85-Year-Old Caribou Hunter Rescued after Getting Lost in Alaska

Last October, when 85-year-old Greg Tagarook failed to return from a caribou hunt outside Wainwright, Alaska, his 25-year-old grandnephew Benjamin and two friends tracked the elder 20 miles across the frozen tundra. Benjamin tells the story:

I'd been listening to the dispatches of the search-and-rescue crews on my VHF radio all night. By midnight, they still hadn't found him. So my younger cousin Jerry Ahmaogak and my friend AJ Driggs and I set out ourselves. We'd heard that someone had seen him earlier crossing a lagoon, so we went that way on our snowmachines, looking for his tracks. We found his machine tipped over about 14 miles from town, and we started following his footprints. He was headed straight to Wainwright, navigating by the stars. At first we could see his tracks easily because it was the first snow, but after 2 miles, his prints mixed with thousands of caribou tracks and it got much harder. One of us would stay at the last found footprint and the others would go find the next one. After a while, we could see that he'd started to crawl. Then the wind started blowing snow, and we couldn't see a thing.

When we found him at 4:30, he was almost dead, frozen. His entire face was white. We radioed our location to the rescue crew, put our parkas on him, and lay down next to him and on top. It was 10, 20 below. When the crew came after two hours, I got in a sleeping bag with him and they pulled us home. He was in the hospital for a week, but these days he's back to normal.

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