West Elk Mountain Rescue was called out at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 4, to search for a lost hunter up Clear Fork Creek north of the Muddy Creek at the base of McClure Pass. The 60-year-old male from the Front Range had been missing since Saturday at 2:20 p.m.
His hunting companion was the reporting party. He had been looking for his friend, firing shots into the air every half hour from dusk until 1 a.m. on Sunday with no response.
Fourteen team members met at the rescue shed in Paonia at 9 a.m. They met with Gunnison County Sheriff's Deputy Warren Taylor at the intersection of Highway 133 and 265 and proceeded with the reporting party to a location about 30 minutes north.
Headquarters were established and two hasty teams on ATVs were dispatched. Four hiker teams soon followed. All were under way before noon. Within two hours they all converged on the place the hunter was last seen, deep within the woods. They set about to form grid search sections.
At 3 p.m., the hunter was discovered to be walking out on the Clear Fork trail, number 810. He had spent an uncomfortable night in the woods with temperatures around 14 degrees. He had made a shelter by piling leaves around himself while using a south facing rock for shelter. He also had matches which he used to start a fire. He did not have a jacket or other outerwear and was out of food and water. He was dehydrated and hungry. He was very lucky to have remained injury free.
He arrived at headquarters and was examined by the deputy sheriff and the incident commander of the mission. He was released to his companion who was also on the scene.
The stand down was given and the team members returned to headquarters at dusk, about 5 p.m. All proceeded to the hunters' camp where the team EMT examined the lost hunter and found him recovering with the aid of his hunting buddy. He was released at that time. WEMR members returned to the rescue shed in Paonia by 7:30 p.m.
If you're going into the backcountry, you need to be able to take care of yourself; the point of the 10 essentials is to allow you to safely respond to an emergency and safely spend a night or two outside.
Here are the 10 essentials for hiking. Place these in a plastic zip lock bag(s) and keep in your backpack whenever you are out.
1. Map and compass plus GPS unit
2. Waterproof matches/fire starter
3. "Space blanket" or small tarp
4. Extra food
5. Extra water
6. Pocket knife
7. Sunglasses and sunscreen
8. First aid kit
9. Extra clothing and rain gear
10. Flashlight (spare bulb, batteries)
Additional items could include insect repellent, survival whistle and sleeping bag.
West Elk Mountain Rescue is a group of volunteer backcountry users who train together to learn skills to help others who become lost and/or injured in the surrounding areas including the West Elk Wilderness. West Elk Mountain Rescue is under the auspices of the Gunnison County Sheriff department. Monthly meetings are held the first Wednesday in Paonia. Contact WEMR at P.O. Box 1044, Paonia, CO 81428.blog comments powered by Disqus