AK AK - Steve Keel, 61, missing from hunting trip, from TN - Aug 27, 2022

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MelInTN

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https://m.facebook.com/story.php?st...49WueK18vjSX7SK9k3CBfszHzl&id=100044302692250

'
***UPDATE: MAN FROM DOVER, TENNESSEE MISSING IN ALASKA.
Steve "Smiley" Keel is well-known in Stewart County.
He is an electrician from Dover ... married with three grown children.
Keel is a 61-year-old Marine veteran and avid outdoorsman.
He went to Alaska with a friend to hunt Caribou.
They were camping in a rough, remote area in northern Alaska.
The men shot two caribou and stored them a quarter mile away to keep bears away from the campsite.
Last Saturday morning, the friend told authorities that Keel left the campsite to go cut some meat from the caribou and he never returned.
The friend then reported him missing.
He apparently never made it to the caribou.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
It's a mystery.
Search and rescue efforts since have found no trace of Keel....' more at link.

I live in the community that Steve lives in and his wife and kids are frantic. He is a well loved man who enjoys hunting. I've been waiting for it to hit media. Prayers for the Keel family!!!
 

MelInTN

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"In some areas, there are mudflats that essentially act as quicksand or muskeg which resembles a plain covered with short grasses, but is soft and a human can get stuck and sink.

Those are possibilities, they say there is no sign of a bear attack and authorities have not ruled out the possibility of foul play... ."



Same reporter as above from his new station. It's just terrible. I've read of the animals in the area and the quick sand and the dangers of both. Praying for answers for this well loved family!!
 

MelInTN

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UPDATE: Investigators tell me when Keel left the campsite he was in his typical hiking outfit and carrying a Glock .45, a compass and his cellphone.
Of course, there is no signal out there.
I understand back at the camp they did have a satellite phone.
——
THE LATEST ON THE MAN FROM DOVER, TENNESSEE MISSING IN ALASKA.
Steve "Smiley" Keel is a 61-year-old Marine veteran and avid outdoorsman.
He went to Alaska with a friend to hunt Caribou.
They were camping in a rough, remote area in northern Alaska.
The men shot two caribou and stored them a quarter mile away to keep bears away from the campsite.
Last Saturday morning, the friend told authorities that Keel left the campsite to go cut some meat from the caribou and he never returned.
Investigators tell me the friend waited until the next day — nearly 24 hours later to report Keel missing.
I’m told he was hesitant to report it immediately thinking Keel might get mad if he did suddenly show up with a search underway.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
It's a mystery.
Keel’s sons Jake and Ben — pictured here — are now there in Alaska organizing a ground search...."

 

GraceG

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I spent a summer as a pilot up in Northern Alaska. Polar Bears are common in that area. I would think though that if he encountered a bear he would have got a shot off, that his friend would have heard if it was only a quarter mile away. Rough country - but sounds like he was highly experienced. Hoping for the best.
 

zecats

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No matter his trouble seems he could have fired off some shots from his gun as an alert?
Excellent point. A quarter mile to the caribou and sound would likely travel at least that far. Quicksand is not really quick and he could have alerted his friend. It's been 6 days now. Wonder what weather conditions are/were like.
 

MelInTN

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The latest update from Nick Beres, the journalist covering the case posted above, states that the friend fired a shot, hoping Steve would hear it, but there was no reply. The friend walked back to the van, slept in it, and went back to the campsite the next day, hoping Steve would have arrived. But he never did. Such a sad time for his family!
 

WingsOverTX

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UPDATE: Investigators tell me when Keel left the campsite he was in his typical hiking outfit and carrying a Glock .45, a compass and his cellphone.
Of course, there is no signal out there.
I understand back at the camp they did have a satellite phone.
——
THE LATEST ON THE MAN FROM DOVER, TENNESSEE MISSING IN ALASKA.
Steve "Smiley" Keel is a 61-year-old Marine veteran and avid outdoorsman.
He went to Alaska with a friend to hunt Caribou.
They were camping in a rough, remote area in northern Alaska.
The men shot two caribou and stored them a quarter mile away to keep bears away from the campsite.
Last Saturday morning, the friend told authorities that Keel left the campsite to go cut some meat from the caribou and he never returned.
Investigators tell me the friend waited until the next day — nearly 24 hours later to report Keel missing.
I’m told he was hesitant to report it immediately thinking Keel might get mad if he did suddenly show up with a search underway.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
It's a mystery.
Keel’s sons Jake and Ben — pictured here — are now there in Alaska organizing a ground search...."

