Sheridan Area Search and Rescue found two overdue hunters uninjured Monday morning after an search that lasted all of Sunday night and spanned the Clear Creek drainage from Steamboat Point down into Tongue River Canyon, according to the Sheridan County Sheriff's Office.
Justin Smokov, 26 of Martin, SD and Jason Cernetich, 28, of Burkee, SD were tracking mountain lions and had released dogs in the area of Steamboat Point.
According to Lt. Mark Conrad with the Sheriff's Office, there was one lion left on the mortality quota following the fresh snow on Sunday, so the two hunters had gone out that night and not come back after darkness fell after they assumed their hunting dogs had a lion treed.
The two hunters stopped after dark and made a fire, and then continued down the Clear Creek drainage in the morning. They walked out on their own and they were found shortly after in a Tongue River Canyon parking area by Search and Rescue.
Conrad said that the dogs had GPS collars which allowed search personnel to quickly locate the area where the two had been hunting. He added that because of the rugged country in the area, Search and Rescue were dispatched in case the hunters were injured.
The search began at about 10 pm and concluded at about 8:30 the next morning. The two have since returned to South Dakota.