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Missouri hunters can put food on their families' tables while enjoying the thrill of the hunt.

What they might not be aware of is that they can also solve criminal cases.

In 2009, Missouri Missing created a Hunter Awareness Program. The program encourages hunters to keep their eyes peeled for anything that looks unusual or suspicious.

Missouri Missing is a nonprofit organization that supports families who have missing loved ones through an outreach program and educates and provides public awareness of the impact of missing persons in Missouri.

Suspicious items could include personal items like a watch, eyeglasses, jewelry, shoe or a cell phone. It could be clothing that is covering human bones. It could be an abandoned car that might contain remains or give clues to what happened to a missing person.

Hunters can help by tagging the area and not disturbing it. Walk away from the area the same way you walked into it. Then call the authorities immediately.

The program has resulted in several successes. In 2010, a deer hunter found Kinga Gillabrand, of Maries County, for example. Also, Brandi Mathews, of Miller County, was found in 2009 and Carol Thompson was found in Caldwell County in 2013. Both were found by people walking their dogs.

That shows that hunters aren't the only ones who can help. Any outdoor enthusiasts can help to solve cases, including fishermen, boaters, hikers, bikers, float trip groups, canoeists and runners.

More than 1,000 open missing person cases exist in Missouri alone. If you're hunting or just going outdoors, keep your eyes open. Finding a missing person or clues to their whereabouts means so much to their families and loved ones.

News Tribune

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