Monday, January 20, 2014

New Book! Chasing After Bigfoot

Well, I sure haven't been posting on my blog lately, but I have a good excuse (I think, anyway). I've been working on my newest book, and it's now finally done! It's available here at

Since it's avalable only from Amazon in Kindle format,   be aware that you can get a free Kindle app from Amazon—just go their main page and select Kindle and you'll see a link on that new page. 

Here's the Introduction:

Dear Fellow Adventurers,

As you may know, I’m a fly-fishing guide, and I’ve collected many Bigfoot stories around campfires from my clients. (“Rusty Wilson’s Bigfoot Campfire Stories” and others in that series.) 

When I’m sitting around the fire listening to these stories, the storyteller will often tell the actual place where their Bigfoot encounter happened. I almost always change these locations in my books. Given what I believe is the declining number of this species, I feel we need to be very careful to not intrude on their habitat any more than we already do.

But I always wondered what it would be like to go searching in those places, places where there have been actual encounters—some of which were real doozies. I call places where there was more than one such encounter “Bigfoot hotspots.”

My wife, Sarah, and I discussed this for some time, and I always felt a bit conflicted about the whole thing—I would hear of others going on organized searches, sometimes in fairly large numbers, and I’d wonder, what does the Big Guy think about all this? I always felt that he or she probably felt hunted. I know I would. 

I wanted to see a Bigfoot, but I just couldn’t justify intruding into their terrain. I know I wouldn’t like someone coming into my territory, purposely searching for me and my family.

While thinking about all this (usually while fishing), a thought finally began to take shape: what if I were to go to Bigfoot hotspots and just hang around camp, trying to be as unobtrusive as possible and not tramping into the woods looking for them? Would they maybe come to me from curiosity?

Another thought was in the back of my mind—would I be able to find definitive proof of the existence of Bigfoot, something many scoff at or question? And if I did, what would I do with it?  

I tried to be honest with myself. If I did find such proof, I knew I would never sell it, and I wasn’t sure I would even share it with anyone except my wife, who I trust implicitly. I’m not interested in self-aggrandizement, and I feel that most media sensationalize the topic of Bigfoot. I wanted no part of that.

I simply have a life-long curiosity about Bigfoot. I wanted to see one—in a nutshell, meet the elusive creature I’d heard so much about over campfires. I also feel strongly that we must start preserving their habitat, and this won’t happen until we can list them as a real species, and possibly as an endangered one. But what part I wanted to play in that was not clear to me, as I wanted nothing to do with anything that could also possibly make them even more endangered.

So, I decided I would go camping. I would take off for a month and follow my heart, go chasing after the Big Guy—though I can tell you, when I realized my dream could become reality, I was kind of scared.

Did I have what it would take to camp in a tent in these Bigfoot hotspots all alone? I wouldn’t actually be chasing after Bigfoot—if anything, he’d be chasing after me. I hoped I had the fortitude and courage to let him find me, were he so inclined. To be honest, the thought was both intriguing and terrifying.

And so, in late July, off I went, and I can tell you this—it takes a lot more to live through a Bigfoot story than it does to hear someone else’s. There were times when I amazed myself at my courage—but more often, I was shocked at how big of a chicken I could be. Things just didn’t come down like I expected them to—not one bit. 

Unlike in my camp fire stories, the locations in this book are exactly where the event happened. I mention this because you might want to stay away from those places—or go there, if you’re ready. My vision of Bigfoot has always been that he’s a benign creature, but there were a few times during my “expedition” that I wasn’t so sure. 

So, make yourself a cup of hot chocolate, kick back by the fire, and be prepared for a story that may make your teeth chatter just a bit—and if it does, believe me, it won’t be from the cold.

I hope you enjoy it! —Rusty

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I Can't Hear You

My wife, Sarah, always edits my stories after I have them down on paper. If it weren't for her, I'm sure they'd be much more unreadable—in fact, if she edited my blog, she'd probably make me find a new word for "unreadable," saying it's kind of unreadable. Ha.
Anyway, I was in another town and called her to see how everything was going. I have a new book out, and she was reading through the stories, editing them. I asked her which story she was on, and she replied, "I can't hear you."
I repeated the question, and she answered, a bit exasperated, "I can't hear you."
I looked at my phone, trying to figure out what was wrong, when she started laughing, then said, "That's the name of the story I'm on, I Can't Hear You." We both got a good laugh out of that one.
Anyway, here's the story, and my new book is available here on Amazon. It's called "Rusty Wilson's Mysterious Bigfoot Campfire Stories." I hope you enjoy.

