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COUNTY: Mason County
LOCATION DETAILS: The location is on the edge of Manistee/Mason counties.
NEAREST TOWN: Manistee
NEAREST ROAD: Removed
OBSERVED: I had reported earlier (Michigan Report #808) about sightings I had when I was in high school. In October of 2003, I as home on leave from Korea (I'm an officer in the Army, currently a Lieutenant Colonel, but at the time of this report I am submitting, a Captain). My dad and I were planning on doing a lot of bow hunting while I was home and got two areas set up - a bow stand for me and my dad sat in the ground blind he used for rifle season. The location is near Manistee, Michigan, East of North Custer Rd and North of East Custer Rd. Over the course of four mornings, we entered the woods approximately one hour before daylight to set in and let things calm down. The first morning, 11 October 2003, we moved in and split up to our positions. I was on my stand, settled in, and immediately heard three distinct knocks, from the North of where we were. Farther North, I heard an answer. There is a cabin to the West, and I figured it was those guys, as they are usually up on weekends for hunting. However, the next three mornings, I heard this sound again after we entered the woods, however, the returns changed location, two coming from directly East, and one generally Northeast. I took this as some sort of signal, but felt it may be the large woodpeckers that are common in the area (except you didn't have the normal rapid drilling/pounding you normally equate to woodpeckers). However, after seeing "Finding Bigfoot" I now equate these to wood knocks that were signalling our presence. The sounds ceased after the final morning of knocks. I returned for solo hunts and again with my dad with no repeat of sounds.
In October of 2004, I moved my stand East of where I was hunting into the edge of pines and used this to over watch a trail system. I had gotten into the stand without incident, was set about an hour after first light (0830) when I heard a garbled sound close to the gibberish heard on Bigfoot sounds and running (North in the pines), when a doe bounded through the pines, stopped 10 yards in front of me breathing heavily, and kept staring North of her. The gibberish and movement kept coming, then it sounded like a quick sound like "Huh" then silence. What I then heard was the sound of similar to something sniffing deeply, and then slow movement towards the Northeast and East of me. As this began, the doe moved quickly past me to the Southwest, eyes really big. The sniffing ended, but the movement seemed to remain, slow, deliberate movement, but you could hear twigs snap periodically.
For two nights after that incident, while in my stand, I felt I was being watched, and circled, hearing slow movement, especially just before dark, to my Northeast and East, then to the South of me, where whatever it was, seemed to be curious, as I was in a stand and not really seen, had shelled corn off the trail for bait, and it knew I was there, knew something was around, but couldn't see me. It was too loud for a deer, but big enough to be heard. I had my stand against a big pine, with a larger pine really masking me.
I have pictures of me in the stand after I put it up and can provide those for a reference.
ALSO NOTICED: Post muzzle loader season in Dec 2004, after I officially returned from Korea, we went to that spot to discharge our muzzle loaders. There was snow, and as we moved into the opening, along the Eastern edge of the pines, were large tracks, single file, that went North-South. The distance between tracks was much larger than my stride extended as far as I could. They were deep in the snow, large area, but not readable or discernible because of the snow fall/slight melting.
OTHER WITNESSES: My dad was there, but we never discussed it. I did mention I heard the knocks but he played off as well as I did since I figured it was a woodpecker. I mentioned to him I had movement around me in the other stand, but that was it - no elaboration.
OTHER STORIES: Yes, mine from years ago, and also, in 2006/2007, near the cabin which is a short distance away, the neighbor said he was seeing what he thought was a black bear in the area, once near his truck by the house.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Mornings for 2003/morning of 2004 then evenings of 2004
ENVIRONMENT: There is a opening with oak and pines that goes North from the woods, like a break between two pine areas.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Jim Sherman:
I called Lieutenant Colonel “G” (LTC G) regarding his experiences in Manistee over the years. My interest was piqued in part because I have had similar things happen while hunting and still feel the excitement every morning when I walk in the absolute darkness toward my tree stand. But I also have a bias toward people who are public servants like this witness as well as police officers, firefighters, and teachers. I have also spent a great deal of time in this part of Michigan whether it was hiking, canoeing, fishing or camping in the Manistee National Forest.
LTC G wanted to add to his initial report he filed earlier:
He wanted me to know that he saw what made the crashing and actually brought up his flashlight and caught a glimpse of the figure moving toward him. He described it as “…big, black and using a fluid motion while crashing through the thick brush.” He had initially thought it was a deer coming toward him but what he caught in his light made him think, “When you see it you don’t know what to think—but you get the ‘pucker-factor’ fast. I [now] know what I saw.” He went on to describe the smell of the figure. “It smelled as if a dog had rolled in crap with bad B.O.” The figure had come within 15 yards.
