Article by Contributor, Hunt The Skinwalker

It is almost exactly 10 years ago that “Hunt for the Skinwalker” was first published. For the incognosenti, the book chronicled a unique, intensive scientific investigation of UFOs, cattle mutilations and paranormal activity over almost a decade on a remote ranch in NE Utah. A private research institute in Las Vegas Nevada, the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) deployed a team of PhD level scientists and invested millions of dollars in equipping personnel, deploying remote sensors, and conducted the most sustained, intensive “boots on the ground” investigation of anomalous phenomena in history. Only Project Hessdalen in Norway rivalled the Utah Ranch study in duration, but the Utah project comprised continuous deployment of human observers AND remote sensors.

 “Hunt for the Skinwalker” chronicled personal experiences from the scientists who made the ranch their second home for several years and documented accounts from dozens of eyewitnesses, some with military backgrounds and many with high credentials. Since 1994, over 50 independent witnesses have reported hundreds of anomalous incidents on the ranch; it is commonly accepted that the reality of the phenomena on the ranch are undeniable.

Since the publication of the book, this once obscure property in Utah has been named “Skinwalker Ranch” and it has become one of the most famous UFO hotspots in the world. Hunt for the Skinwalker spawned a cottage industry of imitators—up to half a dozen books have been published by wannabee pretenders and retired “security guards” who have claimed all manner of magical happenings in and around the ranch over the past ten years. Hundreds of videos purportedly taken on the ranch with millions of views on YouTube as well as several TV shows, movies and “documentaries” have been released, all purportedly shedding light on the mysteries of Skinwalker Ranch.

The past ten years have seen the creation of an entire “Skinwalker Ranch” genre and the emergence of a viral meme that surrounds the ranch with even more mystique than ten years ago.

In the years since publication of “Hunt for the Skinwalker” what are the lessons learned from this unique study and how can the experiences gained on the ranch benefit the larger study of anomalies?

Three questions can immediately be asked:  

(A)  Is Skinwalker Ranch a unique location?

(B)  What are the optimum strategies for investigating a hotspot like Skinwalker Ranch?

(C)  What have we learned about the phenomenon in the past ten years?

(A) Skinwalker Ranch is not unique as a UFO hotspot—it’s uniqueness lies in the fact that it is the most studied UFO hot spot in history and (B) it is imperative to treat the investigation of these phenomena as a scientific project in as professional a manner as possible.

We will focus attention on both (A) and (B) in this article.

Since the publication of the book, other locations have been investigated outside Utah, and individuals have come forward with documented evidence comprising almost identical breadth and scope of anomalous phenomena in North America that bear a striking correlation with those seen on Skinwalker Ranch.

(a)   The Uintah Basin sightings. The Utah Ranch sits in a 15,000 square mile area in NE Utah known as the Uintah Basin. Joseph (Junior) Hicks is a retired high school science teacher who in 1950 began gathering UFO testimony from locals. Junior Hicks has reported that he heard large numbers of stories of “weird stuff” over the years (1950-2010) in the area around the ranch, but he did not follow them up because they were so bizarre/disturbing. Hicks gave only his “nuts and bolts” reports to Frank Salisbury who dutifully published them. As Hunt for the Skinwalker documented, investigations have shown that the “nuts and bolts” flying objects constitute only a small minority of the phenomena in the Uintah Basin around the ranch. This pattern is continuing.

(b)   The Dulce NM sightings. Scores of reports of anomalies have been investigated around Dulce, New Mexico and a plethora of bigfoot sightings, cattle mutilations, orbs of light, weird creatures and other paranormal phenomena overlaid (same time and same location) on the classic flying disc and flying triangle reports have been discovered.

(c)    The 1975 Malmstrom AFB, Montana UFO sightings have been widely reported in the literature; in fact they constitute a part of the famous Northern Tier sightings (4). NIDS was fortunate to obtain the first hand testimony and report logs from Captain Keith Wolverton who was based in Great Falls in 1975 and Wolverton documented a large number of cattle mutilations, bigfoot sightings, bizarre creatures, and assorted weirdness that happened at the same time and place as the famous Malmstrom AFB UFO wave. However, almost nobody else reported the weird underbelly of the phenomena around Malmstrom AFB.

(d)   Marley Woods, Missouri:  When we visited Marley Woods and interviewed ranchers and eyewitnesses, again we saw a wide variety of anomalies that appeared to coexist with a small number of “nuts and bolts” sightings. Some of the investigators told us that they had stayed away from all the “weird stuff” for the majority of their UFO investigations over 40 years and they ONLY focused on the nuts and bolts phenomena. Marley Woods forced investigators to open their eyes, because the non-technological data were so overwhelming.

(e)   The San Luis Valley sightings reported by Christopher O’Brien over the years is actually a refreshing exception in that O’Brien has reported all of the weirdness (cattle mutilations, bizarre creatures, assorted poltergeist activity, etc as well as classic flying discs, flying triangles). O’Brien’s books (*eg 1 and references therein) have not distorted the record in favor of the nuts and bolts “craft”.

(f)     A few years ago investigators began to dig into the Rendlesham Forest events and after interviewing a dozen airmen and other eyewitnesses who were stationed at RAF Benwaters in the early 1980s they began encountering the same underbelly of anomalous phenomena which have not been widely publicized. Only the triangle in the forest with symbols and the apparent advanced technology appears to have avoided the censorship. We have learned some interesting tidbits, for example (a) the base was haunted by “Runway Charlie” who was apparently a headless human dressed in a flight suit seen by several security police officers over several years who routinely was observed walked down the runway often from distances of about 100 yards, (b) multiple other haunting were reported by security police officers, (c) flying orbs or lights were routinely seen on the base and in Rendlesham forest over the years and (d) the forest was a longtime favorite spot for local druid cults to congregate. In other words, the Rendlesham Forest area was another hot spot for anomalous activity and the events of late December 1980 were only a small part of the continuum.

