$15,000 Reward for Missing Haul Road Hunter Steve Keel - OP updated to show locations

long hunter

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A similar situation happened a few years back with me and my hunting buddy (been hunting together for 40 years) was in WVA. pretty far back in the boonies along about noon we met up and decided he would make a wide circle around me and I would pretty much work in the same area hoping we might drive a deer to one or the other, and we would meet back at camp at dark. We both had a topo and a compass and the paths of travel were marked on both maps About 3 P.M. a snow storm set in and I decided to work my way back to camp as planned, got there right about dark no buddy, figured I would give it a hour for him to show up, did not happen. Started to put together a rescue pack as we were familiar with the area (having hunted there many times) Got everything together figured we might need and planning a course of travel from the map in a reverse direction in a effort to cut the distance to him and as I started out the door here he came. Said he decided to take what he thought was a short cut back to camp and came out about 4 miles on a unfamiliar road, luck was on his side as a guy in a pick up stopped and gave him a ride back to camp. This was long before cell phones and such devices. So I guess what I am saying is make a plan stick to the plan use all applications of navigation aids available to you, A lesson was learned that night go in pairs no matter what.
 

kwackkillncrew

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I understand people are coming up with scenarios and playing back seat driver...could have done this could have done that why didnt they have a topo map.....If you havent spent any time on the tundra you really dont have any idea how disorienting it can be. There is nothing out there to base distance off of no trees just knee high grass and rolling hills that appear to be massive until you realize its a slight incline for a mile. I have been out there and have seen cranes that appeared to be the size of giraffes and polar bears that appeared bigger then a f250. It can be very easy to get turned around when you have nothing to base your position off of. The entire situation seems crazy to me but i can easily see how someone could get turned around and start to panic, whether if they are a very experience outdoorsman or not. When you are at a new unfamiliar place and in a situation you havent been in before it could be very easy to make bad decisions. Hopefully they find him and can get an idea of what happened or what went wrong. Once scenario i could see is that he lost track of time and walked much further then where his pack was. Could have lost his sense of direction then tried to find a higher spot to hike to to gain elevation and try to get his bearings but once he got to the "top" of the hill he noticed it wasnt as tall as he thought and then continued to walk around hoping to find some thing to orient him self and just ended up getting lost.
 

sndmn11

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It certainly was. If these two had traveled together that morning this tragic story would likely be one of success and fond memories.

This man probably got disoriented, lost, fell victim to weather and then ultimately predation. One month is a helluva long time up there among the fox, wolves and bears. He'll likely not be found.

Sad situation.
Edit, a bit more FB info from a Keel friend:

In the two weeks of searching, zero bears were seen in the search area. As of Sunday, the gut piles remained for both kills undisturbed and the pack remained undisturbed for around 10 days. The was also no sign of a bear attack.
As far Bryans involvement, he stayed and searched for several days after Steve went missing. I have been incontact with him since he has been home and he has gone out of his way to help with the search and me get information to the searchers. There is zero substantiated evidence to lead me to believe that he had anything to do with Steves disappeance.
Steve is a former Marine and by all accounts an excellent outdoorsman. The ground in the area he went missing is covered in blue berries, and there is pleanty of fresh water. We are unsure if he had anything to start a fire with, and there is not much on the ground there that will burn. the tempatures there rang this time of year between the mid 40's for the highs and the nights get cold. Fog can move in at anytime.

While murder may be a small percentage outcome, I am glad someone has that investigative perspective. My inclination on things like this is that it was an intentional disappearance and the scenario is fabricated by those involved. A lot of investigations have been bungled by not starting until it is too late.
 

SuspiciousFish

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I understand people are coming up with scenarios and playing back seat driver...could have done this could have done that why didnt they have a topo map.....If you havent spent any time on the tundra you really dont have any idea how disorienting it can be. There is nothing out there to base distance off of no trees just knee high grass and rolling hills that appear to be massive until you realize its a slight incline for a mile. I have been out there and have seen cranes that appeared to be the size of giraffes and polar bears that appeared bigger then a f250. It can be very easy to get turned around when you have nothing to base your position off of. The entire situation seems crazy to me but i can easily see how someone could get turned around and start to panic, whether if they are a very experience outdoorsman or not. When you are at a new unfamiliar place and in a situation you havent been in before it could be very easy to make bad decisions. Hopefully they find him and can get an idea of what happened or what went wrong. Once scenario i could see is that he lost track of time and walked much further then where his pack was. Could have lost his sense of direction then tried to find a higher spot to hike to to gain elevation and try to get his bearings but once he got to the "top" of the hill he noticed it wasnt as tall as he thought and then continued to walk around hoping to find some thing to orient him self and just ended up getting lost.

