Hunter lost in the woods near here


December 23, 2013, 01:12 PM
MmmmKayyy! :confused:

So, we got 5"-6" of fresh snow yesterday which ended mid-morning.

Then a deer hunter got lost in the woods near here last evening, and there was a big search to find him last night.
He was found safe, but cold, not far from his truck.

I'm thinking he must not have been much of a tracker.
Or he could have just followed his own tracks in the new snow back to his truck???


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December 23, 2013, 02:07 PM
I didn't think Kansas had enough trees to lost in. But I'm probably just thinking of western Kansas...

December 23, 2013, 02:25 PM
Well....maybe we are having a new infusion of novice hunters along with everything else firearm-related!!

I know I got my first deer (2 bucks!) of my entire life this year! And I'm almost old enough to get Social Security. Thanks, Obama! Great hobby you got me into!

December 23, 2013, 03:03 PM
Maybe he couldn't get a signal from the cell tower so his GPS map app wouldn't work...

Arkansas Paul
December 23, 2013, 04:13 PM
I'm thinking he must not have been much of a tracker.

Maybe that's why he hunts in the snow. If he does hit one, he'll have a hell of a blood trail to follow. :)

December 23, 2013, 04:24 PM
Sadly, To keep from dragging a deer the wrong way, I've had to break out the Maps App to convince a friend we were 30 yards off one of our trails. On his own property....

I can easily believe this story.:rolleyes:

December 23, 2013, 04:52 PM
I'm thinking he must not have been much of a tracker.
Or he could have just followed his own tracks in the new snow back to his truck???


He may have tried that, but after crossing his own tracks several times walking in circles on the way in, once he started to back track, he soon found tracks leading in two different directions.:banghead:

December 23, 2013, 07:23 PM
I hunt eastern Kansas and a few years ago I became moderately disoriented during a heavy snow storm. It was snowing lightly when I started, but increased to heavy snow after I had walked about a mile from my vehicle. My plan was to call coyotes, but changed my mind as the snow storm got worseMy early tracks were covered quickly by blowing snow. I knew the general direction of my vehicle, but had to circumnavigate around a creek. Eventually, I found the road and walked back to my car, but I emerged on the road about a quarter of mile from where I thought I was coming out of the woods. Familiar visual landmarks disappear in heavy blowing snow. So, yeah, it can happen.

December 23, 2013, 07:55 PM
I've been there too in dense fog out on the public hunting land at Clinton lake 10 miles from home.

I know it like the back of my hand.
But one morning dense ice fog rolled in off the lake while I was a mile from the truck, and after a while, I didn't have a clue how to get back too it. It was so dense you couldn't even tell where the sun was.

I had a brand new Garmin GPS on it's maiden voyage that morning, but the weather got so bad it lost satellite reception.

Since then?
I don't go hunting or woods bumming without an old fashioned compass in my hunting coat!!

Still, this guy got lost near the K.C. metro area on a clear afternoon & evening with 5" of fresh snow on the ground.

If he needed to get his bearings and not walk around in circles till the cavalry rescued him?

There was a bright moon in the eastern sky last evening, and Venus was clearly visible shining brightly in the southern sky last night too.


December 23, 2013, 07:57 PM
My brother and I were bowhunting a tote road in northern Wisconsin. It snowed heavily the 3rd night we hunted. The next day we couldn't find our hang-on stands ... or the tote road.
We finally brought the coordinates up on a GPS and found the spot.

December 23, 2013, 08:58 PM
What did Dan'l Boone say? "I've never been lost but I've been mighty confused a few times..."

ditto here!


December 23, 2013, 09:04 PM
old fashioned compass

This is something you do not go into the woods, mountains or desert without.

December 23, 2013, 09:16 PM
old fashioned compass

This is something you do not go into the woods, mountains or desert without.

Yeah, went sans compass once about 30 years ago. Haven't done it since.

I did "self rescue" from that situation, but many lessons were learned that day...

December 23, 2013, 09:23 PM
I remember dragging a buck down the wrong canyon up by Jarbidge, Nevada, thought the road was in that one, missed it by a mile. Took me a couple of days to recuperate from that one. It was foggy and I was glad to see the truck that night!

Bush Pilot
December 23, 2013, 09:26 PM
I can see where if you're a novice in the woods without a compass or GPS you could get turned around in flat country. Most of my hunting is in the mountains of Montana, Idaho or British Columbia, pick out another mountain and you have a point of reference. Than again, fresh snow does make it a bit easier to backtrack.

December 23, 2013, 09:36 PM
I agree totally.

