By all accounts 41 year-old oil well driller, husband and father of four, Carl Higdon, was not a man prone to flights of fancy, but on the crisp autumn afternoon of October 25, 1974, he had a close encounter with a bizarre being who would not only test the limits of his imagination, but quite literally take him on the ride of his life.
Like many Americans in the 1970s, the hardworking Carl Higdon was hit hard by the recession. As food prices crept ever higher, Higdon decided that he would have to hunt in order to feed his family and stock their icebox with enough meat to get them through the harsh Wyoming winter that was just around the corner. It would be during one such expedition that Higdon would go from being the hunter to becoming the hunted.
The day began like any other. Higdon awoke and was getting ready for his 2nd shift work day at the AM Wells Service Company in Riverton, when his telephone rang. After working his way up through the company for the better part of 20-years, Higdon was now the foreman, and therefore it fell to him to take “sick calls” from his crew. He described the situation:
"I was all set to leave for work when one of my key men phoned to tell me that he was sick. Realizing that nothing could be accomplished with him at home, I decided to take the day off."
Having committed to not going in to work, Higdon decided to utilize his unexpectedly free afternoon by using it to hunt for elk. With his plan in place, the oil man packed his gear into his company pick-up and began heading towards McCarthy Canyon in nearby Carbon County. It was then that a random act of kindness would forever change his destiny.
While cruising toward McCarthy Canyon, Higdon spied a pair of stranded motorists working on their immobile van. The Good Samaritan pulled over and helped them repair their vehicle. During the course of their conversation the duo revealed that they were also hunters and they knew of a place where there was much more game than Higdon’s current destination. Higdon recounted the encounter:
"I pulled in front of them and helped them. During our chat, they told me the hunting was much better farther back in a remote section of the Medicine Bow National Forest."
Higdon thanked his fellow hunters and without delay decided to change his course and begin driving toward the northern region of Medicine Bow National Park, which is located just 40-miles south of his home in Rawlings. Higdon arrived at the park in the late afternoon. Once there he was surprised to bump into an old buddy:
"Around four o'clock, I parked my two-wheel-drive on a knoll and pulled out my thermos to pour a cup of coffee. An old friend, Gary Eaton, walked over to where I had stopped and together we surveyed the area. After a few minutes, Gary told me he was going on higher up into the forest. Jokingly he suggested he might scare down some elk for me."
Higdon and his compatriot then separated, at which point the hunter pulled out his brand new Magnum rifle and loaded it with powerful 7mm bullets. Higdon decided to explore an area that was concealed behind a hill and set off… never imagining what would happen next.
Higdon walked for a few minutes and then, out of the corner of his eye, he caught a flash of movement. It was exactly what it was he had come for -- a small herd of elk. Higdon silently raised his heavy rifle, put his eye to the sight and took aim at the largest male:
"I walked maybe five minutes until I came to a rise in the ground. Down below in a clearing were five elk, huddled closely together. From my vantage point, several hundred yards away, I could see that one of them was a really outstanding animal. I lined him up in my telescopic sight and fired my gun, a Magnum rifle. It can give your shoulder a mean whack if you're not careful."
It would be at this moment that Carl Higdon’s world would take a decided twist toward the bizarre.
As soon as Higdon pulled the trigger of his Magnum he was astounded by the fact that there was no kick back from the rifle. What was even more perplexing was the fact that the detonation was absolutely silent. In fact, according to Higdon, it was as if the entire world had fallen still.
As if all of that were not strange enough, for the first time in his life Higdon claimed that he was actually able to watch as a bullet left the barrel of his rifle and soared forward so slowly that it looked as if were traveling through a wall of invisible Jello. Higdon later swore that he watched the bullet glide about 50-feet before it plummeted to the snow speckled ground before him. In Higdon’s own words:
"I couldn't believe my senses! Instead of a powerful blast, the 7mm bullet left the gun's barrel noiselessly and in slow motion. It floated like a butterfly, finally falling to the ground about fifty feet from where I stood. I was awestruck. I froze. All around me there was a painful silence. Not a chirping bird or the rustling of leaves on nearby trees could be heard. The only sensation I could detect was a tingling feeling which crawled up my spine. This was similar to the feeling you often get before a fierce thunderstorm, when the air is full of static electricity."
