Outdoorsmen–What IS This Sound?

with Gary Howes
Guns and Gunsmiths Editor

OK–here is a puzzle for all you outdoorsmen (and women, ‘scuse me) who have seen and heard just about every type of critter in the US. My security camera recorded these LOUD howls at 4:45 am the other day. I was unable to see what animal was making them.

To give you some reference I live in a rural area in Northern California, so I know it was not a polar bear, or a wombat. I have lived here for almost 15 years and have never heard this before so I am stumped. So far two people have suggested a female deer giving birth, and one thought it might be a coyote. I just don’t know.

Any guesses? If you like, feel free to share the YouTube link with your friends on social apps.

51 Responses to Outdoorsmen–What IS This Sound?

  1. It sounds too low pitched for a red fox though it’s a similar vocalozation. They always catch me off guard here at the house. I’m intrigued surely some wildlife biologist out there knows what it is.

    • Yes Dan, certainly not a red fox, but kind of similar though. Our rural neighborhood gets an annoying fox squawking loud and often, and of course it’s always late at night. Was alarming and a bit nerving when first hearing it so near, loud and often when first moving to this area, especially since I’ve never heard such a thing before, until then.

  2. AGI Instructor and long-range hunter Darrell Holland listened to it and suggested in could be a gray fox (which we have in this area) or even a deer being killed. We have lots of mule deer at the moment and mountain lion have been spotted recently as well, so… eewww!

    Not convinced about any of these though so still waiting for answers.

  3. In a shop where I worked years ago – a sheetmetal apprentice (first year) was drilling a quarter inch hole in a piece of sheet metal while holding it in his lap. He made a similar sound when the drill broke through. I’ll never forget that sound.

    • Interesting, but I think it was way too loud. We only have small owls here which have a very distinctive “hoot” rather than a screech. Thanks for your comment though–something to consider.

  4. First thought was coyote, but I am more inclined to think it is a very unhappy dog complaining big time…it doesn’t sound like a “call”, it sounds like an “attitude of complaint”. My little guy does a similar sound if I leave the yard and don’t take him too.

    • Maybe a coyote. I know the dogs in my neighborhood (not that many) and I doubt it was one of them. Because of mountain lions we all keep our dogs inside at night.

  5. Sounds very much like a female domestic cat except deeper and “bigger” sounding. I’ve heard cougar once and it was similar to your recording. Do you have bobcat around there?

    • Yes we do have bobcats. I had considered that, but I have no real reference to compare to. We also have mountain lions, deer, occasional black bears, and all the usual small critters. It is a very small neighborhood in the middle of nowhere with only about 25 full-time residents. Some of us have dogs but we keep them indoors at night. I think it was way too loud for a domestic cat, unless it was some big-ass feral thing. I think werewolf and big foot are my two favorite answers so far.
      The mystery continues…

  6. …..Being Northern California and a rural area, Sasquatches are known to imitate people howls and cries, could very well be that, or somebody with a hell of a hang over!!,…

  7. I played it for my wife, and her first reaction was that it sounds like a moose. I know it is the wrong area for that, but maybe a stray elk?

    • Definitely not a moose. This may amuse my Canadian friend Dana! And although we have Elk in Northern CA, not in this area. I am located about 30 miles East of Napa CA, so maybe it was an Elk varietal of a particular type of wine?

      • Aha!! Beware! … Bullwinkle has been missing in Canada for a few weeks now! May be armed with occasional loud screams put forth during California nights. Officials recently reported his whereabouts are still unknown.

        Rocky is lonely and sad that his friend Bullwinkle is missing. I’m corresponding with him via emails. I’m trying to keep him optimistic and steered clear of any antidepressants so that the Fed’s don’t come confiscate his firearms due to “mental health issues”.

        Please keep the security cam’s a rollin’ and keep me apprised!

        Dana in Canada over, and out.

  8. Sounds very much like a cat. No, not domestic but if you’ve ever heard the beginning of a domestic cat fight, there is all the “screaming” first. Sometimes only one cat will do all the screaming. That sound sounds to me like a big cat screaming at another big cat. I’m assuming serious big cat confrontations don’t happen very often so not having heard it before would fit. Not having heard it before would seem to indicate it’s a rare event or a new and different animal in the area. I’m sticking with big cat. Long ago in west Texas my Dad got screamed at by a mountain lion one night as he was returning from his deer hunt. That sound reminds me of his description.

  9. We only have a few Elk that have been transplanted in Missouri, but it sure sounds like a Bull Elk. Then again, when I was much younger, it almost sounds like my Grandpa using his horn to call in his dogs from a night of fox hunting.

  10. That is the cry of a Ding BAT. Primarily found in California, they recently have been heard throughout the Midwest and as far as the east coast of the United States.

    It’s not hard to connect the dots on this one.

  11. I agree with Pat, definitely canine. Here in NW Montana I’ve heard deer, cat, & dog communicate and that sounds like a coyote. It’s deeper tone is what can throw us off a little bit, maybe it’s wounded or it’s throat is a little raspy. It’s call is the length of a coyote’s and falls off like one. That last call falls off like it just got swallowed by something.

  12. I would have to say it sounds like a Coyote. I have heard coyotes around my house here in Eastern PA, and they sound slightly different but they were mostly young pups playing. The sounds heard in the audio above are most likely Coyote! I looked up Different animal sounds and the only one that sounded similar was the coyote! Hope that helps!

  13. Sounds like a coyote to me. We’ve got a couple of packs we listen to almost every. Ugh this

  14. I’d say Mountain Lion-Cougar-Puma, which ever you would like to call it. I’ve heard these here in Northern Canada at night out in the forest and rual areas.They can make the creepiest noises as you say, and can send shivers right through you. This cat was close enough that you should be able to find tracks to confirm what it was. They are very elusive and won’t let you see them if they see you first,which is almost always. Usually they are only spotted at a distance or on trial cams. Bear possibly,but the tracks you find will tell you.