog . . . and to pay off all three things before I get married. That was kind of my strategy,” Mauler said. “Once we start to have kids, I know I won’t have as much time and money to make these purchases.”
As far as the dog – check. He’s a huge fan of the movie, “Christmas Vacation,” and his dog’s name comes straight from the movie’s characters – Griswold Eddie Snott Mauler.
He said the dog is a big part of his hunting, noting he trained the dog himself.
“I was self-taught, through watching videos and reading books,” he explained.
Mauler says he would love to live off the grid, off the land . . . maybe even be a contestant on one of those types of reality shows. For right now, however, his plan is to get married and have kids.
“I also have my goals as a coach which I want to achieve first. I want to be able to take my kids hunting and fishing and give them a good life. It’s pretty important to me,” said Mauler.