Thursday, September 22, 2011

Alaska Air National Guard HH-60 Pavehawk and HC-130 King search for 2 hunters northeast of Fort Yukon.

Two hunters are missing and believed to be stranded in northeast Alaska after an unknown problem with the boat in which they were traveling, according to the Alaska Air National Guard, which searched for the men Thursday.

Four hunters were traveling in two boats when one of the boats was damaged, sunk or somehow became otherwise inoperable, said Guard spokesman Maj. Guy Hayes. The problem occurred Saturday on the Sheenjek River, said Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters.

The Sheenjek flows into the Porcupine River, a tributary of the Yukon River, about 15 miles northeast of Fort Yukon.

After noting their location with a GPS device -- about 80 miles northeast of Fort Yukon -- two of the men took the remaining boat to Fort Yukon while their hunting companions stayed behind, Hayes said.

The two men reached Fort Yukon and called home Wednesday, Peters said. Their family members contacted Alaska State Troopers later the same day while U.S. Fish and Wildlife personnel searched by air and water for the two hunters still in the field, Peters said. That search turned up no sign of the missing men, but troopers think they might be farther upriver than initial reports indicated, Peters said.

Troopers asked for help Thursday from the Guard's Rescue Coordination Center, Hayes said. The Guard sent an HH-60 Pavehawk helicopter from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks and an HC-130 King fixed-wing plane from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage to look for the missing men, Hayes said.

"Our guys went up there to specific coordinates where we thought they were going to be, and they weren't in that location," Hayes said. "The Guardsmen are doing a search of the area to see if we can locate them."

The search will continue by boat and by plane Friday, Hayes and Peters said. "We suspect the two hunters in the field are running out of supplies, which is why we are going up after them," she said.

Tina Boren -- the wife of Chris Boren, one of the two missing hunters -- said she heard they had minimal supplies. "They left my husband with a sleeping bag, a gun and a piece of meat on the side of the river," she said.

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