An Aroostook County hunter got lost and spent a night in the woods after getting out of his car on a logging road to shoot a grouse.

Hunter Maurice Pelletier, left, speaks with Game Warden Kale O’Leary after Pelletier got lost and spent a night in the woods. Photo courtesy of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife

Game wardens searching on foot and by air found 70-year-old Maurice Pelletier of Caribou on Thursday afternoon, a day after he left his Jeep running on a logging road in northern Piscataquis County while he got out to hunt a grouse.

The Maine Warden Service says Pelletier was hunting alone on Wednesday when he stopped his car to shoot the grouse. When he saw a second grouse flying into the woods, Pelletier followed it and was able to shoot the bird, but became disoriented in the thick woods.

Pelletier was unable to find his way back to his car, which he had left with the motor running and door open. He built a fire to keep himself warm and spent the night in the woods, the warden service said.

On Thursday morning, a group of hunters found Pelletier’s Jeep with the engine still running and door open. They contacted the warden service, which started a search that included Game Warden Preston Pomerleau and his K-9 Gordon.

Pomerleau and Gordon quickly found signs of Pelletier, including remnants of the fire, fresh cut fir boughs and food. The search intensified with 10 game wardens searching that area while a warden service pilot helped from the air, according to the warden service.

When Pelletier heard the plane circling overhead, he found an opening in the forest and built a signal fire. That allowed warden pilot Jeff Spencer to spot Pelletier and direct game wardens to his location.

Pelletier was in good health and did not need medical attention, according to the warden service.

Lt. Tom Ward said the outcome could have been “much worse” if Pelletier had not been as prepared as he was to spend a night in the woods.

“If you are heading out hunting this season, please let someone know where you are going to hunt and when you plan to be back. Also, be prepared to spend a night in the woods in case you get turned around,” he said.

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