View Full Version : Please identify this here critter

02-16-2007, 04:20
Don't laugh.

Ok, I was on the NY section last July and something came upon my campsite that I couldn't then, nor now, identify.

I'd set up a stealth camp about 100 feet off/outta sight of the trail in a shallow hollow behind one of those numerous rock walls. Yes, I had a dozen hardboiled eggs hanging in a nearby bag- but that's not important right now. Anyway, let me set it all up 4 you:

About two hours prior to sundown I'd walked twenty yards away from my camp to cook dinner on some large rocks. It was very quiet. After cooking our meal I heard an unexpected snorting sound from close by, not too many yards away. Not far distant was a rather large rock with a noticably cavernous hole underneath it into which a grown man could've crawled, toward the direction from where the sound came. I disregarded it, like any masculine ape would do, and proceeded to tend to my simmering rice mix. I never mentioned what I'd heard to my girlriend (why scare BOTH of us?), but she was rather curious afterwards when I dutifully "relocated" camp 100 yards downhill from that damned gaping chasm below the rock.

Then darkness fell, and we laid down to sleep. Within an hour something stirred us awake.

It would be best described as a snorting sound, phonetically like "shhhhh, shhhhh!", very close by. It was not a small animal, judging by the lung power of the thing. There were heavy footfalls nearby in the leaf-covered ground, but not the clumsy type one would expect from a bear.

To be honest, it scared the crap outta me and my girlfriend in in our tent. But here's the thing- when I stormed out all "Billy BadAss" with my headlight, there was nothing to see. I went back to my sleeping bag and pretended to be confident. She didn't buy that 4 one second. Not too long after relaxing from that event, it happened again. But this second time, there was more than one thing walking through the leaves not more than 75 feet from the tent.

The next day @ RPH shelter we ran into "Kurly", a lovely '06 thru-hker, who told me it was probably just deer. She did her best, but I wasn't convinced. I'm thinking it might have been wild boar, or perhaps some stray "good ole' boys" come up from down south for the summer feediing season, I dunno.

Please help me sleep more soundly in the future...

02-16-2007, 06:28
I am an avid hunter. What I hunt for is the only meat that my family and I eat. I think the sound that you are describing sounds like a deer. It appears to be the sound they make when they warn other deer in the area that there are humans in the area. As a hunter its not a sound that I like to hear because it means I havn't done a very good job of covering my scent. Or maybe it was just big foot. Hey it couldnt have been anything to much to worry about your still here right?

Frolicking Dinosaurs
02-16-2007, 06:28
Could have been a feral pig, but they usually avoid people. If you had more than one pig rustling around, you probably had a sow with piglets as the boars are usually Lone Boars :D.... and that hole you saw was likely her nesting den.

Lone Wolf
02-16-2007, 07:49
just deer snorting.

wilderness bob
02-16-2007, 08:24

IMO, it sounds to me like you found a den of Porcupines. Those critters can get pretty big, are nocturnal and they do lurk everywhere. Three things to look for in confirming this was the critter: Well worn paths that follow along the edge of the rock formations there where you found the den (they are creatures of habit and use the same pathways): Uniformed pellet droppings (their defecation will be found along the trails I mentioned before) They look like a all natural multi-vitamin, brown in color). and finally look for evidence of foraging, they like to eat the bark from the base and branches of young trees. The noise you describe brings back memories of my own.

I had a large porcupine in a pine directly above my camp here in the Catskills a number of years ago. I did not notice him there until he tried to climb down out of the tree during the night. I was Cowboying in the Pine needles at the base of the tree he was in on a ledge. It woke me with every attempt to get out of that tree. Finally I just lay still and let it think it snuck by me. Not a bad experience except for the fact that it pissed all over me from it's hiding spot above me sometime during the event.

Jim Adams
02-16-2007, 09:29

02-16-2007, 09:34
I have an easy rule for identifying critters:

If it flies but dont swim; it's a pigeon.
If it flies & swims: It's a duck (or duckie)
If it just swims: It's a fishie
Everything else is either A: Monkey, Doggie, Moose or Kitty :rolleyes:

So, my guess is, that was either A: Monkey, Doggie, Moose or Kitty. :eek:
Unless you were camping underwater, then it very likely was a fishie. :p


BTW, in real life, my guess is a deer. Especially after the description of the droppings.


02-16-2007, 10:57
Here is one more vote for the deer.

