Paul: Recently I interviewed a young man who was hunting in upstate NY within the Lake Ontario snow-belt who had a hair-raising experience.
‘John’ had been hunting a large area of private property by himself. The land was a mixture of thick hardwood forest with a lot of undergrowth, intermittent swamp, and overgrown fields as a result of an abandoned orchard whose trees still bore fruit.
Sounds like a shy monster’s dream. You know what they say in the real estate business – “location, location, location”.
He was headed back to his truck when he suddenly – and for no apparent reason – began to experience what for Sasquatch researchers is the all-too-familiar description of a “strong feeling that I was being watched”.
It was not until AFTER these feelings had manifested that he began to hear the footfalls behind him. He described them as “loud, heavy crunches” that he felt were too heavy and intentional to be a deer, or anything (or anyone) smaller.
He stopped to confirm that what he heard was indeed footsteps.
I often apologize in advance to potential witnesses that – as they relay their story – I may gently interrupt with questions. I hate to do that. My mum would have a fit, God rest her soul. We don’t want to put words into anyone’s mouth, but it’s important that we put every piece of the puzzle in its proper context and clarify the details to get the entire picture.
In this particular case, I knew what was coming. Wanting him to know that I related to his experience, an important step in putting him at ease, I gently interrupted.
“Let me guess – when you stopped walking, the footsteps quickly stopped. When you resumed – THEY resumed”?
His reply was predictable - “EXACTLY”.
John’s experience was quite common in alleged Sasquatch encounters. I’ve experienced this myself, as outlined in The Rabbit Hole Experience, and it can be unnerving, to say the least.
John’s primal instinct kicked in, and he began to walk faster, yet at the same time, he told me that a voice inside his head kept insisting he not turn around.
“Don’t look back – just get out of here – don’t look back!”
I found this particularly interesting – you would think that there would be a deep need to assess the danger by IDENTIFYING it, and then choosing the correct response. Turn around and see a deer, and I guess you’ve experienced an easy day’s hunting. Turn around to face a person, you can then gauge their motivation for following you to choose your response. Turn around and see a 9- foot tall, hairy, yet-to-be-discovered creature, and either take aim or take off.
But here is a strange combination - the primal instinct manifesting itself in the physical act of…. well… getting the fuck out of there, combined with the mind’s quest for self-preservation, considering that if he DOES turn around, he may witness something beyond his comprehension. He may experience something that – after running through his own personal database and failing to identify – results in the violent collision of the known vs. the unknown.
Cognitive dissonance personified. When the unreal becomes the undeniable.
Welcome to The Rabbit Hole Experience.
After he was convinced that whatever or whoever was following him intentionally stopped walking when he stopped, and resumed when he did, John did what most anyone would do.
John ran back to his truck, and never returned.
After relating his story, he shared with me WHY he was hunting alone that day. John explained that his long-time hunting partner, who accompanied him the majority of the time, had suddenly declined invitations to hunt this particular property months before, without offering much explanation. They had been partners for years, and this spot had long been a favorite. Now he would either suggest another area, or opt out entirely.
John didn’t suspect anything, but after his experience, he shared his story with that same friend, who then confided in John that the last time he had hunted there, after seeing footprints of “barefoot children” he witnessed a “baby monkey-like creature” climb up a tree, where it simply stared at him from its perch. Since the incident, a mutual friend has also come forward, describing an experience he had with what he described as an adult and juvenile creature that fit the same description.
A grown man who has hunted all of his life, armed with a loaded gun, shaken to the core, experiencing a tug of war between the primal instinct of running from danger and the quest for psychological self-preservation by sheltering himself from seeing something that he may regret.
For once we peer over the wall of madness – there is no turning back. Once we see, we cannot “unsee”
Michael: The heavy footsteps that John heard while he was walking out are familiar to us. In our book, we describe hearing the same kinds of heavy footsteps during a night investigation in the North Country of New York. The audio from the incident can be heard here.
The monkey-like creature that his friend describes climbing a tree seems to turn up frequently in cases in the Northeast, particularly in NY. The well-known New York Baby footage depicts such a creature, and was reportedly filmed near the Catskill Mountains of NY in 1997. There are many reports of skinny, almost sloth-like creatures watching from trees, in contrast to the more commonly known giant apes most people associate with Bigfoot.
John’s response is a common reaction, and related to a phenomenon we talk about in the book. Witnesses often deal with the cognitive dissonance created in a paranormal encounter by avoiding any information that might make it more real. In John’s case, this process started while the incident was still occurring. His mind knew that once he got out of the woods, he might be able to convince himself that what he heard was some common animal, and he could go on with his life as before. But if he looked back, he might see something that made that impossible. And that might spell the end of his current belief structure.
It’s the same mechanism that makes children hide under the covers from the monster in their room. It’s not so much that they think the monster can’t find them, but it keeps them from finding the monster.