Hunter rescued from Nemadji Forest after missing for 4 days

A man was rescued from the Nemadji Forest area in Pine County Thursday morning, after he had been missing for four days. 

According to authorities, Robert Kniefel, 61, was hunting in the area before contacting Pine County police on the morning of Tuesday, September 19.

Kniefel's wife had reported him missing when he never returned from a 4-hour grouse-hunting trip Monday night.

After two days of searching, a rescue team found Kniefel on an island south of the Net Lake campground. He was airlifted off the island Thursday morning. 

During the search, authorities and Kniefel's friends and family covered hundreds of miles of ATV and hiking trails with no results. 

On Tuesday, Kniefel was able to send text messages to authorities, but quickly lost cell phone signal.

Using thermal imaging equipment during a nighttime search on Wednesday, rescuers located a person with a fire going, leading them to Kniefel.

Rescuers could not get to him until Thursday morning, due to the lack of light and swampy area around the island. 

A video by the Department of Public Safety taken during the rescue, shows rescue personnel using a rope and harness system, lifting him off the island without landing the helicopter.

Kniefel was then taken to a field near Nickerson, Minn. where he was checked by medical personnel. Since then, he has been reunited with his family. 

Luckily, Kniefel had food and water with him. He told police that he rationed his food, and knew that help was coming. 

"He was in very good spirits, and looked like he had been out in the woods for 4 days," said one member of the rescue team. "But I think the amount of relief overcame all of that."

The Nemadji Forest area is about 92,000 acres containing hundreds of miles of ATV and snowmobile trails.