MT bobcat hunter falls 50 feet, fractures pelvis

spectr17

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Severly injured bobcat hunter lucky to be alive, parents say.

01/04/02

KATHLEEN O'TOOLE Bozeman Chronicle Staff Writer

Karen Lanz is convinced Eric Christophersen saved her son's life Saturday.

Alan McCollim, Lanz's 26-year-old son, had pursued a bobcat into a Douglas fir tree while hunting in the Gallatin Range when a limb on the tree broke beneath him and he crashed 50 feet to the ground, suffering severe injuries.

"If Eric hadn't come, Alan wouldn't be here today," Lanz said, her voice cracking with emotion as she sat beside her son's bed at Bozeman Deaconess Hospital Thursday. "He wouldn't have made it until the search-and-rescue people came,"

His father, Craig McCollim, concurred.

"It was close," Craig McCollim said. "A couple of more hours and this family gathering would have been in a different location."

Alan McCollim started the day's hunt with Christophersen, 25, at 2:30 a.m. Saturday in the steep, treacherous terrain between Swan Creek and Greek Creek east of the Gallatin River.

The two, both of Belgrade, checked out the area by snowmobile until about 6 a.m., when they spotted bobcat tracks. They headed back to the truck to get McCollim's dogs.

But Christophersen's snow machine was acting up and he decided to go home and fix the problem.

McCollim pursued the cat alone. The dogs treed it at about 8 a.m. Saturday. He took off his coat, hat and gloves to climb the tree. When he fell, he broke his pelvis in two places, punctured a lung, broke a rib and bruised his liver.

McCollim was within earshot of traffic on nearby Highway 191, but couldn't walk or crawl without excruciating pain. His pack full of food, water and warm clothing was out of reach.

He lay in a foot of snow in sub-zero temperatures for 18 hours before help arrived.

Meanwhile, evening rolled in and Christophersen still hadn't heard from his friend. He called McCollim's wife, Jenn, looking for his friend.

"She said, 'I thought he was with you,'" Christophersen said. "That's when I thought something might have happened. But it's one of those things you have in the back of your mind that it only happens to somebody else."

Because Christophersen knew where the bobcat tracks were, he was able to tell search-and-rescue workers exactly where to go.

But he wouldn't be there to lead them in.

"There was something that made me get in there," he said. "I just couldn't wait."

At about 2:30 a.m. Sunday Christophersen reached his friend, laying in the snow, propped up against a fallen tree trunk.

"I was pretty happy to see him," McCollim said. "I was never nervous that somebody would come. I was just nervous of when that would be."

Christophersen was scared when he first saw McCollim, who was white, his hands and toes nearly frozen and his breathing shallow.

Christophersen started a fire and gave his friend some hot tea and the two waited for the search-and-rescue team that arrived an hour and a half later.

The first rescuers to reach McCollim knew immediately he would have to be plucked out of the forest by helicopter, given the terrain and his injuries. But that would have to wait until daylight, still four hours away.

"It was as technical a rescue as you can get, excluding fast water or a cliff extraction," said Jason Jarret, a Gallatin County Sheriff's detective and incident commander for the rescue.

McCollim, who works at Kenyon Noble Lumber and Hardware on Jackrabbit Lane, doesn't know when he'll be released from the hospital, although doctors have told him it will be months before he'll feel completely healed.

Once that happens, McCollim said he will definitely head back out to find that bobcat, which he never even caught a glimpse.

"But my tree-climbing days are over," he said.

Kathleen O'Toole is at kotoole@dailychronicle.com.

End article

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I only have 1 question. What the heck was the guy doing 50 feet up in the tree? This reminds me of the Jerry Clower story where his uncle John climbs up a tree and runs into the big bull coon.

~spectr17
 

Sky Buster

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i always thought that when you tree a bobcat, you usually shoot it.  i didnt know that your supposed to climb up there and get him.... those poor montanans...
 

Thonzberry

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I have to agree with Sky Buster, shoot :shootin:first then ask questions. Man I have fallen from a tree and hurt like hell, but that was from a couple of feet, 50ft. ouch:hair raisin blue:
 
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