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Lost hunter found dead in southern Adirondacks

Forest rangers with the state Department of Environmental Conservation responded to three search-and-rescue missions in the past week for lost people in the Adirondack wilderness. Two were found cold but alive, but one hunter was found dead near the southern Adirondack boundary.

Hunter didn’t make it

On Friday, Dec. 4 at 9 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch received a call from a member of a hunting camp in the Sander Road area of the Fulton County town of Bleecker, advising that a 45-year-old hunter from Scotia was overdue from an afternoon hunt.

Ranger Jenna Curcio responds to a search-and-rescue mission in the High Peaks Wilderness Saturday, Dec. 5, her first since transferring to the Adirondacks. (Provided photo — DEC)

Forest Rangers Ian Kerr and Gary Miller responded to investigate and search the area. The rangers searched throughout the night and located tracks and personal items left by the hunter, but could not locate the subject.

On Saturday at first light, four additional rangers arrived on scene and conducted searches of the thick, swampy forest. At 3:03 p.m., rangers located and recovered the hunter’s body from the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest.

The New York State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation is leading the investigation into the cause of death with support from DEC’s Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation and the Fulton County Coroner’s Office.

Hunter found cold but OK

On Wednesday, Dec. 2 at 7:21 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch received a call reporting an overdue hunter in the area of North Lake and Ice Cave Mountain in the Herkimer County town of Ohio.

Forest Ranger Lt. Scott Murphy responded, along with Rangers Dylan McCartney, Lincoln Hanno, Martin Candee and Luke Evans. Once on scene, rangers spread out on key terrain and fired signal shots to see if the hunter would respond. They heard a shot in return, proceeded east into West Canada Lake Wilderness in the direction of the shot fired, and made voice contact with the 59-year-old hunter from Beaver Falls. At 2:14 a.m., Murphy advised that rangers had located the subject, who was cold but otherwise in good condition, and were assisting him out of the woods. The hunter was returned to his camp at North Lake at 3:47 a.m.

Earlier that afternoon, the hunter’s GPS had died, and with the heavy snowfall, he was unable to follow his own tracks and became lost about 3 miles from camp.

Hiker lost, found on Dix

On Saturday, Dec. 5 at 11:15 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook dispatch received a call from a 31-year-old hiker from Nutley, New Jersey, who became disoriented while hiking Dix Mountain in the High Peaks Wilderness, in the Essex County town of Keene. Coordinates provided by Essex County 911 placed the hiker considerably off the trail, and he was advised to stay where he was. The hiker indicated he was prepared with a small tent and warm clothing.

Forest Rangers Peter Evans, Megan LaPierre and Jenna Curcio entered the woods through the Round Pond trailhead and began making their way to the coordinates provided. It was Curcio’s first mission after transferring to Region 5 and the Adirondacks.

Ray Brook and Essex County 911 dispatch worked together to ping the hiker’s phone to more accurately pinpoint his location. Since the hiker’s cellphone battery was low, he was advised to shut off the phone and keep it warm, and only to check it periodically for messages from rescuers.

Rangers located the hiker at 5:05 p.m. Once warmed after his extended exposure to subfreezing temperatures, he was safely escorted back to his vehicle at 9:21 p.m.

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