RBBM
Was the caribou carcass a half mile away or further? I wonder why the meat wasn't dressed right away & gotten out of there. What back country hunting procedures were not followed here & why?

I hope he had some provisions with him when he left camp because time is not his friend in that remote & dangerous environment alone.

Are they doing aerial searches?
 

BayouBelle_LA

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If I’m understanding this, SK left in the morning to cut meat off of a caribou that was stored a quarter mile away and his friend didn’t report him missing until the next day? I wonder what else may have been going on that the friend gave him an entire day to get back? Is a mental health crisis a possibility?

He had a compass with him and combined with being a Marine and avid outdoorsmen, I don’t think he got lost. A bear attack is possible and he didn’t get a shot off but I would think there would be signs of that, like blood evidence. IMO
 

charminglane

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The latest update from Nick Beres, the journalist covering the case posted above, states that the friend fired a shot, hoping Steve would hear it, but there was no reply. The friend walked back to the van, slept in it, and went back to the campsite the next day, hoping Steve would have arrived. But he never did. Such a sad time for his family!
Here I go wondering about one shot.
 

imstilla.grandma

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“Multiple rotor wing and fixed wing air assets were immediately deployed and have conducted multiple days of aerial search operations,” NSB wrote.

Civil Air Patrol, Alaska State Troopers, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, and District 17 Command Center United States Coast Guard were asked to assist in the search.

The Coast Guard, Civil Air Patrol, and a volunteer helicopter from Hilcorp have continued an aerial search.

They have continued the aerial search for at least 35 hours.

“Once air assets are available, evaluation of continued aerial search operations will be made,” NSB wrote.

North Slope Borough Search and Rescue have continued an ongoing search for Steve Keel, from Tennessee, who went missing Aug. 27, outside of Deadhorse.
1662338802094.jpeg
https://twitter.com/AKNewsNow/status/1566257995629182976

 

RickshawFan

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If I’m understanding this, SK left in the morning to cut meat off of a caribou that was stored a quarter mile away and his friend didn’t report him missing until the next day? I wonder what else may have been going on that the friend gave him an entire day to get back? Is a mental health crisis a possibility?

He had a compass with him and combined with being a Marine and avid outdoorsmen, I don’t think he got lost. A bear attack is possible and he didn’t get a shot off but I would think there would be signs of that, like blood evidence. IMO
Wilderness experience in AK is in a totally different dimension than outdoor experience in TN. I wonder if SK had prior experience in the AK wilderness. Just sayin'.

And did he carry his 10 essentials? I didn't see them mentioned, and for sure you'd need the spare warm clothes, shelter, fire making, water, etc. if you tripped in that area and messed up a leg. A compass is a start, but you'd need a paper map for navigating. If SK had these, he'd be a lot more likely to have survived.

I wonder if they found the caribou carcass? Had animals been at it?

Is the terrain here open? I can see getting very disoriented, if so. And if you took to safety to avoid an animal encounter, you could easily lose track of where you were supposed to be.

If they'd just killed a caribou, their clothing would have smelled like lone caribou...... And if they're carrying antlers around to LOOK like caribou, I can see they would have become very tempting targets, no matter the actual carcass is 1/4 mile away (which would be too close for comfort, as is).

We haven't heard anything about the local weather. I would assume freezing-ish at night.

The descriptions of terrain by local wilderness guides in the OP are very alarming.
 
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MelInTN

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There's a small group of guys from our super small community (2 stop lights, one high school in the entire county) that are heading up to Alaska as we speak. The support from locals here in TN is astounding. We're hoping that after the holiday weekend, more searches will be happening. His wife is a warrior and her faith is unwavering.
 

WingsOverTX

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Wilderness experience in AK is in a totally different dimension than outdoor experience in TN. I wonder if SK had prior experience in the AK wilderness. Just sayin'.

And did he carry his 10 essentials? I didn't see them mentioned, and for sure you'd need the spare warm clothes, shelter, fire making, water, etc. if you tripped in that area and messed up a leg. A compass is a start, but you'd need a paper map for navigating. If SK had these, he'd be a lot more likely to have survived.

I wonder if they found the caribou carcass? Had animals been at it?

Is the terrain here open? I can see getting very disoriented, if so. And if you took to safety to avoid an animal encounter, you could easily lose track of where you were supposed to be.

If they'd just killed a caribou, their clothing would have smelled like lone caribou...... And if they're carrying antlers around to LOOK like caribou, I can see they would have become very tempting targets, no matter the actual carcass is 1/4 mile away (which would be too close for comfort, as is).