In 2002 LTC G began to notice wood knocking that seemed to begin when he first entered the woods. It sounded like wood on wood but he initially thought it was people in a nearby cabin chopping wood. Subsequent checks showed that the cabin was unoccupied. This happened with enough frequency that LTC G really started to question why this was happening as it seemed to happen with purpose rather than as a random act of nature. He went on to describe that the timing of the knocking sounded similar to his tour along the DMZ between North and South Korea. “When you stumbled on the North Koreans they would bang on their weapons to warn each other of the presence of Americans.” Might this be what was happening here? Was something in the woods using wood knocking to indicate the presence of a hunter? The use wood knocking, jaw-popping, clapping or chest thumping is an established method of communication in primates so there is a possibility that this is what is happening in the forests of Michigan. The following is a sample of wood knocks and vocals that seem to be timed to communicate human presence or activity.
“Trunk Slam and Knock"
“Knock and Howl"
The area that LTC G hunts is full of deer, blue berries, and many salmon in the Little Manistee River. As a younger person who cared little for the legalities of fishing regulations, I used to chase and catch salmon by hand so this would be a great place to store up needed calories for the winter months. This could make this area a prime location for an animal that can utilize multiple food sources. This leads us to another factor. The Lt. Col. knows maps, terrain, moving through difficult areas and had served in multiple theaters of war. He understands how and where people will move through a given area. I was astonished by my ability to understand the terrain he was dealing with using his explanations and topographic maps. He came up with the theory that he had moved himself into the best possible ambush site for deer and this is where he set up his stand. As hunters we do this type of thing--we look for choke points and reasons for why our quarry will pass in front of us. Whether this quarry is human in the case of a soldier or deer in the case of a hunter, the same idea holds true—find where a target is going to be and wait. Did the LTC find a spot chosen by a Sasquatch? His experiences in 1983, 2003 and 2004 might point toward an answer.
On the fourth day of gun season in 2003 about a half-hour before dusk he heard something that seemed to be testing him, almost as if it were interested in him but unsure of his location. He had put out corn and molasses to attract deer but this did not sound like a deer or a bear. It seemed much bigger and made a “clover-leafed” path all around his location. It seemed as if the thing out there was trying to get a better look or smell of LTC G but was afraid to make contact with him. That year he saw very little deer activity and it seemed as if his prey had been pushed out of the area. This often happens the day after opening day of gun season when the deer become more nocturnal due to human pressure. But there was little human pressure in this area before gun season. Was there another reason?
In 2004 LTC G was hunting the same area early in the morning and heard a deer crashing through the dense brush. It ran right up to his stand and looked back panting. The doe’s eyes were huge and it was scared. A strange sound like gibberish was heard in the direction the deer was looking along with the sound of something moving through the trees. It stopped and made more noise. The closest thing we found to what he heard that morning was from the Sierra Sounds and is commonly called Samurai Chatter. I have heard this in the field, but much quieter, and it is quite an experience.
The vocalizer moved away deliberately and slowly but still made more noise than a deer. For the next few days LTC G experienced feelings of being watched and heard the sounds of something moving around his location, but again, whatever it was stayed just out of sight. It was reported that individuals had found deer carcasses that had been killed “…but not chewed up” and were simply missing their internal organs. Normally, when coyotes make a kill or when scavengers consume an animal there is hair and pieces all around. In this case something pulled the internal organs out and left the meat. In times of plenty animals will eat the best parts of a kill. In fact bear catch so many salmon that they will just take the choicest bits of fatty flesh on the “cheek” and leave the rest. Sometimes they have been witnessed to fish just to show their young how to do it rather than for their own consumption. But no tracks were visible so there is no way of knowing what killed the deer. Later. other members of the hunting party that year saw what looked to be footprints in the snow. The size was too large for a person and the step-length (left foot to right foot) was too far for a normal walking human. The detail in the prints was such that it could have been an animal bounding in the snow but taken with the rest of the collective experiences it certainly fit into a narrative that included the possibility of something non-human and very big sharing the hunting territory.
It was an interesting couple of hours on the phone. While our witness “never felt threatened” and considers being in the woods a “sanity check” there will always be the question “What was it that was out there?” I would add, is it still there? LTC G finished our conversation stating emphatically “I know exactly what it wasn’t.” Maybe next November we will get another shot at finding out what it is.
Please see the photos below for clarification:
Map of 2003 experiences.
Map showing location of "gibberish."
Demonstration of woodlands camo and regular clothing in the area.
The Little Manistee River.
An overview of the river system.
The tree stand...difficult to see.
The tree stand with the witness in it. (Note clever camo identity covering)...
About BFRO Investigator Jim Sherman:
Jim is a High School History teacher and Track and Cross Country coach. He attended the Michigan Northern Lower Peninsula Expedition in 2011, the Michigan Upper Peninsula Expedition in 2012, co-organized the Michigan UP 2013 Expedition and attended the 2014 Wisconsin Expedition. He assisted in the production of Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot Michigan episodes (Bigfoot and Wolverines and Super Yooper). He participates in Ironman Triathlons and enjoys fishing and camping with his wife and daughter. Jim can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @shermanbigfoot and his YouTube account is : Lordcryptid