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Body of missing hunter found

The body of a grouse hunter missing since October in remote Beltrami County was found Friday morning by searchers. The body is believed to be that of Kory John Kelly, 39, of Crookston who was last seen Oct. 16 while grouse hunting northwest of Fo...

The body of a grouse hunter missing since October in remote Beltrami County was found Friday morning by searchers.

The body is believed to be that of Kory John Kelly, 39, of Crookston who was last seen Oct. 16 while grouse hunting northwest of Fourtown, Beltrami County Sheriff Phil Hodapp said Friday evening in a statement.

The body was found at 10:20 a.m. in the Beltrami Island State Forest, within the Red Lake Wildlife Management Area, in an area about 1.5 miles north of the Rapid River Walking Trail Bridge, off of the Rapid River Road, Hodapp said.

The body was taken by a Baudette funeral home to the Ramsey County medical examiner for an autopsy "to positively identify the remains and determine the cause and manner of death," Hodapp said.

No details were given about how the body was discovered, or in what condition it was.

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According to previous reports, Kelly was hunting with a friend in the Red Lake Wildlife Management Area north of Fourtown, and at about 5 p.m. on Oct. 16, he left for the woods to go grouse hunting, accompanied by his friend's yellow Lab, Sammy, and had not been seen since.

A massive search continued for more than two weeks until it was suspended with a 2-inch snowfall. Meanwhile, the dog was found Oct. 26 by a passerby about 14 miles north of Fourtown. The dog, described as "skinny and starving," was found about 6 miles from the hunting camp where Kelly and his friend were quartered.

Two days later, searchers found a cigarette lighter and a pack of cigarettes believed to belong to Kelly. Also, on Oct. 29, searchers found a pair of Kelly's coveralls, a shirt, a pair of socks and some Carmex lip balm.

A bloodhound tracking dog was brought in, reports said, which led searchers considerably past where the clothing was found. The 2-inch snowfall caused authorities to suspend a ground search Oct. 31, but pledged periodic air searches.

"Massive searches involving 62 agencies and 6,500 hours into late fall and early winter did fail to locate Mr. Kelly," Hodapp said in his statement. "Additional searches by family, volunteers and law enforcement throughout the winter were unsuccessful."

A host of agencies were involved in the search Friday, he said, with several state agencies and Beltrami, Roseau and Lake of the Woods counties, and city of Roseau and Grand Forks, N.D., officials. The effort included air support from the Minnesota State Patrol and state Department of Natural Resources and the Dakota Territory Search Dogs.

Kelly's brother, Brian Kelly, also assisted in Friday's search, Hodapp said.

"Pre-search spring work completed by the Lake of the Woods County Highway Department assisted the contingent of law enforcement personnel who were on scene (Friday)," Hodapp said.

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Also in the statement, Hodapp said funeral arrangements are pending with the Kelly family which, along with authorities from Lake of the Woods and Beltrami sheriff's offices and Red Lake Wildlife Management office, "wishes to acknowledge and thank the many hours of assistance provided by both professional and volunteer personnel in the search and recovery effort."

Y bswenson@bemidjipioneer.com

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