As it turned out our attack victim was an overweight 40yr old, one armed man living with his elderly mother. He claims to have been picking hallucinogenic mushrooms in a clearing on the edge of the forest the year before. He had gone down into a ravine, crossed a large, rapidly flowing stream and come up the other side where he had spied quite a few of the mushrooms that he was seeking. He said that as he came over the edge of the ravine a huge bird had attacked him and that he had thrown up his arm to protect his face. He had felt something ‘hit’ his arm and was knocked backwards into the rapidly flowing stream and was carried quite a way down stream. He finally climbed out and discovered his right arm was missing, cut off almost cleanly at mid forearm. He said that he had run quite a while to get out of the area while holding his ‘stump’ to control the bleeding.
His arm was, indeed, cut off very cleanly at a slight angle, the bones could be seen through the skin and were both cut off at approximately the same angle. Jack, our ex-special forces team leader examined the arm and said that a cut like that would allow the muscles to draw up to the elbow joint and pretty much seal off the arteries and keep the person from bleeding too heavily. Seeing the severed arm and hearing his very animated and believable story we decided to proceed with caution, we equipped each member of the team with a very sharp machete with a belt sheath and instructed everyone to wear them at all times as the birds we were seeking could be more aggressive than the history books had led us to believe.
Jack and I even broke out our Beretta 9mm automatics that we had previously had worn only once before when we had been in an area with huge wild boars. We secured two four wheeled all terrain motorcycles and a beat up four wheel drive SUV and after packing all of the equipment, we started up the road to the high rain forest with Jack and I leading the way on the four wheeled scooters. After what seemed like twelve hours and many stops and conferences with the girls and consulting the GPSs, we arrived at what we determined to be the meadow with the ravine and rapidly flowing stream, the dark forest beyond gave me a chill as I looked for a place to put our base camp. I consulted with Tom and Benny and we decided to put the base camp on this side of the ravine and set up an observation post in the center of the meadow and have motion sensors and cameras on each of the four compass points as near to the forest as we could get them and still have them transmit. While Tom, Benny, and I set up the observation post Sherry was putting together something delicious, I hoped, to eat and Jack and Jasmine had gone off on one of the scooters to try to find some tracks, feathers, whatever, and maybe actually see one of the subjects of our search. Jasmine called us on the radio saying that Jack had stopped the scooter and walked over a hill and when he didn’t come back she went looking for him. There was no sign of him and she said she had been yelling his name for ten minutes.
Benny and I took the other scooter and went to investigate. Soon we found Jasmine, crying and wiping her eyes with dirty hands, I felt that something was very wrong, Jack wouldn’t have left for so long without radioing or calling out, some signal anyway. We tried to find some tracks but it was dry in this area and the ground didn’t show much of any of our tracks. There was a wooded area just up the hill aways and I pulled my gun and checked to see that it had a bullet in the chamber and that the safety was off and headed up the hill. It was much lighter in the wooded area there than in the forest below but there was nothing to see, no Jack, no footprints, nothing. We decided to go back to base camp and have a meeting. Sherry had food when we got back but no one was very hungry. We decided to leave Sherry at base camp and go search the area out to a half mile from where Jack had left and for us to stay in pairs at all times. We searched for nearly an hour and it was starting to get dark, there was no sign of Jack or of any of his equipment.
That night was sleepless, we all stayed up monitoring the infrared cameras, the heat detector and listening for anything from the sound monitors, there was nothing. We decided to look again in the morning and that if we couldn’t find Jack that we’d go tell the police, military, park rangers or whoever would handle a missing person in this part of the country. After nearly an hour of searching Tom and Jasmine called and told us to come to the other side of the wooded area, they had found a track, not Jack’s track, a very large bird footprint. When we all got there and had seen the nearly 20 inch long and nearly as wide track with deep gouges at the termination of each ‘toe’ of the footprint indicating huge claws. After photographing the print we decided to go back to camp and get the kit to make a plaster cast and send someone back to the small town to get some law enforcement agency involved.
Tom volunteered to take a scooter down the mountain to get some help while the rest of us got the plaster cast done. We returned to base camp and listened to the radio, waiting for Tom to let us know what he had found out. He never called, he didn’t answer when we radioed him either. It was getting dark and we huddled in the tent with the sensor equipment to spend another sleepless night.