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Confessions of a Forester

confessions of a forester


Estimated reading time — 10 minutes

I work for the US Forest Service. A lot of interesting to fairly abnormal happenings have occurred during my 20+ years of service with FS. Reading the experiences of others on this and other sites about their experience in forestry work makes me want to share my own experiences. Let me start by saying that USFS has strict social media policies, most of federal government does and if I attached my real name to this – I’d be getting a call from the office of personnel management and probably a pink slip to go with it. I won’t share my name for that reason. I won’t say what National Forest I work at but it’s in the middle of the country and we’re under 500,000 acres. We don’t have vast mountains or huge bodies of water, but we have a few rivers, quite a few wilderness areas and enough land to explore for ages. A lot of history goes into our tiny National Forest and a lot of weird things happen more so than most think. As long as I keep out my name and what forest I work at then I should continue to feel comfortable telling my stories. I have a lot of them so after you read this one, let me know if you want to see more.

Monster Legends Everywhere

I’m sure your locality has some kind of monster legend. I mean Bigfoot has been spotted everywhere. That creature gets around more than Santa Claus. Anyways, we have a few monster legends in our National Forest. One in particular has always haunted me because I saw it. I can’t name the monster because it will give away great details of where I am located but I can tell you what it looked like.

Let me start from the beginning here! It was in the middle of summer and I was assigned on Trails for a while. So, my job was to take a bunch of volunteers into a fairly remote portion of the forest to perform invasive species control. Basically, we had to pull up a bunch of Japanese Honeysuckle because it was spreading like wildfire nearby to a natural area with a very rare orchid growing within it. Invasive plants threaten the forest. So, we all met at the end of a forest service road that was about a 2-mile drive. Then, they had to pile into my service truck in order to drive the rest of the way, about a mile away as the road became very rough at that point. A lot of our service roads are old and rough back from when they were farm roads before the National Forest was created.

Once we arrived at the location, we then had to hike an additional two miles to the natural area where the honeysuckle was located. We got there and started doing our task. This area is densely forested and in the middle of the summer, the overgrowth is horrendous. It is also right next to a river so giant cane and water tolerant plants grow thick. Aside from that, poison ivy everywhere, ticks, biting flies and even rattlesnakes and water moccasins are present. So, seeing anything around you clearly, that is not possible this time of the year.

We were about 2 hours into our work detail when we were all shaken to a halt by a sound that occurred nearby towards the river. It was the loudest and deepest scream that I had ever heard. It sounded almost like a roar of a freight train, but you knew it was coming from some kind of living thing. We occasionally have bear, wolves and cougars that pass through the region but there isn’t any official population, well I mean there is but there isn’t – that’s a different story. The roaring continued and had us all shaken up especially because it sounded like it was getting closer. I figured it was a bear that wondered into the region. It is most likely to happen where a river is crossing in from another state. Bears, males in particular, will travel far to look for mates.

As the sound got so close that it felt like it was right with us, it suddenly stopped. Then silence and nothing for a couple of minutes. But we started smelling fresh mud. You know that really dirty smell usually found in the muddy banks of a muddy river. There was about 5 of us including me. We were all facing one way, the way we thought we heard the roaring, but I guess we made a mistake of the direction. The next sound was right behind us. It sounded like mud falling from a height of about 3 or 4 feet to the ground – that splat sound it would make.

I turned to see my worst fear come true. I’ve been told about this thing, but I never thought I’d see it. It was huge. Maybe 7 or 8 feet tall. Very bulky. Covered in mud, the kind of mud you would find on the bottom of a river. It smelled terrible. Foul. I stood upright like a man. Its limbs were muscular, really muscular. You just knew it could run as fast, if not faster than any human being could. Its hands ended in claws that came to razor sharp bent cat-like points that were about 3-inches in length. Its large head sat on a very tiny neck. Its black beady eyes sat staring at us in deep and large sockets. Its mouth hung open wide showing top and bottom rows of at least 3 or 4-inch long and crooked, jagged teeth that were soaked in blood and mud mixed together. Once it knew that we knew it was there, it let out another roar. This time, it was so loud that the insides of my ears ached for a while afterwards.

