Man spots 'Bigfoot'
By NOAH HOFFENBERG News Editor (map of county below)
At about 7:10 p.m., Ray Dufresne, 45, was heading back up North after visiting his daughter at Southern Vermont College, when he spotted a 6-foot-plus tall, 270-pound, "big, black thing" walking upright from near the highest point of elevation on Route 7.
"It was hairy from the top of his head to the bottom of his feet," said Dufresne. "It was not walking like a normal person."
Although Dufresne couldn't see the animal's face, he said from his vantage point of about 140 feet away he could see that the creature had very long arms and was covered in long, black hair. He said it walked east into the woods toward Glastenbury Mountain.
"The first thing I thought was this is a gorilla costume. I thought it was a joke," he said. "Then, I put two and two together."
There were no houses or abandoned cars nearby, so Dufresne surmised that the dark figure could not have been a person. Furthermore, Dufresne has been an avid hunter since the age of 15, and he says he knows his animals. It was not a moose or a bear, he said. Although he had heard of the bigfoot phenomena before, Dufresne said he had never heard of it happening in Vermont.
Dufresne also attested that he had not been drinking or doing drugs on Wednesday, and that he had no history of mental illness.
"Why would someone be walking down the road like that?" Dufresne said he asked himself at the time. "I kicked myself for not turning back."
Dufresne continued driving north to his home. He said that at his job at a car dealership in Burlington on Thursday, people were having a laugh at his expense when he retold his story.
Lt. District Chief Dane Hathaway of the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department said this was the first time he had heard of anything like this during his 32 years working for the state.
His view on the sighting was a down-to-earth one.
"It's a black bear," said Hathaway.
He said that black bears do stand on their hind legs, and in some cases they can actually walk on their hind legs.
"Trained bears do that all the time," he said. "It doesn't happen very often but they do that."
People see a lot of strange things in the woods, said Hathaway, like catamount, but these often turn out to be tricks of the mind.
"Your mind does strange things to you sometimes," he said.
Retired game warden Bob Mumley, 73, of Bennington said that during his 35 years with the state he's had a lot of strange calls, but none quite like the one Dufresne describes from Wednesday.
He, like Hathaway, believes that the creature was probably a moose or a bear, as they both have dark fur.
"The mind tells you what you think you saw," said Mumley.
However, Dufresne isn't the only one to report strange sightings of such creatures in the Bennington area.
In fact, the New York Times reported on Oct. 18, 1879, that two young Vermont hunters saw a "wildman" while hunting in the mountains just south of Pownal. The Times said of the Oct. 17, 1879 occurrence: "The young men describe the creature as being about five feet high, resembling a man in form and movement, but covered all over with bright red hair, and having a long straggling beard, and with very wild eyes. When first seen, the creature sprang from behind a rocky cliff and started for the woods near by. When mistaking it for a bear or other wild animal, one of the men fired, and, it is thought, wounded it, for with fierce cries of pain and rage, it turned on its assailants, driving them before it at high speed. They lost their guns and ammunition in their flight and dared not return for fear of encountering the strange being."
Other accounts are much more recent. According to a report printed at the Space On The Run Newsletter Web site, in December 1989 a man from Eden in Lamoille County found footprints in snow measuring 12 to 14 inches in length and about 6 inches wide. This was in an area that was 10 miles from the nearest house.
In East Haven in October 1976, a woman who was reading in the woods saw something like the creature that Dufresne saw. It had a muscular neck, a large head and broad shoulders.
It stood around 8 to 11 feet in height, with ape-like hair and long arms.
A similar account
and description was given by a boy in Essex Junction in June 1994, as
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