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Lost hunter illustrates importance of knowing where you are

By Sarah Smith

The first lost hunter of the season was hurt and disoriented Wednesday afternoon in the woods of Hubbard County.

He called for help. He’d fallen on his head and was a bit confused. He said he didn’t want medical help, but was lost.

He thought he was somewhere near Steamboat Forest Road in the woods. Steamboat Forest Road is one of the gnarlier areas of the county. It twists and turns through the woods of the Paul Bunyan State Forest, a huge area.

A fleet of deputies and Conservation Officer Sam Hunter set off after him. As the weather cools down, they don’t want to leave an injured person alone in the woods.

Hubbard County’s myriad of wooded areas can pose a life-threatening situation to someone lost and disoriented.

In northern Hubbard County, the deputies turned on their sirens when they neared Steamboat Forest Road to let the man hear them and know help was in the vicinity.

Problem was, the initial call came in at 4 p.m. on a darkly cloudy day with not a lot of daylight left.

Just as the search started getting dramatic, the man made it back to his vehicle. He called to say he could hear the sirens. Fifteen tense minutes had gone by.

A Hubbard First Responder got to the man the same time that a deputy found him and performed an evaluation. The man was alert and conscious, the deputy reported. The ambulance, on call, was told to stay home.

“Nobody ever plans on being lost,” Hunter said.

She tells beginning hunter classes to always let someone know where you’re going “so we know where to start looking.”

And, while the lost man had a cell phone, Hunter said it’s a good idea even if you have an electronic navigational system, a GPS or phone, that a spare kit can become a necessity in the woods.

It’s not a bad idea to refresh your compass skills, she suggested.

If you carry a compass, a mirror, a bit of dried paper and waterproof matches, Hunter suggests you can spend the night outdoors if your electronics die.

“Reading a compass can save lives,” she said.

Hubbard County Sheriff Cory Aukes said an investment in a GPS system is invaluable.

But before even heading out, he suggested, “Be aware of your surroundings. Know your directions. People take it for granted, but know where your truck is, where your camp is.”

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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