Skinwalker Ranch
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Skinwalker Ranch – Could The Amazing Lies Really Be True?

The History of the Skinwalkers

One of the most intriguing, horrifying, and apparently verifiable ‘unexplained’ stories from North America concerns the Skinwalker Ranch.

The ranch lies in the Uintah Basin area of northern Utah. It was within the territory of the Ute tribe who migrated into the area between two thousand and one thousand years ago. The Utes trace their origin to a god was half-man and half-wolf.

It is a region of lonely roads and remote, dry stony hills, stands of trees and enormous distances with few people. The ranch house is small and sits between a ridge to the north composed of broken slabs of sandstone, which are very difficult to climb and a thicket of dry sparse trees to the south.

They say the land here is haunted, cursed, or at least possessed of an uncanny atmosphere that brings those who wander onto it great misfortune.

This part of the Uintah Valley, where the ranch is found, is said to be the territory of a Skinwalker.

The Skinwalkers are a legend of the Ute people. They say that Skinwalkers are shapeshifters—witches or warlocks—that disguise who they are by adopting the shapes of predatory animals like wolves or bears. Often, they take the shape of deformed animals.

The Navajo name for them is translated as

‘by means of it, it goes on all fours’.

The Utes say that rather than these creatures choosing to be skinwalkers, they were made into skinwalkers by a curse placed on them by the Navajo. They call the area where the ranch is: ‘The Path of the Skinwalker’.

The Utes avoid discussing the Skinwalkers outside of people they know and trust as being allies of their culture. Despite that, some of the lore has leaked out, and it is said a secret society creates Skinwalkers and their initiation includes them doing a very evil act, usually the killing of a close family member, especially the murder of a sibling.

The skinwalker then gains supernatural powers and can shift into the shapes of coyotes, wolves, foxes, cougars, dogs or bears. They like to look like big, meat-eating mammals, but they can change into any animal if they need to.

The skinwalkers drape themselves in the skins of the animals they seek to change into, hence the name ‘skin walker’, and sometimes wear animal skulls on their heads which they believe gives them greater magical power.

The idea of the Skinwalker became best known to English-speaking Americans through the experiences of the Sherman family at Skinwalker Ranch.

In 1996, The Desert News ran a story concerning this strange tale. Their problems did not just include skinwalkers, but there were also UFO visitations, the disappearance of animals and surgical mutilation of cattle and also mysterious circles appearing in the pastures.

But the story of the weirdness of the Uintah Basin does not begin with the Shermans. It is said that Europeans first noticed unnatural goings-on in this area in the days of the Spanish missionaries in 1776. The first Anglo settlers arrived in 1905. By the 1930s there was a story of a strange visitor who wore a blue one-piece suit visiting the Ranch and warning the family not to dig on the property. The first report of a cattle mutilation is from 1930 as well.

The local Desert News newspaper ran an article as long ago as 1978 about UFOs being seen in the Uintah Basin, which states that even in 1978 the Uintah was ‘already famous for UFO sightings in the past ten years.’ The same article reports that in 1978 there was a sighting and they sent Ute Indian Tribe Police officer David Murray to investigate and says he saw a UFO near US 40.

A curse placed on local Utes by the Navajos forbids them from even entering this valley.

Enter The Shermans

The ranch was five hundred acres and was owned from 1934 until 1994 by Kenneth and Edith Myers. To the north stands a prominent ridge and there were good cattle pastures, scrub woodland and a creek.

But even though they owned the ranch and sold it to the Shermans in 1994, the ranch had been empty since 1987 when the Myers suddenly and giving no explanation, left the place. What you find is that, in common with other famous stories, there are multiple versions of what happened.

Another version says that Mr Myers died. In any case, the ranch stood empty for seven years until the Shermans bought it at a knock-down price. To the north stand a high ridge and there were good cattle pastures, scrub woodland and a creek.

Terry Sherman and his wife Gwen moved in, in 1994. They couldn’t believe the beauty of the place. The landscape was awe-inspiring. Terry Sherman was a successful cattle rancher . Its remoteness didn’t worry him. In fact, it could be a benefit. They were local people and Gwen had been employed in the bank for twenty years.

When they arrived at the ranch building, the Shermans found it in a state of dereliction. They knew it had been empty for years, so that didn’t come as much of a surprise, but there seemed an inordinate amount of security precautions around the place.

The doors were bolted not just once or twice, but with many bars and there were heavy-duty locks on all the windows and on the inside doors. By the back door and the front door were large shackles with massive chains which had clearly been used to tether powerful dogs.

