Hunting season is a very popular time here in the Ozarks. Texas County being the largest land county makes this a great hunting destination for friends, family and people from outside the area.

With this, many people, that are not acquainted with their surroundings, are out in unfamiliar areas. Sometimes that thrill of the sport can lead to dangerous situations.

Phone rings in dispatch.

Dispatcher: “911, where is your emergency?”

Dispatcher can tell that the caller is out of breath and having a hard time talking.

Caller: “Well, I am not sure. I got him but I can’t find my way out.”

Dispatcher: “What is your phone number?”

Caller: “123-123-1234.”

Dispatcher: “You got who? Find your way out of where? Sir, are you OK? Are you hurt at all? Who did you get?”

Caller: “I am great! Just lost!”

Dispatcher: “What did you mean when you stated you got him?”

Caller: “I got the deer! I got him! I had to track him for some time but found him, I am not as good of a shot as I once was, but I got him clean through the shoulder area.”

Dispatcher: “Congratulations on the deer; what is your name?”

Caller: “Wayne. I have not hunted this area before and I’m turned all around from tracking him.”

Dispatcher: “Wayne, where were you hunting at?”

Wayne: “I am out here at the conservation area of Gist Ranch.”

Dispatch knows that the Gist Ranch is a popular hunting area for locals and visitors from all over. Gist Ranch exceeds 10,000 acres of mainly woods.

Dispatch: “Wayne, where you hunting alone?”

Wayne: “My son is hunting also, but he was still at camp this afternoon.”

Dispatcher: “How old is your son?”

Wayne: “18, I believe this is the nicest deer I have ever taken. We will be able to eat plenty from this. Oh, and the jerky I can make!”

Dispatcher: “Wayne, lets focus on getting you out of there first. Can you tell me how to get to your campsite?”

Wayne: “Uh, well no, I don’t think so. I know I’ve been walking for some time, and I have not seen anything familiar or anyone out here.”

Dispatcher: “Wayne, have you crossed any fence lines?”

Wayne: “No, not yet. I am in the same area I was at yesterday.”

Dispatcher: “Do you have a smart phone?”

Wayne: “Is says it is a smart phone, but I am not the smartest at using it. But it has a great camera on it.”

Dispatcher: “Wayne, does your phone have a map app on it? One that will open and show your location?”

Wayne: “I will check. It does have one but when I touch it the map is just grayed out.”

Dispatcher: “That’s OK, our mapping system is not able to map you currently only getting close to the tower you are able to reach.”

Wayne: “I’m surprised there is any service here for my phone at all; I was just happy to hear your voice.”

Dispatcher: “I’m going to stay on the phone with you until we get you out of there. I have a conservation agent close and two county deputies on the way to help. They know the area and my partner is talking with them now. I’m going to ask you some more questions and then I want you to do exactly what I say.”

Wayne: OK, I’m ready. This deer isn’t going to be easy to get out of here, but I’m not interested in leaving it behind, yet.”

In this scenario, Wayne is not only lost but his adrenaline has kicked in making it harder for him to focus. While the dispatcher stays on the phone with him, another dispatcher is already talking with conservation agents and Texas County deputies. The local volunteer fire department may be called in to assist if deemed necessary.

Asking a series of questions dispatch obtained from Wayne that when they came to Gist Ranch, his campsite was on the north side of the main road. He did not cross back over that road and only hunted to the north. With descriptions of his campsite, vehicles etc. conservation agent that was the area was able to respond quickly and find Wayne’s son.

Communications between dispatch and Wayne, dispatch and conservation, dispatch and deputies, all took place. In doing so as a group they were able to help assist Wayne back to a road. With that the agent was able to find him and deliver him back to his campsite. Yes, with the deer.

With the world depending on technology more and more each day it is taken for granted that one day it may not work. If Wayne had better service, allowing his map to work he may have been able to walk himself back to his camp. If our beautiful Ozarks had more cell phone towers invading the scenery, there may have been one closer for his cell phone to reach. There are many variables that could have helped and hurt in this situation. Even though the system did not map Wayne’s exact location, dispatch did have a map of the area ready to use and give any guidance on landmarks or other as needed.

The great people that work thankless hours to be there in the emergency situations are invaluable. Law enforcement, including conservation is more than someone out to ruin your day. In this scenario the local fire department was not asked to respond. However, there have been many calls like this that those men and women, that volunteer their time, have left their family and hunting time to help those in need.

Dispatch was able to talk with Wayne, calm him down enough to get the answers needed and then instruct him on what to do. Thankfully Wayne was only lost. Dispatch has taken those calls during hunting seasons, that were much worse and did not have the best ending. 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatchers are much more than someone there just to answer the phone.

Please use caution when hunting or just out enjoying nature especially in unfamiliar areas.

The Texas County Emergency Services office in Houston is funded by a 3/8-cent countywide sales tax approved by voters in 2013. Assistant director Terra Culley can be reached by phone at 417-967-5309 or by email at terraculley911@hotmail.com.

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