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COUNTY: Yakima County
LOCATION DETAILS: Logging road above Rimrock Lake.
NEAREST TOWN: Yakima
NEAREST ROAD: Hwy 12
OBSERVED: Elk Camp 2001
. . . VERY LOUD and LONG VOLCALIZATIONS!
The night before the incident, I aimed my 2,000,000 candle power spotlight to the cliffs and caves above the camp. As usual the relatives were around the campfire till late at night (1:00 a.m.) cracking jokes and making the most racket around, long after other area camps shut off their noisy generators. Believed this attracted it's couriousity.
The relatives (3) who witnessed the sounds are very experienced outdoorsmen. One worked in the Northwest woods as a surveyor and has been chased by bears a couple of times (One time his co-worker had his pack ripped from his back as they ran) and all three know the sounds animals make. What they heard was NOT something like a Bear or Cougar! They are braver than most, not easily frightened by anyone or anything!
The night of the incident was quiet and cold . . . about 2:30 a.m. one relative went outside the tent to relieve himself. As usual, he shined his flashlight around the perimeter of the camp. As the light beam went close to the creature, it let out a VERY LOUD and LONG Volcalization as it ran through the dense timber. The noise was very intense and continious without breaking branches along the way and again 3/4 mile up the high ridge. It seemed to be mad for almost being spotted and made the sound as it ran as though it was without effort. Comparable to a kids loud car stereo turned on with the volume already up and was steady for 10 - 12 seconds. The second time up the ridge could have been from another creature but sounded like the same one. It would have easily beaten any person up the heavily timbered and steep ridge. It was defenetly NOT any known animal like a Bear bellaring as it ran or a cougar.
The noise was so loud it woke up three camps about 1/4 mile apart. The relatives left a gas lantern on until it burned out each night afterwards and they went out with a loaded gun or second person with their loaded gun. None of them will EVER sleep on the ground again!
That week of hard hunting, the 14 other hunters in the area didn't see any Elk or Deer. Also did not hear any coyotes! Seemed like everthing was frightened away, very unusual.
There was no sign in the hard frozen ground or up the high ridge the next day.
ALSO NOTICED: The lack of animals in the area . . . for the entire nine days of hunting. A lot of fresh Elk sign two days before the hunting season. Normally a lot of Elk and Deer. Plenty of animals everywhere else . . . not within 5 miles or more.
OTHER WITNESSES: Three relatives in a noisy camp, last to put out the lights and two other camps with two witnesses in one and a few more in the camp below. Everyone was asleep except for the one with the flashlight. So loud everyone heard it!
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Very cold and still night . . . about 2:30 a.m.
Snow had melted to just a few inches and the ground was frozen hard from rapidly dropping temperature.
ENVIRONMENT: 4,000 foot level, below Cliffs above Rimrock Lake along the high mountain ridge. Mountain forest with clear cuts and meadows. Bear, Cougar, Coyote, Elk, Deer, and Mountain Goats in the area.
Follow-up investigation report:
Interviewed both R.W. and his brother D.W. at length. R.W. was camped approx. 1/4 mile from incident. D.W. was one of the relatives who were asleep inside of the tent at the time of the incident. Weather patterns as reported from Yakima, WA (25 miles east of incident and 3,000 feet lower in elevation), were consistent with what the witnesses reported, with an overnight low of 25° Fahrenheit and clear skies. There was a full moon as well, which provided a good deal of illumination, though not great.
Most of my time was spent speaking with D.W., as he was present at the time of the incident. He relates that the campsite had been established for 6 days at the time this took place. His uncle, who was the family member that encountered the unidentified animal, was the one who had set up camp, and had been on site the entire time. The uncle did not note any other odd occurrences prior to the 28th. However, earlier in the day on the 28th, the uncle noticed an extremely pungent odor while walking through the timber near camp. Upon his return to camp, he inquired as to whom had recently defecated in the woods near that location, but no one admitted to having done that.
That evening, one of the family members prepared teriyaki chicken for dinner, which put off a strong odor. After dinner, a few remaining scraps were disposed of at the edge of camp, on the side near where the encounter later occurred. The previous 2 nights, there had been more people in camp, as it was opening weekend for Modern Rifle Elk season. As a result, several people had been staying up late around the campfire, and were rather loud. The night of the incident was much quieter, though, as many people had left. The remaining 3 hunters did not stay up as late as before, either.
As stated in the report above, the uncle awoke and left the tent to urinate at about 2:30 AM, October 29. He took several steps from the tent, waving his flashlight about as he went. When the beam came near where the animal was, it screamed and took off running. The uncle, without even seeing the animal he had startled, immediately turned back towards the tent, later claiming that he covered the distance back to the tent in about 3 steps.
D.W. was asleep as his uncle left the tent, but awoke the instant the animal started screaming. D.W. stated that the vocalization was unbelievably loud and unlike anything that he had ever heard. He had already picked up the slug-loaded shotgun that he kept next to his cot for bears, and the other family member in the tent was also up and reaching for his weapon, when the uncle came rushing back into the tent.
They could hear by the animal's screams that it had already covered a great distance, and was out of view of camp within seconds, thereby not affording anyone the time to get a look at it. D.W. surmises that perhaps the animal had retreated up an old Jeep trail that took off from the dead end road they where camped on, since there were no sounds of brush being crashed through as the animal ran away.
The screams continued for quite some time as the animal climbed up the adjacent ridge, then it ceased vocalizing. The campers stayed in their shelter, listening intently. After several more minutes, they again heard the animal scream in the distance. D.W. believes that he could tell roughly where the last scream emanated from, and that the area was over 2 miles away. This seems like a very great distance, especially considering the terrain. However, as the witnesses are not sure exactly how much time transpired before the final scream, it could well have been an achievable distance. Or, it could well have been another individual responsible for this final vocalization.
The hunters remained in their tent for the rest of the night, but none managed to get much sleep. At very first light, D.W. left the tent and went over to the area where the animal had first been. The ground was hard and frozen, and he could find no evidence that a large animal had been there. The teriyaki chicken scraps that had been left near the camp were untouched. The witnesses believe that these scraps may have been the reason the animal had ventured in so close to their camp, as these scraps were near where the animal was.
The camp remained up throughout the rest of elk season, which ended on November 5th. The occupants report that there were no further visitations or odd occurrences noted.