Sunday, April 17, 2011

Into the Woods: Hunters and High Strangeness

By Scott Corrales – INEXPLICATA
(c) 2011

At eight o’clock in the evening on August 22, 1978, a trio of wild boar hunters in the vicinity of Argentina’s Coronel Dorrego had settled down around the fire to enjoy a meal of roasted beef. Heavy footfalls, like those of a large animal or even human, emerging from a stand of trees, prompted them to grab their weapons and go for a closer look. Upon finding nothing, the three men returned to the fire to help themselves to dinner. They found, however, that the meat they had placed on the spit now had a sulfurous taste and odor that eventually made them sick. Boarding their pickup truck to leave the area, the saw an object with a black turret, measuring 30 meters in diameter by 1 meter tall, surveying the area with a powerful white beam. The unknown object passed overhead by an estimated fifty meters, shutting down the vehicle’s electrical system as it did so. Episodes like this one, while rare, are not uncommon. We can pause to reflect that since ancient times, humans embarking on hunting expeditions deep into the wilderness appear were the first to come across mysterious beings and places: our fairy tales often involve woodsmen and trackers who meet eldritch creatures to their benefit or regret

The Institute of Hispanic Ufology presented a curious story of a type not seen for well over a decade, perhaps two: a close encounter of the third kind involving a hunter, a UFO and its possible occupant. The incident, which occurred six months earlier in December 2004, was reported by Raul Oscar Chavez of the CIUFOS organization and involved the activities of two hunters after game in a rural sector to the west of the city of Toay, in the Argentinean province of La Pampa.

This story must be prefaced with the fact that, aside from being a major cattle ranching nation, Argentina offers some of the world’s best hunting opportunities. The province of La Pampa offers antelope, peccary, wild hog, Brocket deer and even water buffalo; many foreign hunters visit the region yearly to hunt pigeon, ducks, doves and geese at the river estuaries.

Stalking game that warm summer evening (the seasons being inverted in the southern hemisphere), the last thing both men expected to see was a bright light they described as “a full moon” performing curious up-and-down motions as it came in for a landing. It turned out that two objects were in fact involved in the sighting – a static, orange-hued light of greater size with smaller polychrome lights orbiting around it. As Chaves reports, the smaller lights had been seen earlier that day, engaged in strange maneuvers that made little sense to the hunters.

The Argentinean back country has its share of paranormal lights that cause a variety of effects, collectively known as “la luz mala” (the harmful light). Well versed in his country’s folklore and not wanting to become a victim of the powers ascribed to the light, one of the hunters decided to quit hunting and leave the area in his pickup truck. His hardier (or perhaps foolhardier) companion decided to sit it out, fully confident in the protection offered by his .30 caliber hunting rifle.

Dozing in the small hours of the morning, stirring at the sound of any possible animal coming his way, the hunter heard a sound similar to that of a wild boar. He and his departed companion had come across a dead cow and thought the animal would make for good bait. They placed the carcass in a clearing and placed eight meters (a little over two hundred sixty feet) between themselves and the carcass. Now, alone, the hunter would be the sole benefactor of the efforts to get the heavy bait in place.

Upon hearing the growls coming from whatever had taken the bait, the hunter focused his rifle’s telescopic sight on his quarry. He was shocked at what he saw: a growling figure of startling bulk and height that in no way resembled a wild boar. But unfazed by the unfamiliar “animal”, he aimed his weapon and took the shot, hearing the bullet make impact.

The hunter was clearly unprepared for what happened next: the entire region in which he stood was lit up by “a very powerful light” that produced an outbreak of whirlwinds and a droning sound in the air. His eye on the quarry through the telescopic sight, the hunter saw – perhaps shocked – that the creature he’d hit had a tail “similar to that of an amphibian reptile.”

Prudently, the hunter decided to sit tight and keep watch over the area. Eventually he overcame his misgivings and approached the carcass, certain to find the remains of the strange, tailed entity he had shot with his rifle. But to his surprise, there was no trace of the target and the cow had been moved ninety degrees from its original position. No sign of blood, or the tracks of the creature, were found. After telling the reporter about the strange night and its outcome, he added that he was convinced that “…he had shot an extraterrestrial in disguise” as it took advantage of the carcass to mutilate it.

Silvia and Andrea Pérez Simondini, the dynamic mother/daughter team at the helm of Argentina’s VISION OVNI organization, have another interesting case in their extensive archives. This one dates back to the summer of 1998 and occurred in the northern Argentinean community of Cuchi Corral, Province of Cordoba. Fearing the inevitable ridicule associated with coming forth with a story involving the paranormal, the main witness is identified only as “Sr. González”.

