Search and Rescue helps hunters | SteamboatToday.com

Search and Rescue helps hunters

Saturday snowstorm, busy hunting weekend spur activity

Melinda Dudley

Routt County Search and Rescue responded to a flurry of calls during Saturday’s snowstorm, assisting two overdue hunters and a stuck vehicle.

“It was somewhat predictable,” said Russ Sanford, incident commander for Routt County Search and Rescue. “These midday storms always catch people.”

Last weekend was the first weekend of the unlimited rifle season for hunters.

Search and Rescue received a call about an overdue hunter at Middle Creek Ranch at 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The situation turned out to be a miscommunication between the hunter and his partners about when and where to meet.

“His partners and family were concerned, especially with the storm coming,” Sanford said, adding that the snow hit just as Search and Rescue arrived on scene at about 5 p.m.

The 62-year-old man’s hunting partners could not confirm that he was prepared for a survival situation if he got caught in the storm.

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Sanford said the incident, or lack thereof, reinforces the need for hunters and backcountry users to effectively communicate with one another.

“It’s always important to be clear with your partners what your intentions are,” he said.

Search and Rescue received a second call for an overdue hunter at about 7 p.m. Saturday. At about the same time, a report was made about a stuck vehicle.

The vehicle and its two passengers were stuck in the mud and snow on Routt County Road 480 near Steamboat Lake.

“We normally don’t go on stuck vehicle reports, but they were unprepared for the storm,” Sanford said. “They didn’t have any proper clothing whatsoever to walk out.”

The motorists had been turned down for assistance by towing companies because of the weather, their location or a combination of both, Sanford said.

Search and Rescue sent in a team on three all-terrain vehicles expecting to bring out only the passengers, but team members also freed the vehicle.

The second overdue hunter was reported from near Dutch Creek Guest Ranch. The hunter was in radio communication with his partners and had proper clothing and supplies. He walked out on his own just before 10 p.m., Sanford said.

As winter approaches, Sanford said, residents and visitors should always have basic supplies with them in case of bad weather or other emergencies.

“You definitely need to check the weather before you go out,” Sanford said. “It’s always a good idea to be prepared to some minimal extent, no matter what you’re doing.”