A duck hunter who was in the water on Rice Lake for several hours was rescued Saturday evening.
According to the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office, at 5:15 p.m. Saturday, a concerned resident reported hearing someone yelling for help in the Hesitation Wildlife Management Area, located in Bay Lake Township south of Highway 18.
The sheriff's office responded to the area, which encompasses much of Rice Lake, which is shallow and swampy. Officials could hear a man yelling for help, but couldn't see him "due to the terrain and bulrushes," the release says.
A deputy used a drone to located the 60-year-old rural Brainerd man, spotting him holding onto the back of his boat.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources responded, using a flat-bottom mud boat to reach the hunter and pull him from the water. The hunter was "very cold, but was conscious and talking," the sheriff's office said.
Officials believe he was in the water for "several hours" before being rescued.
The sheriff's office thanked the residents who heard the man calling for help and Bruce Holbrook, who helped law enforcement launch the rescue boat with his skid steer from his property.
"Without the help of these residents, the outcome of this incident may have been much different," the sheriff's office said. "Great teamwork and professionalism was displayed by all the agencies involved."
The Hesitation Wildlife Management Area was established in 1976 to provide public lake access to Rice Lake and to improve the wildlife habitat on the south side of the lake, the DNR's website says. The largely forested WMA is 369.72 acres and encompasses a large portion of the 159-acre lake.
Note: Details provided in this story are based on the police's latest version of events, and may be subject to change.