I was just a trail technician at that time not law enforcement. I didn’t carry any weapons at all, it was prohibited by the government. I had tool used to pluck the plant roots from the ground, but it was no old fashion monster killing shovel – the majority of it was cheap plastic. So, I did the only thing I knew what to do – scream run and then do what I screamed, RUN! I made sure the volunteers were in front of me as we run. The creature gave chase. I didn’t turn around to see it but the terrified screams and twisted faces of the volunteers running in front of me as they glanced back told me it was probably right on us. I could hear it, tearing through small trees and overgrowth, it sounded like a heard of bison running through the woods, but it growled and roared the whole time. One of the volunteers fell and I couldn’t stop myself from running in time to pick him up and keep going.

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It was too late. I stopped and saw that the creature wasn’t behind me. It was with the volunteer who fell, tearing into his stomach. The best way for me to describe what I saw was it looked like a dog with its front legs on the shoulders of the volunteer, pinning him down while it was biting onto his stomach and violently shaking its head from side to side. It roared the entire time but had a muffle to its sound because the volunteer’s flesh and meat was inside its mouth. I’ll never forget the screaming sound made from the volunteer that day. I didn’t try to help him because it was too late. Even if I could had got to him and somehow got him away, we were too far, he would had bled to death. So, I ran. I ran to my truck with the rest of the volunteers and I radioed into our dispatch giving a special code.

Once we got back to the main forest service road where everyone parked, our law enforcement and the district ranger came soon after. I made everyone stay until they got there. I was told to leave which I did while they talked to the volunteers. I don’t know what was said. I do know that officially we denied that the volunteer who got eaten was never with us to begin with. He is now a missing person’s subject. We set that part of the forest on fire starting at a popular recreation area to make it look like an accidental fire from an abandoned campfire. We made sure to let that area burn really good before we put it out. No one knows the truth about the volunteer aside from us at the Forest Service. The other volunteers were made sure they will never speak of it and that’s all I’ll say about them. But they are alive.

That creature is real and terrifying. It feeds on an easy meal. Be careful when you go out exploring deep in a forest away from civilization especially by a river. It’s funny because these little towns around the forest over here celebrate this creature and use it for tourism but if they only knew that it was real and what it could do…

Bears, wolves, and cougars

All the local and many tourists alike will tell you that we [the federal government] dropped in cougars, wolves, bear, hell even rattlesnakes into the National Forest, from unmarked black helicopters. Rattlesnakes have always been here; they naturally occur here. The wolves, bear and cougars however only used to naturally occur here until pioneer settlers cut down all the forest and drove them away. Once we reforested, after a few decades of tree growth, we had sustainable wilderness for these big critters to return. But they didn’t return, well, they didn’t return naturally. We didn’t use black unmarked helicopters to drop in these large predators. I mean, logistically, that would be more of a challenge than trying to keep it secret.

All we do is declare an area for prescribed burning or claim a fugitive is on the loose or something like that. We close the forest area. We make sure there is plenty of personnel. And then we go in with the animal tranquilized and we turn it loose to wake up on its own. Of course, they’re all chipped so we can track them and their breeding efforts. We continue to deny that we do this and luckily the masses see it as paranoid crazy locals and for the most part, it is easy to keep it under wraps.

We did have an incident however! A local hiker who has made a name for himself on social media videos his hikes and posts them on the internet. At first, he wasn’t a problem because he would stick to the well-known easy hiking areas. Now he goes off and bushwhacks in some of the most remote areas of the forest. He goes places that I’ve never went. One day, we were in one of wilderness areas where we set loose a female black bear and he walked up on her and her cubs. He got video and photos and was able to get out of there before she got too upset. He did the right thing and called us first and said he would never post the contents unless we allowed him to.

We had to threaten him pretty bad to make sure he would never tell. We had to actually get in touch with folks higher up the chain of the federal government and they sent some people from an agency that helps multiple agencies keep things quiet. The people dressed in black suits, driving black SUVs, showed up at this hiker’s house and convinced him to never say a word but they encouraged him to keep making his videos. They didn’t want people to grow suspicious about it.

