Sheriff’s office locates lost hunter

Abernatrhy is greeted by family after his overnight ordeal in the Green Swamp. (CCSO photo)
Abernatrhy is greeted by family after his overnight ordeal in the Green Swamp. (CCSO photo)

Michael Edward Abernethy got more of an adventure than he bargained for while hunting in the Green swamp this week.
Abernethy, 56, was on vacation in Myrtle Beach with his family from Morganton. After careful research of nearby game lands, Mr. Abernethy decided to enjoy a portion of his vacation hunting in the Juniper Creek Game Land tract in the Green Swamp. This tract encompasses both Columbus County and Brunswick County.

Abernethy lost his way while hunting and was unable to find his way out of the woods. When he did not return to his family at the scheduled time, they tried calling his cellphone but did not get an answer. His family traveled to the area and located his vehicle, the sheriff’s office said. Inside they found his cellphone, his heavy coat, gloves, and lunch box. They called 911 at approximately 10:30 p.m. Monday. 

Personnel from the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office, Columbus County Sheriff’s Office, Wildlife Resources Commission, and Columbus County Emergency Management began searching for Abernethy. Both Brunswick and Columbus County agencies dispatched their Man Tracking Teams. A helicopter and K-9s were deployed, including a blood hound that located a positive track.

Abernethy was tired and cold when searchers found him around 10 a.m. Tuesday. (CCSO photo)
Abernethy was tired and cold when searchers found him around 10 a.m. Tuesday. (CCSO photo)

Both agencies searched through the early morning hours for Abernethy, who told searchers he heard the search parties and moved towards them.

At approximately 10 a.m. Abernethy was located. He was cold, hungry, and dehydrated, but unhurt. Buckhead Rescue responded to the scene and evaluated Abernethy. They determined he did not need additional medical care.

Abernethy was greeted by his family with lots of hugs and kisses, witnesses said. 

“Despite being an avid outdoorsman,” Sheriff Jody Greene said in a press release, “Mr. Abernethy would not have survived for an extended period of time without proper cold weather clothing. All agencies involved recognized the urgency in finding him and diligently worked throughout the early morning hours, searching for him.

“We are thankful that Mr. Abernethy can enjoy Thanksgiving with his family this year.” 

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Jefferson Weaver is the managing editor of and news director for WTXY radio. He can be reached at 910.632.4965, or by email at