When a serious hunter ventures into the woods during hunting season, they have one thing on their mind: get their target in the crosshairs and take the perfect shot. Returning home with a heap of wild game is always the goal, but sometimes an unexpected turn of events changes plans.
When Ryle Gordon and his stepfather headed into the Idaho woods for a hunting trip, they assumed it would be like any other trip. However, shortly into their journey, they came across an eerie sign that re-wrote the entire purpose of their excursion…
Ryle Gordon and his stepfather Chris Trumbich loved to hunt. As a young boy, Ryle loved talking to Chris about hunting and always admired the massive sets of antlers adorning their home’s walls.
Chris loved hunting so much that he had a second home, a cabin out in the woods of Hayden, Idaho. Every hunting season, he and Ryle would take a trip out to the cabin for a few days and see what kind of game they could bring back home.
Early one weekend morning in November 2018, Chris woke Ryle up to get a jump start to the cabin. They were going to spend the day tracking deer, and hopefully, Ryle would take down his very first buck. However, when they arrived at the trail, they were greeted with a startling sight.
There were dozens of people dressed in bright orange vests and several trucks with the words “search and rescue” written on the side. Something was happening in the Hayden forest.
Rescuers told Chris a 19-year-old girl named Katherine Ogle was missing, and she was thought to be somewhere in the wooded area. The problem was that Katherine had the cognitive development of a 10-year-old, so it was imperative she was found soon.
As he was just 15 himself, Ryle was shaken by this news. He couldn’t imagine trying to survive alone in the thick forest on his own. Even though he basically grew up in the wilderness, he was well aware of the dangers it posed if you were caught off guard.
Chris and Ryle headed into the woods after speaking with the rescuer. Even though they were there to hunt, they promised to keep an eye out for clues about Katherine.
The duo didn’t need to go far into the woods before they spotted something that made them stop in their tracks. It wasn’t a massive deer, buck, or bear — or any animal, for that matter.
Scrawled into the dirt in front of them was the word “HELP.” Ryle saw it first and yelled out to Chris. The two men stared down at the letters trying to determine what it could mean. To be honest, it shook them up a bit.
Having decades of hunting experience, Chris’s first instinct was that the message was left by hunters who needed help hauling in a massive animal they killed. It wasn’t unusual for game to be so large it took a team of men to transport it out of the woods.
However, Ryle thought of a totally different theory: maybe, he supposed, it was written by Katherine? After explaining the thought to his stepfather, Chris’s face grew concerned. Ryle was probably correct.
The message could have been written by Katherine as soon as she realized she was lost — maybe she had the wherewithal to leave some kind of clue for rescuers? Chris and Ryle immediately returned to the search party and told them what they found.
A few members of the party radioed to their partners telling them about the message. Almost immediately, a helicopter took off scanning the area in hopes to locate the missing teen, but night soon fell, and the chopper was called off.
But Ryle and Chris had a gut feeling to investigate one more area of the woods. It was an area near their cabin, and the rescue team hadn’t explored it yet. The two men led the way through the night using flashlights.
At their cabin, they slowly opened the front door, hoping they’d see Katherine somewhere inside. Unfortunately, the cabin was empty — although it did look like someone could have been rummaging through their things.
Chris, Ryle, and the rescue team began scouring the nearby area, calling out to Katherine. However, they realized they couldn’t hear over the sounds of their engines. They killed the noise, called out once more, and listened…
Suddenly, from not too far off in the darkness, a faint voice called out, “Hello?” Stunned, they followed the sounds until they finally reached a sleeping bag nestled between trees.
In the sleeping bag was Katherine; they had found her at last! Katherine was clearly overwhelmed by the sudden appearance of so many people, but at the same time incredibly grateful. She was safe.
Although she seemed physically okay, professionals brought Katherine to the Kootenai Health Center for a full check-up. Naturally, she was shaken up, but considering what she had been through, she fared pretty well physically.
Ryle and Chris’s day of hunting was completely changed by the message they found in the dirt. Although many of the rescuers and local news hailed them as heroes, the duo just chalked it up to being in the right place at the right time.
Check out the video below for another glimpse at the rescue effort. Not only was Katherine alone in the thick woods, but everything about the situation was made even more frightening by the fact her mental capabilities were also impaired.
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