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

Larry Bartlett

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All the talk about compasses, maps and cell phone apps...am I the only one who is blindly comfortable once camp is established and doesn't take extra precautions to "know where camp is on a compass line"? Plus a compass is only good if you know where your target is located and how far. I can't say I ever know my camp's transect on a compass bearing even in foul weather. Just not a practical expectation, even for savvy hunters. GPS location yes, especially in fog on the Slope.

There's something we don't know about this whole mystery, besides where's the body.
 

Sourdough

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In a cabin, on a mountain, in "Wilderness" Alaska.
All the talk about compasses, maps and cell phone apps...am I the only one who is blindly comfortable once camp is established and doesn't take extra precautions to "know where camp is on a compass line"? Plus a compass is only good if you know where your target is located and how far.
Screw camp, to stay alive all he needed to know is the direction to the road. He knew what mile marker camp was near. As soon as the fog rolled in, should have aborted and returned to camp, get the pack the next day.
 
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Broomd

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You guys discount the heavy fog, which I read came in the night before....he had no business leaving camp in those conditions, especially alone.

This guy was likely screwed in the pea soup fog. The reality is that he never even made it the mere 900 yards to his meat pack!
Theory? He left his camp, got disoriented (panicked) and headed five miles in the wrong direction, ultimately he succumbed to hypothermia.
Don't want to seem trite about such a sad ordeal, but he's probably been completely devoured by predators at this point.

Screw camp, to stay alive all he needed to know is the direction to the road. He knew what mile marker camp was near. As soon as the fog rolled in, should have aborted and returned to camp, get the pack the next day.
+1...My trips up there always had jake brake noise from haul road truckers--noise that carries well out into the flats. If a guy is three miles+ from the road they are present in my experience.
 
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SuspiciousFish

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Screw camp, to stay alive all he needed to know is the direction to the road. He knew what mile marker camp was near. As soon as the fog rolled in, should have aborted and returned to camp, get the pack the next day.

Whenever I am in the woods I keep in mind the "Safety Direction". That is the bearing to some kind of line- usually a road but sometimes a creek or trail that I know will take me to a road. That way if things go wrong, I know as long as I head the "Safety Direction" I will at least make it out. In this guys case, he could have noted East would hit the road even if his bearing was a little off then went that direction if he got socked in by fog.

Here is an example from the area we hunted this fall. Say I was in the green circle and my phone died and fog rolled in. If I have a map or even just a compass, I know my 'safety direction' is West to hit the road or South to hit the trail then West to hit the road. It not a bad idea to even write this down. I dont even need to triangulate my position or get an exact bearing, an approximation will still bring me to relative safety.


Onx Direction.JPG
 
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Mykolaivka887

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I once had this whole "fog, flat terrain, no landmarks" thing happen to me, back in 1970, down in GMU 15A.

When I came out to a slough, I thought; "This is weird, it's running the wrong way". I couldn't tell east from west, or Mars from Jupiter (figuratively).

But, kept my head and folliwed the slough downstream. About two hours later, I came upon my tent.

To say the least, I was very relieved.
 

MattB

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You guys discount the heavy fog, which I read came in the night before....he had no business leaving camp in those conditions, especially alone.

This guy was likely screwed in the pea soup fog. The reality is that he never even made it the mere 900 yards to his meat pack!
Theory? He left his camp, got disoriented (panicked) and headed five miles in the wrong direction, ultimately he succumbed to hypothermia.
Don't want to seem trite about such a sad ordeal, but he's probably been completely devoured by predators at this point.


+1...My trips up there always had jake brake noise from haul road truckers--noise that carries well out into the flats. If a guy is three miles+ from the road they are present in my experience.
I was south of there in late Aug., apparently massively less road traffic than in prior years due to the pipeline currently being inactive.
 

chinook907

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Yeah this is yet another weird missing person case up here.

I remember this missing musher case from the Tustumena 200 about 20 years ago. A friend was the race marshall and I helped him check the course just before the race started, and a couple days later helped look for the musher when he went missing. The missing musher got off the trail a bit and kindof just hunkered down for 6 days. https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=20000206&slug=4003336

And this one. The guy disappeared during a massive mountain race, Mt Marathon. Still missing. https://www.adn.com/outdoors-advent...-went-missing-running-mount-marathon-in-2012/

I wish the best for the family.
 
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Mykolaivka887

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Yeah this is yet another weird missing person case up here.

I remember this missing musher case from the Tustumena 200 about 20 years ago. A friend was the race marshall and I helped him check the course just before the race started, and a couple days later helped look for the musher when he went missing. The missing musher got off the trail a bit and kindof just hunkered down for 6 days. https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=20000206&slug=4003336

And this one. The guy disappeared during a massive mountain race, Mt Marathon. Still missing. https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=20000206&slug=4003336

I wish the best for the family.


Yeah, kind of like the Boggs/Begich mystery that brought Congressman Young to power, or worse yet, the C-124 that embedded in the ice and then laid there for 60 years before somebody happened to see it in a flyover.
 

eamyrick

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I was quail hunting the oil fields of New Mexico a few years ago and got absolutely turned around chasing a covey of blues. If there hadn’t been an inactive oil well to climb I would have been in an interesting spot in country with zero water. I am much more conscious now of my “safety direction” but sometimes lost is lost.
 