I Can’t Hear You
This story came my way from a fellow who had signed up for a guided trip in Montana. I have a lot of friends in that beautiful state that guide flyfishing trips, and one had broken his arm, so I filled in for him on the Madison River, one of my favorite places. As they say, it was a tough job, but someone had to do it. 
We were all sitting around the campfire after a great dutch-oven dinner (featuring peach cobbler for dessert) when I heard his story. —Rusty
My grandpa was a crusty old guy, a real Wisconsin character. He lived in the same cabin he’d been raised in, way up by a lake in the timber, and he left only when my parents finally persuaded him to go live with them. 
I have many fond memories of going up to that cabin with my brother to stay with Gramps. We spent part of our summers there—well, until this incident, anyway, then we quit going. After this, my dad would go stay with him some, and he finally persuaded Gramps to move in with us.
Well, Gramps’ cabin was old and rustic and had lots of leaks, but Gramps lived there year round, cutting his own wood for winter and growing a big garden, such that you can when you have such a short growing season. 
He had water right there in a little stream that came by his place, and he canned his vegetables and dried the meat from the deer he hunted. It was kind of like paradise in some ways, until winter, anyway.
But I was glad when he finally moved in with Mom and Dad. He seemed to be getting frailer and frailer, and the thought of him being alone out in the woods was kind of unsettling—maybe because he wasn’t really alone, as you’ll see.
This story happened one sunny summer day—well, summer night, actually. My brother and I had been playing poker with Gramps—he loved to play poker—and it was getting pretty late, so we finally hit the hay. As usual, Gramps had won all our change, though he would always let us win it back the next day.
Gramps slept in the little bedroom in the cabin and Jason and I slept on cots in what was the only other room, kind of a combination kitchen and living room.
We’d had a busy day doing what kids do in the woods, and we were tired. We both fell asleep pretty fast and were soon sleeping hard as rocks. I think this happened when I was 14 and Jason was 15. We were what you call Irish cousins, born barely a year apart.
Sometime in the night I woke, not sure why, as I hadn’t been dreaming or anything. I just woke from a dead sleep, just like that. I felt really uneasy.
I knew something was wrong. My instincts have always been pretty accurate that way, and I just lay there listening, and the longer I listened, the weirder I felt. But I couldn’t hear anything unusual. It was strange, and I finally wondered if I wasn’t just imagining things.
I finally drifted back to sleep, only to be awakened again by Jason poking me in the ribs. He was crouched down by my cot, kind of like he was hiding, and he half scared me to death.
“Be quiet, Tommy, don’t make a sound. Just get up and sneak over into the corner with me behind the stove. Stay low.”
Oh man, this was weird. Why was Jason being so dramatic? It wasn’t like him. He never played pranks, so I knew something was up.
I rolled off of the cot and crawled over behind the big pot-bellied wood stove, with Jason right behind me. I tried to make myself small as I crouched down behind it. Jason put his hand on my arm, and I could tell he was shaking. I remembered that I’d woken up earlier, and I knew something strange was going on.
Jason put his hand over my mouth as if he was worried I’d yell or something, then pointed to the little window above the kitchen sink. There, I could see a dark figure, a big head actually, and it was looking right into the cabin.
Jeez, I knew it had to be a bear, but what kind of bear would be bold and curious enough to come right up to the cabin window and look in? And it had to be the quietest bear ever, as it made not even the slightest noise.
“We need to get Gramps up,” I said. “He has the rifle.”
Gramps always kept his rifle in his bedroom. 
“Let’s see what it does. Maybe it’ll leave,” Jason whispered. He then added, “Holy crap! Look at those eyes!”
The bear’s eyes were now glowing a greenish-red, just like it had turned on a flashlight, and that light was scanning the room like it was looking for us!
“Crap is right!” I whispered back. “Stay still. That thing’s huge!”
We both continued to hide behind the big stove, hoping the bear couldn’t see us, and we were now totally terrified.
Soon the head disappeared. We decided to make a break for it and go wake up Gramps. We ran like bats out of hell into the bedroom, where we shook Gramps awake. 
The old guy was getting hard of hearing, so we had to shake him awake, otherwise he wouldn’t hear a thing. About the only way we could even make him hear us anymore was to yell right at him.
He woke up with a start and set straight up. I think we scared the old guy half to death. But we didn’t want to yell at him, so we were in kind of a quandary as to how to tell him what was going on. If we yelled, we knew we would alert the bear as to where we’d gone.
We tried to tell Gramps using a sort of sign language we made up on the spot, but he just sat there half-asleep, looking both alarmed and mystified. He seemed kind of put-out at us for waking him up. Finally, I thought to get some paper and a pen off his dresser, and I wrote him a note, using my pocket flashlight to show him.
“Giant bear window glowing eyes.”
Gramps now looked alarmed and got up, pulling on his trousers and getting his gun out of the closet. He loaded it and fearlessly walked out into the living room. 
We followed like puppy dogs, scared and with our tails between our legs. Gramps must have wondered if we were really his own grandkids or some kind of impostors, as his kin would never be scared of a bear, glowing eyes or not.
He opened the door and shot into the air several times, then closed the door, walked back into his bedroom, put the gun away, and went back to bed, leaving me and Jason feeling kind of inadequate.
It had been such a simple thing, dealing with this bear, so why hadn’t we just taken action and done the same thing and not woken him up? OK, in the future, we’d be more like Gramps instead of hiding behind the stove. We’d go in and get his gun and not wake him up.
But Gramps hadn’t actually seen this thing, and maybe he would’ve been less cavalier if he had. Oh well, we thought, time to go back to bed.
It took me awhile to go back to sleep, and I finally got up and hung a towel over the window. I didn’t sleep too well the rest of the night in spite of this, and Jason said he didn’t sleep a wink.
Well, the next morning Gramps wanted to know what was going on, so we told him. When we were done, he looked pretty grim, and he led us outside to look around. 
The cabin was surrounded by forest, and there were needles and tuft everywhere, so we didn’t see any tracks. But right under the kitchen window the pine needles were pressed down like something heavy had stood there. 
Gramps studied it real close, then looked even more grim. He started yelling into the woods like a madman, well, because he was mad.
“You dang Forest People stay away from here! I’ll shoot every last one of you!”
OK, this made me and Jason pause. Forest People? Who were they?
I asked, and Gramps muttered something about how they were no good and for us to stay close to the cabin until he could deal with them. We got the feeling this had gone on before.
That night Gramps set with us by the big stove longer than usual. He was in the mood to talk, and he started telling us about the Forest People. Jason and I couldn’t believe what we were hearing, and if we hadn’t seen the thing in the window ourselves, we would’ve thought he was pulling our legs.
He told us about when his parents first came out there and built the cabin, and how the Forest People had tried to scare them away. He’d been a little boy, and he was forbidden to ever leave the cabin without an adult. His parents had finally moved the family into town, but they all returned a year later, as they wanted to homestead. By then, the Forest People had torn down the original cabin, and they had to start all over again.
