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(Waynesville) – A hunter has died after falling into a sinkhole while walking in a wooded area in rural Pulaski County.

A press release from the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Office states the incident occurred Monday evening while a local man was bow hunting near his home off Red Oak Lane near the Buckhorn area. The hunter told his wife Monday evening that he had shot a deer and was returning to the woods to try to track the animal. When the man failed to return home, his wife reported him missing to the Pulaski County Sheriff’s Department.

Law enforcement officers and firefighters then began a late-night search, which ended shortly after 3 AM when the hunter’s body was discovered at the bottom of a large sinkhole just a short distance from his home.

The sinkhole is roughly 70 feet deep, and is about 10-feet long and 5 feet wide. Authorities believe the sinkhole recently opened, possibly during the heavy rains last month. They don’t think the hunter saw the opening before falling into it, due to it being hidden behind tall foliage, along with the existing low light conditions.

Pulaski County Assistant Coroner Michael McCart ruled the hunter’s death to be accidental.

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