A Growl in the Woods

Moss game is ON POINT.

Moss game is ON POINT.

A few weeks ago, in December, we were walking in the woods along the stream towards the back of the property, dodging Hawthorn trees and deer poop. We were being sure to make a good bit of noise (it was hunting season, and you never know who's around) when we heard a sound that stopped us both in our tracks.

It was a growl.

Or possibly a grunt...maybe a snort. (A grornt?) Whatever it was, it felt close by.

And I was just like, "nope." I spun around, and called Pancho with my not-messing-around voice. He scooched over to me and we made it out of the woods in seconds.

"What was that?" Matt and I said to each other. A bear?

Which made me realize I have no idea what to do if I encounter a bear, or really anything in the woods.

To the internet! In my quest to discover just what kind of animal had spoken to us, I got mixed results, the most consistent of which was that it was the grunting of a Sasquatch.

In reality, it could have been a buck. There's rumor of a ten-pointer living in these woods. It could also have been a bear, or maybe a coyote, though it didn't sound dog-like.

(What I did learn is that in none of the those situations do you ever turn your back and run.)

I mostly laughed it off and tried to forget it, though each time I walked to the back of the property I felt a little tightening in my shoulders. What could it have been?

Last weekend, we were walking in the woods along the stream again. And we heard that sound. It felt close, but like it was all around me, thrumming down to my bones. But, mature woodswoman that I now am, I didn't run. Instead, I looked around. There was no bear, no coyote, no buck. Just us. We took a few more steps. And then I saw it.

A grouse.

A fucking BIRD.

He flew up and away, somewhat spastically. I remembered my neighbor asking me weeks before if I heard the grouse "drumming." I'd said no, imagining a slow snare drum, not an echoing terror at 300 beats per minute.

Here's a grouse drumming -- modern audio technology simply can't capture how bizarre this sounds in the woods. Basically, they sit on top of hollow logs and beat their wings. It's pretty impressive actually.


And certain grouse can be classified as scary when they do their mating displays:

Seriously what is this.

So there you have it. If something scares you in a the woods, it may just be a bird. But in the mean time, so you're prepared, here's what to do in case you see a bear or coyote. But not a Sasquatch.