Enjoying outdoor activities like hunting and fishing in the middle of severe winter conditions should raise a warning flag for participants. Follow the rules and don’t take any unnecessary chances should be at the top of everyone’s list. It seems as though neither were followed during a Finger Lakes waterfowl hunt on Owasco Lake near Auburn.
Walter Baranowski of Springville was hunting ducks and geese with Greg Spinelli of Auburn, Rabih Tarchichi of Rochester and two other Auburn area hunters enjoying a very successful day. They had already limited out on ducks and decided to stick around for some additional goose hunting. That was when they noticed someone paddling out to grab a duck that they had just shot from a neighboring blind.
As they watched the hunter paddle out in a 10-foot kayak against 2- to 3-foot whitecaps, they witnessed him fall into the water out some 400 yards from where they were. The panicked hunter grabbed a hold of the kayak, fighting the cold and the waves. Tarchichi had a 16-foot canoe that was very sturdy, but wondered whether it was foolhardy to fight the elements that far out. Fellow hunters of the man in trouble could not do anything – their only form of water transportation was on the water. That was when Baranowski and company found out the man in the kayak didn’t even have a life jacket on.
Spinelli called 911 and alerted EMT services in Auburn. They decided to take a chance and try to rescue the man in trouble. The man was rescued, everyone was safe and EMT’s were able to handle the hypothermia in short order. It was a happy ending all the way around. However, it was a close call that didn’t have to happen. When faced with those types of circumstances, make sure you have a vessel fit for the job. It’s not a bad idea to have a throwable life ring on board. Have a backup plan. And make sure you are wearing a life vest. It’s the law.