Still immersed in the eerie, static charged silence, Higdon cautiously retrieved the bullet and inspected it closely. He immediately noticed that the lead portion of the 7mm had disappeared and only the oddly misshapen case remained.
He placed the bullet into his pocket and took a few perplexed steps forward. That was when the deathly silence surrounding him was abruptly broken by the sound of a twig snapping. Higdon spun around and was a confronted by a sight that he instantly knew was not of this Earth:
"Turning to my left, I saw a 'man' standing there. At first I thought he was just another hunter so I lowered my gun. Then he moved out of the shadows, into the light, and immediately I realized something was terribly wrong… My heart skipped a beat and my knees were shaking so badly I could hardly stand. I thought, 'Hell, I should have stayed in McCarthy Canyon like I'd originally planned!'"
Standing before the trembling hunter was what appeared to be a humanoid being clad in a skintight, black, one piece outfit that Higdon claimed was: "similar to a wet-suit scuba divers wear."
Atop the suit was a pair of harness-like straps that crisscrossed its chest, below which was a metallic belt adorned with a large, yellow, six-pointed star. Beneath the star was an insignia that the outdoorsman could not identify. Higdon described the (at least what he presumed to be) masculine entity in detail:
"It was definitely a male… The visitor had no detectable ears. His eyes were small, and lacked eye brows… The dome of his skull was covered with the coarsest hair imaginable. It looked as if he had straw growing out of his head… [his complexion was] very similar to an Oriental's… He was definitely man-like in height. I'd estimate he stood well over six feet, and weighed around 180 pounds. This was definitely no ghost! Good Lord, he was flesh and blood. Amen."
Higdon would go on to depict this creature’s oddly upsetting facial features, including a lip-less, slit-like mouth that concealed three exceptionally large teeth -- not entirely unlike the notorious Fanged Humanoids of Kofu -- on the top and bottom, a pair of antennas and, most alarmingly to Higdon, a face that blended directly into its neck. Higdon continued his disturbing depiction of this alleged alien:
"Personally, it took getting used to, in order for me to look at him without getting a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. No chin was visible. His face just seemed to blend right into his throat. He had no jaw bone!”
Stranger still was the fact that this long armed, bow-legged, jaundice skinned creature had a pointy, almost drill bit-like appendage sticking out of its wrist where its right hand ought to have been and nothing at all on the left. At this point the being slowly approached the terrified Higdon and did something completely unexpected… it asked him: “How you doin’?”
The bewildered hunter admitted that he was “trying to stay calm” when he weakly responded: “Pretty good.” At this point the ostensible extraterrestrial, like any good host, inquired whether or not Higdon was hungry, but before he could respond the creature sent a small, clear cellophane package floating toward him:
"He waved a pointed object where his right hand should have been, and it levitated over to me. I opened the packet and found four pills inside. He told me, In English, to take one of them. That it would last four days. Now normally I don't like taking pills, not even an aspirin, but something happened. It's as if I had no control over my actions. So I just swallowed one of them, and put the other three into my jacket pocket."
"There, not far from us, was a transparent, cube-shaped object resting on the ground. To me it looked like a huge Christmas package. You know -- flat on all sides, like a box. I couldn't see any landing gear or entrance… It was much smaller than any of our commercial or military planes. In fact, you're going to think I'm crazy, but this thing couldn't have been more than five feet high, seven feet long, and four and a half feet wide. Tiny is the only word I can think of to accurately describe its size!"
Apparently intrigued by the awe at which Higdon was staring at its ship, the alleged alien gamely asked the hunter: "Do you want to come along?" Higdon, fully aware of the fact that he was in no position to refuse this being any request, lamely shrugged his shoulders in assent. It was at this point that time appeared to leap forward, as Higdon’s next recollection was of being inside the cube-like craft.
