The date was July 12, 2018. My brother and I decided to get a lay of the land and travel north from Fort Duschene, Utah to do some exploring on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation.
It was recommended to us by a nice lady at the Fish and Wildlife Office in Fort Duschene that we should take a look at Big Springs in the Unita Canyon. It is located about thirty miles northwest of Fort Duschene and borders the Ashley National Forest.
We purchased the necessary permits and made our way to Big Springs. It is a serene setting that includes five ponds, campground, and the Ute Indian Tribe Big Springs Fish Hatchery. We were also cautioned by the lady in Fort Duschene, who appeared to be a member of the tribe, that we may see “things” attached to the trees while we were up there, and they were to be left alone.
Upon our arrival, we spent some time walking around looking at the scenery, and took pictures of the ponds. We then decided to take the gravel road north of the ponds and do some hiking. We passed the fish hatchery on our left and proceeded north for about a half a mile or so before the road ended at a gate. After taking a look at our map we decided that we were at the northern border between the reservation and the Ashley National Forest. We didn’t see any no trespassing signs and decided that we would jump the gate, and follow what was now a barely discernable path north. We were sandwiched between the Unitah River, which was a couple of hundred of yards to our east and the steep slopes of the Unitah Canyon to our west. The floor of the valley in front of us was sparsely decorated with pines and hardwoods and some sort of thick grass that was about knee high. We hiked in about a mile before what was remaining of the path became broken and hard to follow. It was now late in the afternoon, and some cloud cover had moved in giving the surrounding area a forboding feeling.
Our plan was to conduct some investigations around the area where Skinwalker Ranch is located later that night, so we decided to reverse our course, and head to the car. We got about half way back to the car when suddenly to our left something growled at us. We stopped dead in our tracks, and looked at each other and confirmed that we both heard the same thing. Then it growled a second time. It was in the same spot to our left. It appeared to emanate from a small stand of trees about twenty yards away. It was an odd sort of growl, The sound was a deep moan, and yet there was a definite growling component to it. If I had to characterize the growl my impression was that it did sound like some kind of canid. My brother silently signaled with his hands that he would go around one side of the stand of trees, and I would circle around the other side in a kind of pincer move to see if we could discover the source of the growls. Just I started to walk towards the left side of the trees it growled a third time. I have to admit that I did pause to consider what I might be getting myself into. But by that time my brother had disappeared from view, so I decided to soldier on.
We met around the back side of that small stand of trees, and yet we both saw nothing. I then decided to walk through the patch of trees to see if I could flush something out, but I came up empty handed. Thinking that we could have been mistaken as to the exact location of were the growls came from we decided to fan out across the area. We spent a good portion of the next hour coursing back and forth through the tall grass and scattered trees trying to locate the source of the growls. There were a few spots that looked like something had bedded down in the grass, but other than that, it was all the sign we could find.
As I reflect on what had occurred it felt like it was a warning from something that we were not welcome there. In all of the years I have spent in the outdoors this is the second time I have been growled at and was not able to identify what produced the growls. The last time was in March of 1981 in my home state of Iowa. An experience I now call the “Dogman Encounter”. The story about that encounter is included here on the website.
The word cryptid certainly comes to mind concerning these two encounters. Another thing they share in common, is that in both cases, the growls were witnessed by a second party and were not a figment of my imagination.
Maybe the third time’s a charm, and if it should ever happen again, I might get a chance to see what is producing the growls. Or like the old expression goes, “Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it”.