Everyone went home happy on Saturday after a Grand Forks Search and Rescue extracted a lost hunter from Granby Provincial Park.
Grand Forks Search and Rescue (SAR) president Grant Burnard, who worked with logistics for this call-out with search manager Barry Savitskoff, said the team was called out mid-afternoon Saturday for reports of a missing hunter.
The hunter, who isn’t local to the Boundary, drove to Edgewood before using a forest service road towards the park. Due to intense cloud cover and fog, Burnard said the subject reported getting turned around and hiking down the wrong side of the ridge, putting him on the opposite side of the valley. After hiking in what should have been the direction of his truck, Burnard said the subject realized he was lost. He then used an InReach back country device to send a message to his wife, who called local RCMP and mobilized SAR.
Several things went right with this call-out, Burnard said: First, the hunter realized he was lost and called for help. He was also properly equipped for the back country and used his InReach device, making it relatively easy for search teams to locate and rescue him. The subject also stayed put once he received word that search teams were on their way (via his InReach device), and made his location easy to spot from the air with the help of his gear. He was prepared for a multi-day hunting trip with appropriate gear, clothing, shelter and extra food.
The SAR team used a helicopter to extract the subject from Granby Provincial Park; hiking and/or ATVing would be time prohibitive, given the remote nature of the park, Burnard said. SAR teams have pre-approval for up to an hour of helicopter time, and can get provincial approval for further time if needed.
“Without the device, a lot could have gone wrong,” Burnard said. Teams would have started to track the hunter from his truck, and assuming the hunter informed family (in this case, his wife) of his plan, crews would have started looking from his planned route, and the search could have taken considerably longer.
Burnard also said that in this type of situation, using a phone isn’t necessarily helpful: in this case, the subject’s phone was giving him incorrect GPS information for reasons that are still unclear.
The operation was wrapped up by early evening Burnard said. The only thing that could have been done differently, and a message to back country enthusiasts: It’s best to activate the SOS function on any back country device once you realize you’re lost. Coordinates then continually transmit to first responders, which is the best way to be found as soon as possible.