"Before I was able to move a muscle, I found myself inside this contraption. It was instantaneous. How I was able to fit inside remains a riddle. They must have shrunk me, that's the only explanation that seems plausible… I wouldn't venture how they accomplished this feat. Ausso One just pointed, and we were where he wanted us!"
“My memory fails me, here. I recall my head starting to reel. My hands sweating. Somehow the pill this fellow gave me must have deadened at least some of my senses; otherwise I'm positive I would have been crying and perhaps even fainted. I may be strong, but I'm only human!”
At this point Higdon noticed that all five of the elk he had been stalking just moments before were also in the cube behind what he perceived to be an invisible barrier. The hunter marveled at the creature’s ability to incapacitate the untamed animals: “I'm kind of fuzzy as to how they managed to contain such wild beasts. They were motionless; paralyzed."
It would seem that the elk were not the only things paralyzed, because at virtually the same moment as he saw the frozen beasts, Higdon claimed that he became abruptly aware of the fact that he was now sitting in a high-backed "bucket seat" with what he described as restrictive "bands" securing his arms and legs:
Resisting what must have been an overwhelming urge to panic, Higdon watched in growing horror as another jawless, straw haired being appeared out of nowhere, at which point and he and his genial partner strapped a bizarre, wire smothered, football helmet-like device to his head, prompting the hunter to state: "I felt like the monster in an old Frankenstein movie."
Higdon then observed a console with three dissimilar levers, which Ausso One used to control the craft. The alien pointed its “hand” at the longest lever and seemed to move it with a telepathically. It was then that the peculiar, transparent cube that Higdon would later describe as a "flying box car" took off.
Ausso One manipulated the vehicle so that it hovered above Higdon’s truck. With a point of his conical hand the vehicle vanished before his eyes: "When we got above the trees Ausso aimed his arm at my pick-up and it disappeared -- poof -- vanished into thin air!"
As if this entire ordeal weren’t already quite outlandish enough, Higdon testified that just as suddenly as they left terra firma he abruptly spied an ominous, planet-like sphere -- "shaped similar to a basketball" -- through the clear floor of the box-like craft… a planet he immediately knew was not Earth.
The most memorable sight that Higdon recalled from his impromptu tour of this ostensibly alien world was a colossal tower that loomed above the surface. He would later compare it to Seattle’s Space Needle, but unlike its earthbound namesake, this huge, umbrella-like structure was covered in rotating lights that were so blinding that they hurt his eyes. The hunter was also overwhelmed by a sound that he compared to an electric razor buzzing:
"All around this tower were revolving patterns of multi-colored lights, not unlike powerful spotlights. They were so intense that it was actually painful to keep my eyes open. These lights were so brilliant that I held my hands to my face as a protective shield. I vaguely remember shouting, 'Shut them off... they're burning me!' I just couldn't tolerate them."
Rather than comforting their frightened guest, the second drill handed humanoid merely commented that they had similar problems on our home world, insisting that:"Your sun burns us, too!" It was then that the odd craft landed about 150-feet away from the platform at the base of the tower, at which point the second being vanished just as abruptly as it had arrived.
Through the transparent walls of the ship, Higdon saw what he claimed were five human beings, dressed in average Earth fashions, talking to one another. The individuals consisted of one brown-haired girl who appeared to be about 11 years-old, a blonde girl who was just a few years older and a teen couple who seemed to be about 17 or 18. The group was rounded out by a man who seemed to be in his 50s. The people seemed to be talking to one another and did not notice Higdon.
Ausso One, who had so cordially offered Higdon food pills and a ride around the cosmos, did not explain the presence of the other humans, but patiently explained to the anxious oil man that they had touched down on a planet that was 163,000 “light miles” from earth.
Higdon was quick to elucidate that the creature did not say "light years," which to him indicated in no uncertain terms that: “To them the passage of time is different than it is to us.”
Ausso One escorted Higdon into the dazzling tower. The pair ascended in an elevator, which deposited them into a room where the hunter was instructed to stand on a small platform. Higdon noted that he and the alien never actually walked anywhere, but seemed to be floating just above the ground. While they hovered toward their destination Ausso One (arbitrarily, or so it seemed) explained that there were no fish on his planet and that these finned critters were one of his peoples' favorite things about Earth.
