A conservation officer rescued three duck hunters in central Minnesota after he spotted them struggling in frigid water, Department of Natural Resources officials say.
DNR officer Rick Reller said he was patrolling Swartout Lake in Wright County earlier this week when he spotted the three picking up their decoys and preparing to leave a small island where they had been hunting.
Reller figured he'd wait for the three and do a routine license and game check.
But the hunters never approached, so after a while, Reller used his binoculars to scan the water for them – and spotted the trio floundering without life jackets. Their boat had been swamped in strong winds and the men were trying to stay afloat on decoy bags in the chilly water.
Reller quickly enlisted the help of a lakeshore resident with a boat ready to go, and the two pulled the three men to safety. By then, the three were unable to do anything to help get themselves in the boat and were weighed down by water in their chest waders.
The DNR has a long list of safety tips for waterfowl hunters, and warns them that frigid waters can be their biggest danger.