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84-year-old Rescued After Two Days Still Plans To Hunt

October 30, 1985

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) _ An 84-year-old outdoorsman who was stranded on an island for two nights in freezing temperatures concedes he’s getting too old for trapping. But he says he still plans to go deer hunting.

Andrew Haas was searching for muskrats in the shallow sloughs of the Black River north of La Crosse when he lost control of his motor-driven canoe Saturday morning.

The outboard motor drove the canoe up on the riverbank on the island and into a tree, overturning and tossing Haas into the water. The heavy motor dragged the boat back down the bank and he couldn’t right the clumsy canoe- outboard combination.

A search wasn’t started until a neighbor told authorities he was missing Monday morning, and he was not found until that afternoon.

″I’m one of the best hunters around,″ he said after a brief checkup at La Crosse Lutheran Hospital. ″I won’t say I’m the best - I’m one of the best. But I’m done trapping. I’m getting too old for that.

″I’ll still go out deer hunting. You can sit down. That’s the only way to go deer hunting. No chasin’ all over. That’s no good. Just sit there and wait.″

Haas was without food and water and lost his sleeping bag, an axe, traps and other things in the water when the canoe overturned.

His overalls and jeans, his thermal-lined flannel shirt and his cloth jacket were all soaked, but he still had a couple of dry wooden matches in his pants pocket to start a fire.

He later remembered he had put some other matches behind the lining of his hunting cap, and found more than a dozen there.

He said he dried out one piece of clothing at a time over the fire, and watched out for rescuers.

″I hollered and I hollered until I couldn’t holler anymore,″ Haas said. ″I saw some duck hunters off out there away from me, and I hollered at them: ‘Help me 3/8 Help me 3/8’ I said. But I couldn’t make them hear me. And my voice was about gone and I was getting weak. They couldn’t hear me.″

Marlene Pettygrove, 43, who lives next door to Haas and his developmentally disabled son Myron, 56, said she had seen Haas leave Saturday. When Myron told her Monday that his father had not returned, she called the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department.

Haas’ pickup was found several hours later, and the canoe was spotted on the bank less than a mile away.

Deputy John Stokes III said rescuers pulled up alongside the canoe but could not see Haas until they climbed up the bank.

″We could see him about two city blocks away,″ Stokes said. ″He was standing there beside his fire. It was just smoldering then. He started yelling at us when he saw us.″

Emergency Medical Technician Michael Stengel, 30, of La Crosse, said he was amazed when he examined Haas.

″His pulse and blood pressure were better than mine,″ he said.

Haas was surprised that he survived.

″I figured I’d had it,″ he said. ″I got so I was thinking I’m done, I can’t make it any more. It’s a miracle I’m alive.″

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