At this point an odd device -- that Higdon described as resembling a “glassy shield" -- slipped out of the wall and paused in front of the human. The “shield” was evidently some kind of medical device and scanned the man for almost 5-minutes before it disappeared back into the wall.
Rejection is never fun, but it’s hard to contemplate that Higdon did not consider it to be a stroke of luck when his extraterrestrial tour guide informed him that he was going to return him to the spot where they had first met because the examination had shown that he did not: “suit their purpose.”
Higdon (perhaps mercifully) never knew what this potentially nefarious purpose was, but he would later speculate that he thought it had to do with a “breeding program.” Ausso One led the oil man back to the elevator and then down to the main door.
With the same abruptness that he had felt earlier, Higdon realized that he and his alien companion were now back inside the clear cubicle, this time sans elk. Ausso One was admiring the human’s rifle and with a tinge of regret admitted that as much as he would like to he would not be able to keep the “primitive” weapon as a souvenir.
Ausso One telepathically handed the rifle back to Higdon, then removed the food pills from his pocket, a fact that dismayed the hunter as it represented the only piece of concrete evidence he had of this weird event. Once again the alien pointed at the longest lever. It was then that our intrepid hero suffered another disorienting time jump.
Higdon quickly realized that he was no longer hovering above an alien world, but that his alien comrade and his miraculous cube had seemingly instantaneously transported him back to Earth. He claimed that he saw his truck, which had been inexplicably transported some 5-miles from the glade where it had been parked two and a half hours before. The hunter later considered the situation:
“Since I was in a state of mental stress, this fact did not have any impact on me until sometime later. I know that I could never have driven over that impossible terrain -- even if I had been physically capable of driving, which I most certainly was not!”
At this point the kindly spaceman said to the Earthling: “We'll see you.” The foreman was overwhelmed by a floating sensation and without warning found himself standing on the edge of a steep, rocky slope. The loose stones could not support his weight and he suddenly found himself plummeting down the 9-foot decline, severely impacting against the hard ground and injuring his head, neck and shoulder.
"I didn't know what had happened, who I was, or where I was, for that matter. The only thing I could think of was to get out of there as fast as possible and find someone who could help me.”
Higdon was in such a state of shock that he walked past his pick-up without even recognizing it. When he realized that he was utterly alone on the dirt road he backtracked to the vehicle:
“There I stood, shivering, eyes filled with tears and not knowing my own identity. I saw a truck parked off the road between some trees, and decided to crawl into it for shelter and to keep warm. I didn't realize the truck belonged to me."
Huddled and trembling in shock, Higdon was startled by a feminine voice that suddenly crackled over the CB radio: "There was a two-way set under the dashboard, so I picked up the mic and held it close to my mouth. I managed to blurt out that I was sick and lost and desperately in need of assistance. When the voice on the other end asked me where I was, I told 'em I had seen a sign down the road which read, 'North Boundary National Forest.’ This didn't seem to be much help, however, as there was absolutely no indication as to what forest the sign was referring to."
A search party led by a local sheriff -- and accompanied by Higdon’s wife Margery -- had a lot of difficulty navigating the backwoods paths with their 4-wheel drive vehicles and were unable to locate the panicky hunter until almost midnight. It was during this arduous trip that Higdon’s wife and two other deputies claimed to have spied green, red and white flashing lights in the sky, but they were too far away to discern its true origin.
Later it would come out that two residents of Rawlins, Wyoming, Don and Marliyn James, claimed to have observed an unusual radiance in the vicinity of Medicine Bow Forest at the same time that the posse was making its’ way toward the missing hunter.
Not long after, the baffled officers were astounded to find Higdon’s 2-wheel drive truck bumper deep in a mud filled sinkhole in the center of a forest ravine that was impenetrable by motor vehicles. In fact, the conditions were so bad that the police were forced to make the final leg of the journey by foot!
