SC EP:609 I Do Not Hunt Anymore
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A listener writes “Okay so I want to start from the beginning. This is what happened to me. I would like to say I used to be an avid outdoors-men, fisherman and hunter. I grew up camping and backpacking. I began hunting deer and hog as an adult just so I had the skill, as well as, teaching myself some basic tracking skills by reading and applying books by Tom Brown, Jr. I am no expert but experienced enough in the outdoors to know sounds and tracks of basic animals running around in my area. I stick mainly to fishing and some backpacking with friends now.
So anyways, it was the fall of 2007, It was a weekday in early September and still extremely hot down here In Texas. I was busy getting back to things that keep me whole; Kayaking, fishing, camping and since it was fall; dove, deer and hog hunting.
I decided I was going to try and get the deer hitting some feeders, at least predictably, on a piece of family property in Lavaca County, TX. The overall area of the property is around 300 acres, but the family property was only about 60 of that with access to a couple of tanks and a creek that borders the Northwest side of the property. We had free range of all the property really, we just had to be cautious of the cattle when shooting and let everyone know where we were hunting. It was parceled out along time ago, sold off in pieces to another family over time. Another story all together.
As I was saying, there is a fairly good size Creek bordering part of the property and I usually hunted in a secluded clearing about a hundred yards from this creek. Texas brush and oak trees surround this clearing, and the game criss-cross the whole area at all times of the day in all directions since not many people go back there. There is a road that cuts through the area and that is where I will start.
It had been a few years since I had been to this area and at the time there was very little visitation by the family. The animal signs were clear to anyone paying attention but there is no telling how old, new, or regular it was and what would change come the rut. It was always pretty obvious where the pigs were rooting in the pastures. The soil is very sandy and can get hard packed in some areas during the hot months and turn to quicksand pretty quick after a rain.
So, I was doing something I had never done before in the area, which is hang deer corn bucket feeders and jamming apple blocks up in a tree about 7 ft. up at a branch-trunk intersection. Just taking a dual approach to get the deer habituated. The tree itself was about 6-8ft. Off the road and right by a game trail exit from the brush and an area of secondary cover. My thought was, basically, try to give the deer more reason to come out of the cover and commit to coming to this area for food. Heavy acorn drops tend to keep the deer and hogs in the cover. Anyway, this would happen right in front of an oak tree I would sit under some 50 to 60 yards away. Little did I know it would lure something else as well.
Let me say, whenever I visit this area I always carry a pistol, ever since family had a close call with a bedded hog in the middle of the day during some clearing operations they were performing elsewhere on the property. I had made it a practice when I was not hunting to carry a .40 caliber when out on the property.
So, I had come to fill and set the block and fill feeders several times in the previous weeks and was always amazed at the block being absolutely gone on every visit, yet the feeders would only be half gone. There was no evidence on trees of hoof scuffs, or pushed down brush around the tree by cattle, and certainly not tracks. As I stated, the ground is way to sun baked and hard this time of the year for tracks to stay, unless it happens during a heavy rain. So, I figured there was heavy traffic, I just couldn’t see any sign. The tall dry grass in the field being pushed down slightly showed evidence of traffic through to the corn feeder directly opposite the apple block about 70 yards. So, figured maybe the raccoons were getting it. I never had much luck with game cams at this point, so I didn’t bother. I would just trust the sign.
I remember very clearly driving in from the main road that day, it was hot, mid afternoon, and I was completely alone, as usual for a mid-week replenishment trip. I pulled down the long road that cut across the property and by the apple block tree and pulled a U-turn. Gathering my pistol and holster and clipping it on my belt , I put the truck in park and left it running, blaring a Stevie Ray CD. Little Wing was playing, if I recall correctly. I closed the door behind me, and went to the back of the truck to pull the tailgate down and grab the 25 lb. Apple block out of the back. I could still hear the tunes well enough, even though they were muffled. I unwrapped the block and tossed the plastic wrapper in the truck bed and approached the tree. Wow, block is gone and, as usual, really strange that nothing seemed disturbed in the area. I placed the block so high in order to rule out any cattle traffic. The deer can reach, but the cows cannot.
