Rescuers found a 71-year-old Brown County man safe late Friday night in rough country west of Brownwood after his son reported him missing.

Firefighters and sheriff’s deputies searched for George Dean Sr. for about three hours before firefighters Ron Groom and Ben Edwards found him around midnight, leaning against a tree near a creek in the Buckhorn Estates area, officials said.

Dean lives in the Lake Brownwood area, sheriff’s Sgt. Tony Aaron said.

Hills, trees and brush comprise the area where Dean was found, rescuers said.

George Dean Jr. told authorities he and his father had been in the area to look at some property when George Dean Sr. had walked off into the woods, Aaron said.

When Dean Sr. didn’t return, the son honked their vehicle’s horn and flashed its lights but got no response, Aaron said. He called for help.

“When we got out there we began hiking through the area trying to find him,” Aaron said.

Deputies asked firefighters to bring the department’s thermal imaging camera, but that didn’t help because of the dense brush and trees, Aaron said.

Deputies requested a helicopter, and one equipped with a thermal imaging camera and owned by Leak Surveys Inc. arrived in the area.

Just as the helicopter arrived, Groom and Edwards found Dean Sr., Early Police Chief David Mercer said. Mercer’s brother-in-law, David Furry, owns Leak Surveys and Mercer was aboard the helicopter.

Groom said he and Edwards had gone walking by railroad tracks, calling Dean’s name. Dean heard them and responded, and the firefighters found him leaning up against a tree, Groom said.

He said Dean was about 200 yards off the Bangs Highway and knew where he was, but had stopped and couldn’t make it any further.

“He was in good health. He was glad somebody found him,” Groom said.

The helicopter stayed in the area and provided a light source as rescuers helped Groom walk out, Mercer said.

Neither Dean nor family members could be reached Monday for comment.