A listener writes “The first encounter I had was in late October in the Neuse Forest in 2007. I was attending a wooden boat building class in Beaufort NC for the Halloween weekend.
I was living in Marietta, GA at the time and found a campground online to book reservations, Flanner’s Beach Campground near the Neuse River Recreation Area. When I arrived at the campground, I was the only camper there and it was in a remote area, thick with trees and brush. It was around 9:30 pm, I made a campfire and was eating my dinner. I then heard a loud swoosh as if something big was walking in the water. I then heard ducks or geese frantically trying to get out of the area. It sounded like something got one of the geese or ducks by the sound it made. I then heard this two-legged animal start to walk up towards me that came out of the water. I was on the other side of this hill, and it was walking up towards me on the other side. My heart started to pound because the two-legged animal had a long stride between steps.
The stride of the animal was twice that of a man. It was a very heavy animal by the sound of the steps crushing the leaves and brush. My brain was trying to process what was happening, “how can this be a man coming out of cold water at 10 pm in the forest. There are no houses nearby, what is going on”. As an avid hunter and familiar with the woods, my brain was like going through a Rolodex of animals, trying to process what was happening. I jumped up in my chair, grabbed my 20+-year-old green army flashlight and my knife, and yelled whose there! I could not see over the hill and my flashlight was not any good. The animal stopped outside the fire light parameter, for about 10 seconds, like it was trying to make a decision, and then turned to its right and slowly walked away. I never saw anything, because of this hill between me and it. I will never forget the sound of the two-legged animal and the stride between its steps. It had a stride of at least twice or three times of a man. It walked like it was in total control and was the Apex Predator, most humans in the woods at night will have a flashlight, they will stumble or trip. This thing walked in a steady strong stride.
After that I was exhausted and scared, I decided not to put up the tent and I decided to sleep in my Jeep front seat, all night I was paranoid that I would see a face through my side plexiglass jeep window. Thinking about it now, maybe it was good I did not see what it was. Whatever it was it had some sort of intellect, because of that long 10-second pause it made to turn right, rather than come at me.
The second encounter I had was when I took my 13-year-old son on his first hunting trip in the Brasstown Bald Mountain area up in Blairsville GA in 2013, off Highway 180 and Forest Road 296 in Soapstone Gap. I was an avid hunter in those parts for over 13 years. I made several big mistakes on that trip, and we have both learned from them. At 8 am in the morning, two days before Thanksgiving we drove up a forest road for about 4 miles. The road ended, and before we set out on a fire break trail, I took out my compass and took our bearing. I told my son if we got lost, we needed to head Southwest, and that would put us on a road. The first mistake was not bringing any water with us, we left it in the truck. We walked for several miles into the National Forest on a mountain ridge. When we got to the point of the mountain top, we sat down on a draw, looking for deer to come up it.
I made several deer calls, and about 30 minutes later we heard a deer coming up the draw towards us. At that time, I had a flip phone. Just as we raised our rifles waiting for a good shot at the deer, my phone went off. I was like you got to be kidding me, and of course, it was my mother, always calling at the wrong time. So the deer got spooked off, but it decided to go around the other side of the mountaintop. I made another deer call, and it started to walk up towards me. It was less than 10 feet away when we both looked at each other. My son was behind me, so he could not take the shot. I raised my rifle and as I squeezed the trigger the deer jumped and turned as I shot. It was a bad shot, but I hit it. It was now 10 am.
We made a second mistake in tracking the deer without any water or food due to us being excited that we shot a deer. We tracked a blood trail for 3 hours going down the mountain into a valley. The valley was getting thick with brush, and there were three mountains around us. One to the left, one to the right, and the one we came down. As we got to the very dense thicket of brush-like trees at the bottom of the valley, everything got real quiet and we both had the hair on the back of our necks stand up from the feeling of being watched. We came to the spot where the deer had bedded down and there was a pool of blood where it lay. Just after walking around the blood pool checking for another blood trail, we heard a loud crash of a dead tree being pushed over about 20 meters from us, then a two-legged animal or person was moving around in the thicket, which sounded like a truck crashing through the brush, but it was so dense we could not see what it was. My brain was trying to process, why would someone be in this remote part of the forest. My heart was pounding, and my son and I raised our guns because the noise was getting louder. I don’t remember if I yelled whose there, thinking it was a person in the thicket. Whatever it was it was on two legs and moved away from us deeper into the National Forest. My son and I were trying to process what it was that we encountered.
At first, I thought maybe the deer crashed into the tree and snapped it, but my son and I knew it was something two-legged. We resumed looking for the deer’s blood trail, and we did numerous circles again looking for blood trail from the spot where the pool of blood was. We could not find any more blood trails. It was as if something picked it up and ran off with it. The third mistake, we went deeper into the valley continuing to look for prints, but nothing. At one spot in the valley, my son whispered, “Something is watching us, Dad”. He was wide-eyed and spooked. I noticed the shadows of the mountains were getting longer. I looked at the time and it was 3:30pm. As a father I started to panic, we were now lost. My flip phone and GPS are crap and lost signal. I was dying of thirst and it was getting dark. I told my son we needed to head out, we could backtrack the way out which would take several hours and put us in the dark, or we could head southwest up a mountain to take a shortcut. We decided to take the shortcut and go up the mountain. It was harder than I thought going up the mountain. We both had severe dry mouths, but we made it near the top of the ridge. I then noticed we were lost, we should have continued following the compass southwest as I knew, but when I got near the top of the mountain. I decided to go right rather than left on a southwest bearing.
At this point, I was like crap we are lost and it is getting dark fast. Luckily, I have a brother-in-law who works in the Intel community, I had enough signal to lock my GPS Latitude and Longitude and was able to call my brother-in-law. He picked up and I told him we were lost hunting and I gave him my position. He told me to hold, and several minutes later he said go Southwest 150 yards, and I should come out at my truck. Sure enough, we went 150 yards and came out on my truck. Thank God, we were so thirsty and hungry at that point. My son and I sat on the tailgate, and we looked at each other, what a hell of a first hunting trip! Lost in the forest, and an encounter with something that took our deer. And how in the hell did my brother-in-law know where my truck was exactly ???
My sons are in the Army National Guard, and I was in the Army too. We are avid outdoorsmen, we dove hunt, bow hunt, deer hunt, and fish both inshore and offshore regularly. Years later my sons went camping at that spot and went hunting without me, and they said they had another weird encounter and heard knocks. We still hunt in that area to this day. I always tell them three things, One, trigger control, Two, thank the lord for the mountains and his creation for us, Three, if you run into bigfoot don’t “John Wayne it” and shoot at it, maintain trigger control unless their life is threatened.”