Tony Valcourt of Hampden was hiking with his dog, MacGyver, on April 6, when he came across an unusual sight. Clinging to the trunk of a young tree was what appeared to be a sac or nest built of natural materials, and it was about the size of a baseball.
“I thought maybe it was a bird’s nest and there might be a hole on the other side,” Valcourt said.
That wasn’t the case. In fact, Valcourt couldn’t find an opening anywhere on the object, which had a papery, pale golden exterior, criss-crossed with blades of dry grass. To him, this suggested one thing: Whatever made it might still be inside.
“Spiders?” He wondered. “A nest of ticks?” Talk about terrifying.
“I’m like, ‘Alright, I’m going to take some pictures and get out of here,’” he said, laughing. “I don’t want to mess with Mother Nature too much.”
[image id=”2962272″ size=”full” pos=”center” /]
Upon returning home from the walk, which had been on his friend’s private property, Valcourt posted photos from his adventure to Facebook, including a photo of the mystery object.
“What is that thing? It looks like a movie prop,” one of his friends commented online.
Indeed, it does look like a prop from a science fiction film. Right away, Valcourt’s Facebook friends started to speculate about what it might be, leaving their best guesses in the comments. Then someone shared Valcourt’s photos to the Facebook group MAINE Wildlife, where it received more than 150 additional comments.
[image id=”2962271″ size=”full” pos=”center” /]
Among the guesses were: swallow or oriole nest, alien egg sack, squirrel nest, butterfly or moth cocoon, a huge spider nest, storage drop for a sasquatch, termite nest, wasp nest and a cursed object from a Satanic cult. Many suspected it might be mad-made, perhaps to hide a game camera.
Valcourt had taken the photos just after it had rained, so the object was wet. This made it appear darker. In addition, his photos included a stalk of dry, jointed grass that had grown up to the object’s side but was not attached. To many people, that looked like man-made tubing or wire, which led to theories about a game camera.
To verify that the object was not man-made, and to gather more information, such as measurements, Valcourt returned to the mystery object on April 8, and allowed the BDN to tag along (while practicing social distancing). He had recorded the location’s GPS coordinates on his phone.
In a stand of young trees and bushes near a beaver bog, the object was adhered to a small tree about a foot off the ground. It measured just under 3 inches in diameter and was roughly ball-shaped. Fine, silk-like strands secured it to the bark of the tree, especially at its top.
Beneath it, the ground was covered with long, dried grass, which was matted down from winter. Bits of that same grass covered the object fairly evenly, but appeared to be just lying on the surface of it rather than woven into it.
Though alien-looking at close inspection, this natural object could have easily been missed by anyone walking by.
“I always find weird stuff when I’m walking in the woods,” Valcourt said. “It just calls to me. I don’t know.”
[image id=”2962276″ size=”full” pos=”center” /]
Several people suggested online that Valcourt break open the object to see what’s inside, but that’s the last thing he wants to do.
“I have always lived by the rules. If you kill it, you eat it, whether it be hunting or fishing,” he said. “I have great respect for nature. It’s meant for everyone to enjoy and not destroy.”
What do you think it is? Leave your best guess in the comments.
Aislinn Sarnacki can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 207-990-8287. Follow her on Twitter: @1minhikegirl, and Instagram: @actoutdoors.