This second time, his dad had lost patience and actually began shooting at the Forest People, though he really didn’t want to kill them, just run them off.
Gramps told stories about seeing them in the woods when he got older and was able to go out alone, though he always carried a gun. He didn’t think they were dangerous, but it scared him to death when he would see them, as they were big and powerful looking.
As time went by, they came around less and less frequently, until finally they didn’t come around at all. It had been years since he’d seen any evidence of them, but he had thought he’d seen one the last time me and Jason were visiting, and he was thinking maybe they were attracted to us since we were kids, and he knew they liked kids.
We just sat there listening, wondering if Gramps hadn’t been living in the woods alone too long. But we knew what we’d seen, and at that point, we were pretty much ready to go home—except we didn’t want to leave Gramps there alone.
We tried to talk him into coming into town when Mom and Dad were scheduled to come get us, but he just laughed and said we were being silly, that the Forest People wouldn’t hurt anybody. Except he wondered if maybe they didn’t kidnap kids once in a while, as the lake had a bad reputation, and there’d been a couple of kids go missing there over the years.
We didn’t like hearing that one bit. Now we were really ready to go home, but our parents wouldn’t come pick us up for another week. We decided we wouldn’t go outside unless Gramps was right there with us.
That night, all was quiet, and the towel over the window made me feel better, as I knew nobody could see us now. Jason and I lay there awhile, talking in low voices, with the light out, discussing what Gramps had told us about the Forest People.
I finally drifted off, but only to once again startle awake in the early hours. I looked at the kitchen window, but the towel was still there.
Jason whispered, “Tommy, you awake? Did you hear that?”
“What was it?” I asked.
“There’s something messing around outside. Sounds like it’s behind the house outside Gramps’ bedroom.”
I lay still and listened. Something was making a low moaning noise, and it would then bang against the back side of the cabin. 
“Gramps can’t hear it,” I whispered. “And it sounds like it might be trying to get him.”
We both rolled off our cots and crawled quietly into Gramps’ bedroom. He was snoring like a saw cutting logs, totally oblivious to the racket outside.
Jason crawled over by the dresser where Gramps’ rifle stood in the corner. He picked it up, got some ammo from the dresser drawer where Gramps kept it, then carefully loaded the gun. He now walked back into the living room, and I followed. We would deal with this on our own and not wake Gramps up—or so we thought.
I held the door open while Jason stepped out a foot or two and shot the rifle into the air. Neither of us had spent much time around guns, and he wasn’t prepared for the recoil, which almost knocked him down. He came stumbling backwards into me, and both of us almost bit the dust, but we managed to stay on our feet. 
I slammed the door shut just as I saw something really big and black come around the corner of the cabin. I locked the door, then quickly put a chair up against it, as if that would have any effect at all on stopping an animal that big.
Jason stood there, rifle pointed at the door, and we both held our breath. We were scared to death.
Of course the rifle shot woke Gramps up, and he came into the living room with his skinny bare legs sticking out of his oversized BVDs. He kind of reminded me of a chicken with his potbelly and skinny legs.
He saw Jason with the rifle and immediately figured out what was going on. Now he was mad.
“Are they back?” he asked with a scowl on his face.
Jason nodded his head yes as Gramps took the rifle from him. Gramps then opened the front door and went outside, BVDs and all. I kind of wondered if he wasn’t a bit more scary looking at that point than the Forest People were.
We instinctively followed him, though we were both scared to death. Gramps didn’t seem a bit scared, and we were now worried about him. I guess we were feeling protective of the old guy, even though he was the one with the gun. 
Well, as I went out the door, I realized we were in deep trouble when I heard the lock click behind me. I hadn’t really unlocked it, just pulled it open from the inside. I tried the handle, and sure enough, we were locked out.
The old cabin only had two windows, the one above the kitchen sink and a small window in the living room. There was no way any of us would fit through the kitchen window, and Jason might barely fit through the other one, being the smaller of us three.
“Jason, we’re locked out,” I whispered to my brother. He turned with a panicked look in his eyes and verified what I had told him.
“Crap,” he said, immediately going to the living room window and trying it. It was also locked.
Meanwhile, Gramps had gone around the side of the cabin, muttering and looking for something to shoot at. I didn’t know whether to follow him and make sure he was OK or try to break into the cabin. Jason was trying to pry the window open, so I decided to follow Gramps.
I was going around the corner of the cabin in the dark following Gramps when I heard the moaning again. It was terrifying, like something from a horror movie, and it sounded like it was right around the corner where Gramps had just gone. And of course it was too dark, so I couldn’t see a thing.
I felt my way along the back wall of the cabin, thinking that surely I would catch up to Gramps soon. And sure enough, I did, bumping into him and scaring the bejeebers out of him. He must’ve jumped three feet in the air, and for a minute I thought I was going to get shot.
And now the moaning was right there, right by where Gramps stood, and he was looking at me, even madder cause I’d scared him. I knew he couldn’t hear the sound, and it sounded like it was right behind him. 
I yelled at him and pointed behind him, but it was so dark he couldn’t even see my hand. Right over Gramps’ shoulder were those eyes, those red-green glowing eyes, and they stood way above both me and Gramps. This thing was huge, and it was about to get my grandpa, and I couldn’t make him understand what was happening. 
I didn’t even think about it, I just grabbed the rifle from Gramps and pointed it at the eyes. I hesitated, as I didn’t want to kill anything, and just as I paused, Gramps turned and saw it. I pulled the trigger, but I shot purposely wide, and the thing jerked back as if I’d shot it, then disappeared into the darkness.
I knew I hadn’t shot it—I couldn’t have possibly shot it—but I was worried just the same. I grabbed Gramps’ arm and steered him around the front of the cabin, where we were still locked out.
The thing was moaning again off to our left, and now it sounded really angry. It soon began banging on the side of the cabin, but it stayed around back where we couldn’t see it. Jason was now crawling through the window, and we were soon all inside. 
I just stood there by the big stove, wide eyed and white faced as Gramps started a pot of coffee, cussing and fussing the whole time. He obviously couldn’t hear a thing and had no idea what kind of a racket the thing was making.
It was soon dawn, and things now got quiet outside. We collected our wits, Gramps going on and on about the Forest People while drinking coffee. He had said they were harmless, but they sure didn’t feel that way to me.
That day, Jason and I walked down the road to the neighbors, who had a phone, and we called Dad. We told him to come and get us, though we couldn’t tell him the real reason with the neighbors listening in.
Dad arrived that evening, and we packed up to leave, begging Gramps to come with us. Of course he refused, acting like he was surprised that we were leaving over something so trivial as a Bigfoot terrorizing us.
That was pretty much it for us wanting to go stay at the cabin, and it wasn’t long before Gramps finally gave up and moved in with us. 
We were glad he had survived it all, and to this day I wonder how many times he’d been terrorized by a Bigfoot and didn’t even know it. I guess ignorance is bliss, as they say.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

