LEWISTON – High-tech devices might not be for everyone.

Steven Wright, the 53-year-old deer hunter from Vermont who spent nearly three days lost in the woods surrounding Tumbledown Mountain near Byron this week faulted his Garmin Extreme GPS unit for getting him in trouble.

“I’ve been taken out by malfunctioning compasses, you know, and I’ve gone through a lot with instruments and the GPS got me this time,” he said Thursday afternoon from his bed at Central Maine Medical Center after being rescued Wednesday afternoon. “. . . I knew better. I mean, you don’t start at the base of Tumbledown Mountain and then go up over it because your GPS tells you to. And I had to get to the top of it for my GPS to tell me, ‘Hey, you’re 150 feet from your car.’. . . And I knew better, because you’d have to take a helicopter to put that car up there,” Wright said.

“I should have just come down out of there. Nope, pulled my GPS up, GPS says 1.1 miles thataway, (but) I’m looking right at Tumbledown,” Wright said.

He tried walking farther to get different readings, skirted a half-mile-long clear-cut, and headed down a valley, but he said the GPS told him he was going away from his truck

“It just goes to tell you, don’t believe in all that stuff. These things are designed to save your life, but they may cost you your life, too,” Wright said.

The Maine Warden Service recovered Wright’s GPS unit after his rescue, and wardens spent most of Thursday retrieving data from the device, according to a news release issued by the service.

Wright’s GPS was functioning properly, even though it was covered with ice when the hunter was located, the service said.

According to the GPS unit, Wright set out to follow a deer track on the south side of Number 6 Road. He crossed the road then hiked around the west side of Tumbledown Mountain, arriving at Tumbledown Pond at approximately 4:45 p.m. Monday.

The GPS reconstruction showed Wright crossed Tumbledown Pond, which had ice covering 4 inches of water, and may have fallen in. He continued across the pond, and trekked down Tumbledown Mountain until he reached the vicinity of Stockbridge Branch of the Swift River. He followed the branch in a southern direction.

At 12:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Wright reached a gravel pit approximately three-quarters of a mile from Number 6 Road. He got into the pit, and the GPS unit was turned off.

Wright left the pit at an unknown time, apparently crossed the Stockbridge Branch and got onto an unimproved road that snakes along the East Branch, according to the MWS investigation. Wright was found by a snowmobiler on the road at the base of Jackson Mountain, a short distance from where the East Branch originates, the service said. That area is called West Central Franklin in Township 6 North of Weld

Warden Lt. Pat Dorian said the distance between the location where Wright was last seen along Number 6 Road and where he was picked up is 4.1 miles if a straight line is drawn on a map.

Wright was last seen by his friends on Number 6 Road, but a couple of miles south from the spot where the hunter had actually activated his GPS unit and started his journey.


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