Even more perplexing was the fact that there were no tire tracks leading into the bog. The sheriff and his men could not comprehend how Higdon had managed to get his pick-up stuck there. Judging from the circumstances it would’ve had to have been dropped from above -- it seemed to defy rational logic.
As if things weren’t bizarre enough, when they finally managed to pry the still terrified Higdon from the truck he was shrieking that: “They took my elk.” He even failed to recognize his own wife.
Deputies quickly packed the hunter and his wife into one of their vehicles, while the rest the police were confronted with the puzzle of how to get the seemingly impossibly trapped pick-up truck out of the bog. Eventually they created a sort of bridge with fallen trees and finally managed to tow the truck from the shallow ravine and down the dirt paths that would have proven impossible to navigate with a 2-wheel drive. Higdon later described the situation:
“Using towing equipment, I was hauled out. They immediately took me to the nearest hospital, where I was placed under day-and-night observation. Not until the following evening did I begin to regain my memory and start to recall a few details of my ordeal.”
Sheriff’s deputies wasted no time in transporting the frantic hunter and his wife to the Carbon County Memorial Hospital in Rawlins where he was admitted at 2:30 am. The doctors on staff noticed that his eyes were extremely bloodshot and that he seemed to be suffering from nervous exhaustion, not to mention the injuries he sustained during his fall into the gully.
Following an extensive series of medical tests, the doctors noticed that despite Higdon’s clearly injured and anxious condition, his blood was extraordinarily nutrient and vitamin rich. Even more peculiar was the fact that in 1958 Higdon had been hospitalized after he came into contact with tuberculosis and at the time x-rays showed a significant amount of scarring on his lungs.
Be that as it may, the x-rays that were taken following his presumably intergalactic expedition in 1974 showed no scar tissue on his lungs and his doctor -- one R. C. Tongo -- even noted that some painful kidney stones which had been plaguing the hunter were no longer evident. The mystified Dr. Tongo even stated that: "He's now in A-1, super condition!"
Despite his new and improved organs, the still petrified oil man remained incoherent throughout the night and, according to most reports, did not manage to reclaim his memories until the following day when his daughter came to visit him. It was then that he regaled his wife, doctors and police officers with his harrowing run-in with Ausso One (and his unnamed copilot) and their journey to another world.
While it’s difficult to imagine that that his rapt audience -- consisting of both loved ones and authority figures -- were not at least initially skeptical, this did nothing to prevent the deputies from informing the press and local ufologists about Higdon’s wild adventure. Margery, however, claimed that she never once doubted the sincerity of her husband’s strange tale, later telling reporters from the Star-Tribune:
"I believed him because it was him and because I was out there and saw a lot of different things that went on that night."
Although his innards showed a marked upgrading, Higdon’s appetite did not return for days (a fact that he attributed to Ausso One’s miraculous pills) and he grumbled about sharp pains in the base of his skull and neck, claiming that he felt as if his body had been treated like an accordion: "I feel like I'd been pushed together like this. That's just the way my muscles feel -- like they were compressed, and then yanked apart."
After three days of observation, the swiftly recovering outdoorsman was released from the hospital and into the care of his wife and family.
Within days of her husband’s hospitalization, Margery discovered the crushed 7mm bullet hidden in her his canteen patch. Higdon was still at a loss to explain the force which had managed to so thoroughly damage his bullet, so he took the casing to the sheriff’s office. According to Higdon:
"I'd never seen anything like it before, to compare it to. Soon as I could I took it to the Carbon County Sheriff's Department where the officer in charge of ballistics analysis examined it through a microscope. He told me it was from a 7mm Magnum rifle, which is the caliber of my gun. Returning the chunk of metal, he noted that he had never seen a bullet in that shape or condition."
The Sheriff inspected the warped bullet and claimed that he had never seen its equal. He was convinced that it was impossible to hammer the bullet into its existing shape and felt that the bullet had probably not hit a solid object, like a tree or a rock. The copper jacket had been turned inside out and the lead slug was missing. He later wrote: “It looks as if it has been turned inside out by a superhuman being!”
The Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) sent metallurgy consultant, Dr. Walter Walker, to inspect the jacket. After a rigorous examination of the object he testified that it had collided with and exceptionally solid surface with immense force. This assertion is not to be underestimated as a 7mm bullet travels at such a fantastic rate of speed it would have been well nigh impossible to track the casing down had it not hit something incredibly hard -- much harder than a rock or a tree.
In the APRO Bulletin, Vol. 23 No. 5, which was published in March, 1975, investigators were planning on organizing a search party in order to find the lead slug of the 7mm in the hopes that it might produce additional evidence of what it had impacted against. Quoted from the report: “After the snow melts, an attempt will be made to locate the lead slug from the bullet and hopefully it will be able to add something to a very puzzling story.”
Unfortunately the search party failed to come to fruition, or if it did their efforts were met with naught, leaving the mangled bullet casing as the only physical evidence in support of Higdon’s account. Despite the lack of corroborating proof, on October 29, 1974, the Rawlins Daily Times published an account of Higdon's extraordinary experience and from there the story spread like wildfire.
Like many abductees -- or in this case invitee -- Higdon claimed to have had only a partial memory of his close encounter of the weird kind. He recalled his bullet hitting the invisible barrier, meeting the alien and entering the clear cubicle with the elk, but after that his recollections became hazy.
Due to the success their team had had with the method in the past, the APRO investigators suggested that the distressed huntsman undergo hypnotic regression in order to reclaim his lost memories and (hopefully) put himself at ease with the reality of what had happened to him.
Higdon agreed and on November 2, 1974, APRO consultant and Professor of Psychology at the University of Wyoming, Dr. R. Leo Sprinkle, spent over four hours with the Higdons and their children, discussing what had happened as well as their responses to it.
Sprinkle -- a trained hypnotist and former UFO skeptic who had allegedly investigated thousands of alien abduction cases and believed that he himself was a victim -- was assisted by MUFON field investigators Rick Kenyon and Robert Nantkes. Sprinkle employed the classic pendulum technique in order to elicit hidden information from Higdon, but his efforts were met with disappointment.
Over two weeks later, on November 17, Sprinkle took another crack at it utilizing alternative hypnotic methods… and this time he was not thwarted. While many modern investigators take an understandably dim view regarding the validity of hypnotic regression, it’s important to note that unlike many similar cases, Higdon had a conscious memory of his alien encounter before he was “put under.” This would seem to lend at least a little credibility to the account that followed.
Under hypnosis, Higdon was able to recall his trip to Ausso One’s home world in minute detail. He revealed to all of those observing the session that the straw headed alien and its kin where searching for food and used the Earth as a sort of game preserve where they came to hunt and fish -- not unlike an more amiable (and less anti-human) group of “Predators.”
They also wore their black, skin tight suits to protect them from the rays of our sun and brought the elk back to their planet for “breeding purposes,” but whether Ausso One was referring to a program that is analogous to a game warden ensuring a population of wild animals survives, am alien slaughterhouse or some kind of unimaginable extraterrestrial genetic experiment is, of course, unknowable.
According to Higdon, breeding was also the reason why human beings were brought to this alien world. Higdon was under the impression that the aliens had harvested these primarily young humans in order to use them in some kind of propagation program and that he did not: “suit their purpose” due to the fact that in 1965 he had undergone a vasectomy: "Maybe this is what they meant when they said, I wasn't any good! I kind of sense that they wanted young people."
At the end of their hypnotic session, Sprinkle eased Higdon from his “trance” with the instruction that he would retain his memories of Ausso One and their expedition, but would no longer fear said recollections. Later Sprinkle would write in his official report on the case:
"Although the sighting of a single UFO witness often is difficult to evaluate, the indirect evidence supports the tentative conclusion that Carl Higdon is reporting sincerely the events which he experienced. Hopefully further statements from other persons can be obtained to support the basic statement."
Higdon, still a nervous wreck about the whole affair, claimed that for weeks following the “trip” he was followed by a colossal “green light” in the sky. Some ufologist speculated that it might have been the extraterrestrials keeping a watch on their quarry, much like modern scientists tracking a tagged bear.
