Letters to the Editor
Stranded hunter appreciates help
“I will find you.”
To most, these words may not hold the power they had on me on Monday, Dec. 5. But no more meaningful words could have been spoken to me on that day — a day a snowstorm swept through your area while I was on a hunting trip.
That day started off like many of my hunts, with a 4:30 a.m. alarm, a cup of coffee, a peanut butter sandwich and out the door. Off I went on what was suppose to be the best weather of my four-day hunt, according to the five-day forecast I had printed out before leaving Taos on Friday morning.
With the roads in good shape, I went to hunt between the missile range fence and the wilderness fence. Plans to return that day to Taos had me heading back out mid-morning.
But halfway back, I got slammed by white-out conditions and 40-plus mph winds. The road was still fine, looking smooth with a few inches of snow on top, and I started back.
I knew I was getting close to the highway when I stuck the jeep into a four-foot snow drift. I was initially not overly concerned. It was still 11 a.m. Even with nothing but my arms and legs to dig out, I was feeling only inconvenienced.
Two-plus hours later, I realized I was not going to get out. By now it was 1:30 p.m. and my water-proof outerwear was frozen solid, my long underwear soaked with sweat. I got back into the jeep to conserve my energy, changed into my second set of clothes and called for help. Next, I started getting ready to spend the night in my ice-box of a jeep. It was the first time in 35 years of hunting I was not going to make it back to camp.
I was eventually able to give dispatchers my proper GPS coordinates (thanks John and the rest of the dispatchers), and a short while later I was called by BLM Ranger Marc Wheeler. He told me, “I know where you are and I WILL FIND YOU.”
The way he said those words I knew he wasn’t just talking; he was going to find me. I will never forget him or those four words. He did find me, and with his help — as well as Dick and Dan Lanford of U.S. Fish and Wildlife, Javier Valles of the U.S. Forest Service, and Marc’s son-in-law (I didn’t get his name) — I was set free.
“You’re going to go out first and we will follow,” someone yelled before I pulled out. Not sure who said that, but it reflects on the character of these men.
So next time you interact with these men or agencies, remember that all of us are one accident away from being in need of help. How appropriate this happened down in Socorro, “Help” in Spanish.
After getting back to Taos, I heard the news of the elderly couple who got stranded by the storm in Arizona. They weren’t so lucky, and Mrs. Davis died while they tried to find help. I ask myself why them and not me? I wish I could have sent these men/angels to them instead of me. I cry every time I think of that. I promise I will not let this gift I was given go to waste.
All I can say is love and care for your fellow man is what really matters in life.