Lost Billings Hunter in Stillwater County

Lost Father and Son
Hunting In Stillwater County

written by Vikki Fenton-Anderberg and Janne Anderberg


On November 6, 1998 ASD responded to a search request from Stillwater County for 2 lost hunters. Frank Arnold and his 12 year old son Brian had come from Bozeman to hunt on a ranch north of Columbus. They were not familiar with the area, but had come to the ranch with a friend who had hunted on the ranch previously. The Arnolds had been dropped off about 4:00 p.m. and instructed to hunt in a certain area returning to the house. When they did not return, they were reported lost to the Sheriff's office about 10:30 p.m. The sheriff department sent 2 reserve deputies, Dennis Shupack and Matt Clauson to the ranch A short while later dog teams from Absaroka Search Dogs were dispatched, and arriving about midnight.

It was learned that Brian had asthma and carried medication while Frank had no medical problems. Both hunters were thought to be inadequately dressed for staying out overnight. They were thought to have matches and perhaps snacks with them. Mrs. Arnold stated that they would stay together as this was Brian's first year hunting.

Three dog teams, Lee and Sky , Vikki and Pilot, and Roxanne and Ash sectioned off the coulee where the pair was last seen. Each team was accompanied by a member of Stillwater Search and rescue. Janne acted as canine liaison and coordinated the deployment of containment vehicles which drove the surrounding roads.

The teams in the fields blew their whistles and shouted the Arnolds names while covering their areas. About 1 ¾ hour in to the search, Lee yelled and received a response. The wind, which was moving up coulee, away form Sky, was blowing directly toward Pilot and Vikki. Pilot had picked up the air scent and was moving rapidly toward the missing pair. From the west, Lynn and Tor, accompanied by Alan Ronnenberg, a n ASD candidate and a member of Sweetgrass SAR, had picked up the Arnold's track and were "running" from that direction.

The snow had been falling throughout the day and had accumulated about 3-4 inches. The winds were light, but steady and the temperature was in the low 30's. The father explained that they had lost track of time and run out of daylight. When this happened, they decided to stop find crude shelter and make a small fire. They did have snacks with them but no water. They were dressed in jeans Carhart insulated sweatshirts and had hats and gloves.

Brian had attended a course called "Hug a Tree", which tells children what to do when they are lost. He said that they had gotten cold but were "not scared." The Arnolds were really appreciative of searchers who came out to look for them and in a newspaper article Frank Arnold said, "I didn't hear anyone say they were inconvenienced by coming out to look for us, I only heard words like, they were glad we were o.k.......only one request was made of us, that we play with the search dogs, which we gladly did."