Geographical Index > United States > Michigan > Schoolcraft County > Report # 35357|
Submitted by witness on Thursday, May 10, 2012.
Repeat nighttime visitor leaves lasting impression on camper north of Steuben
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COUNTY: Schoolcraft County
LOCATION DETAILS: Big Island Canoe Area. On Coattail lake the furthest southern campsite.
NEAREST TOWN: Steuben
NEAREST ROAD: 445
OBSERVED: In August of 1990 I went for a camping trip in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with my dad. I had just quit my summer job and was going to be heading to college again the next week. We decided to try a pack-in/canoe-in type of experience. I have camped my entire life and my dad took me hunting when I was old enough to walk. I looked forward to these trips. We chose the Big Island Lake Canoeing area near Steuben as our jumping off point. We had our 3000 pound Grumman canoe on the top of the car and we struck out.
The hike in was difficult as my dad liked to pack for any uncertainty and we used old army cast off camping materials that were made to last not be lugged. But after a few hours we found ourselves very much alone and far away from other camps. We had a lake full of pike to ourselves and after setting up camp we spent the rest of the night fishing.
When we returned to camp I built a fire and it very slowly became dark very close to 11 or 11:30. My dad went to bed first and I followed a while later. I do not sleep well for the first few nights of a trip so I spent a good hour or so watching as the glow from the fire outside died down and listened to my dad snore. I may have drifted off to sleep but was awakened by some twigs snapping in the distance. Chipmunks I assured myself. More snapping and larger branches this time…big chipmunks. It took whatever it was about fifteen minutes to make it from the point at which I heard it to the point at which I realized this was not a small animal. At this point I was a bit concerned but figured it was probably a bear nosing around. We had food tied up in a tree and we were good about leaving nothing behind so this critter would eventually just keep on moving.
This was the point where something inexplicable happened. I was overcome by a sense of dread--like I had just come upon the scene of some horrible crime. I was stuck, I could not move, and I felt like I was gasping for air similar to an asthma attack. I could hear everything including my dad still snoring and I know I was making some kind of noise…I sure was trying to. I was lying on my back and was able to look back behind me in the direction of whatever was back there. I could not see anything but the now extremely thin and non-protective nylon of the tent. Then I heard more “walking” it was big and heavy but I was still thinking bear so I cannot tell you if it was bi-pedal. Then something reached down and pushed against the back of the tent and pressed it in about six to eight inches. I thought it was big like a bear’s entire forehead or a person’s two hands. I somehow summoned the strength or will to reach back with my right hand and strike the back of the tent. I expected something to give but it did not. I struck something solid. Whatever it was outside gave a loud growl (my dad who was now awake thought it was more of a grunt) and ran off, breaking sticks on the ground and pushing branches out of the way. It seemed as if I could hear it for almost a minute as it ran off. My dad said, “Did you just hit that bear?” and promptly went back to sleep. I did not.
I would have considered this an incident of a curious bear had that been the only incident. We hiked the next morning and fished but I will admit I dreaded the night. The fire I made was larger than normal and I added extra thick logs to maintain it. I went to bed and remained awake. After the fire died down I was again awakened by branches breaking. I had prepared for this night by clearing the debris away from the back of the tent. I wanted footprints of the intruder. Maybe I set up a few “punji stakes” as well. Whatever it was stayed further away but grunted and began to move smaller trees back and forth enough so you could hear the swishing of the pine needles. This went on for about a half an hour and then the thing walked around the campsite from south to north-west but never came into the camp itself.
Needless to say I napped during the day. The last night I was more frightened. I did not again experience the “frozen” feeling I had on the first night but I was scared. That night again about the same time the thing returned. This time it grunted and growled then began pushing a much larger tree back and forth until it finally fell…my dad is not a light sleeper. Then everything went quiet and I heard nothing else. We left that next morning.
I convinced myself that I had over-zealous bear activity. Now I am not so certain. I have been back to that location on numerous occasions to try to alleviate my fears. I have packed a weapon each time. I finally decided that it was time to really face what had happened and I began to research it. That is how I found this organization and this website. Now I actively search out strange creatures in the wilderness and look forward to another nighttime visit. While I still hunt I no longer carry a weapon in the woods when I am searching for non-edible quarry.
OTHER WITNESSES: My dad was sleeping each time. It seemed as if something were waiting for him to begin snoring.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Over three days but during the night around midnight.
ENVIRONMENT: Beaver dams were everywhere and the lakes were full of pike, bass and perch. There were many deer and bear are often hunted here. Most of the trees were second growth pines but there were also large numbers of birch. The campsite was on the top of a hill that led down to the lake.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Caroline Curtis:
The area where the incident occurred is in the Big Island Lake Wilderness area located in the western part of the Hiawatha National Forest. Wildlife is incredibly abundant.
When questioned about the event, the witness advised that the visitor's slow, methodical approach to the tent and the sound of the footfalls initially led him to think it could have been a person, however, that was quickly ruled out after the witness smacked the subject through the tent wall and heard it growl/grunt in response. The visitor returned to the camp the next two nights but kept its distance, leading the witness to believe it was something more "reasonable" than a bear. The tree shaking and eventual falling of a tree had him convinced that it was definitely not a bear. Tree shaking in response to a perceived threat, is a behavior documented in some primate populations . In fact, Dr. Jane Goodall describes this in a 1963 article published in National Geographic, when detailing her initial close-range encounters with chimpanzees in the Gombe Game Reserve.
The witness stressed the remoteness of the area, with the only access being by boat or on foot. He has returned to the area five times since and experienced no further activity.
The witness now teaches high school history and coaches cross country and track in southeastern Michigan. His experience over twenty years ago impacted him enough that he now actively researches Bigfoot activity as an investigator with the BFRO.
About BFRO Investigator Caroline Curtis:
- Worked as an Assistant to a Circuit Court Judge in Florida for thirteen years
- An avid outdoorswoman, growing up in the UP of Michigan on a family-owned fishing and hunting resort, currently lives in the Hiawatha National Forest
- Certified Visual Tracker, Level 1
- Attended numerous public and private BFRO expeditions
- She and the Florida BFRO group organized South Florida Expedition 2008, North Florida Expedition 2008 and Central Florida Expedition in 2009.
- She and the Michigan BFRO group organized the Lower-Michigan Expedition in 2011 and Michigan UP Expedition 2012.