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COUNTY: Trinity County
LOCATION DETAILS: Take Interstate-5 to Redding, west to Weaverville, north on Highway 3 to Coffee Creek Road, then west to Big Flat Trailhead. We then took trail 5041 approximately 12 miles SSE on horseback into the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area. We went past the Yellow Rose Mine, past Red Rock Mountain, along the ridge until you get to Bear Creek. From Bear Creek we followed the trail southwest to our camping spot (north/northwest from the trail).
NEAREST TOWN: Weaverville
NEAREST ROAD: Coffee Creek Road
OBSERVED: My dad, my cousin, his wife, and myself, along with six others went on a 10-day deer hunt in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area. We had contracted with a local outfitter to meet us at the trailhead and to transport us and all our equipment to a campsite selected by the outfitter. He had been contracted to return to pick us all up later and return us to our trucks at the trailhead.
The outfitter transported all of us and all of our gear to a location approximately 12 miles south of the trailhead. This was accomplished by using horses and mules. The ride was approximately 4 hours in duration each direction, although the horses did seem to walk faster as they got closer to their corral at the trailhead. We had also contracted to rent two horses and one mule to assist in deer hunting and retrieval efforts.
The first night at camp was uneventful. The second day, another hunter (J.K.) and I decided to spend the night on the ridge across the valley to the east of our camp in order to be in position for a good spot to deer hunt the following morning, which was the first day of deer season (opening day is always on a Saturday).
J.K. and I, along with my dad and J.K.’s dad, packed our gear for a small, remote camp across the valley to a spot near the tree line, the ridge, and a natural “draw/saddle” which crossed over into a valley to the east. We set-up our small camp and constructed two small deer hunting blinds for use the next day. Everyone else left by mid-afternoon, leaving just myself, J.K., and Nancy (the mule) on that ridge. Two events happened that night.
1. Loud Scream – without any prior warning, noises or animal sounds, J.K. and I heard an extremely loud “scream.” Only a single vocalization can be recalled.
This scream began high-pitched in nature, resembling a woman screaming. The beginning of the scream was reminiscent of a woman being murdered from an old Alfred Hitchcock film. The unexpected scream was explosive and violent in nature. This first portion lasted approximately 3-4 seconds.
The scream then changed tone to one with a deeper quality to it. This portion sounded similar to 3 mountain lion cries in rapid succession. This second portion lasted 2-3 seconds.
Finally, the scream ended with an even deeper tonal quality. The end of this scream resembled the growl of a bear. This final sound heard was a very deep growl/rumble, which just trailed off. This portion lasted 2-3 seconds.
The scream originated from a location approximately 75-100 yards northwest and approximately 50 feet lower in elevation of our position. It sounded like the sound emanated from the tree line at the far edge of a large, nearby meadow. Upon very distant investigation with crappy flashlights, we saw nothing.
2. Injured Mule – Our rented mule, “Nancy”, was tied to a small pine tree in a small clearing approximately 50 feet from our camp/tent. Our very small tent was separated from this clearing by a small grove of short to medium sized pine trees, and it was between our tent and the large meadow mentioned earlier. Our camp was on the edge of a North/South ridge; with the mule being due north of us, and a very steep drop-off only about 100 feet was due east. The large “meadow” was actually not a meadow at all; it was a sloping, natural pass with a well-worn hiking trail along the south side.
After the excitement of the scream had worn off, approx. 30-45 minutes later and as we were getting into our tent for the night, the mule suddenly began sounding as if something were scaring the crap out of her. She was “sounding out” very loudly and very excitedly. We could also hear her hoofs pounding the ground.
J.K. and I both scrambled over to her, with guns and flashlights in hand, to find her in a state of great excitement. This mule’s ears were laid back; her eyes were wide open and darting about. Nancy’s breathing was also very rapid, and her nostrils were flaring.
She was still tied to the tree where we had left her. Actually, she was as close to the small tree as she could get. But as we approached her, we noticed she was holding her left front hoof off the ground. She did not appear as though she wished to put any weight on that leg, but we could find absolutely no sign of trauma to the leg. And upon further examination, we found no other obvious signs of physical injury to Nancy at all. She was obviously psychologically traumatized, as she whimpered and shook for quite some time afterwards. We untied her and moved her to an area next to our tent.
