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DATE: August, 1997
COUNTY: Fairbanks County
LOCATION DETAILS: I would prefer you don't include this in my posting, as I still hunt the area regularly...
NEAREST TOWN: Fairbanks
NEAREST ROAD: Jones Road
OBSERVED: This happened in late August of 1997 in a side valley of Goldstream Valley, a relatively populated area just north of Fairbanks. Although it's quite close to the Fairbanks area and there are many houses and roads in the main part of Goldstream, the side valleys are still as wild as they were a thousand years ago.
I was hunting ruffed grouse in one if these side valleys (I prefer not to say which one). I was on a south-facing aspen covered hillside, and had hunted all afternoon and evening, intending to spend the night out on the hill and hunt my way back in the morning.
As I was making camp, a black bear almost walked right into me. I heard him coming from a ways off, and scared him away before he got closer. later on, it will become apparent why I mention this. So I was sleeping out in the open, no tent, under a spruce tree. Sometime in the middle of the night, I was awakened by something prowling around my camp, maybe thirty feet or so away from me, walking in a circle. I mentioned the bear before. . . this was not a bear I heard in the night. My father is a hunting guide, and I literally grew up hunting bears. I KNOW what a bear sounds like when it's walking. Whatever this thing was, it was walking on two legs, with a bit of a shuffling sound between each step, like it was dragging its feet a bit. The leaves on the forest floor were dry like potato chips, and it was breaking a lot of branches--I could hear it and follow its movement quite distinctly.
I have to say here that I've spent a LOT of time in the Alaskan bush, and have never before or since been truly afraid of anything I've encountered, but I don't mind saying that on that particular night I was literally shaking with fear.
It circled my camp for what seemed like hours, but it was probably only five minutes or so. Finally, remembering something I had once read about the Athabascan Indians' beliefs regarding "woodsmen", I started talking to it, albeit in a shaky voice, saying I wanted no trouble that night. The thing stopped dead in its tracks, then a few moments later, I heard it trotting downhill, away from me. Talking to such a creature may sound kinda cornball, but all I know is that it worked.
I've kicked myself for this many times since, but the next morning, I didn't bother to look for any tracks, hair, etc. I just packed up and resumed my hunting. I had no further trouble with the woodsman.
As a final couple of notes, I do recall hearing kind of low muttering sound as it was prowling around me. Also, having since done some reading on Bigfoot sightings, I've noticed that a lot of people report the animal having a strong foul odor to it. However, I did not smell any particular odor, foul or otherwise.
ALSO NOTICED: I covered pretty much everything in my narrative.
OTHER WITNESSES: Just myself.
OTHER STORIES: Most of the native peoples of Alaska seem to have stories about the "woodsman", the "bushman", the "hairy man", etc. Other than this, I've never heard of anyone I know having an actual encounter with a woodsman in Alaska.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Middle of the night, clear weather, thumbnail moon (not much light), campfire burned out.
ENVIRONMENT: Upland Aspen/birch forest, above O'connor Creek.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Kevin Withers:
The witness is a twenty-six year old archeologist who works for a consulting company.
The witness' camp was situated forty minutes from the nearest trail. He camped out for only one night.
Some time in the middle of the night he was awakened by a flying squirrel which landed on his chest, squeaked, and ran off. He then heard a distinctly bipedal animal walking around his camp, accompanied by the sound of breaking sticks and branches. "It was not trying to be quiet," the witness said. He also heard a whispering, or low grumbling/muttering sound.
Area vegetation consisted of second growth forest with patches of large aspen, alder, small willow, and birch.