Hunter from Connecticut found after 14-hour search

Posted Nov. 17, 2010, at 8:29 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:37 p.m.

SHIRLEY, Maine — Rushing Piscataquis River currents likely contributed to a Connecticut hunter’s being lost for at least 14 hours before being rescued unharmed near Crouse Allen Road on Tuesday, state officials said.

Robert Sokolowski, 52, of East Granby had been hunting Monday morning in the Shirley area, where he had shot a deer several years before, when he became separated from his hunting party, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte said in a statement.

The party reported hearing six shots fired at about 11:30 a.m. in the area where Sokolowski was last seen and tried to find him, Turcotte said.

Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Department officers alerted the Maine Warden Service that Sokolowski was missing at about 7:15 p.m. Monday. That started a search that lasted overnight and into the morning.

As seven game wardens and several members of the volunteer organization Maine Search and Rescue Dogs searched on the ground, Maine Warden Service Chief Pilot Charlie Later was flying an airplane overhead when he spotted Sokolowski emerging from woods into a clearing near the road. Rescuers canoed Sokolowski out of the area using the river after using GPS coordinates relayed by Later to find him, Turcotte said.

Sokolowski told searchers that he became disoriented and lost late in the day Monday, but stayed close to the river in hopes of being found. Warden Service Lt. Kevin Adam speculated that Sokolowski couldn’t hear the shots searchers fired into the air to help him find them because the sound was drowned out by rushing river water, Turcotte said.

Sokolowski also said that the shots his hunting party heard Monday morning didn’t come from him.

Wardens advise hunters to be prepared for mishaps like Sokolowski’s by carrying matches, food, a compass or GPS device when they hunt.

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