I understand what you are saying but at the same time when events like this happen all we can really do is learn from them and not make the same mistakes, even if it is hypothetical or speculation. Especially with signaling devices and how they can be used. For instance an emergency whistle can reach 120 db and be heard a considerable distance by anyone nearby. A 2 way hand held radio has a range of about 4 miles on flat ground. A SOS GPS device is global as long as you have sky visibility. There is a chance he got taken by a bear but if he wandered off, having these 3 things would have saved him.

Same thing with a compass. If you know you will hit a road due east, you could have 10 ft of visibility or complete whiteout and still be able to make it back. That is what makes a compass such an effective tool. Now maybe he had all these things but they were in his pack which rendered them useless if he dropped the pack. Then we learn to never drop your pack or have a backup bag or small pack so you always have your emergency kit no matter what.
 

BBob

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Crazy things happen! Not long ago this was discussed. This guy went missing in goat country for 53 years. He was laying there all along only to be finally found by another goat hunter:
 

Kevin Dill

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No proof of this, but someone stated the missing hunter had his cell phone with him. Notwithstanding it could have been a clunker (phone) there's a logical chance it was equipped with a compass, if he knew how to access and use it. Even if so, he'd still need to trust it.

I'm basically 100% on the man being deceased. Without a body or other evidence (pending?) the cause or manner of his death can't be known. The longer it takes to recover any remains, the less likely they are to be found and to give clues to c.o.d.

Sadly, this man may have intentionally concealed his intentions and movements...perhaps responsible for his own disappearance and ultimate demise. That would be one overall explanation for his rapid and complete disappearance.
 

SuspiciousFish

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No proof of this, but someone stated the missing hunter had his cell phone with him. Notwithstanding it could have been a clunker (phone) there's a logical chance it was equipped with a compass, if he knew how to access and use it. Even if so, he'd still need to trust it.

I'm basically 100% on the man being deceased. Without a body or other evidence (pending?) the cause or manner of his death can't be known. The longer it takes to recover any remains, the less likely they are to be found and to give clues to c.o.d.

Sadly, this man may have intentionally concealed his intentions and movements...perhaps responsible for his own disappearance and ultimate demise. That would be one overall explanation for his rapid and complete disappearance.

You have to be careful trusting a phone compass. The compass on my phone is so far off its a complete joke. Sometimes its correct but many times the N needle will point South-East. Maybe he knew the road was due east and tried to use his phone compass but it was not correct and he kept walking in the wrong bearing expecting to hit the road.

Edit: I just tried using my phone compass and here is the screenshot with me facing due north according to my real compass:
IMG_3416.PNG
 
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eddielasvegas

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Here is the FB page for those interested.

It appears to be public so no login is needed, which is good because I'd like to monitor this story but refuse to participate in SM.


Eddie

P.S. Actually, it seems one cannot escape SM even on a public page for too long. I was looking at the page and after ~60 seconds and a few pages reviews, FB keeps presenting a login dialog box and X-ing out does no good as it just displays it again. Durn shame.
 
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Gunnersdad49

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Colorado
A similar situation happened a few years back with me and my hunting buddy (been hunting together for 40 years) was in WVA. pretty far back in the boonies along about noon we met up and decided he would make a wide circle around me and I would pretty much work in the same area hoping we might drive a deer to one or the other, and we would meet back at camp at dark. We both had a topo and a compass and the paths of travel were marked on both maps About 3 P.M. a snow storm set in and I decided to work my way back to camp as planned, got there right about dark no buddy, figured I would give it a hour for him to show up, did not happen. Started to put together a rescue pack as we were familiar with the area (having hunted there many times) Got everything together figured we might need and planning a course of travel from the map in a reverse direction in a effort to cut the distance to him and as I started out the door here he came. Said he decided to take what he thought was a short cut back to camp and came out about 4 miles on a unfamiliar road, luck was on his side as a guy in a pick up stopped and gave him a ride back to camp. This was long before cell phones and such devices. So I guess what I am saying is make a plan stick to the plan use all applications of navigation aids available to you, A lesson was learned that night go in pairs no matter what.
Something often overlooked is the rescue plan. We frequently say "meet you at camp at dark" or something like that, but seldom mention what happens when someone doesn't come back on time.

We were on a caribou hunt with a total of 6 guys. A couple of us went off on our own. At dinner time, one guy wasn't back. I went to his last known location with a "rescue pack" as you described. Puffy jacket, food, etc. Turns out he shot a bull in the river, got soaked boning it out, and was trying to pack the whole thing back to camp. He was pretty grateful for a dry jacket and someone to take part of the load from him.

