Hunters are typically viewed as strong and tough-skinned, but they too can find themselves in an uncomfortable situation while out in the woods. Sometimes it's another hunter, sometimes the hunter becomes the hunted, and sometimes, they just can't explain what they saw.
A Reddit thread recently asked hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to share the most frightening and intense reasons why they won't be going back out in the woods any time soon. What was it about these experiences that made these people turn and run from one of their favorite hobbies? Take a look at some of the most bone chilling nail-biters we could find. All posts have been edited for clarity.
"My father and I were following a trail for a while, so we decided to take a break and catch our breath.
I sat on a log off the trail and my dad stood on the edge of the trail waiting for me to get up. I heard some movement and scanned around and saw a man, dress casually, walking quickly down the trail with a Glock in his hand. He was not really following the trail, instead just walking toward my dad with haste. Before he came up to my dad, he asked if he'd seen anything (pretty normal). I kept an eye on him because I didn't believe he was there to hunt; I think he was there to make sure my dad hadn't seen anything he wasn't supposed to.
He wasn't dressed like a hunter, he didn't walk like a hunter, it was deer season, and he'd just decided he would take his Glock out to get a deer? I wasn't buying it, so I put a round in the chamber and watched them talk. He seemed to be confident until my dad mentioned that he was here with me and gestured in my direction. I nodded and made a half-hearted wave.
The guy seemed to lose interest in us and ended the conversation shortly after and turned around and walked back the way he came, just about as fast as he walked up to us. It worried us a bit, but we continued on."
"I was camping alone in the middle of Missouri the night before turkey hunting started. The place I found was a fairly well used campsite but no one was there.
I was about to go to sleep when I heard a truck pull up. I found a reason to come out (use the restroom) so I could get a look and maybe even ask for some good places to spot turkey. A guy and his girlfriend were drinking and going for a ride. They were super, nice but they mentioned before leaving, 'Watch yourself out here...lots of speed freaks, and they won’t stop for bird shot. Want a slug? I probably have a few in my tool kit.'
I did not sleep at all that night."
"When I was a kid, a poacher must have thought I was a deer or something and shot a round at me. It hit a tree just above my head. I immediately fired three shots as fast as I could, not at the shooter but in the air.
In my hunting group, immediate three shots means 'HELP.' My dad and our hunting club immediately came out to find out what happened by honking the horns of their trucks letting me know they were coming. I basically laid on the ground until I could tell they were near the dirt road. I told them what happened and guessed it was probably a road poacher trying to get a deer as it came from the same road. They didn't see him. It was private property and we were always very aware of who was at what location and who was hunting where. Nobody was supposed there.
The reason why I don't like hunting on public property is because of that, and I don't know the people out there."
"To begin, I’ll admit that we were hiking, not hunting.
I was with my brother-in-law. In the Appalachians, it's usually snowy in December, but that year, it was a constant 40F or so, and too foggy to see all that well.
We made our way into a dense rainforest area and found what looked like an extremely overgrown, rarely-trodden erosion forming a path. This didn't make sense; it was on the back of an inconvenient mountain peak - very craggy, and not on the way to anywhere, not even another trail. So we followed it.
Little sunlight broke through anyway due to the deep fog and mountain's shadow. It felt haunted. We descended into a hollow with a small creek at the bottom and rounded a bend into a dense clump of bushes. Inside this brush, we started to see weird things, like decaying rope, rusted metal, cordage, and supplies. Then the trail ended. Between two oak trees that formed a window through the brush, we could see a rusted body of metal with face-sized holes of glass on the sides.
We made out the shape of a small plane from the scattered pieces. The fuselage was in two pieces, but the wings were unrecognizable. There was a bit of graffiti on the plane, but not as much as you would expect. It had clearly been there for a while, but some of the original gear was still in the body. I wrote down the number on the side for reference.
When I got home, I googled the plane number, and found a result.
'ACCIDENT REPORT: MARCH 1977, WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA. DAMAGED BEYOND REPAIR. 1 PASSENGER. 1 FATALITY. BODY RECOVERED. PLANE UNSALVAGEABLE.'
We found the plane in 2016. That wreckage had been left to rot for 39 years, and some of the gear still had not been stolen.