Often time I'll come upon deer, as I slowly walk and seek the the elusive rare fauna of the understory. Being down wind from them I usually see them first. I remain motionless for a space of time and watch them forage with their fore legs looking for the greenery under the leaves. When its time for me to be moving on, I make a noise to attract their attention, remain motionless and observe their reaction. Their first reaction is to look in my direction, after 10 to 15 sec. I'll make a hissing noise and remain motionless, thats when they will usually snort and raise their tail. A few seconds later they will raise one of their fore legs and thrust it into the ground. I would respond with the same movement, raise my leg bent at the knee and thrust downward into the ground trying not to move any other part of my body. On a few occasions this action- reaction would take place 3 to 4 times in fairly quick way. The deer, being uncertain and not taking any chances, would then bound off to places unknown.

On occasion I have come upon little "Bambies" lying motionless, staring at me with their eyes open wide and ready to take off. At that point I would slowly back away, all is well.

I vote it was a few deer, relax, take a deep breath, let it out slowly. Now get back on the trails, slow down and enjoy all the magnificant things that have been created for us to enjoy for the short time that we are here on this earth.

02-16-2007, 11:03
Yep, just deer. When I moved out to my rural Chatham NC home they used to snort at me at nights and early mornings. Now they've gone through so many generations (we don't have dogs) that they just stare at me when I walk past them to go to work.

Had to put up a fence around the garden, and they think I planted azaleas just for them. But it's cool to look out in the spring and see the fawns.

02-16-2007, 11:24
Deer Snort.

Another great trail name! :)

02-16-2007, 12:04
Don't laugh.

Please help me sleep more soundly in the future...

Use a process of elimination:

1. You didn't mention a strong smell -- it wasn't a bear.
2. You didn't mention a "squeal" -- it wasn't a Ferrel hog.
3. You didn't mention a light -- it wasn't a fellow camper.
4. You were in NY -- it wasn't a moose.
5. You didn't mention water near by -- it wasn't a beaver.
6. You mentioned "heavy" foot steps -- it wasn't a small animal

I guess that leaves a deer.

02-16-2007, 12:04
i vote deer

02-16-2007, 12:09
You said it went "shhhhh, shhhhh!"

I bet it was a wild librarian. :D


02-16-2007, 12:17
The first ime I camped in the woods alone some snorting & stomping deer scared the s*** out of me, like the crouched in the dark holding your pocketknife kind of scared, then packing up and running back to the car next morning. It took weeks for me to accept that it had not been a prowling bear because, hey, that's a mean sound. The snort & stomp is their way of letting one another know that there is something around to worry them (you). I think maybe that dark hole under the rock combined with the noise and low light got your wheels turning. Also, you can walk up real close to a deer without seeing it sometimes.

02-16-2007, 12:28
I'm continually amazed at the various sounds that can come out of a deer, so I vote deer also, although I haven't ever encountered this particular sound. Porkies wouldn't be as heavy, and I don't recall any sort of shhhh sound unless they were waddling over leaves.

02-16-2007, 13:05
You said it went "shhhhh, shhhhh!"

I bet it was a wild librarian. :D


LOL G1 :)

wilderness bob
02-16-2007, 17:55
I changed my mind....it had to be a librarian LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL :)

02-16-2007, 20:43
So there I was sleeping in my house at about 0300 hours... The burglar alarm goes off and begins with a siren that then says "Burglary, Burglary...". I grab my trusty State Police issued .40 caliber with an attached light and head outside to check the homestead. Our house overlooks a river and has a steep hillside behind it that is wooded. As I rounded the corner in the back proceeding tactically as trained, "something" snorted at me. It sounds like the combination of a snort, grunt and a growl. And this is something that is variable depending upon how terrified you are at the time... Needless to say, it scared the crap out of me until my light fell on the eyes attached to the deer, which was standing on the hillside looking at me. I would say that it was probably a deer as well. Sometimes they are very quiet, but other times they can make quite a bit of noise.

02-16-2007, 21:09
If BB ever writes a journal, I am reading it. If he ever writes a book, I am buying it.

You got a way with words!

02-16-2007, 21:15
I agree that it was a deer,Nightime is when they are active,A couple of years ago camped at belters bump in CT. - At about 2 am there was a stampede around my tent and when I looked out to see what the rutkus was there was a bunch of deer running from at least 2 coyotes-Scary but cool..

