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Stranded County duck hunter relied on years of hunting experience to survive hours in waist-deep water

Duck hunter Bruce Thibodeau had been standing on the hull of his capsized boat with cold water up to his waist for nearly 12 hours when he heard sirens cry out in the darkness.

That’s when he knew his gamble had paid off.

After his boat had flipped earlier that afternoon, stranding him alone in the swampy Sawtelle Deadwater in northern Penobscot County, the 57-year-old outdoorsman decided to stay put instead of swim to shore, believing he’d freeze to death if he attempted to paddle through the thick vegetation and muck.

“I’m thinking, Jeez, what should I do?” Thibodeau of Silver Ridge said in an interview two days after he was rescued in the early morning hours of Sept. 26.

“I just relied on all my hunting experience — relied on that and all my knowledge,” he said. “I always read where people, if they swim, they only make it 30 or 40 yards, and they die of hypothermia.”

“Well, my best bet’s to stay just where I’m at,” he thought.

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