I was in 9th grade in the fall of 1986 when I fell in love with cryptid stories. I wanted to share the campfire story that created my intrigue.
The history teacher at my school in Mississippi, Coach Shepherd, ran the Outdoor Club. Coach Shepherd was a favorite of his students, and even after they graduated, they would come back to visit him. A few of these graduates showed up at his house when we had a bonfire. No one noticed. While we were sitting around the fire, listening to the guys’ hunting stories, someone encouraged this guy, Jeff, to tell about what happened at his dad’s deer camp. The account that he went on to tell was incredible, and I was hooked on spooky hunting stories for the rest of my life.
Jeff’s father belonged to a hunting camp located on a private island in the middle of the Mississippi River. The only way to get to and from the camp was by boat. On the Friday before a long weekend, Jeff decided to go to camp with his cousin and a friend. Jeff and the other guys were planning to go down after class, and Jeff’s Dad would join them when he got off work. The weather forecast for that weekend predicted rain and cooler temperatures, which made for good hunting but bad boating. In light of this, Jeff’s dad had told the boys if it was raining when he arrived at the hunting camp (it was a few hours’ drive away), he would sleep in his truck and wake up early the following day to bring the other boat across.
The boys drove to the boat launch as soon as the classes ended. There Jeff parked his truck, loaded his gear onto his cousin’s boat, and headed over to the campsite river to the campsite. While they waited for Jeff’s dad to arrive, they hunted until dark, cooked supper, and played cards. Then, when it began to rain, they knew Jeff’s dad wouldn’t cross the river until the morning and turned in for the night.
The deer camp wasn’t fancy by any means. A large room had a sitting area, a kitchen, and two sets of bunk beds, and there was a small bathroom with a shower. As his cousin and friend were sleeping on the other bunk beds, Jeff slept on the top bunk closest to the window. While the rain was coming down, the guys laughed at how creepy it was on the island alone. But they were joking… or so they were saying to one another as they fell asleep.
His companions were still sleeping when A sound awoke jeff. In the darkness, he waited breathlessly to see if he could hear it again. Then, as he was about to fall back asleep, he was roused by heavy footsteps outside. Jeff thought it might be his father walking around the cabin for a moment. But then something large hit the side of the cabin on the other side where his head lay.
Although the rain was beating down heavily, heavy footsteps could still be heard as he clutched his blanket. Finally, he realized whatever it was appeared to be walking around the cabin. The worst part was that he saw the shadow of a big man pass by the window. Then he could hear labored breathing.
He tried to explain it away in his head as he lay there in the darkness when the whispered voice of his cousin asked if he heard it too. Jeff was now getting truly scared. It was harder to explain away something he had thought was just in his imagination now that there was someone else to validate it.
They first explained that it may have been a poacher stranded on the island during a storm. After that, it seemed like Jeff’s father might have been having a little fun with them. But whatever it was, it seemed to be getting bolder. Jeff could feel the sag of the floorboards on the front porch as they adjusted to the weight as it crept up to the cabin porch. Terrified, the boys whispered over who would get the hunting rifle from the gun rack across the small room.
Did they see the doorknob turn right then, or did a burst of wind blow up the thin pine door? Jeff wasn’t sure. He was convinced that outside they could see the condensation of its breath. Jeff said based on that alone he knew whatever it was’s head was higher than the top bunk of the bunk beds, and that was over seven feet tall.
In the meantime, the sleeping friend woke up to see whatever was outside the door and started screaming. As the roar reverberated through their ears, Jeff and his cousin were snapped out of their trance by the killer’s screams. Jeff slammed the door and locked the door while his cousin ran to get a rifle from the gun cabinet. They pulled on their clothes, and the three boys planned to make a run for the boat.
A thick fog had rolled up from the river, and as the three young men made their mad dash to the river, they could barely see each other, let alone the thing that was crashing through the night after them. Jeff trained the rifle on the dense brush by the pier as his cousin and friend untied the fog that had rolled in off the river, they never saw it, but they had something big hit the water as the boat was leaving the dock. The sun was coming up when they made it across the river. They woke Jeff’s dad up when they got to the landing, and by sunrise, he had called the game warden and the other members of his hunting club. Together they went out to the island, but they didn’t find anyone. Instead, they found an old mule that lived on the island with its head twisted around backward to break its neck.
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