Lost hunter rescued in Union County

Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 3:44 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 at 3:44 p.m.

Raccoon hunter Wade Morton got lost in the woods last weekend while looking for one of his hunting dogs. His lost cellphone helped get him to safety.

Morton is a disabled Vietnam veteran with diabetes who spends half of each year in Fort White and half in Michigan, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Morton, whose age was not listed, went to the Palestine Hunt Club in northwestern Union County late Friday to hunt raccoons, investigators said. He was last seen by another club member around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

At about 8 a.m., Morton’s wife called the FWC to report that her husband was overdue, and the agency began a search.

FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker said Morton had already lost his cell phone by the time officers began looking for him.

“But because the phone was still on, we could ping it to get an approximate location,” Parker said.

An FWC helicopter pilot and a lieutenant began searching from the point where the phone was and spotted Morton a short distance away. Parker said three officers on the ground were directed to Morton by the helicopter team. The ground crew found Morton about three-quarters of a mile into a swampy area of heavy, overgrown brush and helped him walk out.

While assisting the hunter, the officer got more help from the helicopter crew as they lowered water for the thirsty man.

“He was out of there by about 1 p.m.,” Parker said, “and he told us that he had been looking for one of his dogs that he could hear baying at coons all night but that it never came out of the woods.”

The dog was still missing on Tuesday.

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