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HUNTER SHOT TURNS TO SPOT

Rescue Profile: Dan Sumpter
Case #20914

Dan Sumpter 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 that looked 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 debating if the shot was going to be safe because of how close the buck was to the mountain, they decided it was. Dan handed over the shooting sticks so his friend could get his first opportunity at a buck. Watching the buck, Dan coached his friend to concentrate on his breathing. The first shot missed, but the buck didn’t move. Jay whispered, "I pulled it" and Dan said, "He hasn’t moved, concentrate on your breathing and just squeeze the trigger". Dan could see and hear the hit from over a hundred yards away and knew the buck was either dead or hadn’t moved too far. The duo was elated and Jay said, "Buck Fever on that first shot I pulled, I can’t believe he didn’t!"

Jay started up the mountain to find the buck and Dan stayed back so he could help direct Jay over the radio to the spot where the buck was when shot. Once Jay got to the spot, Jay radioed "We have a dead deer" and Dan responded with "Congrats, I will be right there!" Dan started up the mountain and took a more direct route that put the peak of the mountain between him and Jay.


When Jay reached the buck, he noticed he had a window of cell service. He was so excited about his shot and wanted to send his uncle and girlfriend a text to let them know he got his buck. Jay put his rifle and the rest of his gear down to send the text. After doing so, he double checked to make sure the buck was dead. He drew his sidearm, checked the buck and found that it was definitely dead. In the process of re-holstering his handgun, it misfired and he shot himself in the leg.

Meanwhile, Dan was about 30 yards from the top of the peak and Jay was about 30 yards past the peak. When Dan heard the shot he could tell that it was from a handgun. Next, Jay yelled on the radio what Dan thought sounded 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 mountain and back down the trail where Jay was. While Dan was running, he pressed the S.O.S. button on his SPOT, and stripped off his vest to reach his medical kit only to discover that it wasn’t there and that he had left it in his truck by accident.

As Dan got closer to Jay, he was able to see the gunshot wound in the back of his knee. Jay had already started attempting to slow the bleeding by using his belt as a tourniquet. Due to the amount of blood, Dan knew that his friend blew out an artery and that they needed to do something fast to stop the bleeding or Jay would die. Dan pulled Jay’s belt as tight as possible which allowed the bleeding to slow down and the wound seemed to stop bleeding. Dan held the belt with both hands, and put his leg under Jay’s wounded leg in an attempt to stabilize the leg if a bone was hit. He also pulled Jay onto his side in case he lost consciousness and got sick.

Once Jay was turned to the side, he told Dan that he had cell service but that he dropped his phone. After quickly locating the phone with one hand while holding the belt with his other hand, Dan dialed 9-1-1. He explained that a hunter had been shot and had a lower extremity arterial bleed and they needed a helicopter immediately. He also told them that he had pressed the S.O.S. button on his SPOT device. 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. The helicopter couldn’t land because of the terrain and had to lower the two EMTs by rope about 50 yards from Dan and Jay. The EMTs worked fast to get an IV going and they applied a proper tourniquet. Dan helped the EMTs get Jay into a sling to be raised into the helicopter.

Jay underwent five and a half hours of surgery. He had a vein removed from his left leg and had to have an artery constructed out of it for his right leg. He was in the hospital for four weeks and is undergoing physical therapy. The surgeon said that if Jay arrived to the hospital 15 minutes later he would have lost his leg.

Thanks to the S.O.S. on the SPOT device and the promptness of the search and rescue team, Jay was at the hospital within an hour of the S.O.S. button being pressed. "If I didn’t have the SPOT locator, the helicopter response wouldn’t have started for at least ten minutes from the time when 9-1-1 was dialed and Jay would have lost his right leg. Without the SPOT and GPS there is no doubt Jay would have died." said Dan Sumpter.