This MAY have been a ghost story. All I can say for sure is that we were not alone out in the woods that night.
This was the summer of '82, and it was the usual crew for camping then: Dave, Fernando, Frankie, and myself. We'd hiked to our usual campsite, had gotten there early, before 3:00, and were set up by 4:00. So, we were just taking it easy, taking turns target shooting with Dave's.22 revolver and carbine, and Fernando's.357 handgun. We'd taken guns along before, without incident.
We'd been at this for about a half hour when a Jeep with Sheriff's Dept markings came out of the brush across the river from us. They forded the river, and pulled up in front of our campsite. There had been complaints about the gunfire, they said, and though we didn't have to leave, we had to surrender our weapons, which amounted to the three firearms, and the hunting knives we each wore. Hey didn't count the stick I'd sharpened into a spear.
They left, and we decided to cook some dinner. No sooner did we start to break out our food, than it began to rain - worse, it began to POUR. By the time it stopped, our fire was out, the firepit was flooded, all the wood was soaked, as were we, because the local wasps had eaten holes in the lean-to.
We just sat there, with our sleeping gear hanging between trees, hoping to dry it somewhat. We ate what we could could, unable to even make coffee.
As it was getting on towards dark, we crashed; no real reason to stay up. However, no sooner did it reach full dark when we heard a weird sound coming from down stream, like a cross between a howl and a scream. We each had flashlights, and we produced them, only to see them die, one after the other. I'd changed my batteries in the car on the way down; the others all swore their batteries were new, as well.
The "whatever" would crash through the brush to within 20 feet of us, hoot-screaming all the way, then turn and run back the other way, then do it again, all the while making that unearthly noise. With no lights, and no weapons but a sharp stick, we weren't going away from the campsite to get a better look. We never saw what it was.
I don't know when I finally drifted off to sleep, but in the morning, the sun was bright, our stuff had sorta dried, and we were ready to pick up the guns at the Sheriff's station, and get the hell outta there.
There was a trail worn back and forth in the grass, but no tracks that we could see. The flashlights, when checked, worked perfectly.