; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Bigfoot, Black Bear...or Something Else? Northern New Jersey Encounter

A Vernon, New Jersey resident recounts an encounter with an unknown bipoed at night with another witness. Was it a black bear or something else?

The following account was recently posted on social media:

This takes place in my hometown of Vernon, New Jersey in 2009. The town is near the northern tip of NJ in the Appalachian Mountains, and borders New York state.

I was 17 at the time and at a party at a friend's home. The town is very large and divided up into different communities (most lake based) but one my friend’s house was in was called Old Orchard. It was more development-like than a typical neighborhood, but was up a steep hill with lots of woods around it. It was a summer evening so we spent our time outside in their backyard. Some people were drinking, but myself and the another witness were not.

The backyard had a thin tree line dividing it from the lot behind it, and with leaves on the trees it was thick enough to block your view from the yard. Well, after dark I went through the tree line and into the next lot with someone. We walked the few steps through the trees and they sat with their back to the tree line facing the lot, which was a large upward sloping hill with a single tree in the center with maybe 100 yards from us. The lot was bordered on the right by a road with a streetlight that partially illuminated the area, and to the left there were similar tree lines bordering other properties.

After sitting and talking for awhile we both fell quiet when we heard something. It was just for a moment but it sounded like sniffing, like the sound a dog makes with its nose to the ground searching for something. I was facing the tree line bordering my friend’s backyard. We could clearly hear everyone in the yard carrying on only feet away, the sniffing sound didn’t continue. I glanced around behind me into the lot, saw nothing, and we continued talking.

To preface the rest of the story I want to note that northern New Jersey has a large black bear population, and in my town it was very common to see them in your yard, crossing the road, or even have them break into your home in search of food. Combine that with being someone who spent a lot of time outside and in the woods, I know what a bear looks like and how it moves and sounds. And I know what other large predators are in the area. And what I saw was none of these things.

So some time passes, long enough to forget about the phantom sniffing. Then I hear it again, and the other person does as well. It’s the same nose to the ground, sniffing out prey type of sound. And it is LOUD and seemingly coming from all around us. We can still hear the party going on, and as loud as the sniffing is they don’t seem to notice it. I look at the person I’m with and they are frozen, with their eyes locked on something ahead of them. I turn and face into the lot, as the sniffing continues, and under the tree I see the large dark outline of something. It was shaped like a bear, but larger, standing about six feet on all fours. It’s head is down to the ground and it is sniffing around under the tree, but it still makes no sense that we would be able to hear it at all from where we were, let alone how loud it was. Then it moves forward, and that’s when I am certain it’s not an animal I am familiar with, because it puts its two front legs out first, and then it’s back legs shuffle forward in one motion like a rabbit or a kangaroo.

I didn’t watch for very long, but enough to see it keep shuffling forward like that a few more times, the whole time it’s head is to the ground, sniffing as loud as it was breathing in our ears. Again it was only bright enough to see as a silhouette, but it appeared to have fur. I had a strong feeling that it could feel me looking at it, and if I kept watching it would notice me. And I did not want that to happen. The person and I locked eyes, grabbed each other’s hand and bolted back into the yard.

No one else noticed, most were too drunk to even know we had been gone. It was late and I convinced some people to go inside to the living room to sleep. Other people stayed out in the yard in tents, but no one mentioned anything weird the next morning. We didn’t tell anyone what had happened during the party, and the reason the other witness is ‘someone’ and not my friend is because they were really just an acquaintance I met and was trying to hook up with. I never saw them again. I don’t even know their last name. I to want to contact them and ask about it. And we didn’t speak of it with each other while at the party either.

Northern New Jersey is supposed to have a Bigfoot type cryptid called Big Red Eye. And the Jersey Devil of course. But I don’t really think it fits. I posted this story once before on an old account and I was told it was a dogman, but that also doesn’t seem to fit. I’ve had a lot of paranormal experiences in my life, but this is the only ‘cryptid’ type I’ve ever had. I's like to know what it was, but I got the distinct feeling it was something I was not supposed to see." DW

NOTE: The area has had some Bigfoot activity over the years. It is an area that has a very large black bear population, and a history of at least one black bear seen walking as a biped on numerous occasions. What are your thoughts? Lon

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