Hunter gets lost due to malfunctioning compass

Posted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

JUNEAU (AP) -- A local hunter became lost overnight on Douglas Island after magnets in his mittens caused his compass to give inaccurate readings.

Glenn Powell Jr., 30, spent a snowy and cold Friday night curled up in a porcupine hole while rescuers scoured the area. Powell walked out the next morning unharmed but wet.

Powell began hunting on the north end of Douglas Island at about 7:30 a.m. wearing a pair of gloves with insulated flaps over the fingers which could be folded back and secured with magnets.

Powell said he did not realize the magnets were creating a disturbance for his compass until after dark. Snow had obscured trails and Powell sought shelter in the porcupine den.

''I was lucky. I had my insulated coveralls in my backpack. My clothes were soaking wet,'' he told The Juneau Empire. ''I burned everything I had, except for my tissue paper'' to start a fire.

A search for the lost hunter began Friday night after Powell was reported overdue. Juneau Police Department, Alaska State Troopers and Southeast Alaska Dogs Organized for Ground Search began looking for the lost hunter.

The Army National Guard, Juneau Mountain Rescue and the Coast Guard also joined in the search. Bruce Bowler, SEADOGs team manager, said the lost hunter ''did a lot of things right.''

''He told me that he panicked as the sun was going down and he knew he was lost, but once he got that under control he made up his mind he was going to survive. That's when he started working on a shelter and conserving his energy,'' Bowler said.

After a cold night in the hole, Powell saw a helicopter overhead and began following its flight path. Because of the terrain, searchers heard only half of the signal shots he fired from his gun. Powell didn't hear any shots fired in return.

Powell followed creeks and trails until he located fresh tracks and eventually came across two groups of hunters who pointed him in the right direction, he said. One hunter loaned him a cell phone to call his family.

Powell said he plans to take survival training in the future, but has no qualms about heading back into the woods.

''Gotta get back on the horse,'' he said.

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