A brief search of the immediate area with crappy flashlights and high-powered weapons yielded nothing productive, other than some possible shadows in the distance. The ground was very firm and we found no tracks that night or the next day.
The following day, and upon return of my dad and J.K.’s dad to our location, we described the events of the previous evening and we all examined the swollen left front knee of Nancy. Even in the daylight and upon very close examination by everyone, no obvious signs of trauma were noted to Nancy’s leg. But it was indeed swollen to approximately twice its normal size and she had difficulty placing her weight on it. Her knee had begun to subside in swelling somewhat by the time we were due to return to our trucks, and she did carry her appointed rider home as scheduled.
No real explanation was ever agreed upon as to what made the screaming sounds or as to the cause of Nancy’s injury. The remainder of the week passed without any similar incidents.
ALSO NOTICED: There may be only two more/additional observations of note form this trip into the wilderness.
1. Our hunting party performed an organized “deer drive” in an attempt to flush hidden deer from cover and push them into an area which a pre-staged hunter may get a clear shot. No deer were seen during this effort, nor was any real fresh sign found.
However, I did happen upon an area that was approximately 4 feet by 8 feet that had been cleared of all forest litter, etc. This area was covered with a thick layer of pine needles, but no sticks or cones, etc. was found in this area. The area also appeared as if it had been leveled somewhat as the eastern (uphill) portion of the area had a discernable “terrace” effect, as well as the western (downhill) side had been somewhat raised to make the area more level. The eastern portion of the area was against a very large pine tree, and the northern and southern ends of the level area extended beyond the tree on either side, with the tree centered on the uphill side.
I noticed this spot from approximately 50 feet away, as the “excavated/leveled” area stood-out in sharp contrast to its surroundings. The area did not look natural.
I sat down in this area for a short rest and found no deer sign upon inspection. I had no knowledge of Bigfoot at this time, and I did not suspect this was anything more than a deer bed, but it was the largest deer bed I had ever seen! I also laid flat on my back in this area and it was actually quite comfortable, but I noticed the area was very roomy and I did not fill the space completely in either direction. I also noticed that the view form that location was magnificent. From that spot you could clearly see our base camp and the trail we used to access the entire area.
2. Only one deer was killed during that entire hunting trip. J.K., sometime near the end of our week there, killed a nice buck. J.K. was hunting over the other side of the ridge to the northwest of our base camp.
J.K. said he came over the top of the ridge to see two bucks standing in the open near the top of the ridge. J.K. said he shot and killed one deer, but even though the other deer was nearby and had obviously seen the first deer go down, the second deer did not move, but instead looked off to the west (downhill). Even though J.K. had two tags for deer, he did not wish to stop hunting, so he said he fired a round at the feet of the second buck which caused it to run away.
OTHER WITNESSES: One hunter was with me (J.K.) and heard the scream and examined the mule with me. Eight others were in the party as a whole.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Friday night, around 9-10 p.m.
ENVIRONMENT: We were in the Trinity Alps Wilderness. The campsite was located on the eastern ridge, past Red Rock Mountain. The main trial branches at the northern end of the valley and the area of the scream is off the east trail, as the trail nears the ridge, and as it skirts the south side of a very large, grassy “natural pass”. Just to the south of this pass, near both the trail and the ridge, is where we camped that night.
Follow-up investigation report:
I talked with this witness in person. I also discussed this report with someone who owns and is very experienced with mules. She noted that a mule’s knee could only become swollen if someone had wrenched the leg in an attempt to break it (see the Deer Kill articles on the BFRO website). Mules can’t wrench their own legs so something with hands would have had to wrench (twist) it in order to make the joint swell. She doesn’t believe a normal human would have the strength to wrench it that hard. Since mules will use their front legs to defend themselves and would not normally allow someone close enough to do them harm, whatever did the damage had to have "snuck up" on her. It is very possible that the injury to Nancy may have been caused by whomever/whatever screamed that night.