Missing hunters found in 'amazing condition'

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenOctober 27, 2010
Three hunters missing in the snowy and rugged environs of Flat Tops Wilderness have been rescued.

A National Guard helicopter located the Denver area men this morning and flew them to safety.

“They have been airlifted off the mountain. They had a little hypothermia, no frostbite, no injuries and they are in amazing condition,” Garfield County Sheriff Spokeswoman Tanny McGinnis said.

The three men went missing Saturday when two of the men in their hunting party returned to their camp and could not find them. They searched for them Sunday before alerting authorities that night.

A large team of rescuers scoured the Flat Tops on snowmobiles looking for the lost men. Heavy snow and high winds that moved into the area complicated the search and intensified fears for the worst.

The hunters spent four nights missing in the woods, braving temperatures that dipped into the teens. When heavy snow began falling, the hunters found a natural windbreak in the trees where they built a fire to keep warm and stay drive until rescuers eventually found them, according to McGinnis.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife is reminding hunters to be prepared for rapidly changing weather.

"While hunter success increases with snowfall, folks need to have the proper winter gear before heading out to hunt at this time of year," said Perry Will, area wildlife manager for the Division of Wildlife in Glenwood Springs.

A sign for the Flat Tops Wilderness.

Heavy snow tends to concentrate elk into larger herds that can make hunting easier.
"Some of the hunters we are contacting are glad to see the snow because it makes the hunting better," Will added. "Those are the hunters who are prepared."

The Division of Wildlife recommends that hunters always tells others where they are going, never go into the woods alone, bring proper clothing and equipment like a compass, survival kit and map of where they are going. They also advise staying put if you get lost.

"Hunters should always carry a personal survival kit that includes signaling devices, shelter and fire starter," Division of Wildlife education coordinator Mark Cousins said. "A larger vehicle survival kit with sleeping bag, food, water, shovel, sand and tire chains is also a good idea."
Hunters are currently taking part in the second rifle season, which runs until 30 minutes past sunset on Oct 31. The third rifle season begins Saturday, Nov. 6, at sunrise and runs through Sunday, Nov. 14. A fourth season is scheduled from Nov. 17 through Nov. 21.

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