Family of missing hunter puzzled by disappearance from Nemadji State Forest

Saturday marks two weeks since a Minnesota deer hunter disappeared without a trace in the Nemadji State Forest south of Duluth.

His family hopes that with hunters out again for this final weekend of the season, someone may find something.

“As long as I can remember, since we were born, he’s been a hunter,” said Megan Decorsey, the daughter of missing hunter David “Lee” Peltier.

Peltier is a life-long outdoorsman and what happened to him in the thick woods of Nemadji State Forest is now a two-week-old mystery.

“We have no clues,” said Katie Nelson, one of Peltier’s other daughters. “We just have no idea what happened.”

His two daughters and daughter-in-law are among the family who rushed up north to join a search for Peltier. The search included the Pine and St. Louis County Sheriff’s Departments, the Northstar K-9 search team and the DNR.  

On foot, on machine and in the air, crews swept the area with no success.

“There are swamps and wetlands everywhere,” Nelson said. “The terrain is like nothing I’ve ever seen.”

They saw firsthand, between the trees and the bogs, it’s an easy place to get lost and a hard place to be found.

“And she was wearing neon yellow, I was wearing orange and we were 20 yards from each other not only can you not see them, you can’t hear,” Nelson added.

On the first morning of firearm deer season, Peltier and three others headed out on foot in the southeast corner of the park near Belden.

“When he was last seen, he was a couple hundred yards,” Decorsey said.

They spread out and when Peltier didn’t return to the cabin for lunch,  the search began.

“All the red lines are where people have walked,” said Decorsey of the search map so far.

So far there’s no sign of Peltier and no idea if he was injured or disoriented.

“Because you will be walking one direction, straight line you think, and the terrain turns ever so slightly and you’re completely going the wrong direction,” said Cassandra Peltier, Lee’s daughter-in-law.

“Yeah, you think you’re going north but all of a sudden you’re going west,” said Nelson.

They ask any hunter in that area to keep an eye out for any clue. Also, officials urge any hunter anywhere to consider bringing a GPS. In addition, the daughters are asking for the public to support the Jon Francis Foundation, a Stillwater nonprofit that will head up search efforts again soon.

“See if we can come up with a plan on where to search next, because we’ve just searched so much in the same area and we’ve come up with nothing,” Nelson said.