Last Thursday afternoon, Casey Sanders was heading to his bow stand near Atlanta, Georgia, when something caught his eye. It was like nothing he had ever seen in the woods before, and it left him "scared."
What could possibly send chills down the spine of a seasoned hunter?
[sharequote align="right"]"Please don't shoot me!"[/sharequote]
“I was walking to my stand," Sanders told TheBlaze in an interview. "I had set down my bow and my stuff at my stand and was going to check a game camera I had set up, and I heard somebody yell. … And I hear him say, ‘I’m naked!’”
That's right, not far from Sanders in a nearby creek, a naked man was trying to get his attention.
"I could tell it was a disgruntled voice," Sanders, an engineering student at Southern Polytechnic University who will be graduating this semester, added. Sanders said "hey" back, but he was alone in the middle of the woods and admitted he got a "little scared."
He took out is phone and hit record, fearing the worst might happen.
"Honestly, I wanted it to be a video recording in case something crazy happened. If I was to get hurt or something I wanted other people to know what happened," he added. "At that point, anything goes."
What he captured is amazing: a conversation, at times tense, with a completely nude man desperately in need of help from a hunter who has no idea what to think.
After making contact, Sanders said, the man was so dehydrated he had a hard time making sense or explaining what happened to him. According to Sanders (and the video), the man said he was taking part in a nearby music festival called TomorrowWorld -- a massive, hippie-like gathering in the Chattahoochie -- when he was jumped by some guys, stripped of his clothes, and left out in the woods. When he came to, he had no idea where he was. Sanders said the man told him he had been alone in the woods for four days and walked until he found the creek, then just started following it until he could find somebody.
In the video Sanders captured of the initial encounter, the man can be heard begging, "Please don't shoot me!" That video has nearly 300,000 views already and is spreading like wildfire [Note: No full nudity is visible in the video]:
What you don't see after the video ends is allegedly the rest of the story.
The man eventually was able to give Sanders his cellphone number, the student explained. When Sanders dialed it, he got a voicemail. But the voicemail didn't have a traditional greeting. Instead, it was the man's girlfriend saying that they were looking for him. Sanders eventually connected with her, and she came and picked him up and brought him some clothes.
"I gave him all the food I had, I didn't have any water, he asked me not to call the cops because he said he didn't have insurance and he knew they would take him to an ambulance or hospital," Sanders added.
Wild story, right? But the person claiming to be the naked man in the video says that story isn't exactly the full truth.
After contacting Sanders, we asked to talk with the man. Sanders passed along our request, and eventually we began exchanging texts with someone calling himself "Carl." Finally, we talked on the phone. Carl said he was not willing to give his real name because the real story is a little different. Not that Sanders is lying -- in fact, it's Carl who said he actually is the one who skewed the details.
See, it wasn't that Carl was necessarily attacked, beaten, stripped and left in the woods. He told the TheBlaze he was at the festival and took a concoction of drugs including "sass," MDA and LSD. That led to a wild string of events. The last thing he remembers, he said, was leaving the main stage on Saturday, only to have a memory of being "restrained" in a medical tent and someone trying to inject him with something. He then awoke in the woods, still not completely coherent.
"I said what I said in the video because I was really afraid that Casey was going to shoot me and I was trying to explain myself," he said with a nervous chuckle. "It's not exactly something [that I was high on drugs] I want to tell somebody with a loaded bow."
Carl thinks he was in the woods much longer than the initial four days he told Sanders. To the best of his recollection, it was more like six.
[sharequote align="right"]"[T]he only water I was finding was in little holes and puddles and then drinking off of leaves."[/sharequote]
"I was pretty delusional and not having anything to do with reality," he explained. "It's really hard for me to decide what really actually happened, because there's really no divide."
Carl echoes that in the video. "Looking back, that part of it may have been a dream," he told Sanders at the time regarding going to the show.
Just like Carl doubted himself that day, Sanders said there are those who are doubting if any of this is real. After he posted video of the encounter on his Facebook page and Youtube, the skeptics emerged. But he insists the encounter is true.
"Anybody that knows me knows this isn't something I would make up," he said. "You can hear it in my voice, and you can hear it in his, ... I was legitimately worried. People are always going to be skeptical."
Carl says it's 100 percent real and not a hoax.
"I would think that if it was a hoax they would have done a better job," he said. "Most of the people online don't think it's real, because they don't think I would be able to live that long without water."
However, he said he was drinking water: "Up until I found the stream, the only water I was finding was in little holes and puddles and then drinking off of leaves. I had a couple of half-rotten crab apples, and that was the only thing I had to eat in, like, five days."
So why didn't his girlfriend ever report him missing?
"For a while there her and my friend weren't sure if I had left on purpose-- they didn't know if I was in legit danger until Casey called," he said. "They had assumed I decided to take that moment to break off on my own." Still, he said she was considering going to the police they day he turned up.
As for why Casey never called authorities after Carl asked him not to, he said he felt bad for him, and at that point, he didn't think Carl had really done anything illegal.
[WARNING: Graphic images beyond this point]
TheBlaze wasn't able to independently verify the story, especially since police never got involved and Carl doesn't want to use his real name. But we did ask Carl to send us pictures of injuries he said he sustained while out in the wilderness. He did. And they are graphic. Hey says they show the condition of his feet after his time walking around in the woods:
Since getting back to civilization, Carl said, he's still not completely healthy. He slept for nearly two days straight and he's been recovering all week.
"I'm still having a lot of trouble moving around," he said. He's been sleeping on a futon because it's easier to maneuver. "I'm just now being able to munch on a little solid food," he added.
Now it's something he said he's hoping to put behind him. He said he is "utterly done with all drugs." He's only talking about the ordeal because he said he wants to set the record straight and be truthful about what happened. Whatever that truth is, he called it the "most terrifying weekend of my life." Casey described it as the "best" hunting story ever.
Either way, Carl said Sanders "absolutely" saved his life.
"I don't think I was moving out of that creek," he said. "That was just 100 percent fate."
This story has been updated with new information.