The incident occurred when a group of hunters, intent on flushing out a rabbit warren, drove forty kilometers away from their community. Driving along a wilderness road, they came across a startling presence: a being described as “similar to a man” but with a face “like a kangaroo or large dog”. Even more striking than its features -- and higher on the strangeness quotient – was the fact that the figure was dressed in a “ridiculous and outlandish grey coat”. It had short arms like a kangaroo, but lacking that animal’s tail. Upon seeing the hunters, the creature jumped over a two-meter tall barbed wire fence, vanishing into the brush. A cousin of the Chupacabras?

Sr. González’s report offers no insight into this possibility. However, the hunters stated an immense light was visible that very same evening, much larger in size than the moon, flying over the countryside and “driving the animals crazy” as it did so.

Given Argentina’s recent history as a hotspot for cattle mutilations and the reports of strange lights and entities seen at some – although by no means all – of these locations, the narrative of the two hunters collected by Raul Oscar Chaves is quite plausible. During the mutilation epidemic that thrust Argentina to the forefront of the paranormal press in the summer months of 2002, hunters reported coming across the carcasses of wild animals – notably guanacos – mutilated in the same way that livestock was being attacked. Who or what was behind these cases?

High Up Beyond the Treeline

The towering Peruvian Andes were the scenario of a perplexing case involving a hunter and the unknown in the 1960s. In spite of the event’s considerable high-strangeness quotient of the event, its protagonist was at no point overwhelmed nor excited by the experience: he was a rude, rather curmudgeonly type with little patience for the paranormal, UFOs or the folklore of the Andean range.

The incident occurred within sight of the Peruvian village of Ballanca, located to the south of Chimbote and in the vicinity of a large hydroelectric power station, according to Salvador Freixedo, who mentions the story in his book Ellos: Los dueños invisibles de este mundo (Mexico: Diana, 1990). The station’s chief engineer, a Yugoslav by birth, had taken a day off work to engage in day’s hunting in the mountains at elevations in excess of four thousand meters, where deer and bear abounded. It was at this scarcely populated altitude that the man came across a knot of natives standing in the middle of a small box canyon. The Quechua-speaking natives appeared to be clustered around something and this drew the hunter’s attention; close examination revealed that they were huddled around a boy covered in layers of blankets, clearly ill, and whose pallor suggested that he was not long for this world.

While suspicious of his presence, the natives explained that the child had fallen down a rock wall and broken some bones. This prompted the hunter to offer to take the injured youngster to the nearest hospital in his jeep, but he was startled to see his offer rebuffed by the child’s parents, despite the grief that could be seen on their features. The hunter, not a man easily refused, insisted that the youth would not last much longer if proper medical attention was not provided. He was their only answer, or so he thought.

The natives told him not to concern himself, for “Papa God will come to heal him.”

The hunter insisted that the child be placed in his vehicle for a trip to the nearest village with a medical center, but his insistent words fell on the deaf ears of the stoic natives. Somewhat angrily, the hunter turned away and decided to leave the child and its headstrong parents to their fate, when the sound of glad exclamations from the natives caused him to follow their gaze to a point in the sky. A strange vehicle soon touched down, and the natives erupted into cheers and cries of joy.

The hunter looked on in disbelief as several human-looking individuals—some men and one woman-- emerged from the craft, headed toward the expectant natives, and took the child back to their vehicle. Fifteen minutes later, the boy emerged unaided. This is how Salvador Freixedo describes the scene in his own report: “…he ran toward his parents, jumping and throwing stones to see that he had not only regained his strength, but that his broken arm was completely healed. All of the natives erupted into cheers while they surrounded the boy and felt him to see if he was fully healed.”

After a while, the strange vessel lifted off into the Andean sky and vanished. The hunter, no longer interested in pursuing game, made his way back to his vehicle in utter bewilderment. At that moment he heard footsteps behind him: it was one of the chieftains, asking him not to breathe a word of anything he had seen there – if the authorities heard about what had taken place at this remote location, it might prompt them to send soldiers to investigate, and the “friends from the sky” might not return.

An Interrupted Hunting Trip

According to another Argentinean researcher, Mario Luis Bracamonte of the S.I.O. organization, the Pampas were also the scene for another incident involving hunters inadvertently caught up in the web of the paranormal. On the evening of August 24 1996, three young men – Manuel Felipe, Jorge Sanchez and Enrique Bernal – had traveled forty kilometers into the Pampas to a location known as La Pastoril for some choice wild boar hunting. The weather was cold and clear and the Moon cast its light on a local pond.

