SHERIDAN, WY — A Kansas man hunting in the Bighorn Mountains spent two nights in the wilderness before he was rescued by searchers on horseback.
The Sheridan County Sheriff's Office said in a press release that 61-year-old Rudy Miller became separated from his hunting party at about 4 p.m. Monday when he left to hike back to the group's parked vehicle.
The group was hunting in the Elephant Foot area and Miller was last seen in the area of Sibley Creek and Bear Creek.
Miller was not at the vehicle when the other hunters returned, and the sheriff's office received a call shortly before 10 p.m. reporting the man as missing.
Sheridan County Search and Rescue crews were sent out, and officials said they began a search that lasted through the night. Officials were concerned, the press release states, because of poor weather and because Miller was not prepared for an overnight stay in the wilderness having only a jacket, blue jeans and hiking boots.
"Miller's medical history and the extreme weather conditions were a serious concern for the search teams," the press release states.
Heavy fog, rain and snow in an area which was accessible only by foot or horseback slowed the search effort during the night.
On Tuesday, additional search teams were requested from Big Horn County. A helicopter was also requested from the Wyoming National Guard, but it could not take off from Cheyenne, Wyo. due to poor weather.
Search teams from Johnson County also joined the effort to find Miller on Tuesday. There were 36 people involved in the search on that day.
"The search conditions remained challenging with thick fog and rain and snowfall in the search area," the press release states.
Despite the conditions, search crews remained out through the night and into Wednesday morning. More search teams arrived from the Forest Service and Wyoming National Guard, bringing the total number of those involved to 50.
Search teams continued the effort through Wednesday, primarily searching on horseback and by foot.
The Wyoming National Guard tried several times to fly into the search area but was forced back to the Sheridan County Airport due to weather.
At about 11:20 a.m. Wednesday, a hunter reported seeing a person in the Sibley Creek area who matched Miller's description, but because of the terrain and weather the hunter was unable to contact the person.
The hunter was able to find a search crew, but thick fog moved into the area and they lost sight of Miller, the press release states.
Search crews on horseback then went into the area and were able to locate fresh foot tracks that they followed and eventually located Miller at about 5:30 p.m.
"Miller was talking to rescue members when he was located and was subsequently transported by ambulance to Sheridan Memorial Hospital where he was evaluated for precautionary methods," the press release concludes.