Bass River State Forest Encounter

-November 2005 Update-



M.A. Frizzell



Recently I received an email from Ron Evans[i], a longtime New Jersey resident and businessman who claimed to have had an unusual encounter with an unidentified animal in a fringe area of the Bass River State Forest[ii] and the Stafford Forge[iii] Wildlife Management Area. His experience was set apart from more recent Bass River events in that it happened in 1985. Ron wrote to us saying that over the years he has largely kept the weird incident a secret. He ultimately decided to report it to the Enigma Project in view of our treatment of other Bass River State Forest accounts.[iv] Over the last two months, our correspondence with Ron has continued and we have greatly appreciated his sincerity and kind cooperation. On Sunday, November 13, 2005, Enigma Project investigators returned to the Bass River State Forest (see Figure 1) for the purpose of visiting the site of Ron Evans’ alleged encounter. This report is the culmination Ron’s information and our personal observation of the area.



Figure 1- Enigma Project Camp at Bass River State Forest (near Lake Absegami & Officer X’s encounter site)


The Location


Site Coordinates

Latitude- N39°42.124'

Longitude- W74°23.194'

Elevation: 98 ft.


The northern sections of the Stafford Forge WMA and the Bass River State forest are distinctly different from the tall woodlands found just a few miles south.[v] This northern area is a sandy, coastal plain densely covered with bushy scrub and dwarf pine trees that rarely exceed 15 feet in height (see Figures 2 & 3). The soil is a mixture of coarse sand and fine gravel. When wet, it retains sharp impressions. However, the effects of wind erosion, drying sun, and rain will quickly reduce the most defined imprints to amorphous blobs (see Figure 4). Interestingly, the 1.5 mile unpaved road that runs through this area abruptly terminates in the Warren Grove Gunnery Range,[vi] a gated military reservation managed by McGuire AFB, NJ, that is used for ordinance practice and testing (see Figure 5).[vii]



Figure 2- Investigators in background examine dense coastal scrub.        Figure 3- Immense area of dwarf pines. Pond site in left background.



Figure 4- Fresh Deer track near others that the elements dissolved.                    Figure 5- Entrance gate to Warren Grove Gunnery Range


The Encounter


Evans explained that, as an avid hunter years ago, with the approach of deer season, he would go out at night to a wildlife management area near Tuckerton, New Jersey to spot the animals with a portable light.


At 11:00 PM, on one mid-November evening in 1985, Ron Evans drove out to a lonely stretch of Pine Barrens near the northern-most edge of the Bass River State Forest.[viii] As he coasted along the dirt road looking for a good location to survey his quarry, he stopped near a seasonal pond that past experience proved to be a favored habitat (see Figures 6 & 7). He mentioned that during periods of drought the pond dries up to become a shallow bowl of lush grassland. Since this was one such period, he left his car, with spotlight in hand, and climbed atop a large, roadside pile of earth that had been mounded at the pond’s edge.[ix] Evans cast the powerful light’s beam across the grassy expanse. As in past visits to this place, he hoped to see some deer eating the sweet vegetation. He wasn’t disappointed. Within the light’s path he saw several deer standing in the tall grass. Evans noticed that the animals’ behavior was somewhat odd. Usually, after overcoming their brief surprise of his presence, the deer would quickly bolt out of the area and vanish. This time they seemed transfixed by something several yards to the right of their location and were looking intently, not at Evans, but away from him, toward the back of the pond. Curious about what had captured their interest, Evans panned his spotlight in that direction. As the beam cut its path through the dense meadow, he caught sight of a crimson glint which at first he mistook for a red reflector on a stick in the grass. Ron Evans soon realized that the colored flash was actually light being reflected from an animal’s eyes--an animal that quickly revealed itself by rising out of the tall grass. At first, he thought the creature was a giant bear. However, what his spotlight revealed was obviously not a bear or anything else he had ever seen. Within the 15 seconds that the animal was illuminated, Evans could see a massive, 7 foot tall human-like form completely covered with grayish-brown hair. Its eyes glowed bright red in the light’s beam. His notion that the beast was some commonplace animal was completely dispelled as it raised its forearm to block the spotlight’s glare. From the arm, hair about 3 inches long hung straight down. To Evans’ further bewilderment he saw that the creature’s forearm did not terminate in a paw, but a hand--a really big hand. He estimated that the unknown beast was a mere 60 feet from his position and he reports that at no time did he detect any odor other than wet grass.



Figure 6- Pond site. Encounter occurred at right near trees                                   Figure 7- Encounter site foreground center of frame near water


What happened to Evans next he could only describe as “amazing.” He asserts that the animal groaned at him in a way that conveyed exasperation. Evans got the distinct impression that he and his spotlight had spoiled the creature’s hunt. Apparently, the strange animal’s frustration quickly phased to anger as it then screamed at Evans so loudly that he said he could feel the vibration of its yell in his chest. With that, the beast abruptly ran away and Evans frantically followed suit, running to his car and hastily leaving the area (see Figures 8 & 9).