Quietly waiting for their quarry around midnight, the hunters were startled by the unexpected arrival of a large red light with a yellow core. Frightened by the gargantuan size of the apparition, they would later estimate its size using the surrounding trees as reference: fifty meters in diameter and seven meters tall (164 x 22 feet).

The three hunters thought that the huge light above them was from a prairie fire of some sort (the Pampas have also been the site of vast, unexplained blazes) but there was no smell of smoke to it. The light continued to approach their position, coming in as close as two hundred meters from the alarmed hunters, before vanishing altogether.

One would think that after such an experience the three friends would have hung up their shotguns and taken up another sport, but Felipe, Sanchez and Bernal returned the following evening to try their luck at wild boar once more. At eleven o’clock in the evening, the unexplained light staged a return, but this time glowing with a cool, sky-blue tone rather than the angry red and yellow of the previous night.

After another unsuccessful night of hunting, the trio boarded their pick up truck and ran into the sky blue light that reflected other colors on its lower surface. Thinking it was a light projected from the village of La Pastoril, they realized that this comforting theory was impossible, given their forty-kilometer distance from that community.

The hunters soon became the hunted: the sky-blue light soon engaged in game of cat-and-mouse, flying around them and at one point directly over their pickup truck before vanishing into the wilderness. As they drove on, they saw the light appearing 500 feet meters ahead of them. “At one point,” writes Bracamonte in his report for S.I.O., “they thought it was a car and tried to catch up to it, accelerating the pickup truck to full speed, but the light always maintained the same distance. They had to stop to open a rural gate on the road, discovering that there were no tread marks on the road ahead. It was then that they realized that the light, traveling at 120 kilometers per hour, had flown into the wilderness in a straight line. There was no doubt about it: they were dealing with a UFO.”

And quite a sight it was. The light did not take long to reveal itself as a large, ovoid craft barely visible beneath its bright lights. The witnesses all agreed that it was light grey in color and easily as wide as the rural road. The air became filled with a smell of sulfur (reported in other UFO/paranormal cases worldwide) combined with battery acid. The hunters – now the hunted – firmly believed it was the object’s intention to ram them as they fled, but found themselves enveloped instead in a halo of lights ranging from red to yellow to violet. The alarming pursuit ceased once the pickup truck had reached Telén: the unknown intruder simply increased its altitude and vanished into the firmament, becoming – as in so many other UFO cases – just another light in the sky.

The trio nervously made it to a service station in the town of América. Mario Bracamonte writes: “The gas station attendant noticed they were behaving rather oddly and asked them what had happened. After they told him, he knowingly told them that they shouldn’t continue their drive along the wilderness route, but through the town of Winifreda instead.”

It should be added at this point that the hunters – dutiful citizens that they were – decided that they should file a police report in spite of the fear of being considered insane by the authorities. To their surprise, the officer on duty at the Castex station believed them, since a relative of his had just undergone a similar event on the road between Santa Rosa and Winifreda…(*)

The late Mario Bracamonte’s narration of the Felipe/Bernal Incident ends here, but other sources, such as Argentina’s GACETA OVNI, have more to add to the mind-bending incident. The power outage that engulfed the town of América when the hunters reached the filling station was unrelated to the bizarre UFO pursuit: “research carried out on these events has allowed us to certify that the outage had no connection whatsoever to the incident. Records for the date and time have been scrutinized and reports requested from the electric utilities involved...some analysts [of this case] have suggested the possibility of a teleportation, but a thorough survey has shown – through the corroboration of schedules for which reliable data can be found, plus the estimated time measurements for the journey, according to the difficulties of traversing the terrain and the road segment lengths, allows to assure with near-certainty that the total time employed by the hunters in covering the distance from La Chaqueña to América suggest no missing time whatsoever.”

GACETA OVNI’s own research adds an interesting detail. Unidentified objects were reported over Colonia Arbol Soto, Loventué, Santa Isabel, Colonia La Pastoril and other locations a few hours before dusk on August 25th, and ending nearly around the same time that the pursuit of the hunters began. “There are reasons for believing this to have been a unique or multiple phenomenon, yet perfectly associated to the case in question. Their protagonists are persons who had no knowledge of the hunters’ plight.”

(*) Winifreda was the location of the 1983 CE-3 mentioned in a recent Inexplicata feature.