I was raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa which is located in the northeastern part of the state. I was attending Iowa State University on a track & field scholarship at the time of my encounter.
It just so happened that I was back in my home town of Cedar Falls competing in a track meet at the University of Northern Iowa when I had my encounter. My girlfriend (Kristy) at the time, had traveled from Ames to Cedar Falls to watch me compete. My parents where out of town for the weekend, and it was a spur of the moment decision for us to forgo the drive back to Ames, and stay the night at their home. I knew where they had hidden the key in the garage, so access to the home would not be an issue.
My parents had recently moved to the subdivision of Buck Ridge, which is several miles northwest of Cedar Falls. Their house was on an acre of property on the eastern side of the subdivision. Their backyard faced to the east, and was bordered by a set of woods at the top of the ridge. This set of woods if you continued straight east from the top of ridge would lead you down to the banks of the West Fork of the Cedar River. The north end of the property had a thin stand of trees along the border. There was also a small horse barn in that stand of trees on the northwest corner of the property.
My best recollection is that the encounter took place in March of 1981. There was no snow on the ground, and being that it was early spring there, were no leaves on the trees. We pulled into the driveway at about 11:00 pm. I opened the garage door and proceeded to look for the key that they had hidden inside a shoebox at the back of the garage. I was disappointed to find that the key was not inside the box. I looked in several other locations inside the garage without success. I decided to see if I could work loose one of the screens in a window in the back of the house and enter the home that way. I was finding it extremely difficult to remove the window screens from the outside without bending them, so I decided to abandon that plan. We went back inside the garage, and I decided to rifle through some more boxes to see if I could find the key. The garage door was open, and the outdoor garage light illuminated the driveway and my car. While I was rummaging through one of the boxes, I thought I heard something growl behind me. I believed I was hearing things, so I continued to look through the box when I heard the growl again. This time it was louder, and it sounded like it was right behind me. Kristy was standing directly behind me, and I turned around to find her looking over her shoulder in the direction of the growl. I asked “Do you hear that?” She said she did, so I grabbed a claw hammer, and proceeded to walk out of the garage and on to the driveway to confront what I thought was a neighbor’s dog. The growling was very deep and guttural, and it continued non-stop. It was straight in front of me at the edge where the light from the outside garage light ended, and the darkness began in that thin line of trees on the north end of the property. It was just far enough into the darkness that I could not see it, yet it was only about thirty feet away. The driveway made a sharp left hand turn, so I proceeded to turn left and walk further up the driveway. While I was walking this “thing” was following me and continued to emit that deep guttural growl. When I say follow I mean it was paralleling me and was moving at the same pace I was as I walked up the driveway. It was just far enough into the darkness that I still could not see it. It continued to parallel me up the driveway. At the point, where I was starting to run out of illumination from the outside garage light I stopped walking. I was almost directly across from the horse barn I mentioned earlier and decided that I had enough and was going to confront what I still thought was a large dog. It was still about 30 feet away and growling even louder and more menacingly. I starting walking towards it and raised the hammer and yelled “Come On You Mother Fucker!!!” At that exact moment, this thing gave out a roar that I can only compare to that of a lion. That sound stopped me dead in my tracks. I was completely stunned. I knew that whatever this was, it was not a large dog of any kind, and that I was completely outmatched. To make things worse, the roar sounded like it came from something that was much taller than my height of six foot four. I turned to see Kristy looking at where the roar came from. She was obviously very frightened, and I frantically yelled, “Get in the car now!” I slowly walked backwards down the driveway towards the car. The “creature” was again, staying at the edge of the darkness. It continued paralleling me down the driveway growling that deep guttural growl the entire time. I opened the driver’s side door still facing the growling creature, and I slipped into the driver’s seat. I backed the car down the driveway, and then put it in drive easing past that thin stand of trees on my right where I hoped I could see the creature with my headlights. But we saw nothing. No movement, no shadows, no outline of the creature and unfortunately, no eye shine. We also smelled no unusual odors. Kristy and I left with the garage door open and the lights on. We stayed at a seedy motel north of Cedar Falls that night, and returned late that next morning to close the garage and turn off the lights before heading back to Ames.
At that time I had no idea of what we had encountered. After I heard about the Beast of Bray Road back in the 90’s, and with the advent of the internet and all of the information we have now to research these topics. I believe that we may have had an encounter with a dogman. I could always be wrong. We never saw the creature. Black bears, cougars, and wolves were not known to exist in that part of Iowa during that time. But my sense was that we were dealing with something that was a canid.
As a side note, my mother used to have a small garden just to the left of that horse barn. She told me on several occasions, while she would be tilling the soil that she would find arrowheads and other Indian artifacts. I have sense learned there may be a Native American connection to these sightings of the dogman.
That’s my story the best I can remember. It was like it happened yesterday and was life changing. It set me on a course of exploration and research about the paranormal and other earth mysteries that I think I would not enjoy today if I had not experienced that terrifying “Encounter at Buck Ridge”.