Lost hunter returns after night in woods

Posted: Thursday, September 20, 2001

A Kenai man gave a scare to family and friends Tuesday night when he disappeared while hunting, but he eventually found his way back to them.

David W. Blackley went out moose hunting with a friend near the end of Marathon Road north of Kenai. He and fellow hunter Michael Hicks went separate ways with the intention of meeting back at their truck after a short time.

"We started out just before dark near the gate at the end of Marathon," David Blackley said. "I overshot the end of the road and kept zig-zagging back through the woods."

Blackley said it wasn't long before he could hear Hicks firing shots, "so I could find Him.

"But then he stopped," Blackley said. "I guess he ran out of bullets."

Debbie Blackley, David's wife, said the two were only supposed to be gone "a few hours." She said she got a call around 10:30 p.m. Tuesday saying her husband was lost. She then went with Hicks' sister to the site where Blackley was last seen to lend support to the search.

"We waited with warm cocoa in case he came out," she said.

Alaska State Troopers also were called to the scene to help with the search.

Trooper Vic Aye said he and other troopers tried to make noise to help Blackley find his way back to their area.

"We hung around shouting, honking horns and sounding the sirens," Aye said.

But Blackley didn't show up.

Wednesday morning at about 9 a.m., a search party was assembled consisting of Central Emergency Services volunteers and a tracking dog from the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

Meanwhile, Blackley wandered around the woods. He said he must have hiked about 10 miles during the night before finding a campsite around 1 a.m. He said he considered himself fortunate to have stumbled across a site still erected so near to the close of the season today.

"It was a miracle," Blackley said. "It was probably the only camp still set up."

The camp had a four-wheeler parked in it, too.

"I borrowed the four-wheeler and rode out," Blackley said.

At 11:46 a.m. Wednesday morning, Aye said, the lost hunter returned to the site he left the previous evening.

Blackley said he emerged to find about 24 people looking for him. After reuniting with family and friends, he said he found the owners of the four-wheeler and returned it.

Blackley said he was grateful that so many people were concerned about him.

"There's nothing I can say that can express how touched I was that everybody came out."

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