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COUNTY: Owyhee County
LOCATION DETAILS: Location Witheld
NEAREST TOWN: Grand View
OBSERVED: I was homeless for two nights. Decided to stay in a gravel pit I sometimes target practiced at. I was sitting there watching a movie on my laptop and my dog was jumping around in the back seat. He finally decided to jump in the front seat and he proceeded to curl up in a tight little ball. This was unusual behavior for him but I thought, I won't look at him maybe he will be good.
In about 5 to 10 minutes it was like something pushed the back of the car down about a foot. It was quite the jolt so I looked out the back window, couldn't see anything it was pitch black outside. I listened intently and couldn't hear anything leave, also didn't smell anything unusual.
It was, however, very unusual for my dog to show no reaction and stay in the same curled up tight ball. About an hour later I figured I would let my dog out for the last time. What usually takes a while, he did his business and was ready to get back in the car.
ALSO NOTICED: Only something pushing down on the back of my car hard and no reaction from my dog. Usually he is barking or whining and neither of these happened. I looked around the next morning couldn't see no tracks or any marks on the car.
OTHER WITNESSES: No just me and my dog was there.
OTHER STORIES: I did read an encounter report which is maybe 6 to 10 miles away, maybe not even that far from this area.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Around 10:30 pm at night, cloudy with no moon - very dark
ENVIRONMENT: Well, was a dug out pit, fairly big with a gravel bottom. There is a lake nearby and the river within a mile. The rest is desert sage brush.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Geoff Robinson:
Initially, I discussed this encounter over the phone with the witness who was concise, intelligible, and lucid throughout the conversation. While the event had occurred over a year prior, the details were still clear in the witness’ mind, providing for an extremely accurate description. The encounter took place within 1500 yards of a large lake and within a mile from a major river.
The witness mentioned feeling a "numbing fear" after the rear of the vehicle was pushed down, at that point the witness began to feel around in the backseat for a loaded weapon kept for self-protection and general target practice. After grabbing the weapon, the witness then began to look around from within the vehicle (through closed windows and locked doors) turning on the headlights and depressing the brake pedal for rear illumination, all the while holding the rifle. The dog, a small mixed breed animal, continued to stay curled up, as if trying to hide, on the floorboard.
The witness continued to remark on how the dog was normally very active and barked at just about anything, and how odd it was for the dog to behave in this way under the circumstances. The witness also said that since the pit was lined with gravel, it would be very difficult for anything to approach the vehicle without making audible sound - especially for the dog.
After this lengthy telephone conversation with the witness, I located the site via the witness’ description and geo-grid coordinates. Please also see BFRO report #5720.
Within about 2 months, I visited the site along with the witness and discovered that the location of the encounter was approx 2/3 mile from a smaller, private RV park/campground. The nearest tree line was in the foothills over 3 miles to the west. During our conversation at the site, the witness described growing up in the area, and several childhood stories of playmates having direct encounters with a large, “wild man” crossing the Snake River.
From my experience, I found this encounter to be unusual in that the area is desert, and there are no trees for cover. The subject would have walked in the open to the location of the witness’ vehicle, pressed the back of the car down, and departing the area – all without making a sound or being seen by either the witness or the dog. The witness pointed out that the river in March would be teeming with fish, and deer congregate in irrigated cattle pastures a couple miles away.
In my exploration of circumstances surrounding the encounter, I consulted the Idaho Department of Fish and Game to determine bear behavior and geographic population characteristics. From information gathered, I concluded that: a.) Black bear or brown bear are not typically local to the area and; b.) the encounter date would have placed nearly all bear in hibernation. I asked the witness about the possibility of a bear, and the witness spoke of bear not being a part of wildlife in the area.
While bear cannot be completely ruled out, the likelihood of this incident involving a black bear large enough to cause the movement to the back of the witness's car is extremely low.
The witness mentioned having practiced target shooting in the quarry earlier that day. Also the witness showed me a patch of big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata) approximately 75 yards to the northwest of the encounter location. In the cluster of brush, I noted signs of game wallow or bedding, but since the substrate was virtually powder, no tracks were present. In theory this brush would have provided a hiding or sleeping place for an individual (or two) and adequate cover to avoid being seen in daylight.
The nearby sagebrush cluster that may have been used for cover:
Looking north from the rim of the quarry:
Witness's vehicle, the back end was pushed down very forcefully:
During my visit, I had the chance to discuss the encounter at length with this extremely honest and humble witness, and I was impressed with the matter-of-fact description of the events.
Considering the witness has a great deal of experience hunting all types of game, and was sober with already keen senses, I found the possibility of a person or a bear being in the pit in close proximity to the witness’ vehicle, without alerting the witness or the dog, was highly unlikely. The witness is a well-known, dependable member of this very small, close-knit Idaho desert community. The strength required to push the back of the vehicle downward in such an abrupt manner would require a good-sized man (or bear) and it is understandable that the witness was, and still is, pretty shaken up.
About BFRO Investigator Geoff Robinson:
Geoff Robinson is a software engineer and manufacturer's representative. As a teenager Geoff spent many nights in remote Georgia forests raccoon hunting. Mystified by seemingly inexplicable events during that time, Geoff has pursued explanations in the Pacific Northwest via study of an elusive bipedal primate that leaves tracks attributable to the taxon Anthropoidipes ameriborealis
Since those early experiences, Geoff has had encounters at his home in Granite Falls, WA, at the 2008 and 2009 WA Cascades expeditions, the 2009 Olympics expedition, as well as a number of smaller outings in WA and OR. He currently resides in Portland, OR with his wife and two sons.