BOURRET TOWNSHIP, MI – Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officers were successful early Saturday, November 14th, 2015, in locating a lost bowhunter and a friend of his who had tagged along to help track a wounded deer in Gladwin County.
The two men had gone to the Lame Duck Foot Access Area in Bourret Township Friday evening to try to find a deer the bowhunter had shot the night before. As darkness fell, the men lost their way out of the walk-in-only hunting area, which is located within 11,000 acres of state forest land in northeast Gladwin County.
At about 1 a.m. Saturday, DNR conservation officers Steve Lockwood and Josh Wright were sent to the area by Gladwin Central Dispatch.
Gladwin County Sheriff’s deputies Kyle Binger and Robert Doyle were closer to the scene and also responded to the area, where family and friends had been searching for the two lost men.
“Family members had been talking to them on a cell phone,” Lockwood said. “They were walking out toward them and then they turned the other way and they lost contact with them.”
The battery had died on a global positioning satellite unit the lost men had with them.
Family members had been waiting for the men and one was blowing his horn and driving around the perimeter of the hunting area, which is bounded by county roads on the north, east and south and the Tittabawassee River on the west side.
The sheriff’s deputies met family members at the scene. Deputies would blow their siren and then stop and listen for any type of response from the lost men.
Once Lockwood and Wright arrived, they opened a couple of gates to the hunting area. They followed two-track roads inside. They also blew their siren for several minutes and then waited for a response.
After a couple of hours, Binger and Doyle were no longer able to continue the search, returning to patrol duties. Lockwood and Wright continued the search for a couple more hours. At one point, the officers decided to change direction.
“We moved to another area, to see if we could get a response,” Lockwood said.
That new area, where a food plot was situated, was a little higher and drier than the surrounding wet sections of the hunting area. Within about 10 minutes, Lockwood and Wright saw some flashlights in the darkness. It was the two missing men. They had been located at about 6 a.m. Saturday.
“They were in good condition,” Lockwood said. “They just got turned around after dark and couldn’t find their way out.”
Family members were called and told the men — whose names were not released — were on their way home. The wounded deer was never found.
This is the second successful recovery by DNR conservation officers of a lost subject in Gladwin County in just over three weeks. On Oct. 23, a missing 46-year-old Gladwin County woman was located by DNR conservation officer Mark Papineau after the woman had been reported missing the previous night.
“This is another example of the important role Michigan conservation officers play in search and rescue operations throughout the state,” said Gary Hagler, chief of the DNR Law Enforcement Division. “Conservation officers are well-trained and routinely respond to a wide range of situations where people find themselves in need of assistance.”