After getting lost in the Black Hills National Forest Saturday night, a young hunter used the survival skills he learned in his hunter safety course to find his way home, according to his trap-shooting coach.
Greg Johnson, coach of Black Hills AIM, said Austin DuVall, 16, a national trap-shooting champion, was doing well after he had made his way to a cabin Sunday morning, ending a multiple agency search.
"He’s doing pretty good. He’s tired and trying to warm up and humbled," said Johnson, who spoke to DuVall on the phone Sunday after he found his way out of the forest.
On a hunting trip with his father in the Boulder Hill Road area west of Rockerville, DuVall was reported missing at 7:01 p.m. Saturday after he failed to meet his father at their vehicles, according to Cpl. Ed Schulz of the Pennington County Sheriff's Office. His parents waited about two hours before calling law enforcement, he said.
A search that included members of the sheriff's office, Pennington County Search and Rescue, Rockerville Volunteer Fire Department, a K-9 unit and a South Dakota National Guard helicopter combed the area for DuVall until about 3:30 a.m., Schulz said.
"The National Guard did an air search using flare technology for body heat but were unable to locate him," said Schulz, who thanked everyone who assisted with the search. "It’s tough doing a grid search on the ground at night. It's really dangerous for the searchers."
DuVall slept until daybreak and then made his way downhill, found a water source and followed it to the road, Johnson said.
While DuVall was making his way to the cabin in the Strato Bowl Road area, the search resumed, but ended after the cabin's residents took him to his parents and the emergency crews, Schulz said.
"He didn't have any injuries," said Schulz, who said the cabin's residents fed him. "The people called ahead and said they had him."
Johnson praised DuVall for following the lost hunter tips and was thankful for the happy ending.
"I knew he was fairly woods wise," said Johnson, who added that DuVall has been a hunter since he was at least 12 years old and has spent a lot of time in the woods.
The DuVall family could not be reached for comment Sunday.