- It didn't take long for police to find the body of a missing hunter in Lincoln County Wednesday night.
Police say it might have taken hours to find the man using a normal ground search, but thanks to the Lincoln County Sheriff's Office's new drone, it only took about 45 minutes.
According to the Lincoln County Coroner, 76-year-old William Storm drowned.
Police got a call around 4 p.m. Wednesday from the family saying Storm had been missing since about 12:30 p.m. that day. He had gone out hunting and returned to his home to get his waders before going back out to find the deer he had shot.
Ground searchers first found the deer Storm had shot. That's when deputies sent the drone up into the air and using thermal imaging, were able to find his body in less than an hour. He was found next to Pine River in the woods.
Police could have had to ground search about 120 acres, but the drone helped them whittle that area down to just about a few football fields worth of area.
"When they find the deer, if we don't have the UAV it's going to turn into a ground search where they're just going to have to grid the whole area and that could be the whole 120 acres, or it could be two acres, it could be right away," said Lt. Andy VanderWyst. "You're relying a lot on luck then too."
Police flew the drone about 160 feet in the air, which is high, because they didn't know if tall trees or power lines would get in the way.
Police said they did request a helicopter from Wausau, but it couldn't fly out because of the misty, cloudy weather.
"There are environmental factors that come into play with this, but not nearly as much as a helicopter because now you're talking about a piece of equipment instead of a bigger piece of equipment with human lives on board too," VanderWyst said.
The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department got the drone earlier this fall and this was the first time the department used it.
Written By: Stephanie Haines