Of Deer-Hunting and a Woodsy Rescue

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

Lending a Hand to the Professionals

Ah, deer hunting season!

It brings back memories of one of the few times I've ever been involved in "rescuing" a person.

It happened on the first day of gun season in West Virginia more than a decade ago.

At that time, I was still News Director at WTAP.

At that time, I was still News Director at WTAP.

On the first morning of deer season, the rest of the newsroom was busy covering various things.

At about 9 a.m., I heard a call on the scanner, dealing with a hunter down with a possible heart attack off of Laurel Creek Road in Wood County.

There was no one else in the newsroom, so I did what came naturally -- I grabbed a camera, stole a quick look at a map, and headed out.

Laurel Creek Road is located off of Old. St. Marys Pike. So I headed out 36th Street in Parkersburg and followed it until it turned into Old. St. Marys Pike.

In a couple of miles, I came to Laurel Creek Road and took a right.

That was as far as my directions would take me. Now, I was on my own.

I kept going, figuring I'd run into an emergency vehicle of some sort.

Eventually I did, but the poor ambulance driver seemed as lost as I was.

Somehow, we both found the people who had called in the emergency.

A man was up in the woods above his house, apparently stricken with a heart attack.

While the emergency crews grabbed their basket to carry him out of the woods, I grabbed my video camera.

I followed them as they trekked a few hundred yards up into the hills to where the man lay.

I'd say he was in his 50s and he did not look like he was doing very well.

Trying to keep a respectful distance and not get in the way of the emergency crews, I began shooting video.

This was a side of the story we seldom see. We see hunters bringing their deer into weigh stations. Or we cover stories when hunters have been accidentally wounded.

But this was something altogether different.

As I shot footage, I watched the rescuers gently lift the man into the basket and begin the long trudge back down out of the hills, with him suspended between them.

I kept shooting.

A couple of times, the crew-members stopped to catch their breath and to check on their patient.

I had pretty much gotten all of the footage I felt I could use.

So at one point I said to one of the crew-members, "Hey, if you'll carry my camera, I'll trade you places."

He was a little skeptical of the idea, but he was also getting pretty tired. So he agreed.

Between all of us, we were able to get the gentleman to the waiting ambulance and send him off to the hospital.

I retrieved my camera, came back to the station, and put together my story of the man and his real-life rescuers.

A week or so later, I got a nice card from his family, thanking me for the story and for helping to get their loved one out of the woods. They were also happy to report that he was doing well and had fully recovered.

My part was actually very small. I was impressed with the professionalism and dedication of the rescuers, most of whom were volunteers, who probably had better things to do that morning than go up into the woods to carry a man out in a basket. But they were there and they did their job well. I was happy to be able to report their story and lend whatever help I could. 

All these years later, the first day of deer season brings it all back.

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