Two 16-year-old hunters found safe on Black Mountain Tuesday | SteamboatToday.com
Patrick Kelly

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Two 16-year-old hunters found safe on Black Mountain Tuesday

Tamra Byrnes said her son is getting a GPS for Christmas.

On Monday evening, Byrnes' 16-year-old son set out with a friend to do some small game hunting on Black Mountain — nothing out of the ordinary for the young outdoorsmen.

But when a fog rolled in, the two boys lost their bearings and wound up lost.

After a spending a cold night in the sticks, the two 16-year-old boys were located by law enforcement officers Tuesday morning.

"We're so extremely grateful for the two men who went up to look for them," Byrnes said. "They were up there all night… they spent the whole night up on the mountain trying to find those boys."

Byrnes said she did not get much sleep Monday night but all that matters is her son coming home safely.

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Sgt. Courtland Folks said Moffat County Sheriff's Office received a call around 9:30 p.m. Monday from a hunter in the Black Mountain area who reported hearing a series of gunshots.

"He heard three and then 15 minutes later he heard three more, kind of a universal indication that a hunter is in trouble," Folks said.

Folks headed to Black Mountain with another Moffat County sheriff's deputy where they located a lone vehicle on Forest Road 116. At the same time, dispatch received a call from one of the juveniles' parents reporting that the boys had gone out to do some small game hunting and not returned.

Folks and the deputy began to search the area with the help of one the boy's parents, focusing on the south base of the mountain.

"Due to weather we couldn't do a whole a lot," he said.

Conditions were foggy with light rain and a steady 25-mile per hour wind.

"It was about 47 degrees and with the weather conditions it was a definite concern for hypothermia," Folks said.

After spending all night searching roads and trails, Folks said around 9:30 a.m. the two boys stumbled into the officers. They were not dressed for the cold weather and did not have overnight packs.

"They were wet, cold but otherwise fine when we finally did find them," Folks said.

The boys were found in Routt County, but Moffat County Sheriff's Office has a mutual aid agreement to do patrols in the area. Folks said if the search had gone on any longer it would have been turned over to a Routt County deputy. When the boys were located, Routt County Search and Rescue was en route to the area.

Folks said even if you are a planning a short stroll through the woods, you should always be prepared for conditions to change and bring the proper gear in case you get turned around.

"You need to have clothing for those conditions and then have your backpack for at least a night's stay — emergency blanket, candles, a change of clothes, something to eat and some water," he said.

Mike Porras, public information officer for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, emphasized the importance of hunter preparedness.

"Always be prepared for eventualities like getting lost," he said.

Porras said hunters should carry a survival kit with tools to start a fire, be able to provide shelter, have a means for purifying water and most importantly, make others aware of their plans.

"Make a plan, stick to it, tell somebody where you're going, if you get lost stay in one area," he said.

According to Colorado law, juveniles under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult at all times when hunting.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or pkelly@craigdailypress.com. Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife gives the following survival rules on its website:

  1. Always tell someone where you are going and when you plan to return. If you change your general area, tell someone of that change.
  2. Never go into a wilderness area by yourself. Unavoidable accidents do happen.
  3. Wear proper clothing and take proper equipment. The weather can and will change.
  4. If you do get lost or stranded, stay put. We will find you if you have followed rule No. 1.
  5. Learn how to use a compass, take a map of the area and orient yourself before leaving camp.
  6. Always carry a survival kit and know how to use it. A survival kit in the hands of someone who does not know how to use it can kill.