A listener writes “I’ve lived most of my life in the central portion of Michigan’s lower peninsula. Directly across the two lane blacktop is the western boundary of the Manistee National Forest. The forest was re-created in the 1930’s through the Civilian Conservation Corps.
In our area the CCC planted thousands of Jackpine in very distinct rows. Old growth trees are about six feet apart from each other center to center so walking in the woods was very easy to do up until the last 20 years or so ago.
About a 5 minute walk from our front porch is a sand dune about the size of 3 football fields. The jackpine and a small hill block sight of it and many locals don’t know its there.
On a sunny Saturday in July 1980 I heard some neighbors ripping around the dune with their rail style dune buggies. After an hour or so I decided I’d go over there after they left and search the dunes for old coins, Native American arrowheads, clay pipes and other artifacts that we had pretty good luck at unearthing. I figured those 4 buggies moved a lot of sand making my search easier.
The neighbors left after a couple of hours of running their dune buggies and just hanging out. In less than 5 minutes I was walking in the dunes in an s pattern looking for whatever they unearthed. It probably took 90 minutes or so for me to cover the area and I had found only a couple of old coins and decided go home. I chose an open row on the east end of the dune to head south before hitting the two track and heading west to go home. It was at most a 5 minute walk.
I was about 50 feet into the jackpines and I heard a loud crack just to my left and to my 8 o’clock. Immediately I heard a falling tree crashing 3 rows to my left. Having cut firewood most of my life I recognized the sound of a tree crashing into other trees before hitting the ground. I instinctively looked to where I heard the crack and saw a large black creature take off running to the north. I saw mostly torso and shoulders as it’s head was higher than my line of sight. I took off south and as I was running I could hear heavy footsteps on the pine needle covered ground. There is so much needle buildup on the forest floor you can walk silently without trying. I got to the two track, turned right and didn’t stop running until I was in our house.
Even though I’ve heard credible stories from neighbors it’s only recently I’ve told my stories. When I told a family member about it shortly after it happened I was told I was crazy as it must have been a deer or a black bear. Whitetails and bear don’t break healthy mature jackpines near the base.”