I knew it was only one death, but that place had a deeply unsettling aura. I am not superstitious and I do not believe in ghosts, but there was something strange about that place, and I won't forget it."
"My family owns a few hundred acres of forest in eastern North Carolina. No one lives on the property anymore and hasn’t for the last six or seven years.
We went down there to do some target shooting in October 2017 and I decided to go walk through the outskirts of the woods to locate a good limb for our range marker. As I was walking, literally and proverbially kicking rocks, I came across a fairly nice, but practically brand new looking suitcase, full of clothes and other personal effects. There wasn't any identification and nothing with any sort of identifying markers on them. It seemed to be filled with enough clothes for four people: two kids and two adults, one male and one female. There was also some food, coloring books, and other belongings. Then I noticed a makeshift shed about 100 yards into the woods.
I set up a trail camera and left it there for three weeks, but never saw anyone. I checked with the local police, but they didn't have any reports of missing persons.
And for reference, this location is about 35 miles from any sizable town or city."
"As a law enforcement ranger for 30 years, I've seen some dumb stuff in the woods.
My worst was chasing down a guy who had escaped from a mental treatment facility. If he was just camping in the deep woods, I wouldn't have had an issue with him, but he was routinely stealing women's and girls' swimsuits left to dry on lines in the camp ground and girl scout areas.
One of the girl scouts' moms came running up to me as I was on patrol and told me she had seen the man run off on foot from the clothes lines so I gave foot chase. This was in the days before our handheld radios had great range, so I had one of the older girls go make notification to my office and, like a dummy, I took off running on the horse trail where I could see fresh prints.
I ran about two miles or so and found a makeshift tent and campground. I also found cord and a linoleum knife and tape along with ziplock gallon size bags of these bathing suits. Clearly our thief was headed in a new direction. I'm convinced my intervention prevented an abduction.
My guy came out of the woods and I drew my service sidearm for our walk back. I had him handcuffed and in leg irons with a leash drag so I could trip him by stepping on it. I also made him sing the 'Star Spangled Banner' as we ran to keep him out of breath if he decided to fight. When you're that far in the woods and unsure if you have help coming, you need every advantage.
My backup met us on the trail and we were able to handcuff our prisoner in the bed of the pickup for the ride to the office. I had to sit in the bed with him for the trip. He wasn't much of a talker. The guys went back and cleaned out the site; he had been out there for a while and was definitely a bit of a time bomb.
We didn't pursue anything criminal, but he was committed at a maximum security psych facility until he died.
I used to put money on his commissary every now and again, but I doubt he remembered me."
"My dad and a hunting buddy were in a remote section of southeastern Wyoming hunting for elk. Like any good elk hunter, they were up at 3:30 am to stake out their spot and watch the herd patterns before daylight. As they were driving up to the spot, a figure appeared in their headlights, and judging by their silhouette, it wasn’t a hunter. What was a person doing walking down the road in complete darkness with no hunting gear?
My dad was driving, so he slowed to a crawl in his truck, and his buddy prepared his sidearm, as this had foul play written all over it. When they could distinguish the figure in the headlights, they saw it was a girl in a tank top and underwear, wearing no shoes. They stopped and verbally checked her status out the window, as there could have easily been somebody staked out in the sagebrush, ready to ambush. When it was clear she was severely hypothermic and bleeding from her feet, they got out and let her in the truck.
From there, it had to have been a terrifying experience for that girl. I sure wouldn’t want two middle-aged rednecks picking me up 40 miles from any town. They cranked up the heat full blast and drove her to a nearby country gas station, where they were regular customers and friends with the owner and his wife, who was a retired nurse.
When the girl could finally articulate her words, she told them that she and her boyfriend drove out there to drink and hook up. When she started having a seizure during the act, he lost his temper, grabbed her shoes, and threw them into the sage. When she got out of the car to find them, he peeled off, leaving her in near-freezing temperatures in nothing but her underwear. She estimated she walked about four miles on a dirt road before my dad found her. It’s a good thing hunters started early because she easily could have died."
"I was about 20 miles out in the back country on a week-long hunting trip. By myself.