Pedaling Fool
03-10-2007, 22:36
Here is one more vote for the deer.
On occasion I have come upon little "Bambies" lying motionless, staring at me with their eyes open wide and ready to take off. At that point I would slowly back away, all is well.

I also had this happen to me, except I never saw the fawn until he darted off, after my foot came down within inches of him. If he had stayed motionless I never would have seen him.

I also vote: Deer. I did not know they "snorted" prior to my 06 hike. I was lucky enough to witness it, for my first time, while eating lunch at Cornelius Shelter in Virginia. Every subsequent time I heard this distintive "snort" was at night or dusk, while in my tent; I'm glad I was indoctrinated at the shelter.

P.S. This was on 05-31-06, who ever left ramen noodles and peaches & cream oatmeal at Cornelius Shelter, I want to thank you, I was running very low on food - That was true Trail Magic.

03-10-2007, 22:54
I don't deer hunt but, have to hear about it from ALL of my family. That was a deer as already said. However I have never met a wild librarian sooo I could be wrong. lmao

03-10-2007, 23:16
Actually, what you describe sounds to me a lot like the Hook Man. You know, the psychopathic serial killer that just escaped from the state asylum which just happened to be nearby with the cruel, sharp hook in place of one of his severed hands. Thatís almost exactly the sounds he makes before he, well...uh, that is to say... Then again, it was probably just a deer. Hey, sleep tight!!

03-10-2007, 23:45
I vote wild librarian. Probably the same one that gave me the evil eye and nearly took my head off when my cell phone started ringing near her lair.

03-10-2007, 23:46
You said it went "shhhhh, shhhhh!"

I bet it was a wild librarian. :D


I thought all librarians were wild--they appear to be conservative.

03-11-2007, 00:04
I disagree on the deer thing. Because I encountered a feral pig one night.

It did not squeal.

It grunted and made noises and it pounded it's hoof into the ground as if to tell me I was on his property.

It was NOT a deer.

03-11-2007, 02:02
Eeny meeny miny, moe
Catch a tiger by the toe
If he hollers let him go.

My mamma told me to pick the very best one
and you are not it.

I don't know what it is, all the different reponses reminded me of that rythme.

03-11-2007, 03:35
id say if your food was still hanging in the tree it wasnt a bear, a pig sounds like a pig fereal or not in my observation, a deer is a likely, never want to see a porky pine, though the thought of Big foot is improbable, its not impossible.

03-11-2007, 06:28

You want to spaz a deer out, spit loudly. Funny.
The deer around here are not too bright.

03-11-2007, 09:31
Probably a Real Big Snipe.

03-11-2007, 22:31
Bravo, You ever been on a "snipe hunt"???, LOL I can still see some poor fool out in the dark holding a "snipe bag".

03-11-2007, 22:39
BTW I have never seen a porcupine but have been around wild hogs and deer hunted all my life, I think you heard a deer. And there is another reason not to urinate near your camp. Deer will lick the pee to get at the salts left in the the urine. Gross but true.
Another true story: Last winter a dead pine (not over my tarp I checked) fell down in the middle of the night while camping in the Sipsey Wilderness in N. Alabama. Just as the tree fell something brushed across my legs. I got up and no tree had fallen on me so I went back to sleep. Next morning there were deer tracks and mud smeared on my tarp along with two large gashes. The deer had ran over my tarp when the tree fell. Thanks to Sil-net for the repair job.

03-12-2007, 22:42
I was camping with the Scouts in a group site above Gooseberry Falls along the north shore of Lake Superior. The call of nature came at first light and I headed down the trail to the outhouse. Up ahead of me I hear this snorting noise. I come around the bend in the trail and there is a doe snorting at a big, red fox. Off behind the doe is a fawn. The two of them were staring each other down about 30' apart. My appearance formed a near perfect equalateral triangle. (Think of the final shoot-em-up scene at the cemetary in "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly".) I don't know what they were thinking but I was thinking, "Where's my freakin' camera?!?! :mad:

03-13-2007, 11:10
This thread is useless without pictures!

03-13-2007, 12:40
Porcupines around here smell.
Do feral pigs bark like domestic pigs?

Brrrb Oregon
03-13-2007, 12:56
I vote deer, too. BTW, they usually aren't nuts about the smell of cooked eggs, although they will get used to them. (That is, scrambled eggs around the rose bushes only works for so long.)