Bow hunters Josh Brinkley and Daniel Lucero, dressed in camouflage gear, looked a little uncomfortable sitting in chairs at a local newspaper.
The Santa Fe County residents had just come into Taos after several days in rugged terrain near Cerro de la Olla, also called Pot Mountain, northwest of town near Ute Mountain.
They had a strange tale to tell and they weren’t sure of their reception.
“We’re a couple of guys that don’t believe in much, but we believe now,” Brinkley said.
They went hunting for elk.
They encountered aliens or something else so strange they don’t know what to call it.
Brinkley, 41, said he’s been going to the Pot Mountain area hunting for 15 years. He had never seen anything particularly odd.
He said he works construction and on movie sets. He’s a family guy who doesn’t want anyone to think he’s crazy.
He and Lucero have worked together for eight years.
They say they aren’t prone to seeing things and didn’t particularly believe in aliens.
Opening morning of bow hunting season was Sunday (Sept. 1). The two men had gone a couple of days early to scout the area for elk. Lucero, 26, had never been there.
They set up along the tree line on different sides of a field and waited. After three hours and no elk, Brinkley became restless. It was about 9:30 a.m.
“I take off walking, creeping around through the woods, looking for elk,” Brinkley said.
He reached the top of the mountain where there’s a caldera, a kind of wide bowl left behind by a collapsed volcano. He went to the edge on the southwest side. As he walked to the edge he noticed two figures on his side of the caldera. He thought at first they were hunters. But, they were “very tall shapes of these beings, standing side by side, staring right at me,” he said.
He walked toward them across the brushy field. He estimates they were about 35 yards away. As a bow hunter, where measuring distance is critical to hitting a target, he said he’s pretty adept at it. He went around the bush and looked again. The figures were gone.
He looked around and didn't see them. “Figured I would talk to them. They were gone, just gone,” Brinkley said.
He thought more about what he had seen: With their lower half concealed by bushes in the caldera, he had only seen them from the waist up. "The shape that would be like their heads, it looked like they had huge hoods on. It looked like two ribbons coming off either side to a point at the top and bottom (like a banana). The right side was black, left side was white and a little shiny. Torsos were kind of black, I couldn’t see many details. It definitely looked like clothes. In middle of the oval was just gray.”
He thought maybe it was the back of hunters' heads. “But it looked too strange, too crazy.”
Later, he drew what he could remember of them in a leather bound sketchbook he carries with him. And he drew what he saw next.
Brinkley hurried back to where Lucero was still waiting. Still no elk. “I was a little weirded out,” he told his friend.
He told Lucero he had seen a couple of hunters and that’s probably what had scared off the elk. He couldn’t bring himself at first to say what he might have just imagined.
They went back to camp. “I couldn’t take it any more,” Brinkley said. “I told him what I saw was weird. They were too tall, their heads were too big to be hunters.”
“Anyone who knows me knows I don’t tell these weird stories.”
Lucero said he had known something was up when Brinkley had walked quickly and noisily up to his position at the field. Normally his friend is quiet, a hunter’s slower, more measured speed through the bushes.
After Brinkley told him, Lucero felt a little weird, too. “I didn’t know what to believe,” Lucero said.
Brinkley kind of wrote off what he saw.
A strange structure
On Labor Day (Sept. 2), they headed out again to hunt early in the morning and hiked all around the area. No elk. They got back to their Jeep at about 2:30 p.m.
“We couldn’t figure out why there was no elk,” Brinkley said.
They decided to drive to the other side of the mountain and see if there were other hunters or four-wheelers scaring off the elk. As they drove, the men saw no signs of any wildlife at all, they said.
They drove about 10 minutes, when they saw it. They both work with movie sets. At first they thought it was a movie base camp. “It’s this big tent structure, like a circus tent, 50-60 feet tall. Coming off the left of it was this long building, almost like what you would build for an archery lane for target practice. It was a third the height, but really long, maybe a couple hundred feet.”
They were about a quarter mile away and couldn’t see the bottom of the structure.
They watched it for about a minute as they drove.
“What is it,” he asked Lucero, “a base camp for a movie? Or are they building an alien ship set?”
They drove down a little hill, lost sight of the structure for at most five seconds, Brinkley said.
“When we topped the hill, it was gone. Just gone.”
Lucero said he was watching it the whole time while Brinkley drove except for those few seconds. “There was no dust, there was nothing,” Lucero said.
They drove around the area searching for what they had seen until dark.
“I just know it was real," Brinkley said. "It was huge and white and then gone.”
When the two men reached a place with cell signal, they told a few friends what they had seen. They thought about calling the Air Force. A friend put them in touch with Peter Davenport, longtime executive director of the National UFO Reporting Center in Washington state.
Davenport confirmed they had called him. “It was a dramatic story,” he said. “If it is true, it is profoundly unsettling.”
He said out of the thousands of calls he gets every year about supposed alien sightings, they rarely describe seeing aliens on the ground.
They aren’t the first hunters to see something they can’t explain. Four hunters in Challis, Idaho, in 2000 described having a large triangular craft hover a couple of hundred feet above them before moving off over the mountains.
After listening to some 350,000 phone calls over 25 years, Davenport thinks he can tell those that are credible.
This was one of them, he said.
Brinkley and Lucero said they weren’t drinking and weren’t on drugs.
The hardest thing is telling their story. “People probably think we are insane,” Brinkley said
He said he didn’t believe in UFOs. “I sure do now,” he said.
Lucero said he doesn’t know about aliens. “I just know I’ve never seen anything that big just disappear.”
“The two aliens, you can say I imagined that. But you cannot explain something that big just — gone,” Brinkley said.
After telling their strange tale, the hunters did what they came to do - go try one more time to find elk.