Article by Contributor, Hunt The Skinwalker

To what extent does the research data gathered on Skinwalker Ranch support the hypothesis that the “phenomenon” actively evades comprehensive detection and engages in deception?

Over the years, many of the Skinwalker Ranch researchers told us (the Hunt the Skinwalker team) of the frustration they experienced in trying to utilize scientific methodology to track the elusive “phenomenon” on the ranch. Ranch researchers described several operational checklists that were rigorously adhered to before embarking on night watches on the ranch.

These checklists included:

  • Verifying that all portable surveillance equipment was in working order.
  • Verifying that all camera, nightvision and surveillance equipment batteries were fully charged and that spare batteries were available.
  • Checking that communication equipment was functional

The NIDS scientists encountered a litany of frustrating phenomena that were unexpected, sudden, transient, fleeting and non-reproducible. Researchers succeeded in capturing and recording multiple phenomena; however few of sensor data were worthy of publication in peer reviewed scientific publications.

Researchers also told the Hunt the Skinwalker team of hundreds of all night stakeouts on the ranch only to discover that in multiple cases investigators had been in the wrong place---witnesses subsequently reported activity near areas of the ranch not covered by personnel on the previous night. On one particular night in 1997 the NIDS team was clustered at the East end of the ranch to try to take advantage of several sightings that had occurred on the previous two nights in the same area as reported by one of the neighboring families adjacent to the ranch.

The night watch was tense with expectation and by 5AM the next morning the exhausted and disappointed NIDS group, having been on high alert for eight hours with nothing seen, decided to grab some sleep. A day later, the NIDS personnel were contacted by a local inhabitant to report a spectacular series of low altitude UFOs, exhibiting abrupt 90 degree turns in the sky, that had occurred out of the line of sight at the West end of the property. This “bait and switch” pattern was repeated often enough for the NIDS researchers to gradually realize that perhaps this was more than just bad luck.

On dozens of occasions cameras and video cameras carried by scientists abruptly lost battery charge when personnel were trying to photograph a transient anomaly. On one memorable occasion in late 1996, two NIDS scientists with cameras at the ready watched in awe as a fast moving, completely silent UFO flew in from the North travelling faster than an F-18 fighter and executed a perfect U-turn at high speed over the astonished researchers. The absence of engine noise and the lack of any frame of reference by which to judge the altitude of the object was perceptually disorienting to one of the observers. The entire sighting lasted only a few seconds during which time the scientists were frantically trying to activate the cameras, both of which had suddenly lost power. Other occasions occurred when film of anomalies was blank or over exposed. Over many years these “coincidental mishaps” became the rule.

In spite of over seven years of continuous surveillance by security cameras on the Skinwalker Ranch, although several transient phenomena were recorded, no definitive evidence was collected and many events happened outside the surveillance sensors field of view. 
A few instances of forcible destruction of cameras and equipment by unseen perpetrators were discovered, as described by Kelleher and Knapp in their book Hunt for the Skinwalker (1).
The “Gorman” family, who lived in an increasing state of escalating fear on the Ranch between 1994-1996, reported to different researchers, including NIDS personnel, that the Skinwalker Ranch “phenomenon” engaged in continuous secretive cat and mouse games and appeared to be always one step ahead of them. Fifteen of these “trickster” incidents out of scores were relayed by the Gorman family to researchers:

(1)    The Gorman son was cutting wood and stopped to rest. He laid the chain saw next to him and when he went to resume his work the chain saw had disappeared. After looking for a considerable length of time, he returned to the truck to get another chainsaw only to find the original machine placed on the back of the truck which was parked about 100 feet away.

(2)    Gorman was fixing a barbed fence at the end of the day. He briefly laid his pliers down on the ground. When he bent down to pick them up they were gone. He searched unsuccessfully for them until it got dark. When he returned the next morning, the same pair of pliers were hanging from the fence exactly where he had been working the day before.

(3)    The Gorman son was watering the animals and turned off the water before returning to the house for the night. Since the well was not very deep, he knew that it was essential to turn off the water, otherwise the well could not be used for at least 24 hours. The next morning they found the water had been running all night. This happened two nights in a row.

(4)    A fence post pounder, weighing 75 pounds, disappeared one lunch time from where Gorman had left it and then reappeared after extensively searching the area in exactly the same spot two days later.

(5)    Gorman was working with a post digger in the large field and the family decided to go to the house for a lunch break. After lunch Gorman discovered the post digger was gone. He and the family searched the area thoroughly for the post digger but found nothing. Eventually after a day they went out and bought a replacement. Suddenly Gorman spotted his old post digger 12 feet off the ground in an elm tree. The digger had been carefully placed leaning on a branch and wedged against the trunk of the tree. It would have been impossible for anyone to simply throw the post digger up the tree.

(6)    Numerous instances when shovels were gone while digging irrigating ditches and then found in unusual places later.

(7)    Water hoses would disappear and then be found in unusual places always rolled into a neat circle of 3-4 feet diameter.

(8)    Gorman was fixing a fence and had a coffee can full of staples. He placed them on the ground beside him and then turned to use them to find that the coffee can was gone. The coffee can of staples then was found in exactly the same location two days later.

