With more than thirty years scientific research experience between us, he in physics and I in cell biology, we were confident that our Hunt for the Skinwalker would be successful. Although we were trained in the hard sciences, we thought we were resourceful and creative enough to shine a light on the dark weirdness that had become routine on this ranch. Our billionaire benefactor had purchased the 480 acre property less than a year previously and had spared no expense in setting it up as a laboratory of the paranormal. The previous owners, a god-fearing ranching family, had been driven from their home on this same ranch in August 1996 by a relentless onslaught of poltergeist activity, UFOs, cattle mutilations and paranormal mayhem. I was the team leader of a scientific “X-files mission” to find the explanation for this hostile presence.
On this particular night, armed with all the trappings of modern technological investigation, we were staking out a lonely spot on Skinwalker Ranch, hoping to encounter the mysterious. We were even hoping to capture the mysterious. Preferably on film.
It was darker than I ever remember. The only light was from the stars and from some very distant yard lights that you could see if you moved your head back and forth so the trees no longer blocked them. We were so far out in the boondocks that if anything went wrong, help would be a long time coming. It was close to midnight and still warm. No mosquitoes that night. Both of us were thankful. Sometimes around this time of the year, they can start swarming.
The two dogs we had brought along as biosensors were running around sampling the many wonderful smells that came with being in a high-density wild life area. Both were heelers. They were excellent and fearless ranch dogs that could fight a coyote or a wild dog to the death.
We had just arrived in Utah from Las Vegas and this was the first night of watching. We had received instructions on exactly where to stand that night. “Position yourselves exactly in front of the left hand window in the old homestead”, the Canadian investigator had advised. The week before he had shot some beautiful infrared film of a very eerie bright light that had appeared in the left hand window of the homestead. He was a seasoned investigator of things weird; very good at what he did. His infrared film was very compelling. There was only one frame exposed in a sequence of four. He claimed that he did not actually see the light when he was filming it. So we knew if we were going to see anything in this location, it probably was going to be transient. We were focused on the homestead about one hundred fifty feet directly in front of us.
We gazed around the small field. It was bordered by tall trees and this only heightened the claustrophobic atmosphere. Nothing moved. Even the dogs were silent. My colleague stood maybe ten feet to my right. He had the pair of night vision binoculars. Down on the other end of the property, about a mile away, stood two more intrepid investigators, also with a pair of the night vision binoculars. When you clicked them on everything became very clear, only in a bizarre shade of green.
With no warning it was abruptly there. No more than 75 yards to our left, a silent brightly lit sphere of bluish white light about the size of a basketball hovered. It moved slightly, as if swaying gently. The dogs seemed to be alert, they were right behind us. The object was not more than fifteen feet off the ground. It seemed to be bobbing and it was bright enough that I could see the grass lit up. It generated the bluish white incandescent light from within the sphere. There were no obstructions in our line of sight. The thing was definitely in the same small pasture as we were. I noticed a blanket of silence had descended. I could not hear any wild life sounds. We stared and, just as abruptly, it was gone. No more than a few seconds of deep silence had passed. The dogs still did not move.
Immediately, we flicked on the powerful beam of the Maxa-Beam. According to the promotional literature, one could read a newspaper at night from a mile away with the light of the Maxa-Beam. Shining it in somebody’s eyes would bleach their retinas, so we were always careful. It was favored by military and by law enforcement.
Nothing moved as the entire pasture was lit up in bright white light. Slowly we scanned the entire pasture. Nothing appeared out of the ordinary. We walked over to the spot where the object had appeared and, just as suddenly, disappeared. The dogs stuck closely by our sides. They were not in the mood for playing anymore. We searched the area quickly for a few minutes but could find nothing. Slowly and warily we walked back to our original position.
My colleague was scanning the perimeters of the lush, tree-lined pasture with a pair of Generation III ITT night vision binoculars. In 1997, they were the top of the line. These particular binoculars were not the standard pair that just looked in the infrared. They actually amplified ambient light both in the visible and, to a large extent, in the infrared.
