UPDATE: Search efforts suspended for Vancouver hunter near Trout Lake

Joel Presler last had contact with his family on Nov. 11

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The Skamania County Sheriff’s Office is suspending search efforts for a Vancouver man who was elk hunting northwest of Trout Lake.

The search efforts for Joel Presler, 37, Saturday, Nov. 18, included the King County Sheriff’s Office air wing unit.

According to Skamania County Sheriff Dave Brown, observers in the helicopter reported good visibility in the search area, and they were unable to detect any tracks or other clues that might have been associated with Presler.

Presler received assistance from a passerby on Saturday, Nov. 11, or Sunday, Nov. 12. The passerby told the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office that Presler’s vehicle, a 2004 black Ford pickup, was in a ditch in the snow, and Presler needed help. The passerby pulled the vehicle out of the ditch off Forest Road 6035 and told deputies that Presler continued up the road. That is the last known contact with Presler.

The efforts to find him have included search and rescue volunteers, as well as snowmobiles and personnel from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Sheriff Brown said the snow depths at Presler’s truck are close to 36 inches, and the depths increase with elevation gain.

“We are aware the family and friends of Mr. Presler are planning ground search efforts in the area on Sunday,” Brown said. “We have spoken with them and encourage them or anyone who heads into the area in the next few days to practice caution in consideration of conditions in the area.”

Presler last had contact with his family on Nov. 11. He has been hunting off and on since the elk hunting season opened on Saturday, Nov. 4. He stayed at the Trout Lake Inn on Friday, Nov. 10, and checked out of the hotel the next day and headed to the Forlorn Lakes area, according to Brown.

“It is not uncommon for him to be out for an extended period of time, and the season closed yesterday, Brown said on Thursday, Nov. 16. “His wife became concerned because of the weather conditions, and she had not heard from him so she called our office on Tuesday evening.”

Presler is believed to be in good health, with no known medical issues. He is reportedly familiar with the area, having hunted around Forlorn Lakes from many years.

Brown asks that anyone who is in the search area and comes across any clues to call 911 or contact the Skamania County Sheriff’s Office at (509) 427-9490.