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Report of Encounter

The RFP Research Project (RFPRP) – Report of Encounter
Date Report Submitted to the RFPRP: November 9, 2006 & November 10, 2006.
Date of Encounter: Late November or early December, 2001.
Time of Incident: About 4:00am.
Weather Conditions: Clear, partial moon, rain earlier. Some light fog in low lying areas.
State: Alabama.
County: Winston.
Nearest City or Town: Arley
Location: In the triangular area bounded by County Road 41 on the west side, County Road 77 on the south side, and the Lewis Smith Lake on the northwest to southeast side.
Nearest highway or road: County Road 77.
General Land Use Description: Primarily timber production with some small farms and cattle ranches. The specific area of the encounter is private land only a short distance from the eastern border of the southernmost part of the William B. Bankhead National Forest.
General Terrain Description: Rolling hills with numerous streams that cut through the sandy surface soils and the underlying limestone and loosely compacted sandstone to form steep cliffs and ledges alongside the stream beds. The area reportedly contains some limestone caves.
Nearest Lakes or Streams: The encounter occurred near the Brushy Creek prong of Smith Lake.
Witness Profile: The witness is a 21 year old male who has lived in the area since birth and extensively hunted in the area since his early teens. The incident occurred when he was 17.
Activities of Witness Prior to Encounter/Incident: He and a male friend had been driving around on the area back-roads all night looking at wildlife.
Details of Encounter / Incident: Each of the two young men had a high-intensity “coon light”. (A battery powered light designed to be affixed to a special hat, typically used for racoon hunting at night.) The friend of the witness had a scope-equipped high powered rifle – the witness thought it was a .300 magnum, although he was not sure. While using the “coon lights” from the windows of their truck they saw a deer standing a few yards from the woods along the far side of a small hay field. They stopped the truck and turned off the ignition. The deer was about 300 yards away. The witness took the rifle and stepped outside the truck. He leaned across the hood of the truck and, using the hood as a rest for the rifle, took careful aim with the aid of the “coon light” and fired.
The deer ran about 15 yards toward the woods and fell within a few feet of the large trees which bordered the field. After leaving the rifle in the truck, the two young men started walking quickly across the open hayfield to retrieve the deer with their hunting lights turned off. The witness stated the partial moon and clear night sky afforded enough light for them to be able to see well after they started walking across the field toward the deer.
As they reached a point about 50 yards from the deer, they were stunned to see a large black body suddenly pounce or leap from a great height out of the tree line onto the dead deer. The witness stated the animal appeared to him to have leaped from a tree, and both of the men thought for a split second it was a panther. That thought was quickly discounted when they saw the size of the animal as it landed atop the deer carcass. Both agreed the animal appeared to be as large as a full grown cow and had the appearance and body shape of a large gorilla.
The animal immediately snatched the deer from the ground in its massive arms and with another gigantic leap bounded into the timber. The two men stood in shock and disbelief while they heard the animal crashing through the limbs and brush as it escaped with the deer. Within seconds the men turned in unison, and without speaking, raced to the truck. They drove quickly away from the area.
Description of Animal: The witness stated that he himself is 6 feet 4 inches in height and weighs in excess of 300 pounds. He stated he was small compared to the animal seen. He said that in the semi-darkness the animal appeared to be black. The two men never saw the animal standing fully erect. The witness said that it appeared to be as large as a full grown Black Angus cow when it hurled itself from the woods onto the deer. He said the animal reminded him of a unusually large gorilla having a massive upper body and huge, muscular arms.
Photos or Drawings Made?: None.
Description of Related Sounds: The witness stated he heard no vocal sounds made by the animal; all he heard was the loud sounds of the animal crashing through the forest as it left carrying the deer.
Description of Related Scents / Odors: None detected.
Other Possibly Related Details: The witness stated that when he was about 15 years old he had a 250 cc trail bike that he rode on a large circular trail that he had made through the dense woods near his home. He stated the small motorcycle was very noisy. He said that the bike trail was narrow but clear of limbs and brush. His father also had a motorcycle and sometimes drove the trail.
One day as the boy was riding the trail alone, someone or something standing in the brush along the trail suddenly swung a large stick or limb from concealment and struck him across the chest, knocking him from the bike. He was not seriously injured, but was immediately alarmed and frightened by the attack. He looked toward the area from which the attack came, but saw nothing or no one. There was no sign of the stick or limb which had knocked him off the motorcycle. He frantically climbed back on the machine, started it and fled around the trail toward his home. When he told his father about the incident, his father said he believed the boy had just gotten off the trail and struck a limb. The young man was certain that was not the case but did not argue with his father.
After recording his initial report the writer questioned the witness about any unusual sounds he might have heard while “coon” hunting at night, and about any unusual actions by his “coon” dogs during those hunts. The witness responded by saying that he had heard only the sounds of panthers screaming at night. He said that when he heard the panthers while he was hunting with his dogs, the dogs would always quit hunting and race back to him. He said that at times when the panthers were close, the dogs would try to get in the truck bed, or crawl underneath the truck.
He said the sounds of panthers screaming at night were not at all unusual in the area at night, and that in fact he and his wife had heard one the night before this writer first spoke to him by phone. He said that he frequently hears these sounds around his home at night.
When asked to describe the sounds made by the panthers, the witness stated the sounds were exactly like those made by a woman in severe pain or distress. When asked why he concluded the sounds were made by panthers, he admitted that he had simply taken his father’s word for the source of the sounds, and his father said his own father had told him that panther were responsible for the sounds. When asked specifically if the sounds were similar to the squalling sounds normally made by house cats or bobcats, he stated they were not, and the sounds had no catlike qualities.
Historical Notes: This area of northwest Alabama continues to generate an exceptional  number of  reports of sightings of the reclusive forest primates during the past several years. Such reports are becoming much more frequent, and recently involve multiple witnesses. It appears the increasing number of sightings are directly related to development of the once remote and uninhabited forest lands along and adjacent to the Sipsey River, Brushy Creek, and Crooked Creek which were impounded as part of the Lewis Smith Lake.
Comment: See a recently posted report from the same general area of Winston County that details an incident in which a noisy 250 cc trail bike was thrown into a briar thicket.
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Report received and recorded by: Tal H. Branco, Field Researcher/Investigator, The RFP Research Project, November 9th and 10th , 2006.