I woke up in the middle of the night to a bear sticking it’s snout into the fabric of my tent. I immediately started meditating to slow my breath and just weathered the situation. Because I knew if I moved or made a run for my car, I’d be dead. The next morning, I found some paw prints and they were the biggest bear prints I had ever seen.
Another time, I was deep in the woods and set up camp in a nice little ravine. When I woke up, there was a ring of big rocks around my camping area. They weren’t there when I got there/set up camp. I’m also a stout dude and I couldn’t move any of the rocks.
I was raised in the woods but now I refuse to go out there without a large caliber weapon and I refuse to sleep out in the woods after that one.
"I have a hunting spot that I frequent. It's not far off the grid or anything like that, the terrain is a pain, but it's a pretty hidden spot that is close to my house. I hunt a lot of small game there and see a ton of mule deer any time I go out.
One morning, I got there about 5:30 and had some time to kill before I started my hike in. I had an odd feeling in the parking lot but just chalked it up to too much coffee on an empty stomach giving me anxiety. So, I decided to start hiking in and about 300 yards into my hike, I noticed this pile of downed trees/branches/general debris that I hadn't seen before. It was my first time hunting this particular place this season, so I figured some folks came out and did some fire mitigation work. I didn't pay too much attention to it until I noticed there was an odd amount of movement coming from it. Pretty small movements, but it stuck out when a brush pile was wiggling on a still day. It was also about 5:45 am at this point, and the wilderness just sort of had this stillness to it at that time that any movement was noticeable.
I stopped walking and started examining the pile to figure out what's going on. I figured there was a rabbit in there, maybe some squirrels. I figured I had hit the jackpot and was definitely about to bag something. I started deciding the best way to flush whatever is going on in there and still had my barrel up in time to take a good shot. I realized I was standing by a decent sized branch, and my best move was to just stomp on the branch. If all went according to plan, everything would freeze, then whatever was in there would dart out. I tried to figure out where the rabbit would come out, get ready, and BAM, I stomped on the branch and snapped it in half.
The pile went still, and that stillness and quiet was back. Then, a mountain lion, with a bloody nose and mouth, popped up out of the pile. At this point, I was only 10 yards from the pile. I was armed, but really didn't want to shoot the lion. I also didn't want to fire a shot off in the air to scare it because all in all, this was a pretty cool experience that very few people get to have.
It froze and was looking at me very quizzically. Then, in one quick motion, it hopped out of the brush pile, ran up hill, got about 40 yards from me, and disappeared into the trees. I've never seen something cover 40 yards uphill in such a fast, graceful way. One of the cooler things I've ever gotten to experience.
I went to check out the brush pile when it left, and sure enough, it was feasting on a mule deer."
"My buddy and I decided to do a Halloween ride up a supposedly haunted trail at night. As we were making our way back to the main road, I saw a car parked to the right side of the trail with the lights on. I thought it was kind of weird that I would see a sedan parked in a dirt road so far out in the middle of nowhere. We pulled ahead of the car and stopped our bikes. When we looked back, there was nothing. No car. Just darkness.
I could see how wide my friend's eyes were from inside his helmet. I asked him if he saw a car parked to the side, he said yes. Then I got the most uncomfortable chilly feeling and my eyes began to water. I felt like I was going to cry and I felt every goose bump on my skin. I remember the sound or the lack of it. No animals, no insects, I just heard the ringing in my ear. My friend told me that we had to leave, but I couldn't move, I think I was in shock or something.
He told me again, and this time, I heard the fear in his voice, he sounded like a little kid.
We both hoped on our bikes and rode as quickly as we could back onto the main road."
"I live in Montreal; my normal routine is to drive down to a river that starts in upstate New York and fish a couple kilometers of the river where no one really lives or goes. Then head cross the border and head back down to the river on the Canadian side.
I was out there one morning by myself, I had been out there over a hundred times so it wasn't new territory by any means. That said, I was getting close to the area where other anglers had warned me about angry land owners and threats from dudes with weapons, so I was pretty alert.
I came down to the section of river where it splits around a little island before it reconnects and the river veers off to the left. Most days, I stay left of the island, there are few holes. This day, I went right, so my view up the river was obscured until I came around the corner of the island. I got to the point, looked up, and about 250 feet in front of me was a beige golden animal crossing the river.
