Beacon ‘best money I’ve ever spent’

Safe Seas Clean Seas Issue 48, June 2015

Possum trapper Jacob Gollan says the personal locator beacon he set off while in severe pain in Bay of Plenty bush is the “best money I‘ve ever spent in my whole life”.

Jacob, 32, was half-way through setting out his possum line on February 24 when pain forced him to return to Wahaatua Hutt, between Opotiki and Gisborne, six hours walk in.

After having a lay-down, and with pain and infection spreading, he decided to pull the beacon that evening, while there would hopefully still be day-light for a chopper crew to handle the “tricky landing”.

The Bay Trust Helicopter from Rotorua turned up in less than two hours, around 9pm, and flew him and his only companion – a mate’s young pig dog – to Tauranga Hospital. Jacob was discharged with medication the next day.

Jacob says nowadays he always leaves details with registered contacts about his whereabouts when going into the bush – which enabled the Rescue Coordination Centre of New Zealand to arrange promptly to airlift him out after his beacon signal was detected.

However, Jacob has only carried a beacon with him for a couple of years, having gone trapping and hunting without one throughout his 20s. His decision to buy a beacon was for “peace of mind for his family”, and because he was starting to trap in different, more remote, locations.

He says of his $700 purchase: “I was in a great deal of pain; it’s the best money I’ve ever spent in my life.” Jacob hopes his story encourages others to buy a beacon: “If it helps them that would be great”.

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