Elders rescued moose hunters on the Kuskokwim River. Now the hunters are looking for them to say ‘thank you’

An elderly couple rescued three moose hunters when their boat capsized on the Kuskokwim River. Caught in the moment, the hunters didn’t get the Elders’ names. Now the hunters are looking for the couple so that they can thank them.

September is moose hunting season along the Kuskokwim River. When the season arrived, so did a storm with driving rain and high winds. In these conditions, Jason Jarrett, his friend, and his teenage son set out from Bethel with their rifles and camping gear in an 18-foot Lund boat.

“We left to go down to the Johnson,” Jarrett said. “And by the time we got to Napakiak, the weather wasn’t getting any better.”

As they neared the slough near Napakiak, the water grew choppier.

“So we made the decision to turn around because we didn’t want to be coming back at dark time through all this,” he said.

Boating against the current about a mile outside of Bethel, the waves turned into 6-foot swells.

“Our boat just was on a wave just perfect,” Jarrett remembered. “The motor came out of the water; we lost a little bit of momentum. The nose went down just a little bit, enough for it to bring it [the water] in. That put enough weight in the boat, and it just kept coming.”

Water flooded the boat, capsizing it. All three of the hunters were wearing life jackets. Floating about 50 yards from the bank, they climbed on top the upside-down Lund.

“We were on top of it for about five to 10 minutes,” Jarrett said. “I was getting ready to take my waders off and swim to shore.”

When, suddenly, a boat appeared in the distance, driven by two Elders. The couple stopped, and the hunters climbed in the boat. The Elders carried the hunters to Bethel, dropping them off at Brown’s Slough. Then they left.

“I didn’t get no names, no nothing,” Jarrett remembered. “We were just so shooken up when we got back. We just kept shaking their hands and saying ‘Thank you,’ giving them praise for saving us on that day.”

Now, calmed down, Jarrett is trying to find the Elders, who he calls “a blessing come true.”

“I just really want to talk with them again,” he said, “say ‘Thank you’ again, and if there’s anything I can ever do to help repay this, I gladly will.”

Jarrett has posted his phone number on Facebook, hoping the couple will reach out to him.

Anna Rose MacArthur is a reporter at KYUK in Bethel.

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