Harry Burleigh’s wife, Stacy, reported him missing on May 7 after he didn’t return home from fishing in Oregon’s Umpqua National Forest the day prior, according to KOIN News. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office found Burleigh’s vehicle at the Twin Lakes trailhead on May 8 and began looking for him.
Search and rescue crews from nine counties across Oregon and Northern California scoured the dense landscape for eight days before finally finding sign of the lost 69-year-old man: a makeshift shelter containing his tackle box. But Burleigh himself was nowhere to be found.
Emergency personnel continued combing the Calf Creek area for another full week with no luck. On the next Sunday, May 23, the Jackson County Search and Rescue team found another shelter southwest of the first.
The searchers began shouting for Burleigh and he called back—still alive after two and a half weeks alone in the woods.
He was walking and in stable condition, but the search party brought in a helicopter regardless, which then transported him to a nearby hospital for evaluation.
“This was the outcome we all have been looking for in this case. It is because of our determined search and rescue teams and the partnerships we have with other SAR teams from around the state, that Mr. Burleigh has been re-united with his family this evening,” said Sgt. Brad O’Dell from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “The sheriff’s office wants to thank everyone who was involved in this mission.”
Of those involved in the rescue mission was a notable character and someone with unique knowledge of the wilderness survival mindset: Les Stroud, the host and producer of the popular, self-filmed television show “Survivorman.”
“I was part of a small team of 5 with the fantastic JCSAR yesterday and after a grueling day of remote mountainous traversing and searching we came upon Harry!! After 17 days lost in forest, missing Oregon fisherman found safe,” Stroud tweeted Monday to his following of 90,000.
MeatEater is glad to know that one of our own survived this grueling ordeal. If you’d like to improve your own knowledge and skills in case you were to find yourself in a similar situation, you should read our comprehensive book, “The MeatEater Guide to Wilderness Skills and Survival.”
Above all, we want to extend our praise and admiration of the numerous search and rescue crews and emergency responders who worked so tirelessly to bring this man home alive.
Feature image via Douglas Co. Sheriff's Office.