A deer hunter who survived four days in the snake- and alligator-infested sloughs of Big Cypress National Preserve by drinking swamp water and eating a catfish was found in relatively good condition Friday, officials said.
Thirty-year-old Jamey Mosch, who vanished into the swamps Monday afternoon despite being advised not to leave his hunting camp, was found by a bloodhound named "Max" and his handlers, Big Cypress spokesman Bob DeGross said.
"He was found between 10 and 11 today. He was found about 800 yards from some evidence (a footprint) that we found back on Wednesday. He was moving around though, so he wasn’t sitting in that spot until yesterday. He just decided he was going to sit there and wait," said Mr. DeGross. “The (search) team was following the trail, and as they were following the trail they were yelling out his name, and all of a sudden they heard, ‘Hey, I’m over here.” They were a little surprised, because we were searching for four days.”
Despite being dehydrated and tattooed with mosquito bites, Mr. Mosch, who recently moved to Florida from New York, was able to walk part of the way to a clearing where he boarded a helicopter that helped ferry him to Physicians Regional Hospital in Naples, Florida.
The hunter was found in a heavily vegetated, swampy area about a mile to the southeast of the hunting camp in the Bear Island Unit of the national preserve, according to Mr. DeGross. When found, Mr. Mosch was dressed in a white T-shirt and long, white underwear.
“From what I understand, it was about Tuesday that he had fallen into some deeper water," the preserve spokesman said. "He lost his shotgun, his cellphone was inundated with water, he stripped down to his undershirt and long underwear. From what I understand he had taken his boots off, too. When he did all that I’m not sure ... but that’s the way we found him."
While the preserve is home to poisonous water moccasins and alligators, the hunter didn't report any run-is with animals, said Mr. DeGross.
“The search teams that were out there came across water moccasins and alligator quite often," the preserve spokesman said. "He did not report any problems with animals or things like that.”
The search was one of the most extensive in the preserve in recent years.
“We do deal with quite a few search-and-rescues on an annual basis. I think the average is about 10. Granted, most of them are not like this, most of them are half-day situations," he said. "Nothing of this magnitude.”