Don't be a statistic during search & rescue 'season'

Posted Wednesday, September 30, 2015, at 10:19 AM
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  • Always be personally prepared when gong outdoors.

    I wish I would have read your article prior to going out Deer hunting this year. I did have all of my survival equipment and materials every day I hunted except for the last. I have always put myself in areas that have little or no pressure during hunting season which mean you really have to get off the beaten trail. Well 2015 was to be no exception. I had a life long friend come down from Washington to hunt for very Large size Mule Deer. We started out in the Lava Flows near Craters of the Moon and after not seeing the quality of bucks we were looking for traveled to the 10,000ft. peaks behind Arco where we ran into more people than deer. So, from there the next day we traveled across the flat lands and canyons such as the Bruneau canyon down to the Nevada Boarder in unit 46. At no time would my wonderful wife of 24 years have any idea where I would be found other than my occasional text when we had coverage. At all of these locations I was always prepared with food, water, ignition sources for a fire and clothing. We finally ended up after about four days of long hikes and many miles driving up in the Sawtooth National Forest. Our idea was to hunt the border of a draw tag unit in hopes of locating a very respectable Mule Deer Buck. I had received some good information about an area and was told that it was only a six mile walk down the canyon. With this travel plan in mind we even staged a vehicle at the bottom of the mountain knowing we would just hunt down the drainage that day. This is were the stars of bad times ahead start to align. I have a pack board that I always carry into areas where there is no vehicle or off road devices capable of getting into or out of these types of locations. I also bring my backpack but since my buddy was taking his I asked him if he had everything we needed and he said yes I just assumed we would be good. In my pack I did put two new head lamps with new batteries and a big water container along with several extra shells. We departed the vehicle at 0630 and dove into the drainage about two to three miles and really started hunting hard. We observed several does and bucks but none were the size we wanted to harvest. At about 1400 or 2pm my partner who was working the higher peaks ran into the once in a lifetime buck he and I were looking for. He made a very good shot on the animal and by 4pm we had it all boned out and put on our packs. We continued what at this time was assumed to be a easy 3 to 4 mile descent down to the vehicle that was staged at the bottom of the mountain. At approximately 8pm when the canyon walls made it impossible to continue our decent we had to get into the stream. After some distance I lost my footing and did a swan dive into the frigid one to two foot water. Upon getting out of the creek soaked from head to toe I told my partner that things would be fine we just needed to get a fire going. The temperature was close to freezing and I removed two of the three sweat shirts I had on that were drenched. When my buddy pulled out his water proof matches container we had tree pitch, gun power, twigs and everything for fuel ready to ignite. No matches came out of his container when he turned upside down. I was shaking very continuously at this point in addition to my buddy saying my speech was slurring. I really wanted to just lay down and go to sleep because I was all of a sudden extremely tired. I said here put these batteries together and touch the wires together and get spark to no avail. I then said you need to lay down here with me and cover us up with pine needles and pine branches of which he said it's too late you have to get up and walk and not stop. After some choice words about him saying he was not going to lay down with me and watch me die and he was leaving I said I'm not staying here by myself so we took off down the mountain. We then walked for the next 20 hours until some other hunters located us at 4pm the next day. During our walk all night we were accompanied by a pack of wolves and passed 9 wolf kills during the night. The total hours from the truck was thirty two. My wife had called 911 at 0400 that morning we were to have returned and Search and Rescue were out looking for us for several hours that day. The estimated walk was about 26 miles on shear rock slides, tons of stream crossings and thick, thick brush. I was most upset about all the people we had worried and all the folks that had to change there plans to come and look for us. Because of assuming my hunting partner had everything we needed I almost lost my life. So you are spot on with communication, planning and knowing the area you are going to be visiting coupled with letting your loved ones or friends know when you will be expected to return. A very special thanks goes out to Teresa at the Elmore County Dispatch, my great friend Officer Mac Saterfield of the Mountain Home PD, the team at ELSAR, my close friend Jeff Day with Idaho Fish and Wildlife, my wonderful wife Sydnee who I scared the hell out of along with my mother and my three children and my life long buddy Justin Brunson of Milton Freewater Oregon.

    -- Posted by spodesek on Thu, Nov 5, 2015, at 3:27 PM
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