We haven't heard anything about the local weather. I would assume freezing-ish at night.

The descriptions of terrain by local wilderness guides in the OP are very alarming.
Excellent analysis, covering several angles well. I would like to see answers to your questions, esp. what he left camp with & his knowledge of the area.

Sounds like the aerial searches could yield clues. With the recent Mary Dawn Wilson case I was surprised to learn that SAR need LE permission to conduct searches in AK.

Maybe because searchers might require other SAR to come looking for them, depending on the environment someone goes missing in & complications possibly encountered? Whatever the reason, it's definitely not the same response as in the Lower 48, IMO.

That is not a criticism but something hunters & others who go off-grid in AK need to keep in mind. Risk evaluation is different because risk calculation is so complicated in the far north.
JMO
 
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MelInTN

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"
***UPDATE: HERE IS AN UPDATE ON THE EFFORT TO LOCATE TENNESSEE RESIDENT STEVE KEEL IN NORTHERN ALASKA.
— THE FIRST TIME I’ve heard from search and rescue in Alaska.
I know that many of you here are concerned about resources and the ground search effort.
To be clear they are actively involved looking.
I’ve been contacted by North Slope Borough Search and Rescue in Utqiagvik, Alaska.
That is the area where Keel disappeared.
The map shows their search grid.
They’ve covered a lot if ground mostky by air.
Search and Rescue reports:
——
“Search and Rescue has been conducting ongoing search operations since Sunday, August 28 when a misding hunter was reported in the vscinity of Pump Station 2 and Happy Valley along the Dalton Highway.
Multiple rotor wing and fixed wing air assets were immediately deployed and have conducted multiple days of aerial search operations.
GROUND CREWS were deployed from air assets to conduct intensive ground searches and investigations.
Additional assistance was requested for ground and air assets from District 17 Command Center United States Coast Guard, the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, the Alaska State Troopers and Civil Air Patrol.
Continued aerial search operations were conducted by the United States Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol and a volunteer helicopter from HilCoep.
At least thirty-five hours of aerial searching involving over twenty air crew members and aviation support staff have been conducted.
North Slope Borough rotor wing assets have been exhausted and undergoing maintenance.
All search operations have been unsuccessful in locating the missing hunter.
Once air assets are available, evaluation of continued aerial search operations will be made.
North Slope Borough Mayor Harry K. Brower JE. Sends his prayers and hopes for the safe return of the missing hunter to his family.”
——
BEYOND THAT SEARCH AND RESCUE TELLS ME:
— They have spent a great deal of hours, money, and allotted flight time for our air assets looking for this out of state resident.
— Visibility is terrible in the Arctic this time of year....." More at link

 

WingsOverTX

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BEYOND THAT SEARCH AND RESCUE TELLS ME:
— They have spent a great deal of hours, money, and allotted flight time for our air assets looking for this out of state resident.
Visibility is terrible in the Arctic this time of year....." More at link

RSBBM
That fact alone is an indication that SK is unlikely to be found alive if he did not have a good enough survival pack with him & knowledge of igloo/snow cave building and other Arctic survival skills.

Maybe some indigenous people are helping search. That's his best chance of being found, IMO. Knowing your enemy (the harsh environment) is key here.
 
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WingsOverTX

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There's a small group of guys from our super small community (2 stop lights, one high school in the entire county) that are heading up to Alaska as we speak. The support from locals here in TN is astounding. We're hoping that after the holiday weekend, more searches will be happening. His wife is a warrior and her faith is unwavering.
I hope they will not be turned away from helping. While their hearts and intentions are good, Alaska is nothing like Tennessee & LE may refuse to let them help for their own safety.

Very glad to hear his family is strong & full of faith!
 

WingsOverTX

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Over the course of the year, the temperature typically varies from -22°F to 56°F and is rarely below -41°F or above 69°F.
 

LauraAnne

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I hope they will not be turned away from helping. While their hearts and intentions are good, Alaska is nothing like Tennessee & LE may refuse to let them help for their own safety.

Very glad to hear his family is strong & full of faith!
There's a hotel, an airport and a hunting camp in the vicinity - I can't imagine Alaska telling people from Tennessee they can't come there.

When you look at the area on google streetview, it's hard to imagine anything besides a sinkhole happened to him. There's not a tree or shrub or tuft of grass, and it's flat. To be unable to find him by helicopter doesn't leave many options.
 
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