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Quick actions rescue three waterfowl hunters

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Quick actions rescue three waterfowl hunters
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson 56482

Quick actions by a Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officer and a lakeshore owner may have saved the lives of three duck hunters recently.

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Conservation Officer Rick Reller of Buffalo was on routine patrol checking waterfowl hunters on Swartout Lake in Wright County, Nov. 3.

“I observed with my binoculars three duck hunters picking up their decoys getting ready to leave the small island on Swartout Lake they were hunting,” Reller said. “I decided to wait on shore to do a license and game check when they came ashore.”

Reller went to check what was taking the three men so long in getting across the lake

“Once again I used my binoculars to look out on to the lake and observed the three hunters now in the water and out of their swamped Jon boat holding onto three filled decoy bags,” he said. “The wind was blowing at over 20 miles per hour and with the cold water temps I knew they were in life threatening situation.”

Reller rushed to the residence of Barry Faber, a lakeshore owner who he knew would have a boat on shore. With Faber’s assistance, Reller was able to aid the three hunters in the cold water.

“We were able to pull all three of the hunters on to the boat,” Reller said. “They were very cold and they couldn’t help themselves into the boat at all. Two of them had chest waders on that were full of water and none of them had a life jacket on. I contacted state patrol dispatch to have an ambulance meet us back on shore.”

The three men went to Faber’s heated garage, had their wet clothes removed, and were given warm blankets. A crew from Maple Lake Fire and Ambulance monitored the men until they were released. The men’s boat and hunting gear were later recovered from the lake.

The actions by Reller and Faber saved three lives.

“It’s very apparent that this event would have turned tragic if Officer Reller and Mr. Faber had not been there,” said Capt. Greg Salo, DNR enforcement central region manager.

“I can guarantee you that there are three waterfowl hunters who have not stopped talking or thinking about their actions since this happened.”

The DNR recommends these safety tips for late season boaters:

  • Wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jacket; even good swimmers need to wear one.

  • Don’t go boating alone; boating safety increases with numbers.

  • Keep an eye on the weather and go to shore if the wind picks up.

  • If a boat becomes swamped or capsizes, try to re-board and stay with the craft if possible and await rescue.

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