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COUNTY: Marquette County
NEAREST TOWN: Gwinn
OBSERVED: On Jan.18, 2007 at about 17:35 my wife and I decided to go out into the woods looking for deer and enjoying the snow in our 4 wd truck.
We were driving along and we decided to take a DNR access road. Nothing unusual was noticed as we drove along down to the lake other than the the lack of deer tracks that normaly criss cross the area.
There had been a recent snow and the area around the lake was for the most part lacking any signs of movement except for a single set of tracks leading up from a bowl like depression and passing by the toilet building. My wife pointed to them and asked me what kind of animal would make that track, when I looked over I noticed that the tracks were that of something walking upright on two legs. I stopped the truck and got out to look closer the snow depth is around 18 to 20 inches. The length between the strides I would estimate to be between 45 to 50 inches the interesting thing was that the tracks were clean in that there were no drag marks just a clean stride. When I went to examine them there were a lot of drag mars left by me and a few slips in the deep snow, my stride fell short by some 20 or so inches as I tried to match the stride. I was unable to determine if there were any toe prints but the prints looked a bit irregular at the front of them. The single set of tracks continued up a trail and into a stand of pines. I have no idea how long the tracks were there but the snow had only fallen the night before. I just wanted to get this down while it was fresh in my mind.
ALSO NOTICED: there was not the usual deer tracks that normally are very abundant in the area another thing a week or two earlier while driving down Martin Lk Road my wife saw what looked to be the rib cages from two deerlaying just off the side of the road.
OTHER WITNESSES: My wife and I she noticed the tracks first since they were on her side of the truck
OTHER STORIES: None that I am aware of, being new to this area I recently moved back to Michigan after 9 years in Arizona.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: 17:35, just starting to get dark, clear weather, temp about 15 F.
ENVIRONMENT: heavily wooded area a mix of hardwoods and pine the public access toilet building is between the lake and the area from which the tracks came up a steep hill from hardwoods across the access site and up into the pines .
Follow-up investigation report:
This investigator determined the witness to be very credible in the account of his report. After talking to the witness on January 21, 2007, he mentioned that after hunting all of his adult life he immediately recognized that these bipedal tracks were not made by man or any known wildlife.
Forty tracks were viewed traversing 70 yards of terrain and one half mile from a residential area. The tracks were at least 17 inches long, and the long strides (49.5’’) were what caught their attention initially. The tracks were 4.75 inches wide in the heel, and 8.5 inches in the ball of the foot. The track depth went all the way down to the ground which was 18 inches, the depth of the snow. The heel was clearly defined but the toe area wasn’t as clear; he couldn’t tell how many toes there were. Because of his limited mobility, he only followed the tracks for the 70 yards but was able to follow the tracks as it went up a 7 degree incline and viewed no slippage or hesitation in the track route. The track prints showed weight shifts in weight distribution as it covered various terrain.
The tracks took a southeast to northwest orientation in an area no one had visited since it had snowed 5 hours before. One of the things that stood out in the witness’s mind was the straight and direct route that the tracks took. The witness was asked, “What were the chances that the tracks were faked?” He said that it was unlikely because of the stride length. “Someone couldn’t fake the stride length without having left some kind of foot drag mark in the snow or faultier in their steps”. The witness has 35 years of hunting experience and wasn’t able to tell what kind of animal would have made the tracks.
The husband and wife were out driving around a week before the track sighting on a dirt road 100 yards from a residential area scouting out deer tracks. They had been on the road three days before and saw nothing. They came across two deer remains (doe, and maybe a yearling) on the side of the dirt road, within 3 feet of each other. “They were picked clean." What was unusual to them was that the rib cages were still attached to the spines. To the woman, who was an autopsy nurse, she said who told her, “The connective tissues were still functioning, meaning the deers were killed recently, within a couple of days.” She elaborated that if it was a poacher, they wouldn’t leave the remains on the side of a dirt road in plain sight, because the DNR in their area are very aggressive. If it was a bear it would have dragged it off into the woods. The husband added that bears are hibernating now.
To the husband, the carcass remains were unusual. “He said “The legs looked as if they were broken or twisted.” He’s heard of wolves in the Upper Peninsula but he hasn’t seen any tracks or heard anything in the area. He said at first he thought it probably was a poacher but when he thought about it, he felt a poacher would have been taking a lot of risk to kill a deer so close to a residential area. He also added that there was no gut pile. The carcass location was 1.5 to 2 miles to the southeast of the track location. He was asked, “What if it was a poacher with a bow?” He felt that for someone to do that and kill two deer in the same location that would be highly unlikely. He’d have to hit both of them with one arrow or kill them in different areas and drag one of them to the other’s location.
Speaking with another investigator, he mentioned that if a poacher killed the deer he would have most likely taken just the tenderloin and left the rest of the deer.