It can't hurt to just have the discussion before hand. "If I'm not back by an hour after dark, something went really right or really wrong. I'll fire a shot at 8 pm if I need help." or something to that effect.
 

Broomd

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Something often overlooked is the rescue plan. We frequently say "meet you at camp at dark" or something like that, but seldom mention what happens when someone doesn't come back on time.

We were on a caribou hunt with a total of 6 guys. A couple of us went off on our own. At dinner time, one guy wasn't back. I went to his last known location with a "rescue pack" as you described. Puffy jacket, food, etc. Turns out he shot a bull in the river, got soaked boning it out, and was trying to pack the whole thing back to camp. He was pretty grateful for a dry jacket and someone to take part of the load from him.

It can't hurt to just have the discussion before hand. "If I'm not back by an hour after dark, something went really right or really wrong. I'll fire a shot at 8 pm if I need help." or something to that effect.
And there you have it.

That scenario itself shows just how vulnerable a guy can be.
As long time Alaskans we always had back up watching the area while field dressing game. Too easy to be overwhelmed by a bear.
The one exception was in '98 with my wife killing and field dressing her first 'bou solo up near the Gates of the Arctic / Kobuk. Long story, but I was always by her side after that.
 

CodeMonkey

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I heard he had verifiable information about Hilary Clinton's business dealings.

ETA: Just trying to bring some levity to the situation. Others have speculated it was aliens. Honestly, something isn't adding up here if the facts are what they are.
 
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OXN939

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VA
I'm basically 100% on the man being deceased.

Super sad to see his family members still actively trying to find paths forward to locating him alive and really having no idea what's going on. I can't even imagine. In reality, you're spot on. The conditions up there this time of year would make it almost impossible to survive more than a day or two with nothing but the clothes on your back.

To provide some context for anyone who hasn't seen the North Slope or those speculating about foul play... imagine being even just one mile into the background of this picture and visibility suddenly dropping to about as far as you can throw a wiffle ball. Your life depends on navving back to camp using a topo map, as temps will get into the teens or single digits at night.


Screen Shot 2022-09-29 at 9.04.11 AM.png

Seconding how everyone should read this thread as a reminder of how quickly things can go south. Thoughts and prayers to all involved.
 
OP
DLIP

DLIP

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Similar to a few others that have posted, it hasn't been even a possibility in my mind that he could be alive given the conditions and assumptions that are being made on his clothing/lack of viable shelter.

It is tough to imagine what his family is going through. Hopefully there can be some valuable lessons learned from this situation.
 

212pilot

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It’s crazy that with all the air resources put into the search, nothing was found. I took this photo a couple miles northwest of their camp. The weather was really bad, even for slope standards so that made flying tough.

This whole story is very strange. I feel for his family and think about what could have happened quite a bit. F5FD2BF6-AB00-44FB-A368-246ABA9DFACB.png
 

eddielasvegas

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It’s crazy that with all the air resources put into the search, nothing was found. I took this photo a couple miles northwest of their camp. The weather was really bad, even for slope standards so that made flying tough.

This whole story is very strange. I feel for his family and think about what could have happened quite a bit. View attachment 458053

Good picture and thanks for this 212pilot. What your AGL in the pic?

Certainly helps those not familiar with the area and SAR on the how hard it is to spot a body that is most likely in camo and covered/obstructed in some way.


Eddie

P.S. I don't know a durn thing about GA (as my acronym usage might indicate) but have been watching a lot of Dan Gryder and blancolirio. :)
 

212pilot

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Good picture and thanks for this 212pilot. What your AGL in the pic?

Certainly helps those not familiar with the area and SAR on the how hard it is to spot a body that is most likely in camo and covered/obstructed in some way.


Eddie

P.S. I don't know a durn thing about GA (as my acronym usage might indicate) but have been watching a lot of Dan Gryder and blancolirio. :)
I’d say we were around 50’.

It would be really difficult to locate someone on the ground, especially if they had camo on.
 

Kevin Dill

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I’d say we were around 50’.

It would be really difficult to locate someone on the ground, especially if they had camo on.
Thinking like a person lost and suffering from exposure...

Easy to imagine finally giving up and sheltering (as best as possible) in a brushy clump of some sort, thus obstructing one's self from view of searchers. Illogical to imagine him staying in the wide open if/when he realized he needed protection from wind and weather.

I also know any logical searcher would be highly likely to investigate the presence of a bear or wolf spotted in the area. My gut tells me this man probably didn't die in a predation attack.

All speculation as we wait and wonder.
 
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