Rural Americans Reveal the Most Unsettling Things They’ve Experienced in the Wilderness

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Sometimes we just want to get away from it all, which is why the option to live in the woods, either temporarily or permanently is an option. While many people tend to stay away from the threat of bugs and wild animals, we know some who actually prefer it. But just because you like the idea of something means that it’s a good fit for you, as some of these people have learned.

While living and camping in the deep wilderness, they’ve come across everything from UFOs, spirits, rabid animals and more. And they were absolutely petrified when it happened. If you’re curious to find out what scary things happened to the people who chose to spend time with nature, keep reading.

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39. A Brutal Loss

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My cat used to bring in things for me, mostly dead but sometimes, they were still living. He brought me a small wild rabbit that wasn’t dead, so I made a bandage for it. I kept it for about a week before it was hopping around normally again and my dad said it was probably good to go back out. I took it out to one of the creeks near my house and put it beside a tree under some vines.

I took maybe five steps before I heard it scream and when I turned around something had ripped it in half. I didn’t see what it was and I didn’t hear anything running around. I’m sure it was a fox or something, but it still freaks me out to think about it.

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38. Into the Pit

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When I was in the Scouts (or rather, the local equivalent) we had to do the 3-Feather Challenge; one day without food, one day without speaking, and one day and night alone in the woods. The last challenge, we’d be given a knife and a tarp, had to be unseen by any human, after which we had to sneak back to the scout camp unnoticed by the sentries and report to the Campmaster. It was my 3rd day, so I took off, walked for miles through the woods and found the most remote spot in the wildest, most overgrown part of the woods. I spent a spooky but uneventful night until almost before dawn when I decided to go for a morning swim in the lake right before taking off to go back.

I stripped nude, and went towards the lake, but noticed a group of guys fishing so decided to go back. Suddenly, the ground underneath my feet caved in, and I found myself submerged up to my armpits in the absolute vilest mass I have ever smelled: it was a pit where poachers dumped the guts and leftovers of illegally hunted deer, and it had fermented for weeks.

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37. Ole Red Eyes

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The local airport asked us to go check a wooded area in town because someone was pointing lasers at their planes, obstructing their vision to land. We went to check it out, got deep into the woods and at the end of the path was a tree. At the top of the tree were glowing red eyes. Every few seconds, the eyes would move a few feet down the tree, constantly pointed in our direction and making no noise.

Once it got halfway down, we took off. Whatever it was, was inching its way down to come check us out and I wasn’t waiting around to find out what it was. We never caught the laser bandits, but maybe it was ole red eyes. Who knows?

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36. Just Touching His Face, No Big Deal

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My great uncle was a deep woods kind of guy. I find it a little weird. He would rarely use a tent, he’d just set up a sleeping bag right on the ground. Since we’re from Maine, there aren’t too many large predators that really mess with people. There are black bears, but they usually hide, so I guess he just didn’t feel worried.

So, he was out sleeping in the woods once, when he felt tiny hands patting his face. He woke up and opened his eyes to see a raccoon standing over him, just feeling his face. So what did my great uncle do? He just went back to sleep.

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35. 30 Pairs of Eyes

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Seeing eyes at night is scary. I live on a farm and was out for a walk late at night. I was almost back at the house when I heard something beside me.

I turned with my tiny headlamp and I could see probably 30 pairs of eyes. I freaked out and turned on the big flashlight. It was cows. Freaking cows. I thought I was going to die when I first saw them.

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34. The Watcher

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I lived on the outskirts of a national park in a cabin. It was a four-mile drive from the main road just to get to the property, and we had no plumbing or power- the property was right next to where the parks started, so to call it the middle of nowhere was an understatement. My roommate at the time was interning with the park service, but he was a city kid. Every evening at the dead of night, I had heard noises in the woods, of what I thought was someone walking, but then they’d just stop in particularly overgrown areas of the jungle.

The cabin didn’t have a locking door, and the owners didn’t want me to install one, so I began sleeping in my car. Now, this is a huge property, and I’d park my car over an acre away from the cabin, near where I heard something. And I started hearing those footsteps again. I moved out. My roommate (who thought I was crazy) stayed and still slept there without a locking door. He got robbed, not once, but twice after I moved out! When he finally put up motion-triggered cameras, he saw a man with a long baseball bat who’d hike up to the property, set up in the bushes, and watch us.

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33. She Had To Feed the Birds

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I came home one day and noticed large (size 13 or so) boot tracks circling my house and at each window. Considering I live in a rural home with my 3 and 6-year-old children, my wife, and golden retriever, I was a little worked up. I spent half of that day looking at security systems and trying to track where the peeping Tom came from because there are no houses for at least a mile.