(9)    Gorman was digging fence post holes and he had placed a large iron bar beside him. He turned to use it and discovered it was gone. He searched for it. They found a few weeks later stuck into another fence post protruding about four feet from the top of the piping. The location was about 400 yards from where it had disappeared.

(10)    Gorman was welding a pipe fence and he took a break towards the end of the day. He removed his helmet and gloves to drink some water. The gloves and helmet had disappeared from beside him, and he searched for them until dark. The next morning the helmet and gloves had reappeared exactly where he had originally put them down.

(11)    Sights on firearms were commonly moved, scope caps were gone and then returned.

(12)    Gorman had bought a new dog collar for an especially aggressive dog that he owned. The collar disappeared from the dog the next day. The collar then reappeared on the dog about 24 hours later.

(13)    An aggressive healer which they always kept chained up was found unchained several days in a row.

 (14)    Irrigation head gates were found inappropriately opened or closed several times with no tire tracks or footprints in vicinity.

(15)    Several times Gorman’s wife was cooking dinner and laid her spatula down on a ceramic bowl or elsewhere in the kitchen so the spatula would not drip. She turned to use it and it was gone. The spatula would later turn up in the fridge, the freezer, the microwave or some other unusual or inappropriate spot.

These routine “poltergeist” or “trickster” events plagued the family on a daily or weekly basis for years and seemed designed to provoke annoyance, anger or other emotional upset. When placed into the context of the killing and mutilation of over a dozen of their cattle, the events gradually assumed a more sinister flavor for the family. Each of the above 15 examples of minor annoyances reeked of the deceptive nature and hostile tactics of the phenomenon. Several of these cat and mouse games bordered on psychological warfare methodology, some of which are described in Hunt for the Skinwalker (1).

In summary, hundreds of days and nights chasing ephemeral UFOs and other anomalous phenomena, both on the Skinwalker ranch and in Northern New Mexico, indicated to researchers that the phenomenon appeared to be actively evading detection.

Deception in a Broader Context:

Beyond the decades of disturbing and evasive tactics that were recorded on Skinwalker Ranch, the broader view of anomalous phenomena, including the UFO phenomenon, also appears tainted by deception and covert behavior. Jacques Vallee’s masterful book “Messengers of Deception (2) describes the scope of this deception. In it Vallee observes: ”The phenomenon involves more than a simple craft using an advanced form of propulsion; it involves a technology that can distort the observer’s sense of reality.” Author Chris O’Brien in his book “The Mysterious Valley” (3) presents examples from the San Luis Valley, Colorado and elsewhere of the phenomenon in multiple hotspots taking on “trickster” guises and exhibiting deceptive, covert behavior. 

Who can forget John Keel’s riveting description of deception and trickster behavior detailed in his classic book Operation Trojan Horse (4): “Within a year after I had launched my full time UFO investigating efforts in 1966, the phenomenon had zeroed in on me, just as it had done with the British newspaper editor Arthur Shuttlewood and so many others. My telephone ran amok at first, with mysterious strangers calling me day and night to deliver bizarre messages “from the space people”. Then I was catapulted into the dream like fantasy world of demonology. I kept rendezvous with black Cadillacs on Long Island and when I tried to pursue them they would disappear impossibly on dead end roads… luminous aerial objects seemed to follow me around like faithful dogs. The objects seemed to know where I was going and where I had been. I would check into a motel at random only to find that someone had made a reservation in my name. I was plagued by impossible coincidences and some of my closest friends began to report strange experiences of their own—poltergeist erupted in their apartments, ugly smells of hydrogen sulfide haunted them…”

So, experience suggests that the phenomenon is actively evasive and deceptive. Crucially, active evasion and deliberate deception renders normal scientific research impotent. A fundamental tenet of scientific research is that experimental data is assumed to be valid. Not so on Skinwalker Ranch. Ranch researchers told us on many occasions that they thought human perception itself was sometimes manipulated so that different people watching the same phenomenon reported wildly different experiences.

And Hunt the Skinwalker team are suggesting that this deception is INDEPENDENT of the taxpayer funded “active measure” UFO deceptions being perpetrated since the 1970s by various intelligence agencies and other United States Government departments. The team agrees with Jacques Vallee and suggests that the technological attributes of science should be used when framing the mystery as an intelligence problem. Of course, the United States public has seen massive intelligence failures over the past few decades so the jury is out on whether treating the UFO phenomenon as an intelligence problem is a solution to this widespread pattern of deception and evasiveness. In a future article, the consequences and meaning of active deception will be addressed.

On June 24 2017, literally 70 years since Kenneth Arnold’s famous sighting ushered in the “modern” era of anomalies investigations, it is not so amazing that we have so little to show from 70 years of investigation. We can perhaps give some credit to the phenomenon’s deceptive tactics for this lack of progress.


1.    Kelleher C & Knapp G (2005) Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah. Simon and Schuster, New York

2.    Vallee, Jacques (1979) Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults. And/Or Press Berkeley, California

3.    O’Brien, Christopher (1996) The Mysterious Valley. Saint Martins Press.

4.    Keel, John (1970) Operation Trojan Horse. Putnam and Son New York.