I was readying the manual camera with black and white infra-red film when he emitted a yelp or an exclamation. “Jesus,” he muttered. He was looking straight ahead through the night vision binoculars, directly at the tree line that was no more than two hundred feet in front of us. All of a sudden he said, “there is a huge black thing in the trees just in front of us and its moving north”. That got my attention. It also got the dogs’ attention. In the interim, both had taken up positions directly behind us, jammed into the back of our legs and gazing fixedly at the same point where my colleague was focusing. These killer dogs were acting the part. They made no sound.
I pointed my manual camera in the direction he was looking and began a series of long-exposure shots. This was definitely ramping up on the bizarre index. I was conscious if things escalated, hospital was a long way away. “It is big and I’m not sure if it is in the trees or behind the trees. It is blocking out the stars”, he said. I manually kept the shutter open and began counting out about twenty seconds between opening and closing the camera shutter. The camera was my own, probably forty years old and it was capable of taking some excellent shots. A lot of our experience had pointed away from using the high tech “idiot-proof” cameras, because too many coincidences had occurred when the cameras failed in some way at the crucial moment.
Every time I looked up at the tree line to see what my colleague was reporting, I could see nothing. But without the advantage of the amplification of the low level ambient light afforded by the night vision technology, I was looking for black against black background. I could see absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. I decided to focus only on my camera work.
“It’s still moving” he was muttering. All of a sudden he yelled. “Its got me”, “its saying: “we are watching you” he continued, his voice rising a couple of octaves. Then there was silence. I continued trying to take increasingly longer exposures to try to catch whatever he was talking about. Every time I looked up from my camera to see if I could see what was causing him such intense anxiety, I could see nothing except the dark shadows of the tree line directly in front of me. The feeling in the pasture was very spooky, a chilling desolate feeling. Then he said:”its getting smaller”. Then: “its gone”. He kept muttering “Jesus Christ” “Jesus Christ”. He repeated the same phrase over and over again. His voice betrayed that he was very freaked out.
I asked him what had happened. It was obvious that he was still shaken. “Something big was in the trees just in front of us, it blotted out all the stars through the binoculars,” he declared. “It took control of my mind”. “It told me it was watching us”. He sounded very confused and bewildered. This guy was a Ph.D level physicist. He had spent time on the famous NASA Voyager missions, when the celebrated remote Voyager probes had mapped the surfaces of Saturn and Jupiter for the first time in history. This guy was not prone to sudden nervous breakdowns. But now, he was almost babbling. He definitely had not met anything like this before in his academic career. As team leader, I was concerned.
We stayed in the area about another forty-five minutes. At one point he went inside the old homestead to check things out and almost instantly started hollering when he disturbed a sleeping bird as it flapped its wings suddenly in his face. I realized he was probably a lot more freaked out than he was admitting. So we began to pack up the equipment. It was time to call it a night.
We were silent as we trudged back the mile to the sleeping quarters. Both of us had seen the brightly lit ball of light. Only one of had had the weird experience after that. I began to wonder to myself, either all of the action had happened in the night vision, in the infra red, or else it had not really happened. The dogs had both reacted identically as if something very unusual was unfolding, I mused to myself. Why would they do that? And the dogs were both focused exactly on the position that he was referring to. Yet, I was not able to see anything.
Even sleeping in the same area as the menacing, unseen voice that had taken control of the physicist’s mind seem daunting, but we were all pretty exhausted. We had gone hunting the Skinwalker, but for a few brief moments, the hunters had become the hunted. Both of us had realized out there in the darkness, we were utterly powerless if the Skinwalker chose to attack us.
Where had the mysterious incandescent light come from? Was the light connected to the featureless black object that was only two hundred feet away? What had engaged in a “mind meld” with the physicist in such a threatening way? Had a dimensional hole opened on the ranch, through which these extraordinary manifestations had entered? Or, were they always around although invisible to us? I pondered these questions as sleep overcame me.
Adapted from “Hunt for the Skinwalker” (Paraview Books), by Colm Kelleher and George Knapp (Amazon US and Amazon UK)