My wife then came home and told me that she used my boots to feed the birds and occasionally check on the kids through the windows.

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32. Attracting Outsiders

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This honestly wasn’t very scary, but my uncle lives way up on the hillside in a really nice house. A few summers ago, he was grilling salmon on the back deck, with the back door and front door open to get a cross breeze because it was really nice out.

A black bear smelled the salmon and walked right into the living room. My uncle noticed after a minute and screamed at his wife to stay in the kitchen; his yelling spooked the bear who ran back outside, pooped on the doormat, and then left. It was definitely scary but also hilarious.

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31. Someone Was Sneaking In

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I lived with my parents, but at the time that this happened, I was dog sitting. In the middle of the night, they woke up and all looked at the pair of doors leading to the wrap-around deck (all glass, covered in curtains). They’re doing the little “boof” thing that immediately woke me up and terrified me.

I could hear movement on the deck and the dogs were now full-on barking. I didn’t lock those doors, or any other door, because we live so rurally. I was frozen with fear for a few moments, trying to think of some way to defend myself if someone came through the doors. I immediately ran to the kitchen, grabbed the biggest spoon and stood in the shadows near the door. I was absolutely shaking with fear, with 911 ready to go on my phone in the other hand. It turned out my boyfriend was sneaking in; I almost knocked him out and peed myself.

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30. Intruder Turned Employee

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Waking up to a crazy homeless man mistakenly entering your house at 2 in the morning, two days after your wife dies, when you have a three-month-old was insane.

The man was so lucky he dropped into the fetal position as I rounded the corner with a bat and no contacts in. On the plus side, he was my yard guy for quite a few years after that.

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29. Slept By A What?

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I woke up one morning, with something very warm, rather soft and comfy on my back. My back was against the canvas of the tent. I realized it was an animal. It was a really cold winter night; temperatures dropped close to zero.

As I moved a bit, I heard the voice from my buddy, from his tent. He spoke a bit hushed, and with a definite tremble in his voice. He said, “The ‘Africa Bug,’ are you awake?” Stupid me replied with a strong voice, “yes.” The animal next to me got up, and (luckily) ran away. It was a big male lion.

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28. A Visit from the Witch Doctor

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A few years ago, I was on a mission trip in Kenya, and we were camping out in the bush for a few days; it was pretty uneventful. One night, however, the moon was either full or just randomly super bright, and it made the sides of my tent kind of transparent to the outside. So if something walked past my tent, I would see its silhouette from the inside.

I woke up some time in the middle of the night to the sound of quiet feet shuffling near my tent. When I lifted my head up, I saw the silhouette of a person creeping past. He was wearing a large, terrifying-looking headdress, which I learned was the garb of a witch doctor. I didn’t sleep that night.

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27. The Extra-Terrestrial Light Show

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My family and I were camping on a lake in central Texas on a week with very few people around. Our spot was on the edge of the camp next to the woods and very close to the edge of the lake. We were playing Pictionary by the campfire the first night, when I saw a light go by over the lake. I didn’t think much of it and was still focusing on the game when another one went by at the same speed, following the same line. At that point, I felt a little bit strange, but still wasn’t too worried about it.

After that, another went by, so I pointed it out and my dad said he noticed it as well. We walked out past the campfire and campground lights to get a better view and they continued to fly by over the lake, going the same speed and staying the exact distance from each other. They were reddish-yellow orbs and there was no sound coming from them. My entire family was watching in awe and disbelief. After 15 minutes passed, the last one was chased by a white ball of light that was much closer than the rest. We didn’t talk about it much after discussing what it could be, but when we got back home from the trip, my mom looked it up and saw that people in a town a few miles from our campsite reported seeing the same thing, exactly the way we saw it.

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26. The Knocking

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My childhood home was in a desolate place surrounded by forests. I have my fair share of strange stories, but this scared me the most. I was home alone at night, as my mom and stepdad had gone to the store. I was fifteen, and perfectly capable of staying alone for an hour or two. Then something started pounding on the front door. I thought it was my stepdad, who maybe forgot his keys or something. I got up to let them in, but then I saw my two little dogs; they normally ran up to the door and barked at anyone at there. Instead, they were looking up at me from the couch with something I can’t explain in their eyes. I had a bad feeling about everything, so I hid in my bedroom and called my mom. Of course, she didn’t answer.