MuleyFever

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When you cannot see your mind will mess with you and make you completely doubt what you know. I have wandered around in the dark more than once trying to figure out how in the hell I wasnt where I thought I should be. Fog can put you in the dark just the same.

Last year I only had a half mile from a kill to the road and there was a trail I jumped on after about 100 yards to follow. I made one trip in the dark with no issues. Never even had to think about which way to go. On my way back for the last load an incredible thick fog rolled in. Heading back to the road in the fog I felt constantly disoriented. I knew which way to go but I kept doubting if I was on the trail, if I was going the right way, if I had gone to far in the wrong direction. It was a weird experience.
 

TxxAgg

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Yeah this is yet another weird missing person case up here.

I remember this missing musher case from the Tustumena 200 about 20 years ago. A friend was the race marshall and I helped him check the course just before the race started, and a couple days later helped look for the musher when he went missing. The missing musher got off the trail a bit and kindof just hunkered down for 6 days. https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=20000206&slug=4003336

And this one. The guy disappeared during a massive mountain race, Mt Marathon. Still missing. https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=20000206&slug=4003336

I wish the best for the family.
Those are the same two links. I'd like to read the article about the missing mountain racer if you have it.
 

manitou1

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Myself and a buddy launched his boat before daylight one extremely foggy morning. Our destination was the opposite shore. When we had arrived to shore we realized we had just landed on the same shore we left. We fished that lake two days a week, just aboit every week except Jan-Feb.
Yeah... fog can really mess your navigation up.
 

VinoVino

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Seattle
You guys discount the heavy fog, which I read came in the night before....he had no business leaving camp in those conditions, especially alone.

This guy was likely screwed in the pea soup fog. The reality is that he never even made it the mere 900 yards to his meat pack!
Theory? He left his camp, got disoriented (panicked) and headed five miles in the wrong direction, ultimately he succumbed to hypothermia.
Don't want to seem trite about such a sad ordeal, but he's probably been completely devoured by predators at this point.


+1...My trips up there always had jake brake noise from haul road truckers--noise that carries well out into the flats. If a guy is three miles+ from the road they are present in my experience.
My bro-in-law had a friend get lost less than a mile from the group on a cross country ski trip in Colorado during heavy fog. They eventually found his body after a few weeks. It can happen anywhere and isn’t always bears or nefarious. Be careful out there. Take care of your hunting partners. Be diligent and don’t wander off alone when weather can turn on you.

For reference:
 
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OXN939

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Plus a compass is only good if you know where your target is located and how far. Just not a practical expectation, even for savvy hunters. GPS location yes, especially in fog on the Slope.

My biggest AAR point from up there was to wear a GPS watch and always drop a pin on camp. These days, there is no reason not to have that capability. Even if you carry an Inreach as your primary, your watch is always on you- in this case, they guy would have been able to pull his waypoint up and walk in the direction the arrow was pointing.
 

Kevin Dill

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I have trailed wounded deer at night in familiar country. In the process of studying the animal's movements and often needing to search in semi-circles for sign, it's almost inevitable to get disoriented without any familiar visual clues. The bottom line is that without your eyes in the game you're a blind man wandering and hoping. It's that way at night...in fog...in blinding snow...etc. I once drove in snow/fog so thick I developed spatial disorientation (ask any pilot about that) and almost wrecked before I got stopped and regained my sense of direction. Your eyes are your #1 built-in nav aid and when anything obstructs them you're at risk.

Navigational aids must be used and practiced with in order to understand and trust them when they're needed urgently. You might be surprised to know how many people cannot functionally use a compass or handheld gps to find their way in unfamiliar country. A compass is useless if you don't have the ability to (mentally) understand where you are in relation to an objective like a road, river, hill, etc...and then use the compass to walk a line in that direction. Throw in some distress, confusion, fear, hypothermia and any mental task gets much harder to accomplish.

I don't know what happened in Mr Keel's case of course. Assuming his disappearance was not intentional, I'm certain mistakes were made. Usually it's a combination of small mistakes that gel to produce a tragedy. A couple of wrong assumptions and suddenly it's "uh oh....now what?" This is typically the moment where a life-or-death decision is unknowingly made.

A $40 compass, $200 gps or $300 beacon/communicator can be all the difference when the chips are down and life hangs in the balance. I always have 2 of these on my person when hunting or hiking in places/situations which have greater potential for getting lost or injured. I also know enough to trust them over my own faulty sense of direction if it comes down to a choice. All that said: The last time I needed a device to get me out of the lilies was in the woods...at night...500 yards behind my own home. A $20 Silva compass pointed the way north and out of the totally dark brush.
 

Fatcamp

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Last Fall in Wyoming my phone died as a storm rolled in when I was 3 miles from camp. I knew my safe direction and was able to get out but it was a pretty wild night. It got so bad that the line of wind towers indicating west was completely obscured. Thank goodness I had a compass.
 
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