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COUNTY: Emery County
LOCATION DETAILS: Nuckwoodward Canyon Road at the base of Second Canyon.
NEAREST TOWN: Clear Creek, Utah
NEAREST ROAD: Huntington Canyon Scenic Byway 31
OBSERVED: The encounter that I am going to explain occurred several years ago and still today is a mystery to me and my friend that witnessed it. Today I am 31 years old and have been an avid hunter my entire life. I have spent a lot of time in the mountains, the majority of which has been spent in the general area in which this strange encounter took place several years ago.
It was mid August of 1996 and I was on summer vacation from college and staying at my parents home in Helper, Utah until I had to go back to report back to school toward the end of August. My lifelong friend Justin and I both had archery elk permits and I had an archery deer tag as well. We loaded up Justin’s old ford truck and headed off to spend 3 nights in our favorite hunting area. The area that I am referring to is called Nuckwoodward Canyon Road which crosses between the Carbon and Emery county lines in the Manti LaSalle mountain range in Central Utah. We were going in the middle of the week (I believe on a Tuesday) so we had the entire area to ourselves. We chose one of our favorite camping spots which was at the base of Second Canyon. In looking at county boundary maps of Utah it appears that this location is in Emery County but is close to the Carbon/Emery border.
Our first 2 ½ days of hunting went as expected. We saw and chased around several elk and deer and were having a great time in doing so. It was on our 3rd night that everything took a turn from normality. We returned to our camp well after dark after searching for my arrow that I shot at an elk that evening. We had hiked all day in the heat and were both exhausted when we pulled into camp. We fired up a small gas grill that we had brought and put the 2 large steaks that we had been saving for the last nigh on the grill to cook. We made a fire and sat down to relax and talk about the days events.
The fire got pretty big and the wood was popping and crackling loudly. We heard a sound off in the distance that sounded like some sort of a howl or yell. We mentioned it but blew it off as probably a cow or the herd of sheep that we had been seeing all weekend up the canyon from us. We said that it was just probably echoing down the canyon toward us and sounded strange. The small gas grill was not getting hot enough to cook the 2 large thick steaks that we had on it and we could tell it was going to be a long process. As we sat waiting, the strange yelling sound coming from up the canyon kept sounding approximately every 20 or 30 seconds and appeared to be getting louder and closer.
Trying to describe the sound using only words is difficult but the best way to describe it is a yell. It sounded like a person yelling “rhaaah” in a long drawn out deep scratchy voice. We started getting more curious about the sound as it continued to get closer to us. We still both estimated that whatever it was making the sound was still almost a mile up the canyon but it was so loud that it was quite distinct even at this range. We talked about the possibilities “could it be a bear or a mountain lion”? The sound we were hearing was nothing like that of a bear or a mountain lion but those were the only 2 things that we could think of that made any sense at the time. Whatever it was continued to scream and it was now obvious that it was steadily moving closer to us.
After probably about 30 minutes of consistently hearing the scream every 20 or 30 seconds we decided that it was worth checking out. So, we flipped the slow cooking steaks on the grill and jumped in Justin’s ford to go for a ride. It was probably 10:30 or 11:00 at night by now and pitch dark. We drove up the Nuckwoodward Canyon Road probably close to 1 mile which took us 10 or 15 minutes on the bumpy dirt road. We turned off the truck and rolled down the windows and listed. Within seconds we heard the yell but now it was coming from back down the canyon toward our camp and up on the west side of the mountain. We had over shot it but it sounded louder and closer now perhaps it was just because we had gotten away from the loud noise of the camp fire. We turned around and drove about ½ mile back toward camp and again turned the truck off and rolled down the windows to listen. Again within a matter of seconds the yell occurred and we both sat in amazement of the volume of it now that we were so close. From the sounds of it, the creature that was making the sound was directly up from where we now were and sounded like it was no more than a few hundred yards up the steep pine covered mountain. We sat and heard the yell a couple of more times from this spot and it brought chills to my body each time it sounded. We didn’t know what to say as we finally headed back to our camp.
When we pulled back into camp the fire had died down considerably but was still burning. It was only a matter of seconds after we got out of the truck that the yelling sound shook the silent night. It had definitely gotten much closer to our camp in the 30 or so minutes that we had been gone and with the fire quieted down considerably the volume was now indescribable.
Neither one of us wanted to show any sign of being scared as we were two young macho men that didn’t want to admit that we were afraid of anything. Therefore, we checked on our steaks and they were finally done enough that they were edible. We sat and ate our steaks as the yell continued to echo into the dark silent night. I don’t think we said a word as we both sat and ate our steaks and listed in shock and amazement to the ongoing terrifying sounds.
By now we had ruled out everything logical (a bear, a mountain lion or our initial thought of something echoing down the canyon) because the creature making the sound was now within a few hundred yards of our camp. As terrified as I was inside I was not going to crack and show it to Justin. It had now been close to an hour and a half since we first heard the yell and whatever was making it was now so close that when it yelled you could almost feel it.