The knocking on the door quickly stopped and moved to my bedroom window. I had a tapestry hanging in front of it, so I couldn’t see outside at whatever was knocking. I started to really panic, but after another minute or two, my mom answered the phone. The knocking totally stopped then, and the bad feeling I had disappeared. The thing is, we had outside dogs. If a person or large animal had come up into my yard, they would have gone crazy barking at them. There was also a bunch of mud in front of my window, but there were no footprints in it. I’m normally a very skeptical person, but I still can’t explain this, years later. It has changed my mind about ever living in a rural area.

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25. Our Cat Guide

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There was this one time me and my brother were hiking out in the woods behind our house and we both got this super weird feeling. We both started to feel uneasy and I noticed that our cat had followed us out into the woods and started meowing. We both approached her, but before we could pet her she jumped off and went to another location and would sit and wait. She was very tense and was acting abnormally and every time we’d get near her, she’d just move further away.

Eventually, we realized that she was leading us out of the woods. When we came back into the clearing where our house was, she started acting normal again and being playful and would beg for pats and attention. To this day, my brother and I have no idea what was going on back there. This was about a decade ago and we used to go into the woods every day. We’d just never gotten that weird feeling before or ever since.

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24. Being Hunted

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My buddy and I were hiking at dawn during a camping trip. We were walking along a path and I heard a zing, like a bird chirp by my ear. A second or so later, a tree kind of popped next to my buddy. It’s at this point we realized that there was an accompanying crack and we’d been shot at.

We informed the park ranger around noon and he ended up finding an old guy hunting illegally. We’re not sure if he was charged with anything.

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23. Looking In

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My family went camping every summer when I was growing up. We usually bounced between Virginia Beach, Assateague, and this godawful place called Westmoreland. One trip, we were in Assateague, near the beach, and we had two tents set up in different parts of the site. Sometime in the middle of the night, my mom woke up, which woke me. She was sitting up straight but completely still, and I looked over at what she was staring at. In the moonlight, there was the silhouette of what looked like an old woman looking into our tent; she had long wiry hair and everything.

I was young, so it terrified me, and I started asking my mom what that was and who was outside. Once I made noise, it spooked the “old woman,” and she took off, and that’s when we realized she was actually one of the feral ponies that live on the island. We had set up that particular tent on one of their trails, and they were going down to the beach.

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22. Raccoon Attacks

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My time in the army meant I spent a ton of time in the woods of upstate NY. I remember many nights waking up to things reaching into my pockets and pulling things from my kit (body armor). I’d wake up to a raccoon pillaging my things, literally unzipping pouches and such.

I still swear to this day they were organized and rallied behind this giant raccoon who would sit outside and keep guard and coordinate them.

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21. Glowing Eyes

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One time, new neighbors moved in straight from a very urban area of the northeast. Their new home has a deck on the rear, and they had their picnic table on the deck, pushed up against the kitchen window. The wife was home alone, doing dishes at the sink and it was pitch black out.

She looked out her kitchen window, and saw nothing but huge white fangs and glowing eyes intently watching her! She screamed bloody murder and damn near pooped herself. Standing on the picnic table was MY sled dog, who is black as coal, and happy to meet her new friend. Welcome to the neighborhood.

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20. Listening to the Chill

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I went for a late night walk up the hill behind my place so I could watch the stars. I foolishly turned down company because I really wanted some peace with my thoughts and to soak in the beauty on my own. There was basically nothing for miles in all directions and zero light pollution, so it was truly stunning, and dark.

I was out there for about forty minutes when I eventually got a nervous feeling that raised all the hair on my arms and sent a surging chill up my back. I hauled tail back to the house like a kid runs up the basement stairs from an imaginary monster, and slammed the door behind me. The next morning I found out a drifter down the road, maybe 3/4 of a mile away, was attacked by a mountain lion the same night.

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19. A Woman On A Rampage

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My dad is a park ranger and got a call when I was young. I really had no idea what it was about, but there was a lot of police involved. It turns out a crazy lady was running rampant around the woods and endangering all of the campers.

The weird thing is that it wasn’t far from our house and the lady, who isn’t over 120 pounds, broke a deputy’s leg as he tried to arrest her.

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18. Things You’d Find In the Woods

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I grew up in the middle of nowhere, in New England. I can’t tell you how many times I would find random underwear, sexy magazines and piles of guts out in places you would never expect due to the remoteness.

Finding a single shoe was always troubling for some reason. I always expected to find a foot still in it. Ancient hobo camps with hundred-year-old bottles were also neat.

