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Rescued Hunter: Concussion To Blame

October 19, 2011

By Dann Cianca, KJCT8.com

NEW CASTLE, Colo. -- 65 year old New Castle resident Dudley Blaylock left his hunting camp on Saturday morning looking for a bull elk to fill his tag.
He was camped near Meadow Lake in the White River National Forest, north of Rifle. As it was getting late, he saw a six-point bull elk disappear into some dark timber. He pursued the bull into the trees.

"I took about two steps and all of the sudden, I was falling," he recounted.
He isn't quite sure how he fell because it was so dark. He just remembers falling for a long time. "As I hit, the butt of the rifle came around and hit me in the back of the head." That's when he says his mind goes blank.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. His first memory was seeing a helicopter nearby and waving at it, not realizing that he was in trouble. In fact, he believes he was actually hunting but doesn't remember anything between then and the fall, including the entire night spent outdoors.

At that point, his memory is fuzzy once again.

Meanwhile, rescuers from various agencies around the Western Slope were combing the mountains looking for him in the rough terrain. A helicopter was even dispatched from the Colorado National Guard; the same helicopter he has memory of seeing. "I don't remember anything until the next day (Monday) and it was snowing." He recalls being cold and trying to start a fire. "By this time, it was getting through my head that I was in trouble."

It took him a day and a half, including two nights outdoors, to actually realize what had happened. Though his memory is dark, he believes he just wandered around, dazed. He was unable to start the fire because he could not get either of his lighters to work, but he says that soon after, the helicopter returned. This time, he was able to flag down the aircraft with his orange hat.

"The medic came down and asked me my name and I told him. And he said, 'Are you hurt?' And I said, 'Yeah, I'm hurt.' I couldn't put my thoughts together. I couldn't think of anything. Later on they told me at the hospital that I had a concussion."

Initially, it was believed that he may have broken his back, but the x-rays did not show that. He was also treated for possible frostbite on his feet, but no permanent damage was found.

Blaylock is at home in New Castle, recovering now. He is still suffering from a bad headaches, a severely sunburned face and is quite sore, but is happy to be alive. He is also very grateful for the search and rescue teams that found him. Though he did have some provisions with him, he says that if he could change anything, he would have brought some matches and more clothing. The fall, he says, was just circumstance.

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