In April 2021 the Bates County Sheriff’s Office organized a mounted posse unit. While many may consider such a group as more of a ceremonial organization, the real value of the posse was demonstrated last week when members helped find a 77-year-old mushroom hunter who had fallen and was lost in the woods.
The sheriff’s office was notified of the missing man, Dwayne Dickerson, about noon May 11.
Dickerson was able to call the dispatch center, but was unsure of his location other than he was in the area of County Road 8002 and FF and F highways. With more than 400 acres of heavily forested land to search, the Sheriff’s Posse and Mounted Posse were both activated to help conduct the search and rescue.
Utilized in the search were four-wheelers, ATVs, UTVs, drones and fire trucks from eight responding agencies.
Mounted on horseback, Deputy Eric Hughes and Det. Paul Stockdale rode their horses, Hank and Stetson, through the thick brush while searching for the injured man.
“I rode some when I was younger and into my 20s, so when they started this program, I wanted in on it,” Stockdale said. “I enjoy horses and I think the program is another great tool we can have for situations like this, anything that will help us save a life or help somebody out.
“Horses can go a lot of places that four-wheelers and ATVs can’t and you can maneuver better on them. You can cover more ground than on foot and you can see more given how high up you are. With the help of the horses, we were able to work our way through the thick grass and locate the subject.”
After several hours of searching, Stockdale located the injured man in an area inaccessible to the four-wheelers or UTVs onsite.
According to the sheriff’s office, Stockdale and his partner were able to guide additional rescuers and EMS personnel to the location of Dickerson. The Butler Fire Department arrived and was able to secure him on a backboard and transport him to an awaiting ambulance, where he was then transported to Bates County Memorial Hospital for treatment.
He was treated for a broken foot and leg, but a full recovery is anticipated.
“This program is less than a year old,” wrote Sheriff Chad Anderson on social media following the search. “This is the second time we have deployed horses for the purpose of search and rescue. Outcomes like today prove to me that the program has a place with us and is an asset to our community.
“Today, the horseback riders played a pivotal role in saving a life and for that it’s worth every dollar we have spent. I think our gentleman and his family would agree.”
Stockdale said the most important thing for future mushroom hunters to remember is to let people know where you are going and when you plan to be back.
“It’s always good to take a buddy,” he said. “We’ve always been told to not go out alone and if you are then it’s important to let somebody know where you are going to be and when you’re going to be back. That way someone always knows where you’re at. It doesn’t matter if you are mushroom hunting, regular hunting or anything outside like that. If you are going out, the buddy system is the best way because you’d have somebody there who can help or could get help.
“All in all, I’m very blessed to be able to ride again and I’m so glad we were met with success. If this program helps save even one life, then it would have all been worth it in my eyes.”