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17. Calling Out

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I opened the door one day to a mama bear and two cubs around 10 feet from my porch, eating the dog food I accidentally left out. I slammed the door so hard and fast that the house shook. I nervously grabbed any object I could to keep me safe and called out for work that day.

They understood. I was waiting for a good three hours of them milling about before making a loud bang which they sent them running. It was an expensive kind of dog food, too; I went all the way to Costco for that.

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16.  Sleeping Sheep

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Camping one night in the Yorkshire Dales, it was 2 am when I heard a scratching sound; I was instantly wide awake. The scratching got louder, but it was too dark to see anything.

Suddenly, the side of the tent started bulging inwards, followed by another loud scraping sound. The side of the tent was almost touching the floor and a pointy object was pushing into the tent. I leaped up, freaking out, unzipped the tent door, expecting serial killer, but instead, a sheep had fallen asleep on the tent.

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15. On Their Property

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My parents are out in nowheresville on a farm in Central America for most of the year. Aside from all the snakes and the tarantulas that make their way into your house, the scariest thing that happened was the time someone broke in while they were sleeping and robbed them. They didn’t wake up, but found things stolen the next morning. They upped their security like crazy after that.

For me, when I first moved from the city into suburbia, the creepiest thing was when foxes screamed. The first time, I thought a woman was being harmed in the woods behind my house. When I shone a flashlight, I found a fox just sitting there, shrieking its head off. I could understand then why, in my culture, foxes are thought to take the form of women. It scared the hell out of me.

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14. Not for More than Two Nights

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I can’t camp for more than two nights in a cabin, even if it has a fridge, toilet, air conditioning or a hot tub. I guess it’s more like staying in a wooden hotel in the middle of nowhere surrounded by bugs and hidden ax murderers.

Just once I would like to actually rough it for a week and camp, but I think I would be too miserable and terrified to ever do so.

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13. The Sound of Apples

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My bedroom is right next to an apple tree, which has some overhanging branches directly over the head of my bed. I have woken up many times in the middle of the night to a “THUMP…thud..thud..thud.”

Apples fall off and roll off the roof. It’s incredibly terrifying to wake up out of a deep sleep to hear that, especially when you’re in the middle of the woods.

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12. Foxes and Video Games

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I moved into a house with significant wildlife running around. I heard the sound of a woman screaming like a banshee near the trail behind my house, so I called 911. The police showed up and I learned it was a fox.

Take note, everyone. If someone is hurting you, scream “help!” or some other distinguishable word. If you just scream, I will think you’re a fox and continue to play my video game.

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11. The Invader

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I can’t exactly remember how young I was, maybe 9 or so and I was sleeping in a tent with my cousin. I woke up to find that there was a strange man with us. I don’t think he noticed that I was, but I was so scared. I tried pinching my older cousin under the covers in an attempt to wake her up, but she was out. I didn’t know what to do and the adults were all down a hill partying.

Luckily, my uncle saw the man go into our tent from a distance. He thought it was one of our other family members, but when he realized that everyone was on the dance floor, he gathered a bunch of the males. They surrounded the tent with flashlights, pulled him out, interrogated him and threatened to kick his butt if he didn’t leave the premises immediately. My cousin was snoring away while all this was going on. We laughed about that in the morning.

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10. Cults and Stuff

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My friends and I live in one of the more haunted areas of Pennsylvania and one of our hobbies was going out into the woods looking for creepy stuff; the place is littered with ruins of places from the 1700s and whatnot. One time, we were going down this very well abandoned road, driving down in my truck, and came upon this rusty iron gate. Behind it, though, was a massive, elaborate house, almost like a mansion, but it looked completely in disarray; it looked like it was from the 1800s and the woods had encroached it entirely.

But, this was at about ten o clock at night. We wanted to go in but we all though, we saw this house, and we all got the exact idea in our heads: that we should not go in there, because this is the kind of thing that happens in horror movies. These woods we were in were known to have satanic cults come out to them sometimes. Later, we found out that there were five squatters in that house, and that there had been deaths there as well.

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9. The Ransacking

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When I lived in North Vancouver, my home was in a forest on a mountain. I saw a shadow of a figure passing my window in the middle of the night and it made a noise, but not enough to fully wake me up. The next morning I found my back yard to be completely ruined. There was trash everywhere and my wooden fence looked like a tank drove over it. There were deep indentations in the grass and it left a trail that carried into the neighbor’s yard.

Later that day, the news reported that a bear was wild in my area and to remain cautious when outdoors. It’s not too unusual, especially for Vancouver, but it’s the creepiest thing I’ve experienced in a forest.

