On September 24, 2021 at 6:04pm, a hunter called 911 due to being lost in the backcountry near Portal Creek. The hunter had a well charged cellphone but spotty cell service. After providing essential information to dispatch and Search and Rescue personnel, the hunter was instructed to remain stationary and keep checking in at regular intervals via phone. Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue in Big Sky responded with ground volunteers, including a search dog team. Billings Clinic MedFlight assisted by flying over the area to confirm the coordinates obtained from the 911 call. The helicopter crew spotted the lost hunter at dusk. With darkness fast approaching it was determined that landing at a safe location nearby could bring a speedy conclusion to the rescue. With MedFlights assistance, the lost hunter was collected and flown to a Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office Deputy at another location for further assistance.
For the next couple of months, hunting season will take hunters off trail into new terrain. Sheriff Dan Springer would like to remind them to be prepared for unexpected overnights, have a map and compass and know how to use them, and consider bringing a GPS locating device. In this case, the hunter was able to send out a call for help and then remain stationary so responders could come to that location. Recognizing when they were lost, calling for help early, and not compounding the situation by continuing to move, helped the Gallatin County Sheriff Search and Rescue team bring this event to a quick and safe conclusion.