Colorado mountain canyons all look about the same in the dark & inclement weather.
And I have become a little confused a time or two there too.
Without a compass & topo map, I would have been lost.

But this case just sparked my interest!

This guy got lost in new snow, with a clear evening sky, within sight of the K.C. metro area lights, and within sound of two major interstate highways last evening.

Maybe a medical condition contributed to it or something?
I don't know.


December 23, 2013, 09:47 PM
Perhaps in the battle between reason and panic, his brain lost? That's too bad though, I think it's in those times of "little danger" that we train ourselves to win the battle in bigger situations.

December 23, 2013, 11:47 PM
Perhaps in the battle between reason and panic, his brain lost? That's too bad though, I think it's in those times of "little danger" that we train ourselves to win the battle in bigger situations.
Map and compass are constants and have helped me out a couple times this Fall when I got turned around in fog. Will add a GPS next season.

Totally agree that it is by getting turned around a few times, and figuring the way back out by whatever clues, wits and tools are available, that a hunter becomes confident enough to venture further afield.

Going down the wrong canyon as witchhunter did is a timeless and potentially deadly misadventure. It takes an experienced man to get back out without panic and loss of life.

December 24, 2013, 12:06 AM
A bright nite with fresh snow and wasn't it a full moon the other day? Was he drinkin?

December 24, 2013, 12:09 AM
I have gotten turned around so badly that I couldn't recognize some familiar landmarks. I've seen creeks flowing the wrong way etc. I was so confused one night while coon hunting in the fog that I had to close my eyes and listen. I could hear the familiar sound of an old oil well motor popping away in the distance.

December 24, 2013, 01:14 AM
KBBAILEY - "... I've seen creeks flowing the wrong way etc. "

So have I. Talk about a surprise...!

Another time I was deer hunting up in the Sierra of Calif., on the western slope. I was fairly familiar with the area but a mountain fog rolled in. After hunting a bit, moving over a saddle and along a ridge, I decided it was time to go back to camp. No problem as I knew exactly where it was.

No matter, I pulled out my compass from my shirt pocket and checked direction just to make sure. Uh ohh, my compass was wrong. I knew where camp was and my compass needle was pointing in the wrong direction.

For many years I've always carried two compasses, one in my shirt pocket and one in my day pack. So I put the malfunctioning compass on the ground, pulled my spare compass from my day pack and placed it on the ground about a yard from the malfunctioning one. You guessed it. They were both wrong!! :what: After all I just knew the direction back to camp was opposite what those two compasses were indicating.

Of course I had gotten turned around, even though I was somewhat familiar with the area. I decided I'd better "listen" to my compasses and doing so brought me back to camp in about an hour.

Taught me a lesson. Carry two compasses and abide by them!! :D


December 24, 2013, 03:02 AM
Maybe guys, he did what the first rule of survival states what you are supposed to do. If he was disoriented he just swallowed his pride and ego and stayed where he was at and waited for help.
If you are lost and you try to walk out, there is very good chance that panic may set in and all sorts of bad decisions are made. Stop where you are, make a fire, try to build something to protect your self from the elements and get as comfortable as possible, collect your thoughts. Wait until after dark to fire any warning shots. It will be easier for help to find you if you stay in one spot.
Whenever you go into the woods, you should have these basic items with you, a sturdy knife, compass, a whistle, something water proof to start a fire with, layered clothing and adequate ammo. The items I mentioned take up very little room in you pocket and just may be the difference between surviving and not surviving.
There should be no disgrace felt, if you get disorientated.

December 24, 2013, 04:14 AM
If the guy had no woods sense then he shouldn't have been hunting alone. That being said, having enough sense to know that he had no sense, stopping and calling for help was the smart thing to do.
Early this year, just outside my city, a young man wander off from a bushland conference center and get lost. He called his friends on his phone, but kept walking in the dark, sure he could make his way back. His body was recovered 3 months later, he had fallen off a cliff less than 300 meters from the hotel. If he had just sat down against a tree and waited for help, or even dawn, then he would still be alive.

tightgroup tiger
December 24, 2013, 06:38 AM
We had an instance in Pennsylvania one winter where an older man was visiting his neighbor about a 1/4mile through the woods one night. It had been snowing hard all evening and his neighbor insisted on taking him home. There was 8"on the ground and it was after dark.

He wouldn't hear of it and started walking, and didn't make it home. They found him froze to death in the woods the next day, a long ways from his home. Things sure do change when it snows a lot.