There were also inexplicable stipulations in the contract of sale which said that the previous owners, the Myers, needed to give their approval before anyone dug up any part of the acreage around the ranch. That seemed weird.

The first thing they noticed that something was odd were large circular impressions they found in their pastures. They tended to be three feet wide by two feet deep. One of them was a thirty-foot triangle. The soil inside them was packed hard. Soon, cows began dying under unexplained circumstances.

The Skinwalker Wolf

Some months after they first moved in, the family was outside with their son and Terry’s dad. Terry saw what looked like a wolf to the south of the ranch. It saw them too. But instead of running away, it loped towards them in a series of curves. But it wasn’t just the presence of the wolf that unnerved him, it was the size of it. It was massive. And their presence didn’t scare it. The gigantic wolf came to a stop about fifty yards away and watched them. It sniffed the air, stared, then came closer. It seemed almost friendly.

Terry’s dad was a tall man, over six feet, but the wolf stood as tall as he was. Despite this, it seemed not to want to hurt them, but watched with intelligent interest and gave no sign of threat.

The wolf approached. It came so close that, somewhat nervously, Terry’s dad reached out and it let him touch it. This was very unusual, but, encouraged by its apparent tameness, the rest of the family came over. They even wondered if it was someone’s pet wolf.

Terry had some cattle in the corral about seventy feet away. There were breeding cows with calves inside the pen. Though the Sherman family had become moderately relaxed at the wolf’s presence, the cows didn’t like it one bit. The wolf eyed the cattle in their pen, then with a rush, ran over to them. One calf had been foolish enough to stick its head beneath the bars of the corral and bit it, gripping it with its enormous jaws round the head. The calf panicked, the rest of the cows panicked and threshed about, and Terry ran to get an axe handle. He rushed over and pummeled the wolf with the handle, but the wolf didn’t let go and the calf was going to die.

In desperation, Terry called out for someone to fetch his revolver — a Magnum. His son ran to the cabin, grabbed it, and brought the pistol to his dad.

Terry seized the Magnum, aimed it with a shaking hand as the calf choked in its own blood and the wolf was tugging and pulling at it to get it out through the bars.

Terry fired the Magnum, and the pistol hit, kicking up in his grip. Now, a Magnum is a hugely powerful hand-gun and though Terry fired from short range into the wolf’s chest, the wolf didn’t react. It didn’t stop gnawing and dragging the calf. It was as if the bullet had bounced off, but it clearly hadn’t bounced off.

Terry fired again. Again, nothing. Not knowing what to do. He fired for a third time. The wolf did not appear hurt, but it let go of the calf’s bleeding head and backed off.

The Shermans couldn’t believe the beast had survived three point-blank shots. Terry Sherman had fired a 3.57 Magnum at point blank range into the beast and there was no sign he’d harmed the wolf. It was not bleeding. It was not whining. It was just watching.

Angry now, Terry fired again. The wolf backed off, but kept staring with its bright blue eyes. It even seemed to be weighing up whether it would go after the calf again. And it didn’t leave.

Terry called for a heavier weapon. He wanted his 30–06 rifle. He yelled for his son to fetch it and when he got it, with the wolf still gazing at him, he put the rifle to his shoulder and aimed and, holding his breath, squeezed the trigger. No animal or man could survive a shot from a 30–06 at such short range.

The shot rang out deafening everybody who stood near and rolling like thunder off the ranch walls and from the ridge. He hit the wolf. He saw it flinch. But it did not die. It pulled back until it was about twenty yards away and watched Terry Sherman sizing him up. Terry fired again and saw the bullet hit and this time, fur and flesh parted, but the wolf did not fall. It gave him a last look with its blue eyes, turned and trotted off.

Tracking The Skinwalker

Terry’s cattle were his livelihood. With a creature like this loose on his ranch, they would never be safe and he’d be ruined. Terry called his son and the two of them went off, leaving his dad and his wife at the ranch.

The wolf was faster than they were, but they followed its tracks and it headed south through cottonwoods and under trees. They glimpsed it entering a coppice of Russian Olives and when they followed it through; they came out on the muddy bank of the creek. They couldn’t see the wolf, but they saw the tracks in the mud and they followed them. And then, yards short of the water’s edge, the tracks simply vanished as if the wolf had evaporated.

What rational explanation could there be for that? Scratching their heads, the Shermans returned to the ranch. On the way back, he saw the lump of meat the 30–06 had knocked that out of the wolf. Weirdly, it was not fresh. The blood was dried, and the meat stunk like it had been out in the sun and had rotted.