We had finished our steaks and it was when we started actually hearing the creature walking and breaking sticks in the pine trees no more than 100 yards from our tent that Justin finally gave in. I remember his exact words as he said “it wouldn’t be too bad to be home in our beds right now”. No sooner than the words escaped his mouth did I agree and say “that is exactly what I was thinking”.
Packing up camp was not going to be easy since we had a coal/wood burning stove in the sheepherder tent as well as cots, sleeping pads and sleeping bags. We took everything down as quickly as possible with the ground shaking yell continuing to sound. Within 5 or 10 minutes we had somehow managed to get almost everything taken down and thrown into the back of the pickup truck. There were just 3 or 4 tent pegs and ropes that needed to be taken out but they were on the side of the tent that was closest to the trees where the sound was coming from. By this point the yell was so loud and we could hear sticks breaking as if whatever it was, was trying to scare us away.
We counted to three and each ran and pulled the last couple of tent poles and pegs and frantically folded the tent and threw it over the sloppily loaded truck. Once we got into the safety of the cab of the truck we felt a little braver. Although we were armed only with our bow and arrows which were packed away in their cases, the safety of the truck was somewhat comforting. We pulled the truck up and shined the head lights into the pine trees where the sound was coming from to see if we could see anything. We didn’t see anything and both just wanted to get the hell out of there so we did. We drove the 2 hours back to Helper and didn’t get there until close to 2:00 in the morning.
We told the story to our parents and friends who all believed that we were telling the truth but most people just said “it was probably a bear or a mountain lion”. Having heard the sound continuously for close to 2 hours, I am certain that it was not a bear or a mountain lion. After having told this story for over 10 years and having all of that time to reflect on what happened that night, I still have no idea what it was on that mountain making that noise that night. The only thing that I know of that could make a sound even remotely close to what we heard is a human.
There is the possibility of it being someone trying to scare us but we were up on that mountain for 3 days and didn’t see another person other than a sheep herder the whole time. If it were a person they would have had to have been yelling at the top of their lungs (louder than I can imagine any human yelling) every 20 or 30 seconds for almost 2 hours while trekking close to a mile across a rugged mountainside in the pitch dark. Therefore, I feel confident ruling out the explanation that it was someone playing a joke on us.
I am an open minded person who believes that there are things in the world that are unexplainable and perhaps out of my realm of understanding. I don’t know if there is such thing as UFOs, aliens or bigfoot but what I do know is that whatever scared us off of that mountain that night is something beyond what I know of.
If I had it to do over again I would have gotten in the truck much earlier and shined the headlights toward where the sound was coming from. If I could go back and experience it over again I would also definitely driven back up there the next day and looked around in those trees during the daylight to see if we could find any tracks or sign of the creature that appeared to be stalking us that night.
All of the years of telling the story finally paid off. The story made its way from my mother to someone that she works with who is married to the friend of a member of the BFRO. I received a phone call a couple of weeks ago from the friend of the BFRO member who asked me to share my story. After telling him the story over the phone he was very interested and asked if I would submit the story on the website.
I apologize for the length of this story but unlike any other story that I have read on this site, our experience occurred for close to 2 hours. I estimate that we heard the sound close to 200 times that night and it started off way off in the distance and ended up within 100 yards from our camp.
OTHER WITNESSES: My friend and myself.
OTHER STORIES: I read another story on this site about another similar encounter at James Canyon in Emery County. This is relatively close to the area in which our encounter took place.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: From approximately 10:00 pm to 12:00 am.
ENVIRONMENT: Pine forest wich patches of aspen trees and oak brush.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Chad Hamblin:
I talked to the submitter of this report and found him to be a credible witness, and I am convinced that he and his friend had the experiences described in the report. I agree with the submitter that, even though he and his friend didn't see the creature described in the report, the only thing that seems to make sense is that the creature they heard was a bigfoot.
I don't feel the submitter of the report needs to make any apologies for the length of the report. To the contrary, I'm pleased with how thorough and well-written the report is.
Pre-history note from investigator: Twenty years ago the skeleton of a Colombian mammoth, Mammuthus columbi, was discovered in Huntington Canyon, not too many miles from where this bigfoot report took place. The mammoth skeleton was determined to be 11,200 years old. The 10,800 year-old skeletal remains of a giant short-faced bear, Arctodus simus, were found at the same site. Also found at the site were stone tools from prehistoric human hunters.
I have to think there may have been bigfoots living in the area back during the time when mammoths, short-faced bears and prehistoric people roamed the area. I think the descendants of those bigfoots are still there - and still eluding, and occasionally frightening, humans in the area.
About BFRO Investigator Chad Hamblin:
Chad Hamblin is a life sciences/biology teacher with an interest and background in wildlife and the outdoors. He lives in a rural community in northeastern Utah. He participated in the first Utah BFRO expedition in 2007, as well as the 2009 and 2010 Utah expeditions. He attended the Wyoming expedition in 2008, the Bluff Creek California expedition in 2011, and the Idaho expedition in 2013. A few months ago Chad experienced a bigfoot encounter while hiking alone in Utah's Uinta Mountains.