Ham Saves Self with HT While Hunting

Rise and shine

Early one November morning an amateur radio operator was patiently waiting for morning to break in his tree stand in Rappahannock County, Virginia to get in another chance at a deer. Then tragedy. The tree stand broke sending him down to the ground and, we are not sure how, onto a board with nails leaving him near motionless with six nails in his back. Fortunately the hunter made hunting safety an important part of his habits.

Help arrives via W4VA 2m repeater

About 6am a call for help came in on the Warrenton, VA repeater… quite likely out of range from Rappahannock County using an HT. However, the victim managed to hail help from listeners on the repeater including folks named Randy (W4IFI), Frank (W4NHJ) and Tom. Authorities were called by the Warrenton operators who then talked with the hunter to encourage him while he drifted in and out of lucidity. Before sunrise, help arrived to the hunter who drew the attention of the rescuers to his location by swinging a flashlight beam through the trees.


A quick visit to a hospital addressed his wounds and he is already out and recuperating at home.

Great news.

There just one question though… How did the hunter use a small low power HT to access a repeater several counties away?

Dual-band repeat enhances hunting safety

It turns out the hunter has a 2M/440 FM transceiver in his truck which can be set as a cross band repeater. This is exactly how he had it set up this particular morning while he carried a 440 FM HT with him. The mobile radio was tuned to the W4VA Warrenton 2 meter repeater.

The hunter relayed his signal from his HT to his truck and, in turn, to the repeater and finally to the hams listening during their morning commute.

What about a cell phone?

Sure a cell phone would provide the same results, but there is a real chance they don’t work in the back roads of Rappahannock County and this was the case for Steve. Plus the cell phone would not allow the vocal support from a variety of concerned friends listening in on a party line.

So Steve relied on his amateur radio equipment to keep him “connected” to the world. Good thing he did. Here is the pathway Steve’s call for help took to bring the first responders to his side…

Enhancing hunting safety with this communications path for ham requesting ambulance.
Entire communications path for ham requesting ambulance.

Commo gear to enhance hunting safety

Steve’s remarkably short list of equipment includes:

  • Yaesu VX6R hand held transceiver
  • Kenwood TM-708A mobile transceiver in cross repeat mode

This is an excellent example of how a hunter prepared for the worst using the best capabilities our amateur radio gear can provide. Thankfully, the morning commuters knew just what to do and helped keep up the spirits of the hunter.

Individual Emcomm

This is pragmatic EmComm by an individual who surveyed the available gear, engineered a communication solution and benefited from this design that fateful morning. This is real emcomm… and it didn’t even require a uniform.

1 thought on “Ham Saves Self with HT While Hunting”

  1. My 8 years old son also loves outdoor archery, he always gets ready to go to try something new with compound bows and arrows. I would really appreciate the author of this post for sharing his experience with us.

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