My first thought was that it was someone's dog. Hmm, no homes... Too remote of an area. I was standing there looking at this thing crossing the river, and thoughts were just racing through my head because what I was looking at doesn't make sense for where I was standing. This thing still hadn't seen me, it was just gingerly making its way through the water trying to cross across at a determined walk. That's when I noticed the tail... I knew a lot of dogs, but I had never seen a tail like that. It made the hair on the back of my neck go up.
Then it hit me, I was looking at a mountain lion. I took a step back behind the tree. I stood there for another few seconds watching this thing cross, when it got to the other side it bound up a wash out bank up about 20 feet in a couple bounds there was no doubt about what I saw.
I decided I had gone far enough for the day and started making my way back to the truck which, with the way the river bends, was pretty much in the same direction that cat was headed. When I finally got back in the truck and made my way home, I contacted the local game warden. I provided some data and they said, 'Sure, we'll look into it.'
About a month later, my parents sent me a local news clip about a cougar attacking a horse. I later came across an article about multiple people spotting an animal matching its description in the area. So, needless to say, I feel a little less crazy now."
"I used to be a field appraiser for a county in rural Kansas. I was at a parcel collecting data on a collection of 20-foot shipping containers that had appeared in the last several months. It was obvious they were being used as hunting cabins during hunting season.
As I was finishing up, I turned around to walk back to my vehicle and standing there were two hunters. They were dressed head to toe like snipers with camouflage suits a large caliber weapons pointed at me. Of course, they were mouthy towards me, then when they found out what I was doing, it only escalated things even more.
I don't blame them, really. They saw me walking around looking and measuring everything and taking photos of the place."
"In September, I was hunting antelope out near the Wyoming's Red Desert. I had just shot an antelope and was walking about 150 yards out to where he dropped so I could tag and begin field dressing the animal.
I was about 40 miles from the main road and had not seen another human or vehicle since earlier in the day. This area is so extremely remote it's hard to even describe.
As I was walking out to the antelope, I looked up and about one to two miles off in the distance, I could see this extremely bright light zooming over the landscape and headed my way. I thought it was probably a game warden on a side by side coming to check my paperwork and all. No big deal, I kept walking out and found the animal and looked up and this light dove down into the sage brush and I could no longer see it. It was about half a mile from me when it disappeared. I also noticed that I couldn't hear any engine if it was in fact someone on a motorized vehicle.
I was confused at this point, not sure what this light was or where it went but I continued on and tagged the antelope. Then I looked up and saw the light traveling away from me now and its about three to five miles away from me and going at least 100 mph; it was really zooming way faster than any vehicle could travel over that type of terrain. There were no roads or anything where the light was traveling, so I don't know how it was going so fast. I was pretty spooked at this point.
I field dressed the animal as fast as I could and dragged it back to my truck. I just had a very uneasy feeling at this point.
To this day, I still have no idea what that light was although some others have speculated it was a drone. If that were so and it was a drone operated by a game warden, why didn't he come check on me once I got back to my truck?"
"I’m not a hunter, but I used to live across the street from the forest preserve by O’hare in Chicago. I was probably 12 when this happened, and I think it was probably 2 or 3 in the morning.
My dad and I were watching tv in the living room, which had a view of the forest past our balcony. As we were watching, we saw two gentlemen get out of a black SUV with three women in dresses, and they all went across the road and into the forest. Around 15 minutes passed, then we heard multiple loud blasts come from the forest. Probably 30 minutes after that, the same two guys and a third guy came walking out of the forest. They all got in their truck and left.
My dad and I were spooked, so we called the cops who come, pointed their lights into the woods, and left without conducting a thorough search.
The next day, we were curious, so we searched the woods and found a couple bloody shirts and clothing tattered with holes torn through them in the middle of the woods. We walked some more and found some fresh dirt and shovels. We tried to use one of the shovels to see if we could dig anything up, but the handle broke.
We left after that, saying we’d be back with better shovels but by the time we came back, the old shovels were removed and we couldn’t find the exact spot again.
I'm still curious what happened, though I think I know."