Moving on, I decided to walk back into another small , semi-cleared area behind the apple block tree before driving across the clearing to the bucket. The smaller area had a burnt out tree, most likely from a lightening strike long ago, that was surrounded with brush that was pretty much center of the clearing. It gave the tree a kind of mushroom look and the brush area created a kind of little island appearance in the clearing. It is an estimated 30 yard diameter across the clearing and game trails enter and leave this area at several vectors. I just wanted to see if there was any fresh sign, aside from tracks. None at first glance. I then moved across the small clearing and around the tree and brush, I squatted just to look at the grass and entrances to the brush. Just staring back into the brush to see if I could see a twitch of a tail or an ear. After 5 or 10 minutes ….Nothing. So, I stood up, turned and took step back around the island of brush in the little clearing/secondary cover heading towards the truck, which was still running by the way, that is when I heard, then felt and then briefly and vaguely saw the scariest thing I have ever encountered, anywhere. It was the longest 1 1/2 to 2 minutes of my life. It felt like I was moving in slow motion
I heard the raspy, gruff high pitched scream almost simultaneous during my standing and about face to move in it’s direction, and looked up at an angle in the place where I thought it originated. I did not see anything, but I definitely heard it. I could feel the steps it took as it started to run away. Looking back, I think it was startled in my sudden change of position or was having issues locating me. Anyway, I looked up, what would be up, what the hell would be up? What the….hell…was that? I stepped forward once and I drew my gun and pointed in the direction almost immediately. Then started to back up and point my gun in the direction of the running sound and the outline of the figure I could see running on the other side of the brush island.
I heard heavy bipedal, yep, bipedal foot falls. It was moving from my left to right away towards the opposite corner of where I stood. I presume that is the direction it originated. As I back-pedaled, I tried to see through the brush and squinted and squatted in order to see though the other side. It was heavy, I could feel its foot falls through the ground, and question if I heard heavy breathing. I could make out 2 legs in a blur through the brush. Three steps mister- it took three steps. “Did I miss one?”, I thought. Then I could barely make out something going from two legs to four and hitting the brush line. Gone. I listened to cracking trees and brush crumpling in it’s path for a few more seconds then, silence. Except for now I noticed my truck running and the music playing again.
Frozen, I waited a few seconds, it felt like an eternity, I had to remind myself to move. Then willed myself to start to move through the area where it stood or where I thought it had stood between me and my running truck. Gun still drawn and pointed intl the direction it hit the brush-line. I look for any sign or track of where it stood, but nothing.
17 paces or so, and no sign. I am 5’7 and I think my normal stride is about 2 1/2 feet. So, I am obviously trying to doing math as quick as I can in my head trying to rationalize all these inputs and maybe calculate how big this thing is, “no time”, I tell myself. I just know I had to look up at this sound of something running on two legs. What the fuck!? I am an inspector, and analyzing information is what I do for a living. It just does not jive with anything I have known. This does not make sense. Anyway something that big moved up on me….while I was aware and listening. At least I thought I was aware. From this vantage point looking at where it ran, I can clearly see the path where it hit the brush line.
I am in awe and afraid, and feeling extremely vulnerable. All senses are going in overdrive. Is there only one? I continued to check my immediate surroundings and considered options. Do I chase to see? I am alone and that thing was big. Not a good idea…just bad news in that direction. It just feels bad and my head is on a swivel. Extremely vulnerable here. “Just get fucking moving man!” I tell myself, “Put some metal in between you and this, whatever it is.” I knew I still have to drive in the direction it ran to get out of there.
I decided to move slowly back to the truck because I figured it was still within a 100-150 yards, probably stopped in the safety of cover and was watching or waiting the same as me, and as I stepped out of the treeline I peered down the road, pistol at the ready pointed down the road that paralleled the direction it traveled…. nothing. Not a sound but my truck behind me.
After checking the road and scanning the area as I moved, I hurriedly backed up to the truck, jumped in the front seat and slowly rolled down the road, pistol in one hand, looking to my right both hoping and dreading to see something, anything that might help explain what had just happened.
Clearing the outer treeline and looking in the rear view, I gave it some gas. Obscuring the rear view with dust and bust still checking the tree-lines until reaching the upper pasture. Got to the gate and moved with a purpose opening, pulling through, and closing and locking it behind me. Then high tailing it to the main road.
30 minutes down the road and sitting at a gas station, I think is when I finally slowed down enough to feel comfortable actually trying to rationalize what happened. “I never heard that sound before,” I said to myself aloud. “I could feel the scream.” Just still in utter disbelief. I would have to scour the internet for sounds when I get back to the house. To much to suppose without any additional information on animal sounds.
The research online went well into the night and days ahead. I had slow service. Unfortunately, the search, coffee and being home did not make it better when I arrived back to home. There would not be any sleep until late. I scoured the internet for answers collecting animal scream/screech recordings that exhibited even a portion of the sounds I heard. I ended up searching for several days, and still do. I finally ran across some sounds from Northern California back in the seventies. It was not exact, but it was close. I spent that night drifting off too sleep and coming to terms with a possible Bigfoot encounter in Texas?
