Missing bear hunter found in woods after 16-hour search, North Carolina officials say

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A missing bear hunter was airlifted to the hospital after a 16-hour search and rescue mission in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina officials said.

Rescuers received calls of a lost bear hunter and were dispatched to the Curtis Creek Campground in Old Fort at around 7 p.m. on Oct. 25, McDowell County Emergency Management said in an Oct. 26 news release.

The call set off an overnight search for the man, with more than 60 emergency personnel and hunters joining in to help, officials said.

Crews focused their search on the area between Curtis Creek and Mackey’s Creek, according to emergency management.

The missing hunter was located but was hurt in a fall just northeast of Old Fort, and crews had to coordinate how to extract him from the woods, according to emergency services and the McDowell County Sheriff’s Office.

Emergency Services Director Will Kehler told WLOS the hunter was seriously hurt.

Shortly after 11 a.m. on Oct. 26, a helicopter from the North Carolina National Guard airlifted the man from the forest floor in a “technical rescue,” according to a release from emergency management.

He was taken to a nearby landing zone, where he received another airlift to Mission Trauma Center in Asheville, officials said.

“We are extremely grateful for all the assistance provided by local, state and federal agencies, along with the dedicated hunters who worked tirelessly to find their friend and assist emergency services,” Kehler said in a statement.

McDowell County Emergency Management did not provide McClatchy News with more details on the rescue.

Pisgah National Forest consists of more than 500,000 acres of “mile-high peaks, cascading waterfalls and heavily forested slopes,” according to the U.S. Forest Service.

The forest is about 30 miles northeast of Asheville.

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