North Idaho

Missing hunter lost in forest found safe

CLEARWATER, Idaho - The Clearwater County Sheriff's Office received a call from the Kelly Forks Work Center of a missing hunter, possibly in the Osier Lookout area. 

Brian Wilcoxon, 32 of Lewiston, left camp at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday from the Cedar Campground on a white Suzuki ATV and said that he was headed to the Osier area for a moose hunt.

That night Wilcoxon did not return and his hunting partner John White was not worried as they had discussed if he did not return that night, he probably had an animal down and would spend the night with it.

By 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, Wilcoxon had not returned and White traveled to the Kelly Forks Work Center to make the call that his friend was missing.

A Sheriff's Deputy and Clearwater County Search and Rescue responded to the area. Clearwater County Sheriff's Search and Rescue Back Country Rescue Team responded by helicopter to search the area before dark.

The helicopter was able to search for a period of time before being forced out of the area due to weather. During this time an ATV was found.

At dark it was decided to fire 3 gunshots to see if there was a response. The shots were answered by 3 gunshots quite some distance from the ATV.

From several different locations gunshots were used to narrow the search.

At 7:00 p.m., Two Bear Air helicopter from Kalispell Montana equipped with night vision, Forward Looking Infra Red (FLIR) and a hoist, were contacted and asked to respond if the weather would clear.

When a clearing in the weather occurred, Two Bear responded. Before they arrived, one more shot was made and the gunshot response was pinpointed.

Two Bear arrived on location at around 8:45 p.m. and within minutes located 2 fires that Wilcoxon had started. Wilcoxon was also waving at the helicopter.

Two Bear Air then hoisted Wilcoxon into the helicopter and transported him to the Deception Saddle area for search teams to transport him back to his camp. Wilcoxon was in good health other than being cold. 

He said he got lost and could not locate his ATV. However, Wilcoxon was prepared and had some survival items in a pack with him, including a space blanket and fire starting material. Wilcoxon keeping his wits about him contributed to his survival. 

The Sheriff's Office wants to thank all subjects involved in this search and for the happy ending.