Reddit Lore: Have You Heard The One About The Whistler?

Some things that go down on Reddit wind up being mentioned in passing for years afterward. Creepy Catalog’s Reddit Lore series will investigate the scariest urban legends in the site’s history.

The first story we’ll cover is the legend of The Whistler, a creepy story a commenter told about hearing whistling as a child, and then again 10 years later in a completely different location. As an adult, the user hears the whistling again, on a canoe with his girlfriend as a storm approaching. This time, he thinks to get some video evidence.

Let’s start with the original post:

I’ve been waiting a long time to tell Reddit the full story of The Whistler. This story requires many details, but it is unexplainable, creepy, and 100% true. I also have video evidence.

When I was about 8 years old I was taking my dog for a walk through the neighborhood with my mom. It was maybe 11pm. We live next to a swamp/woods area on the edge of our neighborhood in Lansing, Michigan. I remember it being very silent and slightly windy. From down in the swamp we heard somebody whistling at us. It sounded sort of like a bird, but each whistle was different enough where the lack of consistency made it human-like. The whistle sounded higher, then lower. I can’t really describe it. My mom had a concerned, slightly terrified look on her face and grabbed my hand and said that we should go inside quickly. I didn’t understand because I was too young, but seeing my mom freak out made me freak out too. After a while, though, I kind of forgot about it.

Two years later, I was taking my dog out again, late at night. There is a large bush that could easily obscure a person behind it just next to the front door. As I was finishing the walk, the whistling noise started again, same pitches, same inconsistent, human-like tones. As soon as I heard it, a chill went down my spine as I remembered exactly the feeling of seeing my mom, terrified, looking down into the swamp at something I couldn’t see (maybe she couldn’t either). I ran inside as fast as possible.

Years went by and I thought about it less and less. I told only a handful of people, and eventually it slipped from my mind.

Fast forward to last summer: I’m 24, started dating my girl Sarah. We moved out to South Dakota for work. For Independence day, we decided to go to Pierre, SD and watch the fireworks along the bank of the Missouri river. There was a free camping spot behind a hospital where you could pitch your tent, hang out, and see the fireworks up the river. We were near the end of the campground and there were very few people around us. As it was getting dark, the fireworks began. They were pretty far away, so the illumination they brought was very little. Thus, we had to sit right at the edge of the river to be able to see them. A huge thunderhead was moving in and a storm was imminent, so the air seemed electric and the wind was picking up. The atmosphere was eerie to say the least.

The police boats herded all the other boats off of the river and had left our area to do that elsewhere. Most of the other campers walked up the river to have a better view of the fireworks, but Sarah and I stayed back and were drinking PBR tallboys and kicking it. Suddenly, we heard the sound of a paddle methodically dipping into the water. We saw a figure steering a canoe about 20m off shore. Sarah decided to go get more beers from the car, leaving me alone to stare at this mystery person. And then, of course, they whistled at me. My entire body was frozen and covered in goosebumps. It was the exact same whistler from my childhood, more than a decade earlier. I looked at the figure, but it was much too dark to discern who it could be. They were wearing a hat. When they were perpendicular to the shore from me, they stopped paddling, turned the canoe to face directly at me, and whistled right at me. I was so frightened I stood up and shouted at them “who are you?!?” They didn’t say anything, just whistled a couple more times, turned the canoe 180 degrees, and paddled out of sight.

I’m a videographer, so I already had my camera by my side and was taking video of the fireworks. As the canoe was almost out of sight, I grabbed my camera and got a shot of them whistling as they went away. When Sarah came back from getting beers, she was very confused as to why I was so freaked out. When I explained, she was freaked out a bit too. I was convinced we would both be murdered that night. How did this whistling person follow me, after 14 years, all the way to South Dakota? Was it a coincidence? Why was it the same whistling noise?! Who was that person and where did they go?!?! So many questions still unanswered. To this day I’m more afraid of being outside in the dark where I might hear that whistling again.

I’m open to any explanations.”

The user then posted a link to a video of The Whistler:

After causing a lot of Reddit users to speculate in the comments, OP finally confronted his mother about how fearful she was the first time they encountered The Whistler together. She doesn’t remember:

“It’s been a while and I apologize for that. I’m back in the US now and I asked my mom about it. I sat her down and played the video for her. She honestly doesn’t remember anything like that happening. I wish I had something more exciting to say. Alas, it must remain a mystery.”

A commenter pointed out that this experience sounds similar to the Venezuelan legend of “El Silbon” (The Whistler):

“The legend is that of a young man who killed his father as a revenge because he had killed his wife and called her a “whore”. After this event, his grandfather had him tied to a pole in the middle of a field and whipped him, had his wounds cleaned with “aguardiente”(drinking alcohol) and released him with two rabid and hungry dogs but before release he cursed him to carry his father’s bones for the rest of eternity.

He has a particular whistling similar to Music Notes CDEFGAB in that order, going up to F and then going low to B. It’s said that when the whistling is heard closely there is no danger, because he is really far, but when the whistling sounds far he is really close.It’s also said that the whistling announces the death of those who hear it. He can be anywhere at any tine. It seems that the only thing that can save the person that hears it from afar is the bark of a dog, because he is afraid of it, also of chili peppers and whips.The soul takes revenge on womanizing men.

Many inhabitants of Los Llanos speak of seeing him, particularly during summer, season in which the venezuelan savannah sears under the strength of drought and El Silbon sits in the stumps of trees and gathers dust with his hands. But he is primarily encountered in times of humidity and rain, when the spectre roams hungry for death and avid to punish the drunk, the whoremongers and from time to time an innocent victim. It’s said that he sucks on the navel of drunk men when he finds them alone to drink the alcohol that they drank and he rips apart the whoremongers, he takes off the bones and puts them inside the bag in which he carries his dad’s remains.

Some versions say that he looks like a long giant, six meters tall who walks from treetop to treetop, while he emits his terrifying whistling and rattles inside the dusty old bag, the pale bones of his misfortuned father, or as some claim, his multiple victims. Other versions state that he presents as the shade of a tall and slender man with a hat, specially to drunk people.

It is said that, El Silbon, may appear near a house on some nights, leaving the bag on the floor and counting the bones one by one. If one or more people hear him, nothing will happen, but if no one hears, by dawn a family member will die in his sleep.

In the Colombian eastern Llanos, where he is called “El Silbador”, they believe it’s the wandering soul of a party loving womanizer who died in solitude, and people claim that he seeks the company of someone who dares ride horseback late at night. But this kind version is an exception because, also in Colombia, some others say he chases pregnant women, that his whistling penetrates the ear, chills, and that, if someone hears a high pitch tone it omens the death of a woman, while a low pitch tone omens the death of a man. In any case, that woman or man is generally someone known by the one that heard the whistling.

This is the whistling sound said to be made by the Venezuelan Whistler:

Plenty of people in the comments section have had similar encounters with a Whistler of their own:

“Ok, your whistler story completely freaked me the fuck out. Ever since I was little I would randomly hear somebody whistling outside and if I was inside my house it would be so loud I would always go out trying to see who was doing it. I’ve never seen anybody doing it. I watched your video and the whistle I always hear is the whistle, that high then low one. It always just repeats that. I hear it at different houses, I’ve heard it in different cities and states, and I still hear it now as an adult.”

Others pointed out that The Whistler sounds a lot like a certain kind of Chickadee, however the pitch in the videos of that birds call doesn’t match up with what we see in the original vid:

For what it’s worth, OP posted this 3 years ago and he’s still around and posting to Reddit, so if it was a death omen it wasn’t very accurate. My money’s on a weird coincidence, but this whole story still gets under my skin.