I can see how he got lost but,

5" of snow in a metro area on clear night? hmmmm. with highways in eye shot? Had to be city slicker.

December 24, 2013, 07:22 AM
Some guys will say that it's impossible to get lost here in Penn's Woods.
My humble opinion is: When you exit the woods after a days hunt and wind up 2 or 3 miles from where you intended, you ARE lost. A sudden heavy fog has got to be the worst condition that occurs.

December 24, 2013, 08:37 AM
If you want to get lost, try duck hunting in a southern swamp in the fog. You'd better hope it burns off by noon if you want to get home for dinner. :D

Loyalist Dave
December 24, 2013, 09:08 AM
Some folks aren't prepared to spend the night in the woods if badness happens to them. I didn't when I was younger, but I read Horace Kephart's book Camping and Woodcraft, plus heard some horror stories, so changed my ways....

OK great, so you know where you are, but it's sundown and you really FUBAR'd your back when you started dragging your deer so you can't walk or crawl to your vehicle. You weren't really hunting alone, but your hunting buddy had a firearm problem so left really early, and urged you to stay and keep hunting and you thought "Gee what could happen?" You have no idea why your cell phone won't get a signal..., solar flare, an odd place in the woods, or some snot nosed teenage hacker has messed with your cellular provider's system... doesn't matter..., you can't call for help. Your buddy forgets to call to see if you made it home with a deer, and you forgot to tell somebody where you were going OR maybe you live alone and there was nobody to tell....,

This is not a far fetched scenario. I may not have a nice night, but when I go afield I have enough to go through a night if badness happens, and that's just when I am "local". Farther afield I'd probably look to most people like an armed camper, not a hunter who might be on an extended trek...

There is a reason the Boy Scout motto is Be Prepared


December 24, 2013, 09:13 AM
People sometimes panic and do strange things. I'm part of a volunteer SAR team. We have been called out 6 times in 2013. Found 2 alive, 1 body, and 3 unaccounted for. 2 of those 3 were cold cases where people had been missing for a year or more and we were looking for remains. The 3rd person we think walked into the woods to commit suicide and didn't want to be found. 5 of the 6 were either elderly alzheimers patients or mentally impaired.

People with normal mental capacities often panic and do strange things. Many take off running, get hot even in dangerously cold weather and start taking off clothes.

4-5 years ago my brother and I were camping and hunting in a remote wilderness area here in GA when we heard a single gunshot well after dark no more than 1/2 mile from us. We went outside the tent and listened for a while, to try to get a better idea which direction, but never heard any thing else. Just after sunup a lost hunter wandered out of the woods near our tent. He was fine, but spent a cold night less than 1/2 mile from our camp. If he'd followed up with more than just 1 gunshot we could have most likely found him hours earlier.

Lots of guys let pride get in the way and don't seek help soon enough. Instead they keep trying to find a way out and often just make it harder for searchers to find them.

December 24, 2013, 12:56 PM
About 20 years ago a guy and his adult son were hunting in a local WMA and the father didn't show up at dark where they agreed to meet. The son finally found a phone (pre cell-phone days) and called the cops. Dad was still missing the next morning so the cops brought the son in for questioning and held him for suspicion of murder.
2 days later an airboater was waved down by the father on a nearby river. He was hungry, thirsty, and covered with insect bites. He had shot all of his bullets trying to signal for help. When he saw a hog or a deer, he was already out of ammo.
He was never more than half a mile from a dirt road or the river.

The cops let his son go.

December 24, 2013, 01:11 PM
Heavy falling snow with no wind is the worst. Muffles sound so that even close by highway noise is gone. Makes the woods look so different that even familiar areas look strange. Vision is so short that usual landmarks in the distance are gone. Darkness, rain many things will influence how the woods looks. That's why I never hunt any woods, regardless of size without a compass. Most folks look at the ground when they hunt. That's why they miss obvious landmarks that would help them get back. Most folks don't take the time to look around and familiarize themselves with their starting point before they head into the woods, so they don't know what to look for to get out. Folks concentrating on a blood trail or looking for game soon look up and don't recognize their surroundings. A compass is such an easy tool to use regardless of how incompetent someone is in woodsmanship. Enter the woods goin' east, regardless of how many circles you make while in the woods, you still need to go west to get out. Most places in the lower 48 iffin you head in a straight line and don't cross a mountain or water, you will hit a road. I've yet to ever have a compass lie to me. I have had GPSs run outta battery life or unable to get a signal. But, fresh snow, clear sunny weather and your own tracks to follow? I gotta agree with RC.

