Hunter found safe

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 16, 2010

NATCHEZ — Several local agencies banded together Saturday night to rescue a hunter who got caught in a storm and lost in the Homochitto National Forest.

Adams County Sheriff Chuck Mayfield said Connie Etheridge called the sheriff’s office at 9:16 p.m. Saturday to report her husband, Joe, had not returned from hunting.

Connie was concerned because nightfall had arrived, the weather was bad, she could not reach her husband on his cell phone and she expected Joe at home much earlier that night, Mayfield said.

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Connie told deputies Joe left to hunt that afternoon. Although he did not tell her where he was going, Connie told deputies Joe often hunted in the Homochitto National Forest or in Wilkinson County.

Wilkinson County law enforcement was also notified, Mayfield said.

Approximately 20 people helped search Saturday night for Joe, including the Mississippi Wildlife Enforcement agents, Homochitto National Forest agents, federal game wardens from the St. Catherine Creek Refuge and the Adams County Search and Rescue volunteers.

After arriving at the scene, a deputy soon located Joe’s truck and his cell phone, which was inside, near where his wife suggested to look.

Mayfield said rescuers located Joe at approximately midnight Sunday, around the time mounted patrol teams were organizing to help with the search.

Joe apparently became turned around when he was walking to retrieve a deer he had killed, and the rain worsened his visibility.

Mayfield said locating the hunter as soon as possible was crucial because the low temperature and rain combination could have proved very dangerous.

When rescuers found Joe he said he had been searching to find his way back to the road where his truck was parked.

Joe was also slightly hearing impaired, which made calling for him during the search ineffective, Mayfield said.

“I want to thank all the people that assisted us, Mayfield said.

“I was really worried if we didn’t find him quickly because of how cold it was.

Mayfield said hunters should remember to take tools to make fire when hunting, in the event that a similar situation arises.

“In case anything does happen, you can build a fire (for warmth) and it makes you easier to find,” he said.

“That many (rescuers) to come out in that kind of weather speaks highly of our enforcement and search and rescue teams.”

“In case anything does happen, you can build a fire (for warmth) and it makes you easier to find,” he said.