This story takes place back in the summer of 2014 and is one the most frightening and invigorating experiences of my life. I’ve always been an avid outdoorman and have always loved the woods and camping and really anything that involved being in nature. During this particular summer I was thrilled to have met a co-worker whom loved the outdoors as much as I did. He was half native american and half white so I took to calling him “Whitebear”..he didn’t mind and even embraced the name.
It wasn’t too long after meeting him that he invited me to go camping on his family’s land
one weekend and I was exuberant. This parcel of land was over 5000 acres and had been owned by his Cherokee family for a few generations. It had a couple square miles of nothing but woods and swamp that teemed with game such as wild boar, black bear and whitetail deer.
I met up with him at his house and before departing for the woods we took an inventory
of what we had: His 12 gauge shotgun, my welsh longbow, a few hatchets and a bowie knife
along with a tent and some food and water. We had plans to track and maybe hunt some game early the following morning.
When we arrived at his families land we parked my car and hiked a mile or two into the woods.
It was beautiful and lush. The forest was loud with birds and smaller animals chirping and
what not. Eventually we found what seemed to be the perfect spot for setting up a campsite.
Whitebear set up with his shotgun to see if he could bag a squirrel or something for our
dinner while I dug a fire pit.
A few minutes after digging into the ground with my knife I stopped a minute to catch my
breath and wipe the sweat off my face when I noticed the forest had gone silent. Having
been an experienced woodsman I knew that when the birds stop singing it’s a usual sign that
there is a predator near by. Without hesitation I grabbed my long bow and put my bowie knife in it’s sheath on my hip. I waited as quietly as possible and surveyed my surroundings meticulously.
The sun was going down at this point and Whitebear had been gone awhile and I thought it best to go looking for him. I was certain he hadn’t gone far but I wanted to make sure
he was back at camp before dark. It wasn’t long before I found one of his tracks in the mud
and began following his trail. I came around this curve in the woods where I couldn’t see
around the bend due to the fact that it was too dense with brush. As I rounded the thicket I began calling my friend but received no verbal response. I had been calling him about 30 seconds or so when the bushes in front of me started russling like something big was attempting to pass through them. I called out to Whitebear thinking it was him but with no response I raised my bow with a three-bladed arrow already noched and drew it back ready to loose.
Eventually Whitebear’s head poped out and he looked at me with a startled look on his face. “Shit man! Don’t shoot!” he said loudly. I was relieved it was him and asked him why he didn’t respond to me.
He said there were deer signs in the area and he didn’t want to scare them away.
We made our way back to camp just as the sun set and started to cook some beans and
talked about past camping and hunting experiences we had. He and I both had a lot of stories to share since we both had already seen a life time of adventure it seemed. As the night went on Whitebear started telling me some of his family’s stories of demonic creatures in the woods that took on the form of wolves and deer and I was facinated by such. I had never heard of the Wendigo or any cryptid really besides bigfoot. After a while my eyes grew heavy and I decided it was time for bed. Whitebear however insisted on staying up and keeping watch.
I remember thinking he was a bit paranoid but still didn’t mind the notion of it and even said I would take a turn on watch in a few hours. I fell asleep with the peaceful sound of cicadas and various birds and other incects playing a symphony all around the woods.
It was around 3am that I awoke to Whitebear shaking me. Dazed and feeling like I just
awoke from a coma I was having a hard time realizing what he was trying to tell me. In a
whisper tone he said something I’ll never forget verbatim: “Dude, something is PISSED off.”
I attempted to comprehend what he was saying but was still out of it. I finally woke fully up when I heard a sniffing noise just outside of our tent. Whatever it was, it was sniffing the air and the ground one after the other repeatedly. From its snorts I could tell it was something big. At the very least it was the size of a black bear. Just 10 seconds after I was awoken it started going ballastic! It stomped loudly like an agitated horse as it trumped around the camp now snorting loudly. Its snorts were wet like an animal that had a cold.
We sat there listening to it as it circled our tent until it stopped just 4 feet beside the back of our tent. The animal seemed to stand still. Whitebear and I looked at each other with the same look to get ready because we thought it was about to charge us. Whitebear pumped a round into his shotgun and I grabbed my bowie knife and we sat there waiting for what felt like a cursed hour.
I was pumping with adreneline and excitement but also a deep sense of dread, like this would be the last fight of my life.
After about a minute of silence I made the choice to yell out and I mustered every bit of
bravado I had in me and it was barbarian-like. Whitebear joined in and we carried on the
yells and shouts for a few seconds and then stopped. We heard the animal turn away and start running
through the thicket screeching at the top of its lungs. What made this earie is it sounded like
nothing we had ever heard. I still remember it very distinctly to this day. It sounded
birdlike but also very gutteral like what you’d hear from a bear. During that moment my brain
was thinking I was listening to a raptor from Jurassic Park. That’s honestly the best way I
can describe it.
We were both frozen in terror as we listened to it crash through the woods as it screeched
into the night. It took us a few minutes to compose ourselves but once we did we grabbed
our weapons and a flashlight and looked around the camp. Nothing was out of place and we really couldn’t see much of our surroundings due to the forest being so thick that the moon light wasn’t any help.
We crawled back into our tent and sat up talking about what just happened. Again, we were both experienced woodsmen and Whitebear was a seasoned hunter and he said he had never heard anything like what we just did. We pondered the possiblity of it being a large wild boar, and that was certainly possible but that wouldn’t explain the screeches it made. Not to mention wild boar in this area are very timid and avoid humans like a forest fire. There was also the fact of how it sniffed the ground and then the air; that behavior is very bearlike but black bears don’t stomp like that.
Its movement was more akin to a horse. I also mentioned how the animal crashed through the woods as it fled with as little grace as possible. It sounded far too large to be a deer and
the deer are very shy of humans here because this land gets hunted on year-round. We did manage to fall back asleep after a while and awoke just as the sun was rising.
With the morning sun highlighting our campsite we looked around the area for tracks. We found everything from deer tracks to racoon prints and our campsite looked like it had been
ransacked. Our food bag had been tied up 12 feet in a small pine tree the night before but
was now on the ground and scattered. The mud and dirt around us had all been disturbed but we could find no other tracks. After breakfast that morning Whitebear and I went on a morning hunt before leaving that was uneventful.
Fast-forward to a month later and I was over at Whitebear’s house preparing for an afternoon of shooting on his land. He was really eager to show me a picture on his computer that his uncle’s game camera had taken a few days ago. He opened the image and I could
see it had been taken during the day. At first glance it looked like a brown smudge of mud
on the camera lense that was taking up about 60% of the picture. Whitebear pointed out to
me that what I was looking at was brown fur. He explained a few details of the camera’s location and a slight chill went up my spine. The game camera was alteast 5 feet up on this tree which meant that the animal that the fur belonged to was very big. To think we were in the woods with something of that size was earie.
Thinking back on it now I remember the stark silence of the woods as if there was a large
predator around when Whitebear woke me up.
To this day I’m not certain of what we encountered. It could very likely have been a bear a
deer or a wild boar..or it could have been something else. I still will never forget the
shreaks and screeches it let out nor the sound of it sniffing the air. This was perhaps
my most memorable camping trip and since then if I go that deep in the woods I’ve got my
trusted 30/30 level action rifle.