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COUNTY: Custer County
LOCATION DETAILS: 200-300 yards directly behind the employee housing complex in the direction of Fish Hook creek by Redfish Lake in Stanley, Idaho.
NEAREST TOWN: Stanley
NEAREST ROAD: Redfish Lake access road.
OBSERVED: About midnight on a September evening I was walking across a 100 yard expanse between the shower facilities and my cabin when I was halted mid-step by an awful sound. The hair stood up on the back of my neck. It was a low growl that progressed to a loud inhuman scream that was higher in pitch than the first of the growl/scream. I remained motionless. The sound came from a creek bed about 300 yards from my location. After a few moments I heard it again. I speculated that it could be some drunk person screaming his lungs out but the timbre was not human in its low or high end of the auditory spectrum.
In fear I ran to a neighbors cabin and banged on the door. I wanted someone else to hear this sound! The call was repeated approximately 10-15 times and the location of the source grew nearer and farther while traversing from side to side. Neither I nor my neighbor could determine what type of animal could produce such a peircing and bone-chilling sound. The total elapsed time from first hearing the sound until the last was about 15-20 minutes. This places the calls at about 1-2 mins apart. After the last growl/scream had faded in the distance, I went to my cabin, latched the door, and put my axe and rifle within a moments grasp.
Upon relating this story to others in the area I was informed that a group of 3 individuals---one being my brother---had been walking down a road in the area a few nights earlier and had heard something scrambling along the top of the ridge adjacent to the road and about 100 yards up from their location. They told me they had seen a dark object moving in the shadows and were frightened that it could have been a black bear sow with cubs. I have spent many nights in the forest and I am conversant with all big game species in North America. NOTHING I have seen or heard before could have produced this sound.
ALSO NOTICED: This area is the largest wilderness area outside of Alaska--so I guess that means there is alot of room to roam and remain unseen.
OTHER WITNESSES: Myself and one other man heard the sounds that night. He was in his cabin watching a video when I accosted him. 3 individuals reported to me seeing a dark creature shadowing them along a ridge adjacent to where the sounds first emminated.
OTHER STORIES: Numerous odd reports from hunters and hikers and local officials. I saw something 'odd' about 13 miles away when I was about a small boy.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Midnight. Clear sky. Temperture between 20-30* Bright starlight and partial moon through the trees.
ENVIRONMENT: High country around 7,000". Pine forest with wetland drainage. Mostly lodgepole and whitepine with sparse clumps of aspen and thick underbrush. Creek bed. Some bridges cross the area.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Nancy L. Jones:
During our phone interview, the witness (JE) explained that he has spent a great deal of time in the Redfish Lake area of the Sawtooth Mountains. His grandfather was a ranger in the Sawtooth National Forest for some twenty years. JE emphasized the uniqueness of both the animal calls and the fear response he had to them during his 2001 encounter.
The strange calls were coming from one animal as it moved swiftly through the thick woods in the darkness. JE said he could hear twigs snapping and bushes being brushed aside in between its calls. The sounds were amazing in their volume, duration and pitch range, and sounded somewhat like the howl recordings on the BFRO website. They started out really deep and guttural (so low you could feel the sound), and then went to high, piercing and almost ear splitting levels. They were very LOUD. No reply calls were heard.
JE vividly remembers the hair went up on the back of his neck and a feeling of terror swept over him as he heard the first call. As an experienced outdoorsman and now a firefighter by profession, he stated that he is not used to being scared of anything. For some reason (possibly infrasound), though, he was terrified that night.
The next day, JE went to the creek bed to investigate. No discernable prints, scat or hairs were found.
Together with the stalking incident and a single call heard a few nights earlier by others, these events indicate the presence of a large, dark nocturnal visitor. Based on his experience, JE does not believe the calls could have come from any of the usual suspects: mountain lion, wolf, bear, or man. The stalker was large and dark, so that eliminates all except brown bears and man. Grizzlies have not been seen in the area for decades and a man pacing humans on the road while scrambling along a ridge in the dark would be highly unlikely.
About BFRO Investigator Nancy L. Jones:
Nancy L. Jones is an M.B.A., presently doing occasional special projects for her husband's business and being a full-time mom. Formerly she worked as an IT Project Manager for Hewlett-Packard. She attended the 2007 Central Oregon Expedition.