Four years later, in September of 1978, Higdon was subjected to what was then one of the most advanced polygraph test available, the PSE (Psychological Stress Evaluator) device. The test was presided over by a technical consultant for LAPD, Dr. Greenberg and his colleague Dr. Sidney Walter.
The scientists ascertained that the former hunter was giving a truthful account of what happened and Greenberg concluded: "I am forced to admit that something utterly fantastic did happen in this man's life. The test proves it beyond doubt."
The evidence in this strange case is circumstantial at best; there are no corroborating eyewitness who saw anything more significant than a few random lights in the sky and even the celebrated bullet only shows that it hit something -- hard!
Nevertheless there are more than a few elements -- above and beyond Higdon’s fascinating sketches -- regarding this case that have a way of nagging on even the most skeptical of minds.
The first thing that comes to mind is how did the permanent scars on the inside of Higdon’s lungs simply vanish without a trace? Investigators claim to have seen before and after x-rays that seem confirm this seemingly miraculous healing process, which left doctors baffled. If this curative process was not instigated by the alien visitor, then what might have been responsible for the cure?
The second -- though harder to verify -- factor that lends to the credibility of the hunter’s account is the state in which his company truck was discovered by his rescuers. If reports are to be believed then there is simply no way Higdon could have moved the vehicle to the place where it was discovered without the aid of a military helicopter. As to why his otherwise polite host would leave him in such a muddy lurch is a matter of debate.
Of course there’s always the possibility that Higdon made up the whole tale after he got the company truck stuck while playing hooky from work. Perhaps he assumed he would be better off making up a patently outlandish story about alien abduction rather than fess up to having made a mistake while traipsing in the forest when he should have been working. Maybe… but I doubt it.
To begin with his employee called in sick before he decided to pack it in and go hunting. Also he was the boss and almost certainly could have concocted a more reasonable falsehood if he had to. Lastly, who in their right mind would subject themselves to the kind of public scrutiny and ridicule that invariably follows a report of this nature?
Add to this the undeniable fact that Higdon was well liked and respected by his neighbors, bosses and co-workers. Not to mention the effort that would have been involved in creating the performance he would have had to put over on his wife and rescue team in the forest -- not to mention the nurses, doctors, police and press in the hospital -- and it becomes clear that this working class Wyoming man was either one of the greatest actors of the 20th Century or very likely the victim of a very bizarre episode.
So how is it that a case involving a solitary hunter and his (frankly credibility taxing) tale of a run-in with an intergalactic angler has transformed over the decades into one of the most significant extraterrestrial encounters of the 20thCentury -- even going so far as to be loosely adapted into comic book form -- especially considering how most folks would dismiss it as a story that was barely noteworthy enough to make page three in the Weekly World News?
That’s a difficult question to answer. Perhaps it was the hard working, straight shooting Higdon who lent some integrity to the proceedings.
The oil man has maintained the veracity of his story throughout his life and is the first to admit that his trip is a difficult pill to swallow -- even for him: "I'd like to think it was just a nightmare, except I know it was real. I've tried to shake my mind clear of all thoughts pertaining to what took place, but frankly that's totally out of the question at this point."
just months after his abduction, Higdon went on to say this about the incident at Medicine Bow Forest:
"Though I remain apprehensive over the events of last October, I firmly believe the American public is brave enough to accept the truth about such matters. Of course, I wish the whole episode hadn't occurred, but since it did, I don't see any reason to keep it secret. Some folks may think I've gone off my rocker, but anyone who knows me can tell you I'm not making up any of this… People seem to accept it now. I'm being truthful as I can be. This all really happened!"
Regardless of whether this was a genuine celestial encounter, an elaborate ruse or the frightful dream of a man who had taken a nasty spill and was suffering from a concussion, one overwhelming fact remains; if Carl Higdon had it to do all over again he would not have stopped and helped those strangers fix their van. Instead he would have continued onto McCarthy Canyon where he would have never… ever… have met a friendly, jawless, drill-handed alien named Ausso One.