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Geographical Index > United States > Montana > Missoula County > Report # 10357
Report # 10357  (Class B)
Submitted by witness on Monday, January 24, 2005.
Two men report powerful vocalizations behind neighborhood

YEAR: 2005

SEASON: Winter

MONTH: January

DATE: 23rd

STATE: Montana

COUNTY: Missoula County

LOCATION DETAILS: South of Missoula


NEAREST ROAD: Miller Creek Road

OBSERVED: Firstly, let me say that I am an educated man who works in the medical field at our trauma hospital in Montana. The other witness is a Deputy Sheriff. Both of us are in our mid-thirties, married and have children. Neither of us however, drink, use drugs, or in any way were incapacitated during the time of the 'sighting'.

It would also be relevant to tell you that I grew up in Washington where I spent countless summers camping, hiking, and enjoying the outdoors. My good friend grew up in Oregon and spent a great deal of time hunting, camping and recreating in the outdoors.

We both now live in Missoula, Montana and have never heard the sounds like we did last night, on 01/23/2005.

My buddy and I returned from a coffee at Barnes and Noble and he was dropping me off in my driveway near 2030 hours. The moon was pretty full last night and it was cloudless, so visibility was pretty good. Behind my new home, which sits on nearly two acres, is a large hill that descends on the other side to a partially wooded area in a canyon where deer are seen all the time. The heavier, more dense forest starts less than a mile away, and in fact heads into the mountains.

As we conversed in my driveway, the COMPLETE silence was broken by this god-awful howl/growl/moan that echoed the whole valley. The volume was overwhelming. Immediately, my dog, as well as multiple dogs on the road, began barking and almost seemingly panicked. Now please let me tell you that we get elk, deer, bear and mountain lion around here pretty consistently, but never any reaction from the dogs like this.

We went behind my house where my dog was no longer barking, but instead just shivering and looking up at the hill - just as 'it' did it again. The sound is so incredibly similar to the 'howl' you have on your site that it is eerie.

A third series of growls (and let me tell you they were deep and extremely loud) soared across our neighborhood.

I let my dog have refuge in his fenced kennel where he retreated to his doghouse. My dog is a year old lab who has grown up exposed to many wild animals.

We waited but the noise finally stopped after 1-2 minutes. We both commented on how the hair on the back of our necks were sticking up and that neither of us had heard ANYTHING like that before in all our years.

My friend left and I headed into the house where I felt compelled to load hollow point slugs into my shotgun. For nearly thirty minutes I noticed my dog staring up on the hill but did not hear another noise for the remainder of the night.

ALSO NOTICED: Nothing off the top of my head.

OTHER WITNESSES: One other witness outside, and my wife inside. Almost reluctant to talk to other neighbors, but would probably do so.

OTHER STORIES: No, but I started asking today.

TIME AND CONDITIONS: Lighting was good, since area was lit by moon. Light snow on ground, but nothing new for over a week. Limited light wind. Approximately 2030 hours.

ENVIRONMENT: Light wooded area but heavy wooded area very close. This area has rolling hills, small canyons, etc...

Follow-up investigation report:

I contacted the witness within one week of the incident and discussed it at length on the phone. I followed up with an on-location visit and interview at the witness' home in Missoula. I found the witness to be absolutely credible; an educated man in the medical field, with personal law enforcement experience as well. As stated in the initial report, the witness has had extensive experience in the outdoors and is familiar with local wildlife. In fact, he recalled actually witnessing a grizzly bear take down a calf elk in Glacier National Park; a rare occurrence.

The witness accurately related the incident to me in person. He again described the vocalization as the most intense sound he had ever heard. It echoed throughout the neighborhood and incited raucous responses from nearly all the dogs in the area. To provide an example of the volume of the sound, the witness' wife, who was in the house with all doors and windows shut, heard it and came out to ask what was going on. The tone of the vocalization was "not a scream, because it was too deep and 'bassy'." And, according to the witness, it sounded "pissed off and mad". There were a total of three 'growl-like howls', which ended after approximately two minutes.

The witness discussed the level of fear he felt at the time, which he described as unusual given his experience as a sheriff's deputy. As stated, he was compelled to load slugs into his shotgun.

The night was clear with the hill being illuminated by the light of the moon. One might ask how the witness did not see the source of the vocalization. I discovered it possible, upon personally climbing to the top of the hill, to stand on the summit and view the majority of the subdivision without being discernable from the homes directly below the ridge.

The witness did not notice any unusual odor during the incident.

The witness' dog, which I encountered on the visit to Missoula, is a rambunctious young lab that seems oblivious to just about anything. It seems significant to me that the dog just sat staring towards the top of the hill during the incident, shivering and whining, and ultimately retreating to the "safety" of its doghouse.

Following the incident, the witness began browsing the Internet in search of explanations for the uncanny sound. Coming across the BFRO site, he explained to me that the "Ohio Howl" seemed very similar to the sound he heard that night. However, the sounds he heard sounded much more aggressive, intense and angry.

The terrain surrounding this location is very interesting. The subdivision in which the witness lives is a single street, with homes on both sides running approximately one mile parallel with an incredibly steep ridge. The ridge, approximately 350 feet above the street, is bare, covered only in long grass. The subdivision sits in its shadow, in the flat valley below. The ridge, located a mere 25 yards from the back steps of the witness' house, is so steep that it would be nearly impossible to climb straight up, so one must switchback to reach the summit. The top of the ridge is essentially a plateau, with a gradual downwards slope to the southwest. There is a line of massive steel power poles running the length of the ridge, continuing to the forested mountains directly to the east. One could walk along the line of power poles directly into the nearby forested mountains about one mile to the east. An unusual aspect to the hilltop is its lack of ground cover. One small ravine draining to the southwest contains a handful of pine trees, but the remainder of the hilltop was completely barren of trees and brush.

It is the opinion of this investigator that the witness did in fact hear an intensely powerful vocalization, and it is extremely unlikely that this sound emanated from any other known animal or source.