One of 2013’s most amazing survival stories is the true-life tale of Adrian Knopps, a 51-year-old electrician from Michigan who escaped a seven-day ordeal in the Alaskan wilderness this September.
Knopps and his hunting partner Garrett Hagen left civilization on Sept. 14, traveling by boat to an island 35 miles from Ketchikan, Alaska, near the Misty Fjords National Monument. On the third day Hagen successfully shot an 800-pound grizzly bear. Soon after, though, their luck took a nasty turn south: The pair became separated, and Knopps was stranded on the island without shelter or any way to call for help. Hagen, a 24-year-old fisherman and Alaska native, would never make it home.
After they skinned, quartered, and loaded the bear meat onto their boat, the two decided the burden was as much as the skiff could handle. Knopps stayed behind as Hagen ferried their catch to the Abundance, his 50-foot boat anchored a half mile away. Hagen’s body was discovered 11 days later.
Meanwhile, Knopps realized something was very wrong. It was to be his first of seven days spent alone among the area’s wolves, bears and constant rain including a storm with 70-mph winds.
“Every time things got worse I thought ‘what else could happen?’” he told The Detroit News in a recent interview. “But there was more, always more.”
The storm rolled in on the fifth day—and raged on into the next. Knopps couldn’t sleep and had no phone and no food, other than the four granola bars he had packed on a whim. For water he searched for fresh rain trickling down from the hills, since the nearby river was saltwater. His strength was dwindling.
Even so, Knopps never panicked. He never completely lost faith. And although he eventually scrawled something like a farewell note on his rifle, his perseverance carried him into the seventh day when, finally, a helicopter flew nearby. Within hours the Coast Guard gave the good news to Knopps’ wife, Esther. The long-lost hunter arrived at a nearby hospital suffering from severe hypothermia, along with hallucinations and swollen joints and feet.
Today Knopps considers the ordeal a freak accident. Mishaps can and do claim lives, even among the most cautious sportsmen. Experienced hunters simply keep these stories in mind, however, without letting the worry take control.
Knopps not only survived; he also maintained his passion for the outdoors. In November—just two months after his rescue—he ventured out again for his family’s annual hunting trip in Wisconsin and bagged five deer.
“I love hunting. I love the woods,” he said. “I can’t just stop doing the things I really like in life.”
Before you go on your next outdoor adventure, be sure to check out these survival tips. They might just save your life!
<h2>HOW TO BUILD AN EMERGENCY SHELTER</h2>Bough structures that reflect a fire’s warmth, serve as windbreaks and provide overhead shelter are important emergency shelters. They can be erected without tools in an hour in an area with downed timber—less if you find a makeshift ridge pole such as a leaning tree to support the boughs. Step One: Wedge a ridge pole (a horizontal cross piece) into the lower forks of two closely growing trees (one end can rest on the ground if necessary), or support the ends of the ridge pole with tripods of upright poles lashed together near the top. Step Two: Tilt branches or poles against the ridge pole to make a frame. To strengthen this, interlace limber boughs through the poles at right angles. Step Three: Thatch the lean-to with slabs of bark and/or leafy or pine-needle branches, weaving them into the framework. Chink with sod, moss or snow to further insulate. Photo by Keith Sutton
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