A Gallatin Gateway hunter unexpectedly spent Saturday night in the Bear Trap Canyon after getting lost after shooting a bull elk.
The hunter was reported lost on Sunday at about 10 a.m. when a county deputy, following a rumor of a lost hunter, checked out the Trail Creek Trailhead, said Madison County Sheriff Dave Schenk.
The deputy talked to people at the trailhead who were part of the missing hunter’s party. They confirmed that he was lost and Madison County Search and Rescue was dispatched to the scene, Schenk said.
By the time search and rescue was notified, the hunter had been missing for about 24 hours, he said.
The mishap began when the hunter shot an elk in the mountains east of Bear Trap Canyon on Saturday morning. The bull was about a mile from the hunter’s camp, so he left his partner with the bull and went back to the camp to retrieve the horses. When the hunter failed to return, his partner went looking for him and found the horses still at camp.
Apparently the hunter lost his way and ended up in Bear Trap Creek. He followed the creek down to the Madison River, where he spent the night. On Sunday, rather than walking out, he headed back up the mountain to try and find his elk and his companions. He was picked up near Ted Turner’s Flying D Ranch at about 5:30 Sunday evening by and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks game warden who was on horseback as part of the search party.
The hunter had left his pack with his partner at the elk he shot the day before and had no matches and no warm clothes, but other than being tired, wasn’t harmed by the incident, Schenk said.
It’s important to always have warm clothes with you when you’re hunting this time of year, he said. It’s also important to know the area you’re hunting and carry a map and a GPS unit.
Also, it’s important to contact the sheriff’s department as soon as you think someone is lost. Contacting them early can be a great asset in finding a lost person quickly.
In total, Madison County dispatched 15 search and rescue personnel from both the Madison and Ruby Valley. They had one horse team on the ground helping with the search. Their next move would have been to use air support to help locate the hunter.