HomeOutdoorsNewsMissing Tennessee Hunter’s Family Puts $15K Reward Toward Alaskan Search & Rescue Efforts

Missing Tennessee Hunter’s Family Puts $15K Reward Toward Alaskan Search & Rescue Efforts

by Brett Stayton
Search And Rescue Helicopter
Photo by Matt Ozbot/Getty Images

Follow up news to a sad story from this Fall about a Tennessee man who went missing while on a caribou hunt in Alaska. According to WKRN, the family of Steve Keel has withdrawn the $15,000 reward they initially offered for anyone who could help find him and bring him home. That money will now be steered toward search and rescue efforts. His wife, Liz Keel, made the initial announcement on social media. She said she felt like the money would be much better used to help cover expenses for the search groups still flying over Alaska.

The missing hunter would have celebrated his 62nd birthday in October. However, he was last seen at a campsite near Deadhorse, Alaska in August of last year. He was on a trip with a longtime friend. The two men landed in Alaska on August 20th and then drove almost 500 miles north to their hunting grounds. Both remained in constant contact with their families throughout the hunting trip. Steve left the campsite on August 28th to get supplies from a storage spot about a mile away. He was not seen or heard from again.

The Search For Missing Hunter Has Been Ongoing For 5 Months

Search efforts quickly got underway within the days immediately following his disappearance. A group of 4 men from Middle Tennessee with military and rescue experience made the trip to Alaska to try to track him down. One of those men was Luke Smith, and his wife Amanda was very proud that he did what he could to help. “If it had been him, if the shoe had been on the other foot, I would hope that there would be people like my husband and these other three men out there that would do everything they could to help me find them,” she said.

Steve Keel’s own 2 sons went to Alaska to help search too. He taught them how to hunt and fish and passed his knowledge of wilderness survival down to them.

Search crews scoured the area by land, air, and water. It’s an extremely remote area with rough terrain though, so the search was tough. They were unable to find any signs of him though. “He knows how to survive, it’s just a mystery,” his wife said around the time of his disappearance.

5 months later, there has been little good news to report or much progress made in search and rescue efforts. His wife is trying to stay optimistic while leaning on the power of prayer. “Please pray for these brave men for safety and success as they venture out in difficult conditions to search for Steve,” Liz Keel posted on social media. “Pray for their families who will be waiting for their speedy, safe return. I know God has a plan always.”