After this, small but extremely strange things began happening in the house. Gwen Sherman would come home from shopping, unpack the shopping bags and put the groceries in the cupboards and fridge and then later come back and they were back in the shopping bags as if she’d never unpacked them. When she went for her shower in the mornings, she would place her hairbrush and towel close at hand but when she stepped out of the shower, they weren’t there and she would find them, sometimes hours later, at some random place in the house. At first, Gwen didn’t think it was anything paranormal. She thought she was developing a memory problem, so she kept it to herself.

Then her husband Terry came into the house one evening and asked who’d moved his post-digger. Gwen said that neither she nor the children had moved it and in fact they hadn’t been out of the house all evening, but that, all the same, she would go help him look for it. They searched high and low but couldn’t find it.

Then, a few weeks later, they found it — hanging high in the branches of a gigantic tree. The digger weighed over seventy pounds. Who could have hauled it up there?

Strange Lights In The Sky

Terry’s nephew came to stay, so Terry, the nephew and Terry’s son, went on a tour of the ranch. They had a good look round, and it was dusk when they returned. They were a few hundred yards short of the farmstead when lights started moving along a fence line in the middle distance. This wasn’t the first time he’d seen these lights. They were clearly on Sherman Ranch property. The previous time he saw them, he gave them the benefit of the doubt and thought they’d maybe just taken the wrong turn off the main highway, but now he figured they were hunters, hunting on his land and he would not stand for that.

Terry walked fast towards them, and the two boys followed at his heels. The lights were still moving, and not so fast so that the three got close enough to wonder why there was no engine noise. They were about a hundred yards away when the lights suddenly lifted, and sightly soared up a hundred feet into the sky. They took a course away from the ranch and slowly, quietly sailed away. These were no hunters. At least not human ones. After that, they started seeing the lights all the time.

As the year wound on and it got to Fall, Terry was busy with the cattle and the lights became more frequent. In fact, he thought they somehow related to his own increased activity with the cows.

That winter there was a lot of snow and cattle got separated from the herd and went missing and he had to go look for them. The most practical way was on horseback, so out he went at all hours. There was a thick stand of trees to the southwest of his land and he saw the hoofprints of a cow that he had been looking for marked clearly in the snow. He was an expert at tracking cattle and it looked to him like the cow had been running at speed before it got into the trees — like something had chased it.

He clearly saw the hoofprints in the snow, and then, like the wolf’s had, they simply stopped, as if the cow had vanished. This was the first, but sadly not the last, of his cows and bulls that simply disappeared. One time, he saw one of his Angus cattle grazing peacefully, went out of sight of the cow and when he returned later found it dead with a circular core of flesh six inches wide and eight inches deep in the cow’s rectum.

Terry crept around his own farm, trying to find who was taking his cattle. He figured it was something to do with the strange lights, but they would never let him get close.

The winter was a hard one. One night, he was out late, between midnight and the late winter dawn, when he saw a dark shape hovering above the pale snow off to his right, about a hundred yards.

For a minute, Terry wondered whether it was a US military stealth aircraft, but it was utterly silent and he didn’t believe technology was that advanced. But he went quiet, stopped moving, and waited. The craft floated above the snow, and a coloured light played from it downwards as if it was looking for something. The craft moved away west. Terry stayed still for about fifteen minutes, but had to move, so he stood. There was no way anyone could have seen him in the dark, but the craft did, because the lights suddenly went out on it. The craft, now without lights, only visible as a dark mass against the snowy landscape, seemed to turn towards him as if considering something. Then it flew off north and Terry was alone.

Spring came. The snow went and in its place, fierce rainstorms. Cattle went missing, but now he found them, and when he found them it was clear something terrible had happened. A few were not too bad, but others were horribly mutilated, not by a savage beast—but with clinical precision.

Huge chunks of meat had been removed, leaving holes. And weirder still. There was no blood. It wasn’t that the blood had dried. It looked as if it was completely exsanguinated. The left eyeball had an odd hole in it and a weird chemical smell hung over the carcass.

Later, he discovered another cow with a similar hole in its left eyeball with another six-inch hole in its rectum. The same chemical smell was present.

The Alien Visitors

This was the spring in 1995. There were more strange lights across their land, which became so frequent that they were almost a nightly occurrence. That spring, objects moved around the home — like Gwen Sherman’s hairbrush and towel, but other objects, and more often. The ground beneath the ranch emitted odd sounds, like groans and reverberations, as if there was some kind of machine under the house.

But, according to some reports, what was worse were the faces that appeared at the windows. The Shermans would be sitting in the house when one of them would look up and see a face at the window. And these were not ordinary faces, they were blank, featureless faces. Now they saw why the previous owners had put locks on all the windows and the external doors. The locks on the internal doors still seemed unnecessary until the night the things came into the ranch.

