Search and rescue squad retrieves exhausted hunter

The North Big Horn Search and Rescue Squad successfully found and brought off Little Mountain a 57-year-old hunter from Guernsey who had become exhausted while attempting to retrieve his elk Monday.

File photo
File photo

According to North Search and Rescue Captain Scott Allred, the squad was called out by the Big Horn County Sheriff’s Office at 2 p.m. Monday to search for James Burnitt of Guernsey, who was in contact with the sheriff’s office by cell phone.

The man reported that he had shot his elk and had climbed down a steep hill to retrieve the animal but was unable to make it up the steep slope to his pickup. He had been hunting with friends over the weekend, but they returned home while he continued to attempt to fill his tag.

Allred said Burnitt was about a half mile from his truck but had had back, neck and knee surgeries in the past and realized he would not make it up the slope to his pickup.

“He was exhausted,” Allred said. “He said he had overextended himself.”

A crew of eight search and rescue volunteers met at the search and rescue hall after the 2 p.m. callout and headed for Little Mountain, spotting Burnitt at 3:54 p.m. just north of Pete’s Canyon, Allred said. S&R members headed down the slope to Burnitt about 4 p.m., and they were able to get a Razor side-by-side down the rugged terrain to the hunter.

The squad checked Burnitt’s condition, and he was OK, so an ambulance standing by at North Big Horn Hospital was cancelled, Allred said.

The Razor took Burnitt to his pickup, and a squad member rode with him back to town. The squad was back at the hall by 7:22 p.m.

Allred said the squad had to leave the elk behind, because there wasn’t enough room in the Razor, nor enough power to climb out with the animal aboard. Burnitt plans to retrieve the animal with friends, Allred said.

By David Peck