LITTLE FALLS, Minn. - Investigators have recovered a missing piece of evidence that could prove key to solving the 2016 murder of a deer hunter near Little Falls.

It has been nearly a year since the body of Terry Brisk was found on a remote piece of property he owned in Morrison County. He had been deer hunting by himself, and Brisk's death was originally thought to be an accident. That is, until evidence turned up to indicate it was murder.

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Physical evidence was recovered from the scene, but one thing that was conspicuously missing was Brisk's 30-30 lever action Winchester rifle. Locating it, Sheriff Shawn Larsen said, would be like finding a needle in a haystack.

On Friday he announced good news for those who care about Terry Brisk. "We found that needle," Larsen said.

While he wouldn't go into details as the investigation is still very active, Larsen told reporters his investigators found the rifle intact and brought it to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) Laboratory for testing. While forensic specialists are still looking at the gun, Sheriff Larsen said his investigators believe Brisk's gun is the weapon used to kill him.

"This has been a slow, methodical process and investigators continue to actively pursue every lead that is generated," Larsen said, knowing Brisk's family and friends are anxious to find out who is responsible for his death. "We know the community wants answers about what happened. We need to wait to provide more specific information about what we've learned so far so that we may protect the integrity of the investigation and bring Terry's killer to justice."

Authorities have been mostly quiet about the progress being made to find Brisk's killer in the months since he was found dead in the woods. In April they revealed the discovery of new evidence in the case... then nothing .

"Somebody knows something and I just wish they’d come forward and help us and maybe help themselves too because they carry a burden," said Terry's mother Babe Brisk.

A $30,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible remains uncollected.