Submitted to BFRO by witness on Thursday, September 8, 2011.
Ginseng hunter recalls being terrified by a nighttime visitor on old mining property at the KY/VA border
COUNTY: Harlan County
LOCATION DETAILS: On highway 38 on the KY/VA line headed toward VA from KY we headed into the woods to the left of the road and traveled northwest all day then camped.
NEAREST TOWN: Keokee, Virginia
NEAREST ROAD: highway 38
OBSERVED: A friend and I were camping close to the Kentucky/Virginia line in Harlan county Kentucky, we went to dig ginseng roots, and we were camped below a cliff-line in deep woods and were asleep when we were awakened by howls and screams. The vocalizations started out like an owl sound, but became growls, that merged back into a howling at the end. Trees were shook and objects were thrown into our campsite. Small sapling trees were thrown, roots first, across our campsite. We would build up the fire and it would go away, but when the fire would die down it would return. This continued for hours until almost daybreak. We found sapling trees broken off and uprooted all around our camp. We tried to pull up a tree slightly smaller than the ones uprooted but both of us together couldn’t pull one out of the ground. I would gladly submit to a polygraph test to prove my truthfulness.
OTHER WITNESSES: only the two of us.
OTHER STORIES: Yes, on your site, in Harlan county, but Louellen is around 15-20 miles from where we experienced our vocalizations.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: it was around 2 am, cool weather. A strong thunderstorm had occurred earlier that day.
ENVIRONMENT: It was deep wood mountainous terrain, very steep, close to a cliff-line.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Don Adkins:
I spoke with the witness, A.H. He stated the he and a friend (now deceased) had decided to take a few days and look for ginseng root, on some private mining ground near the Kentucky/Virginia border. They were dropped off near the property, and had spent 3 days leisurely trekking through the mountainous area, digging ginseng during the day, and camping at night. He described the terrain as difficult, being steep and littered with deep chasms from the long wall mining that had been done in the area. He stated that the area was very remote and seldom visited by people due to the difficult hiking. After a severe thunderstorm, they finally reached a cliff/overhang where they prepared their camp, building a fire and settling in for the evening. They were awakened late in the night by loud howls and chattering. They immediately built up the fire, and the animal backed off, but continued to howl and circle their camp. Armed only with knives, they fastened them to long sticks to make spears. Large rocks “big enough to kill you” were thrown into the camp as were sapling trees 2-3 inches in diameter. Around 4 am they had exhausted the wood close within the light of the fire. As the fire died down, the animal backed off, but could still be heard in the distance. He said it was like the adrenaline drained from them and they drifted into light sleep. At first light they gathered their things and hiked as quickly as they could out to the road, which took most of that day.
This encounter has had a profound effect. He stated that he can remember the incidents as though it happened yesterday. He now carries a large caliber handgun anytime he goes into the woods. He also knows of other encounters nearby, but due to the local culture, most people involved are reluctant to talk about them.
About BFRO Investigator Don Adkins:
Don works in manufacturing for a major global consumer goods company. He attended North Carolina 2007 and Tennessee Expedition 2009. Also the 2010 Illinois and Tennessee Expeditions.