June 2021 - 29

How lost?
Becoming lost comes in varying dimensions.
Are you lost when you take the wrong
fork in the trail and after an hour you recognize
you're not where you should be? It may
feel like it. Awareness of the mistake is easily
remedied unless you panic.
While elk hunting several years ago, I
headed to the ridge in the dark, intending to
greet the dawn glassing for a bull. Navigating
was tricky because it involved crossing a
stream that split, with each fork going into
different drainages. Neglecting to bring my
headlamp, I had to guess which stream to follow.
I guessed wrong. It led me into a basin so
steep the trees growing out of the hillside had
trunks turned like elbow macaroni. Slipping
and sliding down the hill, I finally admitted
I'd screwed up. Climbing out of the hole
didn't appeal to me, so I continued down.
Four hours later I hit a road in the bottom
of the canyon. I had no idea where I was.
Was I lost? Kind of. Was I in trouble? No, I
had food and plenty of water and on a road,
even though I was clueless as to how to get
back to camp. I started walking on the road,
and a friendly hunter drove up. He told me
where I was. As the crow files, I was about
2 miles from camp - 7 miles by road. The
hunter graciously gave me a ride to camp.
At 19, Jeremy was an avid hunter who
was a student at the college where I taught.
He seemed to be immune to the cold, and
I remember him walking around campus
in a short-sleeved shirt and jeans when the
temperatures forced me to wear a heavy coat.
Late one October afternoon, he went
hunting by himself. That wasn't abnormal.
He felt totally comfortable in the woods. As
he'd put it, " It's my home! " When dark came,
his parents began wondering where he was.
" He's probably dressing out an elk or a deer, "
was the easy answer. Until late became later.
With a cold front bringing in freezing
rain turning to snow, a couple of friends and
family members took to the dark to find his
pickup. Looking in his traditional haunts,
there was no evidence he'd been there. Early
the next morning, his truck was found deep
in the woods. His rifle was missing. His coat
was on the front seat.
His friends and family marshalled an
immediate search. At the end of the day,
they'd found no sign of him. The weather was
deteriorating by the minute, and darkness
called off the search. The third day, friends
Finding your way out can be as simple as walking down a water source like a stream. Sooner or later it will likely lead to where
there is a road or where people live.
No one intends to get lost. Those who survive do so because
of preparation, following basic tenets of staying alive, some
luck and often well-trained search parties putting their lives
on the line to find the lost adventurers.
and family braved freezing temperatures to
continue the search. Late in the afternoon
they found a buck they guessed he'd killed
and dressed out. But there was no sign of
Jeremy.
Three days later, searchers found his body.
After dressing out the buck, he'd apparently
become disoriented in the storm and headed
in the opposite direction of his truck. Night
fell, and he had nothing to insulate himself
from the cold, rain and snow.
Getting lost - really lost - happens for
a variety of reasons. Unfamiliarity with the
area. Weather. Bad decisions. Tricky terrain.
Ego. The list is long.
Wyoming Wildlife | 29

June 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of June 2021

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