Missing hunter found in swamp

Published 5:47 pm Tuesday, November 2, 2021

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EURE – A hunter missing for over 12 hours was located and rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard near here Friday night after getting lost in Fort Island Swamp.

Gates County Sheriff Ray Campbell said the man was not injured.

“He looked fine to me other than being soaking wet,” Campbell said of the bow hunter. “He had gone into some very unforgiving swampland and became lost over a mile from the nearest road.

“He told me he had never been to Fort Island Swamp before; never hunted there before,” Campbell added. “He said he used some game land maps to pick out what he thought was high ground, but there wasn’t much high ground to be found there.”

Campbell said the hunter parked his vehicle near the entrance of Raye’s Beach from where he entered the swamp.

“He said he arrived there at 6:30 am; we got the call at 9:30 pm regarding that a person was overdue from a hunting trip,” Campbell stated. “We were able to locate his vehicle and initiated the search from that point.”

With assistance from NC Emergency Area 1 Coordinator Billy Winn, Emergency Operation Coordinator Jason Sample, officers with the NC Wildlife Resources Commission, EMS personnel, several neighbors and the U.S. Coast Guard, the missing person was located and rescued.

“Thank goodness they were able to find him,” Campbell said. “The Coast Guard sent one of their helicopters from Elizabeth City. That crew did an amazing job. They were able to pinpoint his location as the hunter was waving a flashlight.”

After that, Campbell said the crew still had to circle over that location several times.

“I guess they did that to pick out the best spot to lower their rescue team member. It was an amazing thing, rescuing someone at night in a swamp,” Campbell stressed. “A rescue team member was lowered through the treetops to retrieve the hunter and bring him out safely.”

Campbell said the helicopter then landed in the parking lot of Eure Christian Church where the rescue effort ended.

“Thanks to everyone for their help in locating this hunter,” Campbell said. “I’m making plans now to meet with this Coast Guard crew at their base in Elizabeth City to thank them in person and to give each one of them one of our Gates County Sheriff’s Office uniform patches.”

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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