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Davis County Sheriff's Department
A specialized vehicle designed for search and rescue efforts in densely forested lands was used for the first time on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2018, to locate three duck hunters who were lost and stranded in a field of 13-foot high phragmites in a wetlands area in Davis County.

SYRACUSE — Three hunters are home for Christmas after getting lost and stranded in thick, high weeds in Davis County.

The trio had become completely lost while out on a winter duck hunt, explained Davis County Search and Rescue Commander Erik Bornemeier.

The three men got in a situation where they incurred "equipment failure" with their waders while moving through densely packed phragmites in a local wetlands area, he said. Phragmites are tall perennial grasses or reeds that grow to heights of up to 15 feet.

"They got wet and cold," he said. "It's hard to maneuver when you get so deep into those phragmites."

Davis County Sheriff's Department
Three hunters converse after being located on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2018. The trio had become completely lost while out on a winter duck hunt; searchers used a specialized vehicle to plow through 13-foot high phragmites in an area of Davis County wetlands to find the group.

The hunters called for help. The Davis County Search and Rescue crew was dispatched to help get them out. They brought with them a new machine called the Sisu Nasu, designed for navigating difficult terrain, that was donated last year by the stars of the Woods Cross based Discovery Channel show "Diesel Brothers," Bornemeier said.

On its maiden rescue, the vehicle cut the rescue time from six hours down to under an hour, he said.

"This is the first actual live rescue," he said. "That thing was a godsend when it comes to making its way through that. That's the beauty of that machine. (The machine) makes short work of it."

Davis County Sheriff's Department
Three hunters and rescue personnel converse on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2018. The trio had become completely lost while out on a winter duck hunt; searchers used a specialized vehicle to plow through 13-foot high phragmites in an area of Davis County wetlands to find the group.

He said crews would not have been able to use a helicopter due to weather and the only other option would have been to walk in to locate and rescue the hunters.

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"The last time we walked out to a rescue (in phragmites), I had to send one member of the crew to the emergency room because it cuts you," Bornemeier said. "It slices you up. They are pretty sharp."

He noted the hunters were a little cold and wet, but were otherwise unharmed. He added that Davis County Sheriff's Search and Rescue was aided by the Syracuse Fire Department and Syracuse Police.

An earlier version misspelled the last name of Davis County Search and Rescue Commander Erik Bornemeier as Cornemeier.