They saw them in the corridors. They would wake up to find them standing at the foot of the bed. It was clear now why the previous owners had abandoned the place. Even all the locks were powerless to keep the blank-faced things out.

It wasn’t just the Shermans who saw the lights. The neighbours saw them too, but always over the Sherman Ranch. And then the Shermans heard voices speaking from the air. Terry said they were choppy and sounded like a cross between Native American and Russian. He called out, ‘We can hear you!’ and the voices stopped.

In the Fall, Gwen was sitting out and saw a grid of lights on the ground. She grabbed the binoculars and said she saw a large, heavy-set individual seated within the light grid. Then the lights blinked out. When they came back again, Terry was with her and, through the binoculars, they saw a figure standing beside the ‘craft’. He was over seven feet tall with a uniform and a shiny visor on its face.

A new light appeared — orange globes that stood still in the air and differed from the other lights that moved around.

One time, while it was still light, Terry was on his porch cleaning his rifle and one of these orange lights appeared. This would be the summer of 1995. He took his rifle and squinted through the telescopic scope at the light. Afterwards, he told investigators it looked like a portal — a door to somewhere.

It was after sunset and the sky was going dark when he saw the portal, but he said that in its middle, as if it was opening to some other place — the sky was blue. He saw other portals later, and he said that it was through these that the small craft came and that these small craft would dart about the land and were particularly interested in the cattle who they would harass and stampede.

Orbs appeared. The smaller ones were tennis-ball sized and deep red. The larger ones were blue, and these were the worst. He called these ‘Blue Meanies’. In a way he could never explain, these blue orbs gave off a terrible sense of anxiety, both to the Shermans and also their animals.

One summer evening, when the sun had gone down but light still lingered in the west, a blue orb winked on in the trees in front of the ranch and moved towards them. Terry was sitting with three of his hunting dogs, and the dogs sat up as the orb came closer, their hackles rising, their ears back and their teeth bared. A low growl rose in the throat of first one, then another, and then all three of the dogs were snarling in threat to the orb.

Terry let them loose, ‘Get it!’ and the dogs ran at the orb. If the dogs were frightened, they did their duty, and they chased the blue orb. The orb sailed away from them back into the trees, and the dogs followed. The daylight was almost gone now and in the grey dusk, Terry saw the dogs enter the thicket, chasing the orb.

At first he thought they’d scared it off, and he was glad, but then he heard the pained yelp of the first of his dogs, followed by cries of distress from the other two. The dogs did not come back. He knew he should go into the trees after them to see what had happened, but he admitted afterwards that he was too scared. He sat awake all night, waiting for the dawn, and with the first light, ventured into the trees, still afraid, and it was then that he discovered what was left of the three dogs in the woodland.

There were three circles of withered grass, and in the centre of these circles were lumps of liquified flesh. Terry thought it must be the three dogs. The flesh was turned to mush and exposed to great heat. Steam still rose from the three remains.

The Shermans had been at Skinwalker Ranch for nearly two years and it was wearing them down. They had financial losses from the vanished and mutilated cattle. They could hardly sleep for fear of what was going to appear in the house. The children were flunking school and Gwen was so rattled she couldn’t manage her job at the local bank and got fired. The family slept in one room, and now their dogs were dead.

There was an article about the Ranch written in the Desert Times in 1996. The Shermans were ridiculed and thought of as liars and fantasists. Poor quality ranchers who’d had to concoct a story to explain that they just couldn’t make their business pay. But they moved away. They sold no books. Cut no publicity deals and never wanted to talk about it in any way. They sold the ranch at a loss. If it was a scam, why would they do that? Before they came to the Ranch, Terry Sherman was a well-respected, down-to-earth, conservative cattle breeder. He had never had any history of anything like he reported from the Skinwalker Ranch.

In any case, they put the ranch up for sale. Shortly after they did so, Terry got into conversation with members of the Ute tribe who told him they had stories of strangeness on the ranch going back over ten generations.

A billionaire entrepreneur, Robert T. Bigelow, who had an interest in the paranormal, saw the article in the Desert Times. He offered to buy the Skinwalker Ranch, and the Shermans accepted. The Sherman family moved out by July 1996. Bigelow funded a scientific team, The National Institute for Discovery Science, and they moved into the Sherman Ranch in September 1996, all set up to examine the strange phenomena that the Shermans had told them about. There are reports about what happened next?

Worse was to come.

Is The Skinwalker Story A Scam Or A Grift?

I am going to do another piece about what happened next and then let you know what I think about the truth of the stories at the end of that.

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