Figure 8- Significant GPS waypoints struck along road in wildlife management area


Figure 9- Area of encounter is NJ Wildlife Management Area near the northern borders of the Bass River State Forest and the Stafford Forge Fish & Wildlife Management area.


In recounting the incident to this writer--some 20 years after the fact--Ron Evans said he still get chills thinking about the weird experience. Ron also reasoned that other people have probably had similar experiences but prefer not to speak of them, as he did for many years. Evans explained that when the opportunities arise, he makes discreet inquiries of friends and acquaintances concerning unusual sounds and sights in the coastal New Jersey region.


Additional Claims


In subsequent communiqués from Ron, he expounded on the details of other experiences that he made reference to in his first email regarding 1985 encounter. Since that time, in other areas of coastal New Jersey, both Evans and others he has talked to have allegedly heard unusual vocalizations during various outings and hunting trips.


Ron went on to describe a memorable nighttime fishing trip near Hammonton, New Jersey in August 1992. All through that night he and a friend had been trying their luck at various ponds in the area. On their last pond, at around 4:00 AM, they were ready to pack up and head home when they began to hear odd sounds they couldn’t identify. The strange noise began as a kind of high-speed guttural language which progressed to a long, sad, unnerving moan. Evans said the ‘language’ part of the noise sounded something like Chinese but clearly wasn’t. Even more unsettling in the darkness, was the nearby sound of heavy footfalls and snapping branches that coincided with the strange cry. Within a short time, the weird noise was heard again—this time louder and closer. Evans and his friend were so intimidated by the sounds that they grabbed their tackle and left the area immediately.


          Another account that Ron mentioned involved at least 4 couples (men and women) enjoying some off-road fun along a four-wheel drive trail near Chatsworth, New Jersey in the summer of 2003. As nightfall descended, the group stopped their vehicles and got out to rest near a cranberry bog. While talking they were suddenly startled by the menacing screams of some nameless animal in the darkness. With spotlights from their vehicles, they searched the approaching darkness for some source of the sounds. They found none. The group maintained that the peculiar wails seemed to be following the perimeter of the bog. As the screams persisted and grew more frenetic, the couples became frightened and headed for safer ground. Ron explained that while he did not take part in this trip, he had spoken to all of the witnesses and each of these people related the same account.


          Lastly, Ron told us of some curious tales he heard while attending a party last month. Both stories involved people hearing very loud, unknown growls.


One account concerned a gentleman who, as a child in 1978, lived with his family a few miles north of New Gretna.[x] He claims that every night for an entire week during the fall of that year something unknown would shriek loudly from the direction of a pond they had on their property. The source of the unidentified sounds was never determined.


The second story, which allegedly occurred earlier this year, involved local residents Mike and Nancy Lerner[xi] and their children. In February 2005, the Lerner family decided to enjoy some ice skating on a cranberry bog located about 3 miles west of Bass River State Forest. At one point, as they all skated along the frozen area, Mike Lerner pulled away from the others and glided to the edge of the bog. As he did this, something unseen (and unfamiliar) screamed very loudly at him from within the nearby woodland.


Reports of unusual animal sightings and sounds being perceived throughout this region are intriguing (see Figure 10).


Figure 10- Shows NJ encounter sites detailed in text.


In view of these persistent claims, the Enigma Project will continue its investigation of this area. Reports and updates on significant findings will be provided.



[i]  Pseudonym

[ii]  Bass River State Forest, located about 25 miles north of Atlantic City, NJ, is a 26,000 acre nature preserve ( )

[iii]  The Stafford Forge WMA consists of over 15,000 acres ( )

[iv]  See  (the Enigma Project’s report on the 2003 Bass River State Forest Encounter)

[v]  The southern area in which previous encounters occurred (Officer X, et al) is densely populated with pine, oak and Atlantic white cedar trees.

[vii]  Accidents have occurred during ordinance work in which “errant practice bombs sparked a forest fire that burned 11,000 acres of pinelands in 2002. Another fire burned 1,600 acres in 1999.” As recompense for damage, Warren Grove sponsored a reforestation program several years ago in which 33,000 pineland specific trees were replanted on the range.

[viii]  Approximately 6 miles from Officer X’s Lake Absegami encounter site.

[ix]  Evans speculated that the roadside earthen mound had been constructed by the NJ State Division of Fish, Game, and Wildlife to prevent wayward motorists from driving into the pond.

[x]  New Gretna, NJ is a small town located about 3 miles southeast of Officer X’s Bass River Forest encounter site.

[xi]  Pseudonyms