A La Pine mushroom hunter who got lost west of town and failed to return to his companions’ meeting Tuesday night prompted a search in the cold, snowy woods west of town that found him hours later – cold, wet and tired but otherwise okay, authorities said.
Shortly before 8 p.m., Deschutes County 911 dispatchers got a report of a mushroom hunter who had been missing for about four hours, said sheriff’s Deputy Jim Whitcomb, assistant search and rescue coordinator.
Kenneth Wagner, 60, said he, his brother, James, 62, and Albert Reisert, 52, had gone mushroom-hunting about 2 p.m. in the Round Mountain area, off Forest Service roads 4040 and 4250, Whitcomb said.
They had planned to hunt for about two hours, then meet again at the place where they’d departed, he said. But Reisert never showed.
Reisert did not have a cell phone with him, so the Wagners tried to find him on foot for about four hours, without success, then called 911. Whitcomb said the weather had changed during their hunt, and it was snowing and about 29 degrees.
A sheriff’s deputy responded to the area and began searching roads, without success, Whitcomb said. Around 10 p.m., 26 county Sheriff’s Search and Rescue members reached the area and began to search, including ATV riders and trackers, along with a Bend police K-9 unit.
The police dog was first to be deployed and soon picked up Reisert’s scent, Whitcomb said. He began moving in the direction where Reisert was last seen heading.
Around 11:35 p.m., a SAR road search team found Reisert about a mile to the northwest of his starting location, Whitcomb said. The lost hunter had set up a marker in the middle of the road and also had started a warming fire.
Whitcomb said Reisert told rescuers he’d been mushroom hunting in the area before, but this time got completely turned around and didn’t know which way to go. Reisert built the warming fire around 7 p.m., before nightfall.
Reisert was returned to his starting point in a SAR vehicle and reunited with Kenneth Wagner, Whitcomb said.