Search continues four months after young hunters disappeared in Mississippi River

Published 9:31 pm Sunday, March 28, 2021

Four months after they were reported missing, authorities are still searching the Mississippi River in the hopes of finding duck hunters Zeb Hughes and Gunner Palmer.

Hughes, 21, from Wesson, and Gunner Palmer, 16, of Brookhaven, were reported missing Dec. 3 after launching their boat on the Mississippi River at LeTourneau Landing to search for a hunting site.

Their reported disappearance launched a massive search for the pair that at one point include state, county and Madison, Parish, La., authorities, and went as south as Natchez. Some of their personal items were found soon after the search began — including their truck and an overturned boat — but no sign of them has been seen since.

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“We have no news since we found their property soon after they went missing,” Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said.

Pace said he met recently with the families for both hunters in Hazlehurst to brief them on the search and let them know what is being done to find the young men.

Early in the search authorities were assisted by aircraft and drones, as well as land searches on the islands and banks of the river. The U.S. Coast Guard issued a notice to mariners asking commercial vessels on the Mississippi River to watch for the pair. Pace said deputies are still searching the river, but operations have been scaled back.

“We’re only going out a couple of days a week, sometimes more if we can,” Pace said.

Pace said high water has made the search difficult. The Mississippi on Saturday was at 43.43 feet and forecast to reach 44.5 feet April 1. Flood stage at Vicksburg is 43 feet.

“The high water has complicated things,” he said. “There’s a lot of driftwood and debris in the water with the river as high as it is. It’s very dangerous.”