“What’s the freakiest thing you ever saw in the woods? Tell us in the comments!”
About a month ago, we ran an article that collected some of the scariest maybe-true stories of things hunters, hikers, and backpackers had seen in the woods. I innocently asked what was the creepiest thing you, our GGD readers, had ever seen in the woods…and invited you to tell us in the comments. And boy oh boy, did you ever! Four weeks and one emergency prescription of tranquilizers sufficient to drop a Bigfoot later, I’m finally ready to pull my thumb out of my mouth and read them again. They start off at the “it’s a funny story…now” end of the spectrum and slowly get darker until I’m sleeping with all my lights on. Enjoy…
Let’s get this party started with a little memento mori courtesy of reader Eli J. Makings…and beware the jubjub bird.
Being only 14 and unable to drive myself to my archery deer hunting spot, I convinced my mom (still in her night clothes) to drop me off at an abandoned farmstead along a creek in Central KS well before sunlight. I had packed some food and water with plans of her picking me up about noon. As I approached the tree line after my ride pulled out of sight, something caught my eye in the adjacent field. Having only a small penlight, I was unable to fully see the dark, low mass slowly making its way towards me. Daybreak was at least an hour away and the windy night was without stars or moonlight. This wasn’t a cow, deer or dog. Too big for anything I could fathom living out here, it moved with jerky undulations, stopping randomly with no regard to my increasingly stern warnings.
I nocked an arrow and tried to flank it, heading to a known abandoned car left creek side for shelter. Phones, then, hung on your wall and I was terrifyingly alone. I reached the car and was able to duck inside as my cause of retreat climbed over the side of a pit silo some 40 yards away and out of sight. I locked the car doors. As light slowly took over the darkness, I felt like I was again the apex predator out here and wanted to know what had come my way. I left the safety of the car, and bow in hand, headed first to where I knew this abomination had tread looking for tracks. Nothing. Abandoning all thoughts of deer hunting, I started whistling and yelling as I inched towards the pit silo. Knowing the pit was full of tumbleweeds didn’t ease my worry as it could be hiding in the bottom, ready to ambush. But, I thought, it never seemed interested in me before, so it would likely run off again.
As I crested the edge of the pit- there it was. Completely unaware of my presence, the mass of 20+ black balloons danced lightly in the breeze. “Over the Hill” emblazoned on some seemed to taunt me as I slashed through them with my arrow-sword. “One two, one two and through and through the vorpal blade went snicker-snack- thoughts of slaying the Jabberwock raced through my head. I’m pretty sure whoever let these formerly floating party decorations go didn’t wish this as they blew out their birthday candles. Whenever I see balloons go up now, I laugh a little to myself.
2. Heavy Footsteps in the Dark
Reader James D. checked in with a story that might have a plausible explanation…but that wouldn’t have made it any less freaky at the time.
Back in the late 80s, a friend and I went scouting for chukar right before the season started. We drove up a canyon in northern Utah somewhere near Smithfield. The canyon is on the east side of Cache Valley, a small river runs along the road, trees line the bottom, and up the south side of the valley, but the north side is mostly sparse scrub brush.
We picked a likely spot (as likely as any other), and started climbing up the north side of the canyon on foot. After several hours of seeing almost nothing,even though we were 3/4 of the way up to the ridge, we decided we’d better turn back.
Well… we started too late. We were about to the halfway point when the sun dropped behind the mountains to the west side of Cache Valley, and it got dark in a hurry… really dark. There was a cloud cover so there were no stars, no moon, and you could not see your own hand in front of your face, let alone see each other or our surroundings. We just kept walking, feeling like we were stepping off into nothing, occasionally running into some scrub brush or a larger step than we planned. We knew as long as we kept going down we’d eventually come to the road, and could follow that west to the truck.
There is a lot of loose rock, sand, etc… on those mountains, and when you take a step, it runs downhill a little bit, so we were making quite a bit of noise to be honest. Then I heard it… something above us to the west. It sounded like some rocks were dislodged, but it was over 50 yards away by my guess at the time. I paused briefly to listen. Bear? Mountain Lion? Coyote? Bird scared by something? I couldn’t hear anything so I continued on without saying anything. About 10 minutes later, I heard it again… only a little closer. Shhhhh… did you hear that? My friend hadn’t, and we couldn’t hear anything after standing still. If there was something, it had stopped when we did.
Oh brilliant, here we are, a couple for former Boyscouts (him an Eagle) walking around the side of a mountain in pitch black conditions, with no gun, no flashlight, nobody knew where we were, and now something might be stalking us. Pure genius.
I joked “maybe it’s bigfoot” to which we both laughed, and continued on. I kept turning my head to try to catch any sound from that direction, but I’d only hear little noises that could be anything.
