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Are you afraid?  Two real-life hunting ghost stories

Since October is the time for telling ghost stories, we’ll share two stories to think about as you’re heading for the tree stand in total darkness, when shadows seem to move and sounds seem out of place.

These stories are from actual events that happened to fellow Hoosiers.  Enjoy them but don’t forget to put fresh batteries in your flashlight before you head out into the dark—

We all know that dogs have keener senses than their human masters. Some people feel dogs also have a heightened sense of the supernatural, which leads into the first story—

“Coon hunting near Pendleton one night, the dogs were hot on a track. From the sound of their barking I knew they were ready to tree a coon. Suddenly I saw a very bright flash of light in the woods. Instantly the dogs quit barking.

Within minutes they came running back, tails tucked between their legs. Instead of casting for coon sign they got behind me and followed me back to the truck.  Once there they jumped into the dog boxes and STAYED THERE! The hunt for that night was over.

Thinking they could have treed a coon on a power line and caused an arc flash, I went back to the site in the daytime. There was nothing there!  Not a power line anywhere! To this day I don’t know what transpired that night in the woods. That was 45 years ago.”

Hunters know the bond that grows between a man and his beloved dog.  Sometimes that bond carries over into the afterlife.  Souls refuse to crossover and remain trapped in their own personal purgatory, as in this next story from Richard Geary.

During trapping season in 1984 my friend and I went up to his family’s cabin on the Muscatatuck River to set our trap lines. That day a mangy redbone hound kept following us around while we were setting our traps. 

 At daybreak the next morning we were up stoking up the fire and getting ready to check our traps. A very thick fog blanketed the area. While we were sitting around the campfire a voice that seemed to be coming from a well called out, ‘Have y’all seen a coon dog ‘round?’  We nearly jumped out of our skins. 

We were at a very remote camp and yet the hollow voice sounded like it was right beside us.  I remember easing my hand towards my Ruger 10/22 rifle and asked, ‘A redbone hound?’  I will never forget how he answered. The eerie, dejected voice simply replied, ‘No’.

My buddy was getting nervous. By this time I had my rifle in my hands. I called out, ‘Come on into the camp and have some coffee.’ There was silence for a moment and then the voice asked, ‘Are y’all trapping?’ I said we were, and then got up to try to locate him in the fog.  My buddy was already looking around and whispered to me, ‘I can’t see him.  I can’t tell where he’s at.’

All of a sudden the fog began lifting. We frantically searched around for the man that belonged to the eerie voice.  I looked down towards the river and spotted the figure of a man with a fedora hat and plaid hunting shirt.  I started running towards the figure, waving my arms saying, ‘Who should we contact if we see the dog?’

As I got close I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. He appeared to be an image projected onto the fog, and as the fog began to break up, his “projection” began to break up with it.

He shouted out a name which escapes me to this day. 

As the fog lifted we went down to where I saw him standing but there were no tracks.         

The rest of the weekend was uneventful.  When we got back to Clarksville, we told my buddy’s dad about what had happened.  He said he had heard stories about a ghost that roamed the river bottoms around North Vernon.

Twenty years later I was at a historical re-enactment in southern Ohio.  A bunch of us were standing around a campfire one evening, passing around a bottle of whiskey and telling stories. Two of the guys were from the North Vernon area.

The bottle came my way and after a stiff shot I started to tell my story. ‘A buddy and I had something weird happen to us up on the Muscatatuck River one time—‘  One of the men from North Vernon interrupted me. ‘Did a man ask you about a coon dog?’

My look told him the answer.   He told me the story that was passed down through his family: The ghostly hunter once had a number of children, was a widower, and a passionate coonhunter.  He dearly loved his children and was their sole support.  One night he lost his dog while out hunting.  Fearing to lose his treasured hound, the hunter left his oldest child in charge, and went back searching.  Tragically, he died that day, never finding his beloved hound or getting back to his children.

As the years pass, my memory fades.  I try to convince myself that someone had shouted at us from a couple hundred yards away, and it was just the fog playing tricks on my ears. But, in the back of my mind I know what happened that day, and I know I am lying to myself to think otherwise. That’s what people do when they don’t have reasonable explanations to supernatural events.

Looking back, there was nothing malicious about the ghostly hunter.  He asked a few questions and was gone.   

To this day coonhunters, fisherman, hunters, and trappers along the Muscatatuck River still have encounters with him. 



Alan Garbers
Alan James Garbers – Alan is passionate for the outdoors. He enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking, canoeing, photography, writing, woodworking, and more. He loves exploring the BWCAW in northern Minnesota, roaming the deserts of Arizona, or hiking the mountains of Colorado. He has lived in Minnesota, Hawaii, Mississippi, Florida, Colorado, Arizona, and Indiana. From hunting rattlesnakes to black bear and fishing for catfish to muskie, he loves it all. Since 1989 his writing credits have included Indiana Outdoor News, Indiana Game & Fish, Muzzle Blasts, Outdoor Guide Magazine, Fur-Fish-Game, Boundary Waters Journal, Boys’ Quest, Fun For Kidz, Mother Earth News, Cricket, Small Farm Today, American Careers, Arizona Hunter & Angler, Old West, and others. Fiction credits include StarTrek Strange New Worlds Anthologies IV, V, and 08. Alan recently complied an anthology of his popular column, Behind The Badge: True Stories of Indiana’s Conservation Officers. It is available in e-reader format and found at Amazon and other on-line book retailers. Alan is a member of AGLOW and HOW.


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