December 24, 2013, 01:38 PM
I can get turned around on well lit city streets, not to mention dark woods, whatever since of direction I have is pretty darn poor. I do carry a compass on my daypak, along with maps of the public hunting lands I hunt. Luckily all are bounded by roads so at worst I might have a long walk back if I get confused.

If the gent got confused and misplaced, but didn't walk himself into further trouble and confusion I'd say he did all right. I'll also hope he's better prepared his next trip into the woods.

Ranger Roberts
December 24, 2013, 02:27 PM
Come on guys, it's obvious the snow covered his trail of bread crumbs! :banghead:

December 24, 2013, 04:25 PM
Panic and disorientation are very dangerous and it can happen to anyone. Twice I was seriously lst in deep woods when I got disoriented on overcast days. One occasion my son was nearby and was able to convince me of the way out. That was educational. The other time I found the trial I came in on, I had to go,back and forth on it until I found something I recognized, I have been more careful since.

December 24, 2013, 06:57 PM
Thirty years ago I was hunting on family property and got disoriented. I knew there was a stream, that if I walked it as the water flows, that would get me to a stone bridge and a road.

I was pretty happy with how I was thinking my way out of this when I noticed the stream switched directions. Back tracking I saw the trees I skirted and realized this where the stream forked and I was inside the top of the Y.

Gps in a swamp will confuse the heck out of you if the signal is being dithered. The compass is king.

December 24, 2013, 09:49 PM
Finally wised up enough about fifteen years ago to always carry my Silva, but my seven year old Garmin has never failed me either.

I've only "misplaced" myself rather inconvenienly three times, two of those times were in heavy fog and the other was following a guy that I'd assumed knew where he was at on a clear day.(three miles walking a paved road to find his truck is minor, compared to really being lost)

That guy just west of K.C. probably walked enough circles to confuse himself in his own footprint maze.

December 25, 2013, 06:09 PM
As a teenager I got turned around and lost. My dad & I discussed it before going into the woods that day - it was State land in roughly 3 mile squares surrounded by fire roads. All you had to do was walk in a straight line & you'd come to a road. I was 180 degrees off..... After that I carried a compass & took bearings at semi-regular intervals.

Years later I was hunting some new ground and got turned by 130 degrees. It was really hard following the compass since my mind was saying that wasn't where I wanted to go. But I did follow it and came out close to where I went in.

January 3, 2014, 04:20 AM
Swamps are always fun as well. Everything looks exactly the same. And I'd rather spend a night with my ex fiancÚ than in a swamp.

January 3, 2014, 09:11 AM
You are never truly lost unless you can't be found. Make yourself findable, don't hide under a bluff all day if weather allows.

Panic is your worst enemy. Think!

If a hunter goes alone he should tell some one where he is going and when he is coming back.

Every hunter should know basic ways of knowing direction without a compass.

Know if there are lights there are roads. All cell towers have a road access. All powerlines lead to a road eventually. If a road is found stay on it and don't back into the bush.

Don't go beyond your comfort zone in the woods.

I have all kinds of hunting knowledge in all sorts of terrain except the Rocky Mountains and big swamps. I will never hunt the rockies or swamps alone!

January 3, 2014, 03:35 PM
Been lost on a WMA in Florida. Had my jeep's position marked in my GPS, but that was it. so i go walking in to a spot i'd hunted several times with a clear tree line i always followed. well that morning there was thick fog. eventually i got into some swampy part that i shouldn't have been in. powered up the GPS and my jeep was less than 75 yards in front of me. I'd almost done a complete circle while thinking i was walking a nearly straight line.

pulled out my cell phone last week after looking for a blood trail too long in brush so thick you can't see more than 4 feet in front of you. i wasn't worried since it was my land and i knew i'd break out in 100 yards in any direction either to a trail, a creek, or mature timber. but i still used my phone map app to find the quickest way out.

it happens.

January 3, 2014, 04:55 PM
I have learned. There is no substitute for a topo map and a compass.
When heading into the woods I keep the map and compass handy and dead reckon where I am every couple of minutes when I am on the move. If there is some topology (hills and valleys) it makes it much easier to locate your position on a topo map but if you don't do it often enough, you can get disoriented in a hurry. A satellite photo of the area off of google earth or one of the the many other sources also provides a good 2nd reference.

It is a pretty well proven fact, people do not walk a straight line when they have no visual reference. It is important to keep your compass handy and continually correct your bearing when moving. Even knowing where I am I find that it is exceptionally easy to get off track when moving through thick growth or up and down small rolling hills and valleys.

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