On the lower part of the mountains, there is a field of deep loose shale, or something similar. When you step on it it makes a LOT more noise! About 10-15 yards into the shale, we heard what could best be described as a single, LOUD footstep into the shale above and to our west. It was about 30 yards away at the same angle of the other sounds I had heard were from, and it made a lot of material slide.
“You can’t tell me you didn’t hear that!”
We stood still a minute but didn’t hear anything. Whatever it was, had sense enough to keep still.
“Lets get moving, if something follows us, we’ll hear it.”
We walked for at least another 30 minutes before reaching the road, then followed it to the pickup, which thankfully was white or we might not have seen it, and we went home.
We never heard another noise of something following us. If it was following, it know a quieter path down the mountain than we were taking.
In hindsight, to hear it at over 50 yards away, it couldn’t have been something small. There wasn’t any running sound of any kind,, just an occasional… step? No growl, no huff, no grunt, no breathing… nothing. When it stepped into the shale, it displaced at least as much material as myself, making it much heavier than a coyote, and possibly over 220 lbs to match my weight. That would be a very large mountain lion. Whatever it was was within a short enough run it could have easily attacked us, it was stealthy, it had excellent night vision, and it was smart.
3. Cryptic Cryptid
Reader Dennis Pinkerton answered with the below tale. If he did see what he thinks he saw (and it’s possible!), then he was very lucky to be holding a 12-gauge when he saw it…
In 2015 during turkey season in Southern Illinois, I was hunting an open field. I had several hen decoys out, and had lots of deer in the field. The field is several hundred yards across and in cpr. I managed to call in 2 large toms the started strutting at about 40 yards out. Within min. of the toms strutting and calling an animal came out of a flooded creek area that was wooded. The animal charged the turkeys with it mouth open. I shot 3 3 1/2 in. turkey loads at the turkeys but did not hit them. The animal turned and went back the same way it had came from. I peppered it. the animal was approx. 6 in. taller than a deer at the shoulders. Its chest was 2 times as wide as a deer. The animal’s canine teeth were approx. 3 inches long and 5-6 inches apart. It had short pointed ears that stood up. It also had long grey hair with mud balls hanging off the bottom, with a short heavy thick undercoat. When the animal turned to run I could see a stub tail. The animal ran with its rear legs under it and its longer front legs stretched out. Later that year I was at a hunting show. An African safari hunter had his mounts on display. There was a baboon mount that looked almost identical as the animal I saw. The animal I saw was larger than the mount but looked very close. I have hunted this area 20 years plus and have only seen this animal the one time.
4. Oh My, What Big Feet You Have
Reader Dennis Karoleski isn’t quite sure what made those noises…but it sounds as if the townspeople did.
Willits, California 1969
Do Sasquatches exist? I’ve never seen one myself but SOMETHING followed a group of us up a gravel trail in northern California in the pitch dark in 1969. We were doing a weather modification “field program” experiment in a deep valley the government leased near Willets when our diesel generator blew up. Three of us decided to walk out and find out what was holding up the temporary hire ground crew. The project crew back in the valley needed the flashlights to troubleshoot the power problem so we rationalized if we shuffled our feet we could stay on the rutted dirt road in the valley to the gate in the pitch blackness. From there it wound its way around the steep hillside and had been covered with a fresh layer of course gravel making it even easier to stay on the road. We knew there was a steep bank on the right and a steep drop off on the left and fairly well-defined tire tracks on both sides of the middle. About a third of the way up it merged into an existing dirt logging road but the heavy fog bank blocked all starlight and made the valley as dark as a mine shaft.
About a half hour into the walk we heard something heavy crashing through the branches on our right or uphill side of us that seemed to be pacing us. When we stopped it stopped and when we started it did likewise. At first, we thought it might be some sort of weird echo but that was soon obviously not the case. Then we thought it might be one of the longhorn cattle that were kept in the valley or some of the numerous blacktail deer but it didn’t walk like either and was making no effort to be quiet at all. Additionally, the locals had advised us the valley sides were steep enough to keep the cattle from climbing out and then there was that gate at the mouth of the canyon to keep them from walking up the road we had closed after we had gone through it. The local people worked as loggers in the woods but this seemed to be somewhat bigger than a man judging from the branches it was breaking and there were no night-vision goggles available to civilians at that time. I threw some gravel in the direction of the sound and yelled while charging up the bank but received no response. That had worked with packs of dogs back home so I thought it might be worth a shot since we were getting more than a bit nervous by this time. Whatever it was it never made any vocalizations or breathing sounds nor seems to have varied its distance from our group. As we climbed higher and approached the crest of the ridge the sun broke over the crest at the same time as we came out from under the fog bank. Not a hundred yards further on we discovered the rest of the crew trying to dig the truck out of a deep rut. Whatever had been following us disappeared as soon as we came into the early morning light and we saw no sign of whatever it might have been.