Opening day came a few months later, extremely windy and rainy, it felt ominous. Also, knowing what may be out there now. Upon reaching some uncomfortable conclusions, or at least possible conclusions. I knew and had been unable to fully process the explanation for what I had experienced, it was hard to articulate to someone all that was running through my head. It was profound, eye-opening and all those things people say when something terrifyingly unexpected happens. So, opening day, Five A.M. came early and I was ready, until 2 seconds passed after waking up, and I realized I could not bring myself to unzip my sleeping bag and step outside the trailer into the dark. I just could not. The thought of walking the road and crossing a section of high grass in the clearing to get to my oak tree was …well it was impossible. The happenings of that day came rushing back and I decided I would wait until daylight. By daybreak, it had turned dark and stormy. Winds were extremely high in the area, so I called it a day. Nothing would move, the animals would bed down. At least that was my excuse, I was just paralyzed and could not bring myself to go back there. I spent the rest of the day on the porch drinking coffee and staring into the area I would have been hunting. Watching for movement and contemplating the new reality I had to face upon every return to the wilderness, not just while hunting here, but everywhere else as well. If they were here, then where else?
It was Several years before I spoke of it and once I did, at least with friends and family, the ribbing and gag gifts flowed, but some confirmed their stories to me in private after hearing mine. When I first told the story, it was to my parents. It just happened. They had a look and then they began to talk about their strange events while camping or backpacking. It was a little surprising and I have wondered if they were just trying to ease my anxiety, or if it was common for outdoors people to have at least one experience that they just can not be solved or explained away. I know one person I spoke to decided backpacking was not for them anymore after an experience in North Carolina back country, and it was the reason the equipment was gifted to me.
Several more years had passed before I would attempt to hunt the area again. This time just for hogs that we’re rooting up the pastures and roads. I assumed they were using the Creek bed to move in and out of the area while it was dry. I was aware when moving about the property and as I hung a feeder that would consequently be destroyed in a week’s time. A plastic 5 gallon bucket with an automated drop feeder attached to the bottom, locked up and hung just over a secluded area on a Creek bank – destroyed. Like some had taken a bat to it like a pinata. I had a small game Camera pointed directly at it from above the embankment across the creek with no photos to show what caused the destruction. Odd but coupled with previous experience, maybe relevant.
I tried joining the Texas BFRO as a researcher and even had an interview with 3 guys at a waffle house. I told them my story and that I wanted to be a part of figuring this out, but they never called back. I even asked them to come out to my family property to take a look and file a report. I was disappointed with the lack of action, and it always made me wonder how many reports were not being taken because of some gatekeeper somewhere.
A couple more years had passed as I worked on running my own business. I took my best friend out on a bitter night in January to see about some hog issues. We set up a truck blind in the middle of the pasture. Got set up just after dark. It was about 12:20am, cold and extremely clear and still night. We heard a scream come from the wash that split two pastures. “That was not a cow”, he said. My best friend, and absolute skeptic, who I told about my encounter, and from whom I endured plenty of ribbing and gag gifts. Now he heard something he could not explain. A Marine and someone who does not get rattled had a wide eyed look of surprise. This scream was higher pitched and longer. It actually sounded angry. After years of thinking about the first, I remember it more as a startled/surprise scream. Anyway, this scream coming from the wash was east of where the truck sat about a hundred yards. It did not sound happy. We sat for about 10 minutes after the scream and we decided to pack up and head out.
I have listened to some of your shows and I can agree with one person, that having an experience is probably something akin to PTSD. It never leaves you. I carry now as a result, a large caliber, even for my limited trips to the woods or camping, although, how much is enough? I say limited because this has limited my going anywhere since I do not have many people that will go the wilderness areas that I like, and I refuse to go alone. I tried a day hike alone in an area north of Lake Conroe once. I was alone and it was another eerily quiet morning in the woods. I just had a feeling, and decided to turn it around and get the hell out.
I have a kid now and letting her know the wilderness is constantly on my mind. I have really fond memories of experiencing the western mountains as a kid and Appalachian mountains as an teenager. How clueless I was to the possible danger? She is 3 and ready to explore, but this certainly has an effect on how I choose to let her know the outdoors. The more reading and listening I do only serves to increase the concern I have for her in some of the places I love to go and some of the places I want her to visit.
I would like to say I appreciate what you have done with the show and to all of those that have come forward to share. I think in some ways it serves to heal through validation and community for a lot of us. It feels safe and non-judgmental. I think the rest of the community could learn a thing or two. It is the only reason I am writing this to you. I listen/use your show, not only to learn, but help myself come to terms because in a lot of ways I am still trying to deal.
Additionally, In a lot of ways you are cataloging these experiences for posterity.”
Travel Channel: Expedition Bigfoot
Check it out tonight: “With one team member down, Russell and Mireya must forge ahead and return to the forest to hunt down their leads. Their intensive investigations uncover the group’s first pieces of potential Bigfoot evidence.”
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