An Oklahoma hunter lost in the woods was found alive Monday in Arkansas after being missing for days.
The hunter was found after spending two nights in the woods, and during one of those nights, it was only 26 degrees. Oklahoma Game Wardens said the hunter, who didn’t want to be identified, went missing in the Oak Ridge area in Adair County and was found just a few miles away across the Arkansas border.
Game Warden Jared Cramer said the hunter was walking around for about 48 hours, determined to survive after he fell and became disoriented. Cramer describes the land as “treacherous.”
“It’s really deep ravines, what we call hollers, they’re really deep and rugged. Some of them are sheer cliffs,” he said.
The 68-year-old man was out in the woods Saturday for the opening of deer gun season with his family and they didn’t find him at his tree stand when he planned to be done hunting.
With only a vest to keep him warm and no food, Cramer said the man probably walked about 10 miles in the woods looking for help.
“His will to survive, he just kept going and kept going until he eventually found somebody,” he said.
Investigators said the man came up to a creek in Arkansas that he couldn’t get across, but a farmer happened to be on the other side and drove his tractor across the creek to rescue him.
“As soon as they got to the house, they fed him a sandwich and a glass of milk,” Cramer said.
There were about 60 others looking for the man too, between about a dozen agencies and several hunters volunteering their time.
Adair County Emergency Management, the Adair County Sheriff’s Office, the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Stilwell Fire Department, Mid-County Fire Department, Bell Fire Department, Highway 51 West Fire Department, OHP, GRDA, Cherokee Nation, Greasy Fire Department, and the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office Mounted Search and Rescue team all worked together in the search.
The missing hunter is now at home in Sallisaw with family.
“Honestly, not what they expected the turnout to be at this point and they are so excited that he is not only alive, but he’s well,” Cramer said.
The hunter told search crews he was too embarrassed to go on camera, but game wardens said sharing the man’s story can be a lesson for everyone.
Cramer said the hunter drank water out of creeks to stay hydrated and slept in a deer stand one night to try to stay warm.
“He had the will to survive, and he did it,” Cramer said.
Game wardens said the biggest takeaway from what happened is that if you get lost in the woods, try to stay put in the same place because it will be easier for search teams to find you.
Cramer also said he believes the hunter will be back in the woods looking for deer again sometime very soon.