Urban Legends

Skinwalker Ranch. Urban Legend or Truth?


Werewolves. Shape-shifters. I call them Two Skins. American Indian folklore—primarily Navajo—refer to them as Skinwalkers.

This urban legend tells of ETs and werewolves. What more could a spook freak want? I couldn’t leave the animal mutilations theme without researching the Skinwalker Ranch. It parallels much of my experience growing up on a cattle ranch near Fort Worth, Texas. Unexplainable lights. Strange sounds. Cattle mutilations—as recounted in my last blog.

The Backstory of Skinwalker Ranch

Not a cow, but you get the idea. Dolphin abductions, would we know about them?

Terry Sherman and his wife Gwen bought a 512 acre cattle ranch in Utah. But after only eighteen months on the property, he sold it. The family reported many of the things I’d seen on our ranch as a youth. Crop circles. UFOs. And, of course, the bloodless cattle mutilations with precision likened to that of a surgeon. Or laser.

Sherman said:

“We’ve seen (the UFOs) enough and we know pretty much what the craft looks like, and I think it’s definitely associated with the cattle mutilations—when we see the crafts and then the cattle, we have problems,”

Investigators and witnesses suspect satanic cults, ETs, or conspiracy theories as the culprits. Some even blame vampires. And werewolves. I don’t think vampires exist, but I’m a believer in shape-shifters.

UFO enthusiast Robert Bigelow, bought the property in 1996 hoping to see the unexplainable first-hand. The Las Vegas business man funded the research and set up twenty-four-hour surveillance of the property.

Though no definitive evidence was ever documented, the two researchers most heavily involved wrote the book Hunt for the Skinwalker: Science Confronts the Unexplained at a Remote Ranch in Utah.

The public recognizes these writers for their accomplishments. One is the biochemist Colm A. Kelleher, Ph.D., and the other is a well-known Nevada journalist, George Knapp. Knapp was the only journalist allowed to witness and document the events. They experienced firsthand the Skinwalker Ranch’s daunting mysteries for hundreds of days and nights.

The metadata describes the book in this way.

Far from the coldly detached findings one might expect, their (Kelleher’s and Knapp’s) conclusions are utterly hair-raising in their implications. Opening a door to the unseen world around us, Hunt for the Skinwalker is a clarion call to expand our vision far beyond what we know

Yep, I bought it. Negative reviews and all. Because I have experienced the unexplainable. I want to warn readers, however, it may be best to consider it a good fictional read rather than set-in-stone fact. But humankind has failed to physically document anything from beyond the observable physical universe. The definition of paranormal, indeed.

One reviewer stated some of the key takeaways from the book—and the ranch—in the following way.

…entities peering in windows, poltergeist activity, unexplainable creatures, various sized and colored orbs, spacecrafts galore, and the loss of prized cattle—it eventually took a toll on his family.

The Reason for the Skinwalker Name

The ranch got its name from the creatures spotted by the Sherman family and the researchers. Sherman saw what appeared to be a wolf, thrice the size of a normal wolf. He shot at it three times, at close range, with no effect.

On a March night in 1997, biochemist Dr. Kelleher said he saw a large humanoid creature staring at the research team. He describes the beast and incident in his book.

…the creature was approximately 50 yards away, watching the team safely from a tree perch 20 feet off the ground. The large creature lay motionless, almost casually, in the tree. The only indication of the beast’s presence was the penetrating yellow light of the unblinking eyes as they stared fixedly back into the light.

Kelleher fired at the creature with a rifle, and it disappeared.

It was then that I saw it—a single, obvious oval track about six inches in diameter embedded deeply in the patch of snow… It looked unusual: a single large print in the snow with two sharp claws protruding from the rear of the mark going a couple of inches deeper. It almost looked like a bird of prey, maybe a raptor print, but huge and, from the depth of the print, from a very heavy creature.


Are all these people lying about what they saw? Part of a collective imagination?

The Uinta Basin, east of Utah, has earned the title of UFO Alley and is a known to be a hotbed of paranormal sighting as reported in the September 4, 1978 issue of the Desert News. Seems as if there are many people who have experienced similar happenings either on the ranch or in the basin.

Conspiracy Theories?

MGM movie poster for Endangered Species, 1982.

Did I mention conspiracy theories? Yes, I did. There is a 1982 science fiction movie titled Endangered Species starring Robert Urich and JoBeth Williams that deals with cattle mutilations being a government coverup.

The film’s plot line:

New York ex-cop Reuben Castle (Robert Urich) and a female sheriff (Jo Beth Williams) fall in love while investigating a string of mysterious cattle mutilations in a small Wyoming town. Castle is a retired alcoholic police lieutenant visiting a town with his daughter. —Wikipedia

The paranormal is replaced with the government conspiracy to conduct biochemical weapons testing for a new strain of Clostridium Botulinum on the cattle.

The film surprises in many ways—not in the least because of the “accuracy” of its research. Issue 19 of Project Stigmata, a contemporaneous newsletter devoted to reporting on “the continuing investigation into the occurrence of animal mutilations” offered cautious praise for the film, noting that it far exceeded expectations in its handling of the subject of mute deaths…it explores a number of conspiracy theories in an authentic manner while also pointing towards tensions that wouldn’t be fully realized until decades later. — Diabolique Magazine


At the beginning of our Urban Legend blogs, I said I’m not here to debunk or verify them. But there seem to be a lot of folks in Utah with similar experiences as the Shermans.

The History Channel even has four seasons of the Skinwalker mysteries. It’s an updated version of Skinwalker Ranch starting in 2016. My blog deals primarily with the backstory. Additionally, here is a video link to cattle mutilations at other ranches.

I’d have to say there is evidence to suspect paranormal happenings in this part of the Beehive State. What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.

Clara Bush
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One reply on “Skinwalker Ranch. Urban Legend or Truth?”

Hi Clara;

Nice read! I too read “Hunt for the Skinwalker” by George Kanpp, etal. It was a fascinating story that made me want to know more. Robert Bigelow sold the ranch to Brandon Fugal, a wealthy Salt Lake City real estate investor, several years ago.

Shortly there after, he got the History Channel interested in the story. They brought in Dr. Travis Taylor to work with their team of investigators. He’s a well known PhD, aerospace engineer, with professional credentials in astrophysics and a history of working on UPAs, (UFOs).

They have made some incredible discoveries on the ranch lately that give credence to much of the phenomena witnessed there. Assuming their work is real and not staged,

For example, a ‘vortex’, invisible to the naked eye, seems to be present over a given area over the ranch. Rockets shot into it, veer off course when the encounter it, Items dropped into the zone from above appear to be ‘pushed’ around it on their way to the ground, navigational instruments and gps equipment go to haywire near the zone when flying over it and lidar has mapped a very strange anomaly emanating from it. In addition when they are testing the location, UPAs often appear in response. Using lasers fired into the vortex, the light beams break apart inside it, reappearing again above the zone. Yet nothing is visible to account for any of these observations.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Much more has been recorded there since Dr. Taylor has been working with them. It’s a very strange place indeed which has a history going back to when the UTEs were the only people in the area.

….thought you might like this.

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