New Bigfoot Forum and Boot Camp!

I just joined what I hope will become a really great Bigfoot Forum. It can be accessed here and is called Northwestbigfootfreeforums.

It was started by Jaymi, a real Bigfoot pro, one who spends their time out in the field looking for Bigfoot instead of at home talking about Bigfoot. Now don't get me wrong, I love to sit around and talk Bigfoot, but it really doesn't hold a candle to getting out there in the woods and looking for one. (Actually, sometimes I prefer sitting around talking about Bigfoot, cause getting out there can be dang scary.)

Jaymi is the person behind the Bigfoot Bootcamp, which is a really cool way to introduce your kids to the outdoors, adventure, and being self-sufficient and capable at survival skills. I highly recommend this, and if I were a kid, I would go beyond recommending it and would be bugging my parents to take me along—yes, you the parent get to go, too, under the guise of being a good parent while having a lot of fun.

So, foot it on over to the forum and join up, it's free, though I encourage you to become a VIP member to help Jaymi in the good work she's doing. It's only 20 bucks, which is just a few Zagnut bars or sticks of Jack Link's beef jerky. And then go check out the Boot Camp.

See you in the woods!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Bigfoot Runes

A mysterious cave contains a strange book that leads to a quest with an unusual and scary companion. The stakes? An entire species.

It suddenly struck me what an incongruous team we were—a giant hairy Bigfoot, a somewhat broken-down scraggly human, and a small scruffy dog. I was pretty sure the Canadian Border Patrol had never seen the likes of us—and I hoped they never would.” 

Well, it's finally here! My new book is out and available at in both Kindle and print format.

I'll post more on it later, but feel free to ask any questions here or email me at rustybigfoot at

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Wow! I'm interviewed on a very cool blog!

Alisha Paige has a very cool blog and invited me over for an interview. The coffee was great and the fresh cookies were sublime, and don't forget to pick up a few of her books while you're there, definitely page-turners! Thanks, Alisha!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

New Book Out, Here's a Story from it...

I haven't been posting much lately because I'm working on a new book that should be out in just a few days on I'll post the link when it's up.
It's called "Rusty Wilson's 12 Pack of Bigfoot Campfire Stories" and will be an ebook. I'm also working on a shorter 6 pack ebook. When they're both up as ebooks, I'll combine them in an 18 pack for the print version. 

In addition, I won't be updating this blog much in the next month, as I'm going Squatchin! I just bought a little camp trailer and I'm going to stay in it in the backwoods and work on another book while wood knocking and whooping at night, hoping to get some Bigfoot to join me and tell some stories. I might even grill a few steaks to add to the interest. I'll keep you posted!

UPDATE: Here's the link to the 12 pack book, and the link to the Six Pack book. If you want them combined into one print book, here it is.

Here's the cover of the 12 pack, I think the Bigfoot are kinda cute:

And here's a story:

Bone Games
Jerry was a small wiry guy I met at a flyfishing class I was teaching in my home town. We got to talking afterwards, and when I learned he was camping in his little trailer, I invited him to come home with me for one of my wife Sarah’s good homemade spaghetti dinners.
As we sat around after dinner, the talk inevitably turned to camping, and Jerry shared the following strange story. I’ve never heard anything like it, and I wondered if it were some kind of coming of age ritual. 
I did get to meet his two cats, M&M, who he claims are way smarter than him, and this story makes you wonder. Nothing new there, animals seem to always beat us out when it comes to instinct, at least that’s been my experience. Now if we could just learn to listen to them...  —Rusty
My name is Jerry and I live in my RV full time. After I was laid off from my last job as a computer programmer, I sold my house and bought a little Casita travel trailer and a new Dodge pickup. I put a shell on the pickup and use the back for storing lots of water and supplies, and I can go sometimes up to a month before I have to go to town for anything. I like to do what’s called boondocking, which means you camp out with no hookups. I hate RV parks.
I have two cats, and I was trying to figure out how to make it so they could come along, as they’re my buddies. I call them M&M for Max and Missy. They’re both black and from the same litter when a friend’s cat had kittens. I’ve had them since they were babies.
So, as things transpired, I taught them to walk on a leash, and I also built a wire cage off my trailer where they can go sit in the sun. They can go through a storage door and out into the cage, where they can sit and watch things happen. They love that little sunroom, and I just fold it up into the trailer when I travel.
Anyway, I usually spend two or three weeks in the same spot, going down to Arizona and New Mexico in the winter and then up further north in the summer. It’s a really nice lifestyle, and I get computer internet jobs here and there. I don’t need much money. I have a satellite dish that allows me to get the internet from pretty much anywhere. This all has some bearing on my story, so stick with me here.
OK, I was down in northern New Mexico, not too far from Taos, working my way north, as it was starting to get hot. I had driven up towards the ski area in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains until I found a dirt road, then I just drove up it as far as I could go. I ended up in a small meadow in the trees, very quiet and peaceful and private, just my cup of tea.
Ah, the good life! I was stocked up and had everything I needed to stay awhile. People always ask me how I keep from getting bored out there in the same spot all the time, and I always say it’s easy. I hike, listen to my satellite radio system, read lots of books on my Kindle, and do silversmithing. The silversmithing is starting to pay more than my programming, and I have several small galleries around the country who buy my stuff. So, I keep busy. And I also take M&M around for walks all the time on their leashes. I never get bored, and I never get lonely.
And I never get afraid—well, I didn’t used to, anyway.
So, I pulled the trailer into this nice spot and unhooked the truck, got some things like my camp chair out, then set up the cat house. That’s what I call the little wire room, the cat house.
I was busy messing around and finally went back inside to make some lunch, when I noticed M&M weren’t in the cat house. That’s usually the first thing they do, is run out into the cat house and sit there and survey their surroundings, like “Where we at now, Pops?” 
They were both sitting by an open window, looking out, not wanting to go outside, just sitting there. That in itself should’ve told me something was up, as they’d never done this before, sit by a window when they could be in their cat house. I figured they were tired or something.
I made PBJ sandwiches and sat in my camp chair and ate, then made some tea. After a bit, I decided to take M&M for a little walk and see the country around camp. I went back inside and put their halters and leashes on them, then opened the door. Usually they’ll bolt outside, as they love walks, but neither did, they just sat there. I tried to kind of drag them a little, but they started pulling back. Neither wanted to go out of the trailer, which was another first.
This kind of made me stop and wonder if they weren’t getting sick or something. This was worrisome, but they’d both eaten a good breakfast and acted fine otherwise, so I decided not to push it. Animals are just like us, they have their off days sometimes.
So, I grabbed my jacket and decided to go explore around camp a bit without them. They could sleep in the trailer. I set out a little pan of milk for them, then headed out, leaving the little meadow and following a small animal trail, walking into the aspen and fir forest. 
It was a beautiful day, and I was pretty happy to be in such a nice spot. It felt private and sheltered, and the forest was pristine, unlike some of the areas I’ve been where people left trash and did ATV damage. I was soon in another small meadow, and as I crossed it, I noticed something white in a tree over on the north end. I decided to go see what it could be, as it was up there kind of high. I figured it was some trash that had blown in.
Well, when I got there, I could see there were about ten bones hung in this big pine tree, like ornaments on a Christmas tree. They were large bones, like from cattle. It was kind of weird seeing bones high in the tree as if someone had hung them up there, yet that someone would’ve had to be a lot taller than I was.
I stood there for awhile, trying to figure it out, when I started to feel uncomfortable. This was a first for me, as I usually feel much safer out in the woods than in town. I carry a knife in a case on my belt, but I’ve never had to use it for anything, and I’ve never felt the need to be armed. The only thing out in the woods is an occasional bear and an even less occasional mountain lion, and I’d only seen one bear in all my camping times, so I didn’t worry too much about wild animals. 
But now, as I stood there, I felt uncomfortable, then I started to feel fear, which is another first for me. Like I said, I feel safer out there than in town.
I figured someone had been here before and found a cow skeleton and thrown it up in the tree for fun, but it seemed like the bones had been hung there. They just were too neat and all oriented the same way, and like I said, it would have to be someone real tall who could do that, like maybe eight or even nine feet tall. They just didn’t look like they’d been thrown up there. Maybe someone had used a stick to somehow put the bones up there, I thought.
Well, the longer I stood there, the weirder I felt, so I just turned and hightailed it out of there, kind of looking back and all around me like maybe something was following me. It was that kind of feeling, like I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t like it one bit.
I got back to my little trailer and went inside, where the cats seemed awfully glad to see me, more so than usual. Now, keep in mind that while these things were happening, I wasn’t paying attention to all these signs and putting them together, that came later when it was all over and I was thinking back. If I’d had the presence of mind to put this all together as it was happening, I would’ve been out of there immediately.
I sat there in my little trailer for a bit, kind of looking back the way I just came, wondering if there was a bear or something in there. That country only has black bears, so I wasn’t too worried. I finally started feeling better and turned on the radio and started reading an old Western I’d picked up at the last laundromat. It was pretty good, and I got all involved in it and forgot about the weird feeling.
That evening was nice and cool, and there were no mosquitoes, something I really like about those dry New Mexico mountains. I sat out on my chair and drank tea, trying to coax the cats to come out into their cat house, but no go. They wanted nothing to do with being outside, and they actually acted like they wanted to hide. They kept trying to get into the cupboards and under the covers on my bed. In retrospect, animals have much better senses than we humans, and they pay attention to them.
Finally, the sun set and I decided to go to bed. I woke sometime in the middle of the night, which I sometimes do, and had to go take a leak. I stepped out of the trailer for a minute and did my thing in the bushes, and as I was standing there, I could hear a strange clanking kind of noise coming from the distance, the direction I’d found the bones. I went back to the trailer and stood in the door, listening. 
It’s hard to describe, but it sounded like a xylophone a little bit, like something hollow being hit with a hard stick. It was truly the strangest sound I’ve ever heard, and being out alone like that in the middle of nowhere made it even more unsettling. I listened until I started getting really freaked out, then I went back inside and locked the door. I decided that I would leave the next day. This place was just too strange.
I finally fell asleep and woke to the sun in my face. I’d slept way later than usual, but I still had a hard time waking up. After two cups of strong coffee and some oatmeal, I felt a little better and decided to try to get M&M to go out for a little walk with me. I was feeling different now that it was daylight and the strangeness of the night was gone. 
But the cats wouldn’t budge. In fact, neither of them had touched the canned food I’d given them as a treat, which was unheard of. I was now beginning to really worry they might be getting sick.
I decided to go ahead and hitch the trailer up, then I started putting things away. I would leave, but I wasn’t in any real hurry, just sometime after lunch would do. I actually liked this spot a lot, and if it weren’t for the strangeness, I would stay longer. 
I got everything ready to go, then went inside and made some coffee and booted up my little laptop to check out nearby state parks, looking for the next spot.
Well, one of my main clients was a guy back east who owned a furniture supply company. He supplied stuff for schools, you know, desks and chairs and all that. I had built his online catalog and was the only one who really knew what the coding was all about. 
There on my email was a message from him, and he was frantic. The entire thing had crashed, and he had several schools wanting to purchase stuff before their fiscal year ended. This crash was going to cost him big bucks if we didn’t get it fixed immediately.
I sat down and got into it and finally solved the problem, but it wasn’t until late afternoon. I really didn’t want to take off in the evening with no idea where I was going. So, as you can probably guess, I was there for another night. I just hoped it wouldn’t be like the previous night, though nothing had really happened, just the strange noises. 
That evening, the cats seemed to be hungry, though they didn’t eat much. But at least they were eating, so my worry about them being sick lessened. But there was still no way they wanted to go outside. I had taken their screen room down and closed up the trailer hole, which was really a door leading into the cargo area. I figured if things got too weird, we would just leave during the night, since everything was all packed and pretty much ready to go.
I sat out by the trailer after dinner, just looking at what I could see of the sunset through the trees and thinking about nothing much in general. 
You know how there’s usually a little breeze as the sun sets, as the sudden change in warmth changes the barometric pressure? Well, the evening breeze hit, but only for a moment, as it usually does, but this time it carried a strange odor on it. I tried to figure it out, but it wasn’t quite the smell of a skunk, but close. It was more musky and foul smelling, and it also kind of smelled like something dead, all of that combined. The breeze died down and the smell went away.
I was again feeling some consternation. Maybe I should just get out now, while it was dusk and I could see a bit. But I hadn’t really figured out where to go, and I didn’t want to be going down the road in the dark, as it was rough. When you’re pulling a trailer, even a small one, you kind of need a plan of where you’re going to stop.
I was tired. I hadn’t got enough sleep last night, and the intense work of the afternoon on the computer had helped wear me out. At least that’s how I explain to myself later what I did, because there’s no other explanation. It was a really stupid thing to do.
As I was taking my chair in, the noise from the previous night started up again. It was more distinct, and I think this was because the breeze was coming from that direction. It really didn’t sound very far away at all. For the life of me, it sounded like bones whacking on bones.
Like I said, I was tired, and I just instinctively reacted. I decided to go see what it was. I closed the trailer door, made sure everything was ready to go, and checked that my keys were in my pocket, then slowly headed for the little meadow towards the direction of the sound. Something said to be extra cautious and to stay hidden, so I carefully kind of slinked from tree to tree. By now it was almost dark.
As I got closer, the smell started back up again, that skunky yucky smell. It was pretty gaggy at this point, but I kept going. The little meadow really wasn’t that far from my camp, so it wasn’t long until I was there, looking out from the edge of the trees. And sure enough, this was where the sound was coming from, and it was now pretty loud. Clank, clank, clank, it sounded just like bone on bone.
It took my eyes a minute to get used to the shadows, but I then stood there in a mixture of shock and fear. What I saw is hard to describe, but I’ll try. It’s partly hard to describe for two reasons: one, as soon as I realized what I was looking at, I ran, and two, my brain had trouble processing an image so foreign to it.
There, on the far side of the meadow where the bones had hung from the tree, were a dozen or so black masses—huge, thick, muscular, and terrifying black masses that stood upright, and several looked to be well over seven feet tall. It was now almost dark, so it was difficult to tell exactly what they looked like, but I could see well enough to make out general shapes. 
They all had shaggy hair and walked on two legs with large muscular arms that were exceptionally long. They seemed to be a bit stooped at the shoulders with round heads that kind of came to a peak at the top. They looked like their heads kind of met their collar bones directly, without much of a neck.
As I stood there, a sense of terror washed over me that I’ve never felt before or since. I was downwind of them, and the smell was about to gag me, but what I saw puzzled me enough that I stood there for a few moments longer than I might have otherwise—they were doing something, and that something involved the bones that had been hanging in the tree, some kind of game or ritual or something. 
One of them held a big bone, maybe a cow’s leg bone, and one-by-one the others would come alongside him and try to knock the big bone from his hands with their own bones, which ranged from leg bones to collar bones, all the bones that had been hanging in the tree. It was maybe some kind of test of strength or something.
It was then I noticed a bunch of similar shadows, but smaller, sitting at the edge of the meadow across from me. This looked like a group of females and children, as they seemed to generally be a bit smaller, and the children ranged from small ones to what were probably teenagers. They sat there, watching this game or ritual or whatever it was.
I was only there for a moment, but as I stood there, one of the big guys managed to knock the leg bone from the other guy’s hand. This was followed by a huge chattering from everyone, contestants and audience alike, and they sounded a lot like monkeys. Some of the females and children stood and started jumping up and down, and I swear to God they looked just like gorillas, at least their motions, anyway, though they were more like humans in their upright carriage. They were all very excited.
Now the guy who knocked the leg bone out of the big guy’s hand, he and the big guy started wrestling while everyone stood around watching. It was something to behold, the strength and power of these animals, whatever they were. It was very scary, yet I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I felt sick when I realized they could snap my neck in a heartbeat if one of them had wanted to.
I quickly came to my senses and snuck away, and when I was sure I was out of sight, I ran as hard as I could back to my trailer. I never let the cats ride free in the trailer, I always put them in the truck with me in their cat carriers, but that late evening, I simply jumped in my truck and headed out in the dark, cats still in the trailer. I didn’t want to even turn on my headlights for fear the monsters would see me, but I had no choice, as it was now too dark to see without lights.
I drove out of there as fast as I could, and I think I put a few years on my rig, hitting ruts and bumps a bit faster than was prudent. It wasn’t until I got back to the main highway that I stopped by the road, went and got the cats, and brought them into the cab with me. They were pretty shook up, to say the least, but not nearly as much as I was.
I drove on into Taos, gassed up, then headed north on the highway. I drove far into the night until I came to the Walmart in Durango, Colorado, then pulled into their parking lot. It was early in the morning, and I’d been on the road for hours. I was exhausted.
I took M&M into the trailer with me and fed them. They seemed really happy and ate like pigs. We all then crawled into my bed and I didn’t wake up until mid-morning the next day when a big rig pulled in nearby. 
I normally would never stay in a Walmart parking lot, but it felt so good to be there that I just stayed that day and into the next, resting and sleeping and trying to figure out what had happened. I finally called my son, who I knew would talk to me, as we’re pretty close. After hearing my story, he told me I’d seen Bigfoot.
I would never have believed it if I hadn’t seen it myself. And now I tend to camp more around people and not so much back in the woods alone. I just feel safer that way.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Story from My New Book!

I just published my newest book, a collection of wild stories I've heard around the campfire. I think my favorite is "The Dino Boneyard," but they're all equally weird—at least so I've been told. I would like to give you a free story from the book, but Amazon won't let me, since it's enrolled in their Kindle Select program, which pushes exclusivity, only through Amazon, that kind of thing.

Oh what the heck, here's one anyway, just don't tell, OK?

The Bush Pilot
This story was told over a picnic table high in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. I was the only one present, as the guy who told it didn’t think anyone else would believe him, so he waited until we were alone. I guess I believe him, but it’s sure a strange tale. —Rusty
Scotty and I were friends, and somehow I think we still are, even though he’s passed over to the other side, wherever that is. I dunno, but he’ll always have a place in my heart. Especially after he saved my life, and I know it was him.
I met Scott McDonald when we were both pretty much just kids. I was hanging around the airport in Fairbanks, Alaska, watching the planes come in. At that time, the airport was pretty small, and it was a pretty happening place, as the oil business was booming and the Fairbanks airport was a hub for it all. I used to go down there after school was out and just hang around, soaking it all in. 
I wanted nothing more than to be a bush pilot. It was a life of adventure, and I craved adventure. This was back in high school, and I’m still that way. Nothing like a good day in the air, though I don’t fly as much as I used to.
Scotty was a few years older than me, and he’d been flying since before he was old enough to be legal. He started just like I did, hanging around the airport, just being a general gofor guy for everyone, and that bought him some time on the planes when they were taking tourists out and had an extra seat. 
So he started getting to see some country, and that translated into him getting to go along and help on some of the freight flights, when they were hauling stuff in to the oil guys. He eventually got his license and was doing the freight runs himself, then, after he got the experience and hours in the air, he became a full-on pilot, hauling people into the bush. He learned the business from the ground up, so to say.
My parents had moved the family to Alaska when I was about 15, my mom getting a job in school administration and my dad working in the hospital. We’d moved from sunny California, and  it took us all awhile to get used to the long cold dark winters, but the summers in Alaska made up for it. 
We all loved Alaska, and for me, it was the gateway to adventure. I wanted nothing more than to be a bush pilot. I think that made my parents a bit nervous, as it has a reputation for being a dangerous job, but they didn’t stand in my way.
So, meeting Scotty was my ticket to the air. When I met him, he was able to haul freight but not people, so I couldn’t fly with him. He was still working on getting air hours. But we hit it off, and he had the contacts to get me going, and I started out pretty much the same way he had, except my dad would pitch in once in awhile for a lesson, so I was able to progress a bit faster.
By the time I was about 22, I was able to haul freight, and by 24, I was a full-on bush pilot. I ended up mostly flying floatplanes to remote areas, taking in fishermen and climbers and even ferrying locals around for doctor appointments, that kind of thing. I usually flew a Beaver or Otter on floats, but then I was finally able, with my dad’s help, to buy my own plane.
I’ll never forget the time I took a pilot from a big airline into the bush, along with his friend. He looked me up and down before getting into my little Cessna 207, then asked me how old I was and how many hours I had. He acted like he wasn’t gonna get into the plane with me. When I told him around 1200, he was incredulous. What he didn’t know was that I spent all my free time in a plane, and I’d been flying since I was 17. By then, it was second nature to me. After we landed on a lake way out in the bush, he told me he was jealous. This from a guy in his 40s who had been flying a big Boeing all over the world.
Anyway, Scotty was one of the most generous guys I’ve ever met. Whatever you needed, if he could help, it was yours. Everyone liked Scotty, and he was the first guy to be called by returning tourists, they all wanted to fly with Scotty. He had a great sense of humor and would go out of his way for you, whatever you needed. 
I heard stories about him long after he was gone, things like how he would stop at some remote village and drop off fresh supplies even though the natives couldn’t pay for them, all out of his own pocket. Or how one little native girl needed surgery and he arranged for it all, including raising the money for it and flying her back and forth to the doctor.
Being a bush pilot isn’t a high-paying job, regardless of what people generally think. You do OK, but you can only fly in the summer months. And it’s expensive to live in Alaska. But Scotty did pretty well, as he’d go down to the Lower 48 and spend his winters flying tourists around down there, so his income was better than most of us. 
He worked out of Tucson, Arizona, and as we both got older and wiser, he always told me he was going to give up flying the bush and go down there year-round, but he never did. Bush flying gets in your blood and it’s hard to give up. There’s nothing like it—flying over a big herd of musk oxen or a pack of wolves out in the middle of nowhere, or a beautiful glacier far from the hand of humans. It’s always an adventure. 
But it can be hazardous if you don’t know what you’re doing or neglect to find out about the local conditions, or if you don’t set personal limits. It’s a thrilling job with lots of adrenaline sometimes, and it can be tempting to push it, to overestimate your own abilities. Common sense is what keeps you alive, and sometimes you think you’re invincible when you’ve flown through so much extreme weather and in such extreme country, sometimes landing on small strips of water or on sandbars and in places planes aren’t really made to go. One old-time pilot told me that you’re not a bush pilot until you’ve had a few crashes, so I guess I never was a true bush pilot, even though Scotty ended up there. But I bet he would have preferred not to have that designation in the end, he would’ve been happier to not crash.
So, Scotty and I flew a lot in the same circles, though rarely together. But we were close friends, and when we were both in town, we’d get together and have a beer or two whenever we could. I would also often stop at the hanger where he kept his little Piper Super Cub.
Well, one day I stopped by to see if Scotty was around, and he was just sitting there on the big beat-up bean bag he had in the hanger, drinking coffee. I greeted him, and he seemed happy enough to see me, but I knew right away something was wrong. I could sense it in how he held his shoulders, he wan’t his usual happy-go-lucky self.
“What’s up, Scotty?” I asked.
“Oh not much, just found out an old friend just crashed his plane. Down in Arizona.”
“Bummer,” I replied. “What happened? Is he OK?”
“Yeah, he’s fine, he lost power coming in and couldn’t quite make the runway. Engine malfunction.”
“Trash the plane?”
“Somewhat, but it’s fixable. Undercarriage. He’ll be out for a bit.”
“So why so bummed? He’s OK, that’s good.”
“Yeah, I know, but it just makes me think. Not good to think sometimes, you know.”
“I know, Scot, I know. Too many things to think about if you let yourself get started in this biz. Got anything planned soon?”
“Yeah, I got a couple I’m taking out to the Brooks Range. They have a cabin they built way out in the middle of nowhere and I fly them in when they go, about twice a year.”
Scotty didn’t use floats, preferring land, saying it was more stable. He paused, and I helped myself to a cup of coffee. He then continued.
“You know, I keep having this weird dream, Lynn, it’s starting to freak me out a bit.”
Now, some people can be a bit superstitious, which makes sense, as superstitions are a way to try to get a little control over the unknown, like crossing yourself before you take off. But bush pilots are a different breed, and I’ve never known one who was even a bit superstitious. They’re as pragmatic as it gets. I guess they figure if their skill and luck don’t hold, well, that’s life. So, for Scotty to be upset by a dream wasn’t like him at all.
“What’s the dream?” I asked, not sure I wanted to know. I was having a sense of foreboding, and I didn’t like it.