So, with every series of cases that have been closely examined in widely different areas, we are confronted with an identical phenomenon. A small number of mechanical flying objects that are contemporaneous with a vast underbelly of weird anomalies that nobody in “UFOlogy” wants to report. The finding that every location that has been studied in depth yielded multiple layers of additional anomalies that did not fit the classical nuts and bolts UFO meme makes one wonder whether throughout the majority of UFO investigations of the 1960s-2010s, was this censorship the rule rather than the exception? If yes, then the generic research field of UFOlogy is attempting to make sense of an unbelievably distorted dataset.

(B) Seven lessons learned from Utah Ranch and Uintah Basin investigations:

What has been learned about the techniques of investigation that cover these kinds of research projects? There are seven rules of thumb that have been learned in investigating this mysterious piece of real estate and none of these techniques are possible for amateur researchers who do not have considerable resources.

The investigative approach that has been developed and honed over the past decade is deceptively simple and it has been used to greater and lesser extents with investigations of every UFO/paranormal “hot spot, including Skinwalker Ranch. What are the seven most important points to focus on when approaching these kinds of investigations?

  1. Personnel: In order to begin uncovering consistent data, substantial resources must be deployed. A team of scientifically trained (minimum of a Bachelors degree in science or engineering) full time investigators working in unison with professional project management and clearly defined roles and responsibilities is essential. Researching this phenomenon on evenings and weekends is only possible if you are prepared to conduct research over several decades.
  2. Equipment: Tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars must be invested in equipment, including night vision equipment and a deep bench of contract research labs for analytical chemistry and all levels of forensic analysis must be available. This kind of analysis is essential and is very expensive.
  3. Continuous "boots on the ground" interviewing and re-interviewing witnesses over many years has been the most productive approach---it has to be done methodically utilizing a grid design. Find the "hot spot" and work out from there using investigators to knock on doors and "cold call" in a grid pattern a couple of miles around the hot spot epicenter. You will gradually assemble a picture of the events in the area.
  4. Deploy investigators on the actual hot spot on night watches equipped with Gen III or better Night Vision equipment and thermographic imagers if possible. A lot happens in the Infrared region of the spectrum, but it is transient and ephemeral. The investigators need to be deployed for weeks, not days because the phenomenon is elusive and deceptive.
  5. If you investigate cattle mutilations, you MUST have an accredited veterinarian standing over the dead animal within a few hours of the incident in the summer and within 24 hours during the winter. Speed is of the essence since post mortem decomposition rapidly obliterates the forensic evidence. Forensic analysis (including analytical chemistry) must be conducted on tissues surrounding the wounds. If you do not do this, you are wasting your time investigating cattle mutilations.
  6. Conduct exhaustive, but skillful interviewing year after year on witnesses. We have found that as witnesses begin to trust investigators, more details are provided and in particular the level of “strangeness” of reports can increase over time (see Jacques Vallee’s perceptive description of “The Hilltop Curve” (*2)). From these witnesses and their families and neighbors, document in particular physiological effects and if you have the resources, blood chemistry, immunology, and even genomic analysis. The key is to view the human being as a more reliable readout system for documenting the effects of the phenomenon.
  7. Side by side with the “grand central station” aspect of the diverse phenomena that were documented is human (contractor/Intelligence Agency) involvement in the Uintah Basin area, but the human activity is very murky and difficult to separate out. We have spoken with Special Forces Private Contractor personnel who have admitted deploying “toys” in the area around Skinwalker Ranch. For a good analogy to some of what has happened in the Uintah Basin, we recommend Robert Guffeys very entertaining book (*3).

Nine things learned about the phenomenon on Skinwalker Ranch:

1.     The phenomenon is covert and deceptive

2.     The phenomenon has shown no interest in engaging in dialog with human investigators: communication from the phenomenon has been one-sided, fleeting and not reproducible.

3.     Long term interactions with the phenomenon do not promote health and well-being, either physically or psychologically, in humans.

4.     The phenomenon can and does manipulate human perceptions, human emotions and trends towards inducing fear in humans, not happiness.

5.     We learned that the United States Government has used the phenomenon to mask some of its covert technology programs and in turn we observe that the phenomenon has mimicked some USG Special Access technology. We have named this complex dance “bidirectional mimicry”. Bidirectional mimicry implies that investigators of this phenomenon are peering through at least two layers of deception. This is a major cause of confusion in this research arena.

6.     Asking questions about whether the phenomenon is interdimensional, extraterrestrial, ultraterrestrial etc is scientifically meaningless since there is currently no scientific methodology or technology (ie no falsifiable hypothesis from a Popperian perspective) for distinguishing between these possibilities.

7.     The phenomenon has shown a preference for collocating with Native American tribes in the United States.

8.     The phenomenon has been physically destructive to animals.

9.     The phenomenon may be pre-cognitive.



(1) O’Brien, Christopher (2009). Stalking The Tricksters. Adventures Unlimited Press, Kempton, Illinois.

(2) Vallee, Jacques (1975). The Hilltop Curve, p 112 of “The Invisible College” 1975 published by EP Dutton

(3) Guffey, Robert (2015): Chameleo. OR Books, New York and London.

(4) Salas, Robert and Klotz, James (2005). Faded Giant. BookSurge Publishing