You know I met this kid once and asked him if he ever seen anything he couldn’t explain in the forest. This was before the people had to “silence” him over the bears. He told me he was once bushwhacking by the river and saw some kind of large animal that he couldn’t quite explain. When he told me, he couldn’t retrace his step because the area burned, I knew exactly what he saw.

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Oh, and about the bears… We keep it secret because people will panic. There haven’t been any bear populations here, well officially, for many years. No one would know how to handle it and the forest would probably turn into some wild west with guns blazing now that everyone can pack a concealed weapon with them. So, we do what we have to do to keep it quiet but eventually we won’t be able to do it anymore I’m sure.

Trees

This next experience takes place in an area that is named for the phenomena that goes on there. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and I know its real. But people think its innocent and not harmful, but I know the truth. We know the truth. I so badly want to tell you the name of this place but doing so would allow you to quickly Google what forest I work for. I’m taking a risk by telling you these things. If they find out, I probably will have to stop, or something could even happen to me. So, I’m not going to say where it is even if you guess it.

Anyways, back to the story. Back when I was on the trails crew, for a little while, it was just me. Budget cuts and turnover rate made that happen. And because we send our personnel out west during wildfire season, you end up being the lone wolf on a lot of projects. So, I was assigned to clear a loop trail at a location in the forest. The loop trail includes a popular trail that is often used by thru-hikers and horseback riders, so it had to stay clear of down trees and what not.

I started hiking down the trail with my chainsaw. A few miles in, I started seeing trees down across the trail. They were pine trees. Pine trees are not native here. They were planted in the early days of the forest to help control severe erosion. The goal had always been to timber out the pines, but tree huggers stopped that from happening. It’s crazy because these pines are so shade tolerant that they’re killing our native hardwoods. Anyways, a simple whisp of wind will easily take these things down and cause all sorts of problems in the end.

The first tree I came to across the trail was a decent sized pine. I had an axe, but it was large enough where I would have to use my chainsaw. So, I put my personal protection equipment on which includes hard hat, safety glasses, earmuffs, leg chaps and gloves. I then fired up the and leaned into the tree and started cutting.

That’s when I heard a horrible scream, a blood curdling scream!

I stopped cutting, turned the saw off, removed my earmuffs, and listened. I heard nothing. I called out to see if anyone was there. Still, I didn’t hear a single sound. You know that all in itself was the first scary thing about this experience – there was no sound at all. No birds chirping. No whitetails running. No trees screeching from the wind. Hell, there wasn’t any wind. Everything was still and everything was quiet. I shrugged it off, put my gear back in place and fired up the saw again.

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As I cut into the tree, the screaming started once again. I was able to penetrate to tree before killing the engine and taking down my earmuffs. I was only startled with pure utter horror to hear the scream continue, right below me. It was coming from the tree. It was loud, deafening and sounded like an echo from a large tunnel. It was continuous and wouldn’t stop. I grabbed my saw and yanked it out. When it came loose from the downed tree, liquid sprayed from within it and it went all over my face and the front of my body. The liquid was thick and as red as blood. It was blood.

Terrified and in shock, not knowing what to do, I just started up the saw again while screaming myself and cut back into the tree. It continued to scream louder and louder, blood squirting more and more all over me, deafening me even with my earmuffs on until I finally cut through it. I was able to chop the rest of the tree up enough to clear the trail. I put dirt over the puddle of blood to conceal it.

Then the screaming stopped, and the blood just ran out into a puddle under where the tree was cut into. Gargling sounds came from the area where I cut, and it sounded like the tree died from choking on its own blood.

I had to cut about 12 more trees away from the trail that day. Every one of them screamed and bled as I ended their reign. After a while, I just got used to it. I tried to tell the trails supervisor about it, and he stopped me mid-sentence and told me to forget about, move on and do my job. So that’s what I did.

I think that’s all for now. I have a lot more experiences to share and they keep happening. If there seems to be an interest in these stories, I’ll post some more. As long as no one finds out who I am, that is…

 

Credit : The Startled Crow

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