Search for missing hunter continues today | SteamboatToday.com

Search for missing hunter continues today

A helicopter flies around Meaden Peak on Thursday while searching for missing hunter Richard "Rick" Harkins.

— Family members of Richard "Rick" Harkins on Thursday remained very concerned after the second day of searching for the missing Minnesota bow hunter yielded few results.

"I think by now he would have got out on a trail," said Harkins' sister, Kristin Raver. "He's very organized and prepared."

Harkins had been camping and hunting with four other people in the Routt National Forest west of Steamboat Lake near Sand Mountain and Meaden Peak. He went hunting on his own at 7:30 a.m. Monday morning and never returned to camp. His hunting partners reported him missing Tuesday night, and extensive search efforts began Wednesday morning with helicopters in the air and Routt County Search and Rescue members on the ground.

On Thursday, two search dogs from Grand County were brought in to help.

"They had a pretty strong scent indication, which is consistent with his direction of travel, which is southwest of Sand Mountain," Routt County Undersheriff Ray Birch said Thursday night.

More specifically, Harkins' scent was found along Armstrong Creek headed toward California Park.

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Birch said on Friday eight or nine people will be on horseback going up the Armstrong Creek area from California Park north of Hayden.

"We'll have people on foot, and we'll have people on horseback," Birch said.

Searchers from the air during the day and night have been using thermal imaging to try and locate Harkins' body heat. At least three helicopters could be seen in the area Thursday from Forest Service Road 42 doing loops around the Meaden Peak area.

Routt County Emergency Management Director Bob Struble flew for two hours in a plane operated by the state of Colorado used for spotting heat at wildfires. The plane's technology can also be used to scan for body heat.

Search planes and helicopters were also provided by the Zephyr Helicopter Company and Classic Air Medical, based out of Steamboat Springs, the U.S. Air Force, based out of Cheyenne, Wyoming and the Eagle County Civil Air Patrol.

Birch said when Harkins left Monday morning, he had a small tent, a pack, food and water.

Raver said her brother grew up in the woods, was always prepared and had good survival skills. She said he was known to carry a flair gun with him while hunting.

Raver said Harkins had been hunting in the same area a couple years ago.

Harkins is a sales representative for Castle, which makes snowmobile and motorcycle clothes and accessories.

Raver said Harkins is currently living in Duluth, Minnesota. He is not married and does not have any children.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland