By Dr. John Stamey
Matt, currently age 43, had an amazing experience in Fall of 1996. At the time, he was 21 years old. His folks had almost ten acres of land in the middle of hundreds of acres of forestland near the junction of the Wabash and Tippecanoe Rivers near Lafayette, Indiana. The family lived in a five-bedroom house at the end of a gravel road. There was a creek behind their house which ran into the Wabash River. Underbrush was, normally thick, but the family maintained a cleared-out area between their house and across the creek where they raised chickens and hogs. Nearby was a hill covered with cedar trees, saplings and dense underbrush — primarily raspberry bushes and vines.
At the time of the incident Matt had lived here his entire life, with his parents, an older sister, and a younger sister and brother. The kids would frequently play in the woods in and around the house. In some of the open areas in and around the woods, they frequently found the longish grass pressed down, as if someone or something had slept there or had trampled the grass down. In these areas, there was frequently a strong, foul, sour odor. However, the kids became used to their surroundings and never really questioned anything.
The family even became used to the strange feeling they were being watched as they would live and play in the area around their house and farm. Whatever was watching them usually stayed in and around the creek bed. Occasionally, it would get near the house. When that happened, the dogs would start barking, and the feeling of being watched and an outside presence would go away.
One late summer evening in 1992, the family was enjoying some quiet time in the house. Other than talking and laughing, the only sound in the house was that of an attic fan running quietly. Suddenly, they heard a loud screech/scream coming from near the house. Mom and the two girls were very upset. What kind of animal could make such a loud, odd, sound? The family’s dogs started barking and whatever it was, went away.
Several weeks later, Matt’s eight-year-old little sister, thirteen-year-old little brother and his friend from the neighborhood, Billy, were playing in the woods behind their parents’ house. The three had played around in the woods for years, so the area was considered safe for them. That afternoon, the three heard some movement in the woods about one hundred feet from where they were playing. Initially, they thought it was deer, which were common in the woods behind the house. Then, they started noticing the horrible, sour smell. Again, the smell was not something new, so they paid little notice.
As kids will do, they decided to throw rocks toward the area where they were hearing the noises and from where the bad smell was coming. The result was a huge surprise. They heard a howling scream from that direction. Frightened out of their wits, they started to run toward the house. No sooner than they began running than they heard another scream right in front of them. Matt’s brother yelled, “split up and meet at the highway.”
There had to have been more than one of the creatures. That fact was certain. About ten minutes later, all three emerged, out of breath, on the highway which led to the area where they lived. Matt’s mother happened to be coming him and saw the three kids. She picked them up and they all got in trouble for being so far away from home. Unfortunately, the reason for being on the highway was not as important to the concerned mother. Billy, the neighborhood friend of Matt’s brother admits, to this day, that he has not and will not go into those woods ever since the incident.
In 1993, Matt moved out of home after high school graduation, heading to Colorado for about three months. Missing home, he returned and lived with a girlfriend for several years. After they broke up, he moved in with a friend, Chris, in West Lafayette, Indiana. Matt was working at Subaru-Isuzu helping to build cars and living the good life of a young man who had a decent-paying job.
Several times a year, Matt would head back to his parent’s house to visit and go hunting in the woods behind the house. He was always looking for that elusive buck. The Saturday before Thanksgiving, 1996, Matt found almost more than he could handle in the woods behind his parents’ house. That afternoon, Matt parked his truck in front of the house and headed out hunting deer by himself.
Walking through the back yard, he entered the woods, eventually crossing over the creek. He walked along the creek bed for a while, which was low and marshy. Then, Matt headed up a small hill to the top of a plateau, where deer trails crossed.
About 2:30 in the afternoon, Matt got settled in next to his favorite tree, a spot where he had cleaned out the leaves so as not to make noise while waiting for deer to come by. As the afternoon began to turn into sundown, Matt had experience no action at this favorite spot. Then, all of a sudden, he heard the unmistakable sound of an animal moving through the woods. Maybe this was his lucky break!
He could hear twigs breaking. He heard movement. Something was definitely approaching through he marshy creek along the edge of the trail he was watching. Excitement, however, turned to a degree of disappointment. Matt had begun to notice that terrible, sour smell from the meadows that reminded him of playing in the woods as a kid. He and his siblings never knew what that smell came from, but it was not anything that was part of deer hunting. From the motion and sounds in the woods, Matt had been expecting a doe being tracked by a buck.
As the sounds and movement were getting closer, some sapling trees in the distance began to shake. He continued to hope for something good, perhaps even two bucks on the hunt for a doe. Normally deer are quiet in the woods, but in the case of bucks — and bucks in contention for a doe — the noise and rustling could be two bucks fighting over a doe.
The movement in those sapling trees, about one hundred feet away, got more and more agitated. Then it happened — that blood curdling growl and scream. There was no mistaking the scream was aggressive. Clearly something was no more than one hundred feet away and was warning Matt that he was not welcome in the area!
His gun had moved from his side to a position of readiness. Whatever was in those sapling trees might have to be dealt with in short order. More sapling trees were being broken down as this creature was making its way toward Matt. Now, Matt had to duck to avoid being hit by a branch that had been hurtled toward him. He could make out a human (bi-pedal) form that was about seven or eight feet tall. The creature was dark gray or black. Matt was never able to see the creature’s face. However, it was headed right for him. Matt could clearly see a shoulder as it was moving toward him. Then came another one of those loud screams accompanied by a growl. The sound was just like he and his family remembered from several years back when they were quietly living at their house.
Certain that another person or hunter was not approaching, and beginning to fear for his safety, Matt turned and started running. He made his way as fast as he could, half way down the hill in a couple of minutes, Matt stopped — silently — and listened. He was happy that he didn’t hear the sound of anything running after him. Then came another one of those growls and screams. He began running again, this time making it to the creek. He jumped the marshy, wet ground and headed as fast as he could to his parents’ house. No one was home, so Matt jumped in his truck and got out of the driveway and on to the road as fast as he could. It was time to head back to his roommate’s house in West Lafayette. What an adventure this had been!
Matt arrived and tried to walk into the house as calmly as possible. However, his roommate, Chris, could tell something had happened. After some prodding, Matt told Chris the story. An amazed Chris wanted no part of the woods behind Matt’s house for the time being.
Dr. John Stamey is producer of the ScaryCast.com podcast. Dr. John Stamey received his doctorate from NC State University in Raleigh, NC. During his three years in that program, he was also a research associate for the Rhine Research Center in Durham, NC. He’s author of the book is “Bigfoot Explorers” and organizes the annual SC Lizardman Festival, Tennessee Bigfoot Conference, and Charlotte CryptoCon. Follow Dr. Stamey on Twitter at @realSCLizardman.