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8. Nazis In the Village

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My dad and I decided to go for a late evening walk one night. There was a straight path in the woods, so we couldn’t get lost, plus we’d been there a couple of times. So we walked for a while and noticed that it was getting dark and that we should head back home. We did that, but we heard people screaming. We looked around, but couldn’t see anything, so we assumed they must have been pretty far away.

Then we heard them again and this time we could almost make out what they were screaming, and it sounded like a Nazi chant. I looked at my dad and told him that we need to get home ASAP. Of course, my dad laughed his butt off at my panicking, but I thought it was the creepiest thing ever. When we got home, I just looked at him and said, “We have Nazis in our village.” He still thought it was funny.

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7. The Crying Baby

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One year, a fisher cat decided to settle in the woods near my house. They have creepy calls, sounding sort of like a baby crying, and they’re quite loud.

It scared the crap out of me that night and I went over to a friend’s house as soon as the sun rose.

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6. Nefarious Things

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My father has a very secluded cabin in the woods and took his girlfriend-at-the-time, who was from Long Island, camping there one night in November. They were sitting around the fire, drinking beers when all of a sudden, this guy came out of the woods and approached the camp, hunting gear in hand.

My dad’s girlfriend was about to scream to the high heavens when my dad goes, “Oh, hey Clem! It turns out it was a hunting buddy of his that had left his hunting spot a little too late, so he had to trek back to his truck in the dark. His girlfriend was still wicked freaked out even though my dad explained the situation. She couldn’t shake the thought that my dad’s friend had followed them out there and planned to do nefarious things.

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5. The Silent Visitor

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We had a new house in a very rural area that had bears and moose. My husband was traveling internationally and I was at home in the winter with an 8-month-old baby. I woke up one morning at around two o’ clock to let the dog out, and the dog got interested in some tracks.

They were big boot tracks that led from the forest to my shed, to the side window and then to the back window of the house. The dog had not barked, and our alarm wasn’t tripped, but somebody had walked out from the woods and stared into my windows.

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4. When Moose and Unknown Creature Fight

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My grandfather built a house in the middle of the woods way out in Maine. We go up every summer, and it’s usually a blast. It’s like really easy camping. Every now and then, weird things happen, but one summer a couple of years ago, we had a little coyote problem which is more annoying than anything else. They would howl all night and set my dog Lulu barking.

But one night the howling was worse than usual and Lulu wouldn’t go outside. She had her tail between her legs and was whimpering. I thought she might be hurt, but I couldn’t take her anywhere this late. So I went to bed meaning and said I would bring her to town in the morning. The next morning I woke up to a dead moose in the driveway, with its stomach torn out. I’m not a hunter or a wilderness expert, but I don’t know of any coyote that could have any hope of taking down a moose. I reported it and we left early that year.

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3.  All the Things that Creep You Out

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Hearing coyotes in the tree line when I take my dogs out is frightening—they move around a lot and you can hear them looking for an opening to attack. Another scary thing is hearing a bear break branches in the woods out back—you can’t see it, but you know it’s close.

Being attacked by aggressive turkeys, taking the dogs out and seeing a bobcat in the side yard and hearing a human footfall in my woods are all things that make me jumpy. My woods aren’t easily accessed by a road, so that creeps me out.

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2. Why Ghosts Exist

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I grew up out in a very rural area, and I always wondered what they meant in movies when they said something “made their blood run cold.” I was out in the woods late one night after dark, tending a fire we had started earlier to burn off some old brush when I heard what sounded like 30+ coyotes start yipping and howling within less than a quarter mile of me.

When you’re out there alone just listening to crickets and a fire and all of a sudden that starts up, it’s very scary. Even if you never see the pack, it’s a pretty haunting noise. It really makes you understand why there are so many ghost stories that came up over the centuries, especially when a noise like that is followed up some cracking sticks in the darkness around you.

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1. “I Watch You”

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I spent six months living alone in a cabin near the end of a dirt road in central New Hampshire. The nearest neighbors were a quarter mile or so up or down the road and it’s an area where people definitely keep to themselves.

I had all sorts of animal visitors, including bears on the porch, but never random people around. One morning, I went out to my car to go to work- it was spring, and we’d had a late frost. On the rear window of my truck, someone had written, “I WATCH YOU” with their finger in the frost.

Ariana Aufiero

I am an extremely verbal person who excels (and profusely enjoys) writing and/or talking about anything and everything! I love writing... Did I mention that?

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