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Hunter Shot – SPOT locator saves hunters leg, probably his live!

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Dan went hunting in the mountains of the Los Padres National Forest near Frazier Park, California. He was hunting with his friend Jay who while experienced with firearms, had never shot a buck before. At first light, the duo started hiking up a deer trail they previously scouted and that looked very promising. Less than thirty minutes into the hike, they spotted a legal buck at the top of one of the mountains that was looking straight at them. After some very short debate if the shot was safe because the deer was close to the top of the mountain, they decided it was and Dan handed over the shooting sticks so his friend could get his opportunity at his first buck. Watching the buck, Dan coached concentrate on your breathing, and boom… first shot missed, but the buck didn’t move. Jay whispered “I pulled it”. Dan said “he hasn’t moved, concentrate on your breathing and just squeeze the trigger”. Even at over a hundred yards Dan could see and hear the hit and new the buck was either DRT as the two had joked about before… standing for “Dead right there”, or it hadn’t gone far. The Duo was elated and Jay said “Buck Fever on that first shot I pulled, I can’t believe he didn’t!”

While Jay started up the mountain to find the buck, Dan stayed at the spot where the shot was fired to help direct over the radio to the exact spot the buck was when shot. Once Jay got to the spot, Jay radioed “We have a dead deer bro”, and Dan responded with “ Congrats, I will be right there!”. Dan started up the mountain, which after three back surgeries isn’t the quickest process, but he took a slightly more direct route that would put the peak of the mountain between he and Jay.

When Jay reached the buck, he noticed he had a window of cell service, was so excited about his shot that he wanted to send his uncle and girlfriend a quick text to let them know he got his buck. Jay put down his Rifle and pack and sent the text messages. Then thought he should double check to make sure the buck was dead. He drew his sidearm, and checked and the but was definitely dead. In the process of re-holstering his handgun, it misfired, shooting himself in the leg.

Meanwhile, Dan was about 30 yards from the top of the peak which Jay was about 30 yards past, when he heard a shot he could tell was a handgun and Jay yell what he thought sounded something like, “Buck. Shot!”. Dan froze and radioed “repeat your last, I didn’t understand”. Jay immediately yelled back “EMERGENCY, HIT YOUR S.O.S.”, referring to his SPOT device. Dan ran up the rest of the mountain and down the trail to Jay. While running Dan pressed the S.O.S. button on his SPOT, and stripped off his vest to reach his medical kit just to discover it wasn’t there, and had been left in the truck from dealing with a minor cut the night before.

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As Dan got close to Jay he saw the gun shot wound in the back of his knee and that Jay had already started trying to slow bleeding by getting his belt around his leg to use as a tourniquet. Due to the amount of blood, he knew that his friend blew out an artery and that they needed to do something fast to stop the bleeding or Jay would die. Of course a proper tourniquet was in Dan’s med-kit which was in his truck, but pulling Jays belt as tight as possible the bleeding slowed and seemed to stop. Dan held the belt with both hands, and put his leg under Jays shot leg in an attempt to somewhat stabilize the leg in case a bone was hit. He also pulled Jay onto his side in case he lost consciousness and vomited and wanted to prevent him from aspirating the vomit.

Once in this semi stable position, Jay told Dan that he had cell service but that he dropped his phone. After quickly locating it with one hand while holding the belt with his other hand, he dialed 9-1-1. He explained that a hunter had been shot and had a lower extremity arterial bleed, and that they needed a Helicopter immediately. He also told them that he had pressed the S.O.S. button on his SPOT locator. The dispatcher informed Dan that the helicopter was already in the air because S.O.S. was pressed. It took under 25 minutes for the helicopter to get to them from the time Dan pressed the S.O.S. button. Because of the terrain, The helicopter couldn’t land thus they lowered two EMT’s by rope about 50 yards from Dan and Jay. The EMT’s took over getting an IV going and applying a proper tourniquet much like the one that was in Dan’s truck, and after helping them get Jay into a sling to be raised into the helicopter, Dan sat down and was completely.

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Jay underwent five and a half hours of surgery in which they removed a vein from Jays left leg and constructed an artery out of it for his right leg. He was in the hospital for four weeks, and is still doing physical therapy but is now able to get around with just the assistance of a cane. However, the surgeon said that had Jay been 15 minutes later he would have lost his leg.

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Thanks to the S.O.S. from the SPOT device and the quickness of the search and rescue team, Jay was at the hospital within an hour of the pressing the S-O-S button. “If I didn’t have the SPOT locator, the helicopter response wouldn’t have even started for about ten or so minutes when 9-1-1 was dialed thus Jay would have lost his right leg, and without the SPOT and GPS there is no doubt Jay would have died.” said Dan.