Steve Wolf is recovering Wednesday night after he was shot in the hip.
The 69-year-old was airlifted to Shutter Roseville Medical Center Tuesday night. Nevada County Sheriff Keith Royal said he got out of surgery and is now in stable condition.
The shooting happened while Wolf and two other volunteers were searching for a missing 75-year-old man in a rural part of Nevada County, north of Nevada City. The gunman has yet to be found.
"This is a steep canyon area, heavily timbered, a lot of brush so somebody could hide fairly easily under the canopy and not be seen by law enforcement," Royal said.
Wolf is a 10-year veteran volunteer with the Placer County Sheriff's Office Search and Rescue team, who was helping to find 75-year-old Timothy Hansston in Nevada County. Hansston has been missing since Aug. 4.
Wolf's friends and neighbors in Newcastle describe the retiree as an amazing man, who would drop everything to help out.
That leaves many near the shooting scene in the small town of Washington questioning why he was shot at.
"I think it's kind of strange that they would shoot somebody with search and rescue which has no concern about anything else beside saving somebody's life," said Henry Decorte, a Washington local who works at the hotel.
Royal said there's several likely scenarios.
"We have miners in the area and they'll do anything to protect their mining claims, we know that. There are also drug trafficking organizations that historically have set up gardens on the mountain side because of easy access to water," Royal told FOX40 Wednesday.
"It's just a guess but I would say that it would have to be somebody growing (marijuana)," Decorte said.
This isn't the first time there's been violence in the area. In June 2014, a CHP officer and BLM officer got into a shootout with a suspect who was illegally camping with a stolen motorcycle.
"We have a number of people who like to go off the radar," Royal said.
Although the search for missing hiker and the shooter were suspended Wednesday evening, Sheriff Royal said his office hasn't given up on finding either yet.
"There's several people we're looking at because they're known to the community and have a history of contact with law enforcement," Royal said.