Hunting The Hunters

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This happened just a few hours ago, on August 8th 2018. I had gotten a call earlier in the day from one of my friends. They own a ranch in central Texas, roughly 2200 acres, and yesterday they lost one of their horses. Ordinarily this isn’t a big deal as they roam a pasture and do horse stuff when they aren’t needed for various ranch activities.

My friend explained the situation and said they had found the horse, not alive, and I quote “torn nearly beyond recognition.” The strange thing is that it was a fairly young horse, healthy and strong. As far as anyone knows, there’s not much out there that would have the guts to take it on and walk away. Coyote are wimps on the chance they come around. Rare as they are, mountain lions aren’t beyond possibility, unlikely as it is.

After a brief talk, he explained that they needed to find whatever had done this. Naturally, I agreed. “Cool man I will be waiting at your place when you get off work,” he said. The terrain around the ranch is a little rough, and his truck is better than my car on it, plus it wasn’t my gas so that was nice. When I got off work, I went home, got changed, and loaded my gear.

Predator hunts are no foreign occasion for me. My survival pack was ready with first aid and water and all the necessary stuff. Gave my rifle a quick oiling and grabbed ammo. 4 rifle mags of 20 rounds each of sweet 7.62mm for whatever needs shooting. Out there, protective clothing is a must, between plants full of thorns and the occasional pissed off rattlesnake and God knows what else. Lastly was my personal favorite, a 10 inch bowie knife strapped on my hip.

When we got to the ranch, the sun was still in the sky quite a ways, so we wouldn’t be going out there immediately. Instead we pulled a couple maps and set a grid plot while we waited for a couple more people to show up. They had brought the carcass of the horse back to the barn, and my curiosity got the better of me. I looked at the pile of meat, a storm of flies buzzing around. There was something peculiar about the cuts that hadn’t been noticed. They were in sets of 4 slashes, long and deep, jagged at the start but seemed to run smooth after an inch or 2. One other thing, the most disturbing given the situation. It seemed that everything was there, minus a heck of a lot of blood. What I mean is there were no bite marks, no signs of being consumed by whatever had killed it.

After a tense session in the barn, my stomach was sufficiently turned. A short time later, 30 minutes or so, the other 3 people showed up. For the sake of their privacy, we will call them Red, Blue, and Green. We all sat and talked and went over the plan. Each of us would take a grid to search, along with a flare gun and night vision equipment. My personal favorite is the head band type mount with the single flip down optic. Better for depth perception in my opinion. They have a lot of money, what can I say.

When the sun was mostly down, we set out to our respective areas. We had a quick comm check and then we started walking. It was loud with bugs and birds and various animals coming out for their night time stuff. Loud is good in those kinds of situations, it means there are no threats, or nothing serious at least. Each step I took was slow, deliberate. My eyes scanned all around, looking for even the smallest details of a predator, aside from myself, having been through.

Before I knew it, an hour had passed and we all checked in. Everyone was good, no signs of anything. About 20 minutes later, I found myself climbing this steep hill. I’m pretty fit, but with the weight of my gear and rifle, it was a little difficult. When I got to the top, I sat down and had a drink and took a minute to get my bearings. The view was beautiful, even with hardly any natural light left in the sky. There was a calming yet eerie emptiness and for a moment I kinda let my guard down. That was when I heard it, the silence. Silence so quiet it was almost deafening. I flipped down my night vision and lifted my rifle and looked around carefully.

After a couple minutes on this hilltop, I heard a noise. It sounded like footsteps, human footsteps. In the treeline to my right, I heard them stop. I looked and saw something that made my heart drop to the pit of my gut. Glowing a freaky greenish white through the night vision, were 2 large eyes. Too far apart to be a normal person, and much too tall. I’m 6 feet tall, and even from a distance of around 20 yards, this thing seemed to tower over me. I straightened up and called out in a very commanding voice saying “hey I can see you there, just come on out and I won’t shoot, you’re trespassing here.” There was no response, but I guess I blew its cover because it kinda crouched down, but still those eyes never moved, never blinked.

After about a minute of this sorta Mexican standoff, I got a response. In what was nearly my exact voice I heard “hey I can see you there.” In the heat of the night, an icy chill ran up my spine as my blood ran cold. I took a step back and shouldered my rifle. It stood back up and stepped out of the trees. It had what looked like long sharp claws on the ends of its fingers. It was thin, like too thin to possibly have the mass to support a creature as large as that. Closest I can say would be like some pictures I’ve seen from the concentration camps during World War 2. Malnourished, sickly, diseased. It took another step and instantly it looked like it was only 8 to 10 yards from me. “One more step and you’re dead,” I called out. I heard my voice again from this thing. “You’re dead,” it said back to me. When it started to take another step, I kept my word and pulled the trigger. It let out this insane howl that was beyond explanation. A second later it looked like it was going to charge. I shot again, and again, and again. I emptied the magazine on this thing. How many times I hit it is unknown to me.

This part is gonna sound unbelievable, but I swear on a stack of bibles that it happened. I was reloading my rifle and it ran at me. In a panic, I let the rifle fall to my chest and I grabbed my bowie knife. It stopped right in front of me, maybe a foot between us. My eyes followed it up from the waist to its eyes. It may as well have been a thousand feet tall. There was this horrid smell, like decaying flesh and rotten eggs. I was paralyzed. It raised its right hand and put it on my left shoulder. I was almost positive this would be how I died.

In this moment came a rush of clarity and adrenaline. My heart felt like it was gonna jump from my chest at any second. I remembered that knife in my hand and there was only one choice. I plunged it deep in the torso of this thing, all the way to the hilt. It screamed again and I pulled the knife out. Taking its hand off me, I made a run for it. Sliding and rolling down the hill, I made the choice to pick a direction and keep running. After gravity was done screwing me over, I jumped up and ran as hard as I could. Crashing through the branches and tall grass and hopping over logs, I could hear the creature running behind me. Shot and stabbed and it was still coming. I would soon be dead but I wasn’t gonna make it easy.

After what felt like an eternity, I came barreling out of the brush and right into the rest of the guys. Seems they heard the gunfire and came running. I couldn’t breathe or speak. What I could do was point. After a second, all I could say was “shoot that motherf***er!” They started shooting into the dark, but there were no screams, so I don’t know if they hit it.

When everything was quite, I fell to the ground and vomited. “Jesus dude what the hell happened? What the f*ck happened to your leg?” Blue flipped on his flashlight and pointed it at me. There was a thick piece of branch sticking out of my leg. For a couple minutes, there was a lot of yelling and trying to figure out what to do. “Get me the hell outta here man,” I yelled above the noise. Red and Blue each took one of my arms and hoisted me up. With my buddy ahead of us and Green behind us, we got out of the woods as fast as we could.

Back at the house, we managed to get the branch out of my leg and stitched it up. Hurts like all hell but what do you expect. What I can’t get over was the lack of a face that the thing had. From a distance, it had the eyes and whatnot, but when it was right there, so close I should have been able to see everything, it was just featureless. That pale skin, those long black claws, will forever haunt me.

As of right now, that’s everything I can remember. It was just a few hours ago and here I am writing about it. I don’t quite know what to call it. Skinwalker, rake, chupacabra, I have no idea. But to the creature lurking out there, come on back the next time you feel lucky, and we can decide who the top predator is.

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