Patrick Chambers, 08-04-06

Hunter toting pistol, sleeping bag remains missing on island
CAPABLE WOODSMAN: Man left Edna Bay home on Thursday with minimal gear.

Anchorage Daily News

Published: August 9, 2006
Last Modified: August 9, 2006 at 03:45 AM

Alaska State Troopers, federal rescue teams and local volunteers continued searching Tuesday for a hunter missing since Thursday morning from his home in Edna Bay in Southeast Alaska.

Patrick Chambers, 54, left his cabin about 9 a.m. Thursday, troopers said. Neighbors have described him as a capable woodsman who frequently makes 36-hour hunting trips. But for Chambers to depart for so long with minimal gear and without telling anyone of his plans is unusual, said trooper Bob Claus from Klawock.

"He was carrying a pistol and a sleeping bag," Claus said. "He did hunt deer and bear with a pistol but we're assuming this time of year he was going for deer."

Chambers has made his home in Edna Bay for 15 years. The tiny town is on Kosciusko Island, just west of Prince of Wales Island, and has about 50 residents, hundreds of miles of coastline, 3,000-foot peaks and woods so thick "you cannot walk through," Claus said by phone Tuesday morning.

"It's some of the most difficult terrain in Alaska, and mostly it's very dense forest," Claus said. "It's thick, there are a lot of black bear, many hazards, and it's very difficult to see anything."

With a low cloud ceiling and rainy weather, the search so far has mostly seen volunteers, troopers and U.S. Forest Service employees driving trucks and ATVs along some 200 miles of old logging roads that thread through Kosciusko Island.

Despite a lot of effort, Claus said, that road-based search has produced no clues to Chambers' whereabouts.

"So we're going to have to change our methods," he said.

Stormy weather limited air searches to just five hours during the four-day search effort, mostly low flights along the shore, Claus said. But skies cleared Tuesday. The plan was to keep ground crews on task but also launch three planes belonging to volunteers from Thorn Bay, Edna Bay and Naukati Bay.

The Coast Guard remains on standby and has issued a bulletin so fishing vessels will keep an eye on Kosciusko beaches, Claus said.

There is no indication of foul play, or suicide or that Chambers intended to disappear, Claus said. But Claus said he could not speculate whether Chambers might be injured or intentionally stretched out his stay.

Edna Bay is about 90 miles northwest of Ketchikan.

Daily News reporter Katie Pesznecker can be reached at