Bladen deputies locate missing hunter

TAR HEEL — Bladen County Sheriff Jim McVicker said several of his deputies recently used skills learned in a Man Tracking Course they attended last year to locate an overdue hunter in a densely wooded area.

“We received a call around 8:15 on the evening of Oct. 26 from a concerned resident of Cumberland county,” said McVicker. “She told us her husband, a 76-year-old, had left home that morning around 6:30 a.m. to go hunting on a tract of land he hunted in the Tar Heel area. She said efforts to call him on his cell phone were unsuccessful and he suffered from mild dementia.”

Deputies went to the area he was hunting in and located his truck at the entrance to his property. Deputies located his cell phone, food and water still in the truck. Deputies contacted Emergency Management and began a ground search. They located foot impressions leading from the vehicle into the woods and utilizing techniques learned earlier in their man tracking training. Using strategic plotting and a grid search pattern they narrowed his location down to an area over 2.5 miles from his truck.

The man was located shortly before midnight sitting beside a tree. He was transported by a volunteer who had an all-terrain vehicle to a medical unit standing by at a staging area. He was conscious but disoriented. The man told deputies he left his food in his truck and later in the morning he became hungry and thirsty and lost his bearings, becoming disoriented so he sat down beside a tree to rest and that was where he was found.

He was treated at the scene and released.

“We put a lot of effort into our training,” said McVicker. “Since I became sheriff we have increased our training by 300 percent.

“This was a class I saw a need for and so far we have been able to train several deputies in this technique,” he added. “This is not the first time this training has been utilized. I am glad we had this skill set and could use it to locate this individual before he found himself in more serious trouble. It was a cool night and if he had been out much longer he could have succumbed to hypothermia.”