Later that evening, we went to a restaurant in town for supper and were still discussing what it could have been. One of us happened to say “Sasquatch” and it got so quiet in that busy restaurant you could have heard your own heart. Forks stopped midway to mouths and glasses stopped in midair. Every eye in that room was on our table as the world around us paused. Seems most men in the town were loggers and one simply did not talk about such things around there. Later we actually went to a local gun store attempting to buy a weapon but it being California we were not permitted to arm ourselves. We never did discover what followed us up that trail but we spent another few weeks in daily close contact with the longhorn steers and black tail deer making it obvious from the way they moved and the sounds they made that it was neither animal that paced us.
5. My, What Hairy Arms You Have
Reader SSGDave checked in with a slightly different twist on the Bigfoot stories you usually read about…
During basic training 1981, we were in the field, at one of the outer ranges on Ft Knox, ky. I’d just finished guard duty and still had my 15rds of live ammo (we’d almost graduated by then) as required I had my rifle sling wrapped around my leg. I’d just fallen asleep when someone(?) commenced to tearing open my shelter half so I turned on the flashlight and was greeted by the weirdest red eyes and hairy arms reaching in toward me when it screamed at the light. I guess instinct took over and I sent all 15 rds at it (Big No-no today, I know) and it screamed again and ran off. All Hell broke loose, people yelling, one of the drill sgts asking who fired, etc. and a Soldier suddenly yelled out like a little kid! they found an Arm, hairy all the way to the nails, huge, detached by the upper arm after getting hit my at least 4 rounds. The Army made a big stink and told us to keep our mouths shut until after the investigation-and that’s the LAST we heard about it.
6. And How Quickly You Run…
This one comes to you courtesy of reader “JD Cruise,” and it comes with an interesting twist ending that proves beyond a doubt that JD is a better man than I am (even if “he” is a woman).
Once about 20 years ago I found myself hunched over an irrigation pond in the woods behind dozens of acres of farmland when I heard something behind me, advancing quickly. I spun to find the silhouette of a massive humanoid figure (round head, no snout) at dusk moving through the foliage at ridiculous speed. It was extremely loud, branches swinging, sticks snapping. Instinctively I fled by foot even though it wasn’t coming in my direction.. Even left my ATV behind in the process (was driven back later with others to retrieve it). Never saw it again, still don’t know what it was.
It moved through the thicket like a deer in flight. Incomprehensibly fast for something so large. No gracefulness whatsoever but massive strides- covering great distance.
Everyone laughs at the fact that I abandoned my much faster ATV to flee by foot but to see something so ridiculously out of place reverts the human mind to instinctual levels in a hurry. This was over 20 years ago now and I’ve never again encountered anything like it. I do return to the spot though every now and again.
7. The Thing in the Trees
There’s something genuinely disturbing about this one…in part, because it’s tough to tell myself that it just must have been a critter with mange/guy playing a prank. I’m going to turn it over to reader Nick Giotta:
I was 14 years old in 1964 living with my family on our Orange grove ranch in Central California. I was alone in the house and it was dark outside when I heard our 2 dogs frantically barking in our backyard. I went out the backdoor to check what was going on and saw the dogs barking at an orange tree in the grove that was about 7 foot tall and 50 feet away from the house…and the entire tree was vibrating. The dogs appeared to be frightened as they barked but would not get any closer than 20 feet from the tree.
I retrieved a break open single shot 12 gauge shotgun with about 5 rounds and walk out to where the dogs were and shouted 4 times whoever was in the tree to come out or I would fire. I thought it might be a small black bear or a mountain lion, but the tree was vibrating evenly from top to bottom and there was no wind. I fired off one round into the center of the tree and it stopped vibrating. I heard what sounded like footsteps running deeper into the grove and the dogs took off after it. We had run across 8 rows of trees when the dogs had stopped and were barking at another vibrating tree of the same size.
I again ordered that they show themselves 2 times or I would shoot. There was no compliance and I fired again, and again the tree stopped moving and again I heard something running further into the grove. The dogs and I were in pursuit and ran through our grove to a dirt road that separated our grove from other groves that were much older (35years) and taller (20 feet) where I saw one tree that was vibrating, which would have been impossible for any human or animal to do. The dogs were not barking, they and myself were in disbelief about what we were seeing. The dogs turned around and took off through the grove toward home that was more than 1500 feet away and I did the same thing. I outran the dogs as we were all very scared.
When I got home my mother had returned and was standing outside and asked what I was shooting at. I explained to her and she was concerned I shot someone and go into the house and relax. The next morning I went out to check the trees for scratches, broken limbs twigs and blood inside the two orange trees I shot into. I checked for footprints and animal prints but found nothing but the shotgun pellets embedded in the trees.
To this day I do not know what caused this but at the age of 69 it seems like only yesterday it happened. When I tell this story I get the raised eyebrow of disbelief of my encounter.
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