Michigan bow hunter safe and sound after weekend in wilderness | SteamboatToday.com

Michigan bow hunter safe and sound after weekend in wilderness

Tom Ross/Steamboat Today

— David Woiderski couldn't understand what all the fuss was about Monday afternoon.

The Cheboygan, Mich. Man was more than three days late for a rendezvous with his brother in the midst of a bow hunting trip, but it never occurred to him that about 30 rescue personnel and a couple of different military helicopters had spent the weekend searching for him.

"I wasn't lost," Woiderski said. "I was still hunting this morning. I seen the helicopters up there and I said 'Who are they looking for?' I knew they were looking for someone."

Woiderski was reunited with his brother at about 6 p.m. Monday near Summit Lake at the top of Buffalo Pass, about 13 miles northeast of Steamboat Springs on the Continental Divide. He had been missing since mid-day Friday when the two brothers were supposed to rendezvous at their base camp in Newcomb Park.. Steve Woiderski had not seen his brother David since Wednesday morning when the split up to hunt separately. Sunday night he placed a phone call he had been dreading; he called their family back in Michigan and told them David had disappeared in the Colorado wilderness.

Steve said he was moderately concerned on Friday night when his brother had not turned up. On Saturday morning he went hunting in the direction his brother was supposed to have traveled on foot. When he got back to camp Saturday at about 4 p.m., he became genuinely concerned and made his way back to the pickup truck parked at the Newcomb Park trailhead, not far from the campground at Teal Lake.

Steve drove into Walden and called the Jackson County sheriff, who quickly set the wheels in motion to begin a search. Over the weekend, as many as 50 people from the Routt and Jackson County sheriff's departments and Routt County Search and Rescue took part in the search.

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The search was continued from a mobile command center at a bus parked at Summit Lake. Searchers canvassed both sides of a nine-mile stretch of the Continental Divide Trail from Buffalo Pass to Mount Ethel.

An Air Force Huey helicopter from F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wy., joined the search Sunday, but its effectiveness was limited by orders that prevent it from flying 10,000 feet. A larger Army Blackhawk helicopter began ferrying searches into remote sites along the rugged Park Range on Monday.

Searchers were beginning to fear the worst when David Woiderski walked up to Jackson County Ray Alexander at the Newcomb Park trailhead at approximately 4:40 p.m. on Monday. Alexander debriefed Woiderski before turning him over to Gary Sigman of the Routt County Sheriff's Office for the drive up the east side of Buffalo Pass to where his brother was waiting.

Because Woiderski has a hunting license, the cost of the search will be covered by a fund created with a portion of every fee collected for boating and fishing licenses. The military does not bill local governments for helicopter time and the members of Routt County Search and Rescue are volunteers.

Search and Rescue spokesperson Terry Lyons said the cost of the search might approach $3,000.

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