WFF aids rescue of distressed hunter
A compelling story worth the read about a man saved from a trip that was supposed to be simply refilling deer feeders.
“Thanks to the combined efforts of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources’ Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries (WFF) Division, the Crenshaw County Sheriff’s Office, Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) and hunting club members, Jerrell Gordon is recovering from an ordeal that left him within hours of death.
WFF Conservation Enforcement Officer Brad Gavins received a call about 10 p.m. September 23 from Crenshaw County 911 requesting assistance to locate a lost person on the Happy Hollow Hunting Club. Gavins was able to determine that the 79-year-old Gordon had gone to the hunting club to refill his deer feeders and had not responded to phone calls from his wife, Glenda, and was obviously overdue.
“The area has very poor cell service,” Gavins said. “It’s an extremely remote area. The only place you could get any cell service was at the hunting club’s meeting area. Normally, he would eat lunch in that area and give his wife a call.”
When that call didn’t come and it got dark, Mrs. Gordon contacted some of the fellow hunting club members, who were able to locate his truck and empty ATV trailer. With no sign of Gordon, 911 was contacted and asked for K-9 assistance. Gavins has two tracking dogs, Panda and Bella, but he decided later not to deploy the dogs.
“It had rained that afternoon and rain had covered the 4-wheeler tracks,” Gavins said. “The first thing we had to do was locate his ATV. And when we did, it might be too old of a track for the K-9s to be effective. After some discussion, I thought we should get ALEA Aviation involved with their thermal imaging.”
Gavins said the hunting club members stayed in the meeting area to keep from contaminating the search area, and one member knew about a stand where Gordon liked to hunt. The ATV was located at that spot with a bucket of corn that had obviously been there before the rain.
When ALEA Aviation’s helicopter arrived on the scene, Gavins radioed the ATV’s coordinates, and the air search began.
We all stayed together until the helicopter search was complete,” he said. “We then did a grid search in the area and couldn’t locate Mr. Gordon” he said. “We waited to go to another area to allow ALEA Aviation to search without any other heat signatures. In an area outside the area where we thought he would be, ALEA Aviation located a heat signature.
“Just before we got to the heat signature, which was in a really thick place and there really wasn’t a reason for Mr. Gordon to be there, we saw a five-gallon bucket. Just past it was an area where the briers and brush were kind of laid down. ALEA Aviation directed us to the spot, and we saw Mr. Gordon lying there.”
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Photo Credit: Original Author