The Tales of Skinwalker Ranch

Since 1996, this ranch has been shrouded in a rather strange mystery.

Ethan Kautz

In Ballard, Utah, what was once a normal ranch has been clouded by a twisted and disturbing mystery. Since 1996, there have been some pretty bizarre claims about the Sherman Ranch, claims so strange that it has been given the name of Skinwalker Ranch.

In 1994, the Sherman Family purchased a ranch in Uintah County with the intention of living the simple farm life. However, they would allegedly experience over 100 unexplainable encounters. It was for this reason that in 1996 they would sell the ranch and publicly document their experiences on the property.

Skinwalkers are shape shifting beings in the Navajo culture that can disguise themselves as animals. Little is known about them outside of Navajo culture due to their reluctance to discuss the topic with outsiders.

The prior owners, Kenneth and Edith Myers, had owned the ranch from 1934 to 1994, but they abandoned the ranch several years prior. Upon purchasing the ranch from the Myers Family, the Shermans immediately noticed some strange things about the ranch. There was a clause in their contract that stated they had to ask the Myers Family for permission before digging on the property. When the Shermans arrived at the ranch, they noticed the doors and windows had been bolted shut.

According to ‘Hunt for the Skinwalker’, The first incident occurred when the family noticed a large canine in the distance approaching the house. As it got closer to the home, they believed it was a wolf. It stared at the family for a moment before continuing to approach them. The wolf allegedly came up to Terry Sherman’s chest, who was about six feet tall. The wolf was seemingly tame, with it even allowing the Shermans to pet it. 

Unfortunately, things quickly took a dark turn when the wolf suddenly attacked a calf that had come nearby. The Shermans started to hit the beast, but it didn’t register their blows at all. Terry Sherman was given his pistol and shot the wolf three times. It did nothing. The creature then turned and stared at the family while Terry shot it three more times, once with his pistol and twice with a hunting rifle. The wolf wasn’t affected at all by the gunshots. It then proceeded to run off into the forest nearby. Terry and his son chased after the wolf but it was much too fast for them. They continued to follow the tracks until they disappeared; they couldn’t find the wolf.

  Over the next few weeks, the Sherman Family would see more strange wolf-like creatures. The sightings of these canines would soon dissipate, and instead, the Shermans would notice heavy farm equipment going missing, only to be found in an odd location later. One such example being when Terry Sherman found a 70 pound tool 20 feet up in a tree. They would soon begin to see strange objects in the sky. Those said objects would often glow and behave rather oddly.

Throughout the following winter, the Shermans would begin to notice their cattle going missing, with their tracks strangely disappearing just like the wolf. In the spring, they would begin to find the corpses of their cattle. The corpses would allegedly have no blood on them and have entire pieces missing with precise cuts, almost as if the body parts had been surgically removed. Typically these incidents would happen when Terry Sherman would notice yellow lights in the sky and bad weather the night before.

The Sherman Family also encountered floating orbs rather frequently. One night, their dogs attacked one such orb. The orb seemed to taunt the dogs for a moment, before zooming off into the trees. The dogs would follow the orb into the forest, before letting off loud, disturbing yelps. In the morning, Terry investigated the area, and found the remains of his dogs and three circles of burnt grass.

After the incident with their dogs, the Shermans decided to move off the ranch and make their stories public. These stories would be printed in the Deseret News, and as a result, many people would go to the property attempting to explore the area. Robert Bigelow would buy the ranch from the Sherman Family for less than the Shermans paid for it, which led people to wonder if the Shermans made up the stories to raise the land value, why would they sell it for a much lower price?

Bigelow put together a team of scientists, all with a variety of backgrounds. One scientist, Colm A. Kelleher, would co-write a book about the ranch with journalist George Knapp titled ‘Hunt for the Skinwalker.’ Terry Sherman would volunteer to help with the investigation since he wanted to know what was responsible for all of this. On the first day, the team found deceased cows, the burnt grass circles where Terry’s dogs were killed and many holes in the ground. One night, a few team members saw a bright light hovering above the trees for about ten minutes before moving around in the sky. The team photographed the light, but they claimed the photographs didn’t convey just how bright it really was.

On March 10, 1997, the team discovered a calf with its organs, blood, and much of its body removed. The calf was seen alive just 45 minutes earlier. Some nights later, they would see a large animal that appeared to be about 400 lbs. In the trees staring at them. Terry shot the creature but it disappeared. They would see the creature again, Terry shot the creature again, this time at point blank range, but again it disappeared. 

The final major incident on the ranch happened on August 26, 1997. Researchers had heard that meditation caused incidents to happen on the ranch, so one researcher decided to test this. That researcher and one of his colleagues then observed a yellow light in the distance. One researcher claimed that a large tunnel opened up out of the ground and a large, black, humanlike creature emerged. The creature would run off into the darkness never to be seen again. Another researcher claimed that it was just a yellow light and no tunnel or creature was there.

Over the next few years, fewer and fewer incidents would occur on the ranch. Eventually in 2002, the investigation would end. Two years later, the organization the team was operating under the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS), would disband.

Shortly after NIDS dissolved, the government funded Advanced Aerospace Weapons System Application Program (AAWSAP), began investigating the ranch. The investigation lasted from 2008 to 2010, most of the investigation remains classified to this day. Robert Bigelow would sell the ranch in 2016 to real estate developer Brandon Fugal where a team of investigators continues to operate to this day.

Many of the original stories before the original investigations are said by the Shermans to only be partly accurate. However, since they haven’t elaborated on what they did and did not experience, the version of the stories in the book ‘Hunt for the Skinwalker’ is all we have. Garth Myers, brother of the original property owner, Kenneth Myers, is the one who sold the property to the Shermans. In an interview, he stated that the ranch was abandoned because Kenneth Myers had passed away and Edith moved to a rest home before she died two years later. Garth also stated that the home wasn’t as fortified as the stories had stated and there was nothing abnormal that took place when Kenneth and Edith lived there. There are also suggestions that the scientists lied to Bigelow about the activity on the ranch to keep him happy.

Whether or not these incidents are real, the ranch remains a topic of intrigue for those interested in paranormal phenomena to this day. Two movies, six TV shows, a plethora of news articles and hours of YouTube videos later, we may never know just what really lurks in the darkness of Skinwalker Ranch and the small town of Ballard, Utah.