“Aw, it’s just a dream, but it keeps coming back. No big deal, really, but I keep dreaming I’m flying over a big lake, kind of a bowl in these big mountains, where I see a plane crashed, kind of tipped in the water, one wing down. So I circle, and I see three people walking out, but they’re going the wrong way, like they’re disoriented.”
He continued. “So, I circle back around and head the right way for them to go out, and sort of waggle my wings. I do this a couple of times, and it’s pretty tight in there, but they finally get the message and start walking out the right direction. I then call in and report it, trying to get them some help.”
“Well,” I answered, kind of relieved, “Why is that so bad?”
“It’s what comes after,” he replied. “I’m on the radio, and all of a sudden, everything just goes black and I can hear a terrible crashing noise. It’s like I crashed the plane into something.”
Oh man, I didn’t want to hear that one bit. It gave me goosebumps.
“Look, it’s just a dream, right? You don’t believe in premonitions, do you?” I asked.
“No, actually I don’t. Maybe it’s just my subconscious trying to get my attention. I’ve been a bit lax lately with a few things.”
“Yeah, that’s it,” I replied. “Always slow down and remember to be safe. You’re the one who taught me that rule, and it’s a good one to live by, if you get my meaning.”
Scotty smiled and stood up. “Hey, thanks, bud, I need to just slow down. In fact, I need to do some maintenance, that’s part of it, I’ve been putting it off a bit and that’s bad. But Lynn, I’ve been meaning to tell you, I think I’m going to leave Alaska, for good. Move to Tucson.”
“No kidding?”
“Yeah, this bush flying is starting to get to me. I mean, I never thought I’d give it up, but I keep having these feelings like it’s time. Hard to explain.”
“Well, Scotty, if you do, I may be right behind you.”
“You starting to feel that way, too?”
“I’m not getting any younger. I’m pretty burned out on the long winters up here. Forty below zero is getting old. My wife’s about had it.”
We talked a bit more about little things, then I started out the door, as I had to do a transport to a small village. I was kind of excited about Scotty leaving, don’t tell me why, as I knew I’d miss him. But it kind of tempered him telling me about the recurring dream a bit. Maybe it would be good if he moved to a safer place for flying.
But as I turned to go out the door, he stopped me.
“Lynn, I’m not sure I should tell you this or not, I mean, it’s just a dream, but maybe you should know that you were one of the ones walking along looking for a route out. You’d crashed your plane. Be careful out there, buddy.” 
He put his hand on my shoulder, and for the first and what would also be the last time, though I didn’t know it then, we kind of hugged each other.
I felt kind of unsettled about what he’d told me, and I vowed to be safer myself. But I gradually forgot about his dream, and I didn’t think much about it, until a couple of weeks later, when I got a call from one of the guys I sometimes flew with.
Scotty had crashed his plane. 
He was flying alone, having taken some guys into the bush to fish. On his way back, he’d inexplicably veered off course and up into some pretty severe country. Once up there, he’d seen a little lake in a bowl and circled down. A private pilot had crashed his plane trying to land on a small lake, and he and his two passengers were walking out. Scotty had radioed in their location and shown them the correct way out when he suddenly crashed head-on into a big unnamed mountain. The people on the ground had seen it all, and they said he’d made no attempt to swerve away, just hit it full on. Nobody could figure that out, but maybe he was distracted. A rescue party would be going in, but it didn’t look good for a body recovery, as the plane wreckage was strewn all over a huge avalanche area, a really steep mountainside.
I was shocked. So, Scotty’s dream had been a precognition after all—or was it what had caused him to crash, more of a self-fulfilling prophecy? After all, he’d said I was one of those on the ground, and here I was, no plane crash that I was aware of. But it creeped me out anyway.
I decided not to fly for awhile. I was scared, to be honest, and I felt unsafe. I was beginning to think maybe I was a bit superstitious after all. And I was mourning Scotty. He’d been a close part of my life since we’d been kids, and I really felt his loss.
I shut everything down and took a break, went fishing, hung around the house and did some projects I’d been putting off, that kind of thing. My wife understood, and she had never been the type to tell me what to do, so I just went with it until I started getting bored.
And then, I got a call from a retired couple who wanted to go sightseeing. Everyone else was busy, and this was the only time they could go. They were visiting their daughter up here from Florida, getting out of the heat, and could I take them out? 
I decided it would be OK. I needed to get back to work, and this would be a nice relaxing trip. We’d go out for a few hours and see some mountains and wildlife. I headed down to the hanger and got everything ready, and we were soon in the air. It was an exhilarating feeling to be back up, and they were thrilled with every minute of it. I remembered that this was what made my job so rewarding, this very kind of thing.
When I would do a sightseeing tour like this, I’d follow a kind of standard route, but today I decided to veer off it a bit. I think it was a combination of their excitement and my missing flying that made me do this, as I normally would think twice. But the weather was perfect, and I decided to take them up to see some beautiful high-mountain scenery not normally on the route. 
I climbed a good deal and kind of flew along the flanks of the mountains, not wanting to get up too high. I wasn’t interested in fighting downdrafts, I just wanted to give them a glimpse of that beautiful Alaska scenery. 
But before I knew it, I started having problems. We’d hit a downdraft, and it grabbed on and started taking us down. Now, I’ve flown lots of downdrafts, but this one was different. It seemed like there was nothing I could do to get out of it. That’s when I realized I was running out of gas.
I couldn’t believe it! Running out of gas? That was a problem that was out of my realm of thinking. I always checked the gas levels and filled up before going anywhere. What I didn’t know was that I had a gas leak, and even though the gauge said full when we left, I’d lost most of my fuel.
I had to set down, and fast. But there was nowhere to set down, just a tiny lake in a bowl right below us. I circled down and managed to land on it, then got to shore before the engine died completely.
Wow, what a shock! From an enjoyable trip to near disaster! Now what? I tried to radio out, but there was no reception.
I bet you can guess what’s next, because this story has a familiar ring to it, and it did to me even while I was living it. I could’t believe it was happening.
We had no idea which way to go to get out. It would seem obvious, but we had to find a way to cross over a big ridge. And I wasn’t real sure this older couple could even hike out and make it. They certainly weren’t the hiking type.
We assessed our options, and they decided they wanted to try hiking out with me rather than staying with the plane. I grabbed my survival pack, and we headed out. By then, I had no idea what was the best course to take, and they were adults, so we operated on the democratic principle.
Now, if you’ve ever tried walking through the Alaska bush, it’s not easy going. You need a machete, mosquito repellent, and a grizzly gun, and we had none of these. And it didn’t take long until we were scratched up and totally lost.
This whole time, I was thinking about Scotty’s dream, but when I saw a bush plane overhead waggling its wings, showing us the way out, I felt like I was in that dream myself. We changed direction and the plane circled, waggling its wings again, so we again changed direction. When it came back around, I knew we were on the right course.
But then suddenly, instead of circling again, it headed straight for a huge mountain above us. Before we could even gasp, it had crashed into it! But there was no sound, no crashing noise, nothing, no debris. We stood there in shock. It was as if the plane had just gone into the mountain.
It wasn’t long before we topped out on the ridge and saw another plane, and I knew this one was a rescue. It managed to land on a small flat area and pick us up.
It was some time later, after I’d retrieved my plane, that one of the guys told me it was a good thing I’d had the presence of mind to put out a mayday call with our location.
I just looked at him strangely. There hadn’t been time for a mayday call. But someone had indeed made one.
That’s when I knew it was Scotty.