(Authors note: “Truth is stranger than fiction” – never was a more accurate saying created. This story will well illustrate this quote. People have long accused us of lying or making it up.
(Why would we make up a story that clearly tells you we were dead scared and did not know what to do? Both of us are know in our home area for our outdoor skills and prowess so why tarnish it with a false story? We could of just as easily kept our traps SHUT and kept it to ourselves.)
Well I am here to tell you I was scared “spitless” and if I had been alone I would have turned tail and run, and not stopped till my feet hit the asphalt a good mile away.)
The Darlington Valley of Delaware County Pennsylvania has a record of strange incidents and occurrences. Many people have reported seeing strange things lurking in the seemingly ever-present mist of early morning and evening. More people have reported the hearing horrible cries, screams and roars coming from the dark woods. So bad were the sounds some people vowed never to again return to the valley.
As a side note, my Fathers very close friend and his girlfriend had an experience neither of them ever forgot. Melvin Mallesly and his girlfriend (I can't recall his girlfriend’s name) were um, ah parking down in the valley late one night. As usually happens they were rather involved in what they were doing, when suddenly behind their car "The Monster" let loose with its audio assortment of mayhem. Even before the sounds faded away Melvin had the car started and was laying a trail of rubber out of the valley. Melvin was a good ole boy, born and raised as a hunter and trapper, so he knew the sounds of the woods. He told my Father that this was no animal he'd ever heard. My Father and his friends being young (20's) punks, of course teased the man unmercifully, calling it Melvin's Monster. Well it frightened him so badly he never went back into the valley, and his girlfriend moved to Florida. No one believed poor Melvin or his girlfriend. Stories of "The Monster" continued for years afterward up till this day even.
I had heard the stories of the "Darlington Monster" as a child from both my Father (who didn't believe a word of it) and my Mother (who always said there is something evil in that valley.) I decided that it was probably just animals making noises and citified people couldn't explain them and therefore were scared of what they heard. Foxes screaming, coons barking and growling, and numerous owl cries can unnerve the unknowing. Little did I know I would get a front row seat with the legend itself.
It was Thanksgiving Day 1992 when my partner Arnold and I had our encounter with "The Monster". It was very early in the morning around 3AM or so when this event took place. Arnold and I were walking up the valley checking our coon sets, talking to each other as we usually did. It was as dark as midnight in a mineshaft, as there was no moon and heavy cloud cover. This part of the valley is extremely thick, with multi-flora rose and honeysuckle everywhere, even in the daylight you can only see about 20 feet due to the walls of vegetation, and the only way through is a single deer path.
We were walking along guided by our trusty $1.24 flashlight we picked up at a gas station, its dim sickly yellow light barely illuminating our chosen path. Suddenly it front of us this thing lets out this sound. It started with a rumble like distant thunder, rose up to a howling shriek like banshee with a toothache and tapered off to a mad dog howl. It was so loud it reverberated off our chest and we could feel it on our faces. Arnold and I both looked at each other and said, "WHAT THE #%$^# WAS THAT??????". If you think this was inappropriate language, all I can say is you weren't there! We drew our pistols and loaded them so fast, we could have taken, Butch, Sundance, and The Kid down. This is all the more amazing considering the pistols were in snap down holsters and the bullets were in our pockets. We tried shining the light around but that did nothing constructive for our heart rates. Arnold then suggested we should slowly move off to the right to our other sets out in the field. You can believe me when I say this was met with less enthusiasm than "The Charge of the Light Brigade", they were only riding into the Valley of Death, I thought, and I was already there. I informed Arnold I liked the tree I was backed up against and daylight was only 1 1/2hrs. away or so. Arnold coerced me into following him by starting off toward the field with the flashlight in one hand and a fully loaded and cocked pistol in the other. I sure as [Please excuse my language... I'm an idiot] wasn't going to sit there in the dark by myself. I followed along right behind him, with my pistol fully loaded and cocked as well. To say we covered the 200 yards from where we met the monster to the edge of the field where our sets were carefully is a masterpiece of understatement. We were so slow and careful you'd thought we were tiptoeing through a minefield. Thank God no deer broke through the brush or rabbit scampered through the dry leaves, otherwise there would have been a hail of lead laid down.
We finally made it to the field edge without any more surprises. After checking our sets we had to re-enter the valley to get back to the truck. It was just light enough to see when we marched back into the valley. On the far side we heard the noise again. We continued back to the truck and got the [Please excuse my language... I'm an idiot] out of there. Did this experience change us? Well yes and no, we were back checking traps the next day in the same valley, but now we had fully loaded pistols in unsnapped holsters.
Arnold and I have talked about this incident many times since then. We know what we heard, and I can't tell you what it sounded like exactly, because I've never heard anything even remotely resembling it. Between us Arnold and I have over 60 years of experience in the woods, from southern Virginia swamps to New York mountaintops; we have been to them all. We firmly agree it was no animal that walks the woods (to many sound variations in a short time), or human (no way a person could make those noises).
So you may ask what it was then. Well I can't rightly say,
aAll I can say is if I never hear it again it'll be too soon.
"If it's got four leg we can catch it!" - "Pop" DiSalvo