Bigfoot believer has a bear of a task ahead

January 29, 2000-- "Capturing Kiamichi Sasquatch is no easy feat"

HONOBIA, Oklahoma-- For anyone who doubts that he really saw Sasquatch lurking in the Kiamichi Mountains, local believer Tim Humphreys has a cure-all for their skepticism.

"We'll just tie deer liver around their neck and come in the woods in the dark for a night,'' the longtime woodsman said. "And I promise you they'll be a believer before the morning.''

It may take something so dramatic to convince many folks that there is, indeed, a Bigfoot in Little Dixie, but the experiences of Humphreys and several other locals have more and more people wondering if the fabled, reclusive -- and possibly fictitious -- monster has migrated into southeastern Oklahoma. From Honobia to Smithville, from Battiest to Octavia, the word is out. Bigfoot is making tracks, or at least that's what many locals think.

A lot of them think it's a big joke,'' said Linda Martin, who runs Clancy's Country Store, a popular gathering place in Honobia on the LeFlore and Pushmataha county line. W hile most people would scoff and laugh at the notion of a hirsute, manlike critter roaming the Sooner State, Martin isn't laughing. She said she has seen the footprints, 15 inches long and 7 inches wide.

She also claims to have heard a tape recording, revealing a whistling-like sound that resembles an elk's call, only louder. "It's pretty believable,'' Martin said. She also said she has heard the stories from Humphreys and the others who claim to have seen Sasquatch with their own eyes. They describe a tall, hairy creature who resembles a man more than the typical ape.

And they've gotten mankind riled up around the Kiamichis. A Poteau paper reported that Smithville residents held a town meeting to discuss the sightings. State forester Jim Langdon said his rangers have been inundated with calls from locals who are curious about the sightings. "This is a little wilder than normal,'' said Langdon, who has lived in the Kiamichi area since 1982.

Previous to these alleged sightings, any so-called proof of Sasquatch's existence focused mainly on western reports ranging from northern California to British Columbia. In 1967, a Yakima, Wash., man named Roger Patterson attracted international attention with a 16 mm film of a female Bigfoot taken in northern California.

The last reported sighting of a tall, hairy, manlike creature roaming in Oklahoma was in 1971 in El Reno. But that beast was dubbed the "Abominable Chicken Man'' because of its hunger for a farmer's chickens. The worldwide legend surrounding the mysterious primate, also known as the Abominable Snowman, has inspired movies and countless theories. But until now, an "actual'' Sasquatch has not been reported in Oklahoma. Until Tim Humphreys.

A lifelong resident of the Kiamichis, Humphreys said he started noticing the strange screaming and odd-looking creatures in the woods about three years ago.

This winter, though, Bigfoot supposedly got up close and personal with the Humphreys. One creature went so far as to stare through a window of the family's home, "scaring the hell out of" Humphreys' 3-year-old daughter, he said. "They had been beating on my house, scaring my kids playing in the woods, yelling and screaming and scratching,'' Humphreys said. "They spilled frozen meat out of the freezer.''

The closest contact may have come in the woods though, for Humphreys said he saw four at one time and shot one of them. Proof of a body? Not so lucky -- according to store owner Martin, surviving Bigfoot conveniently carry off and bury their own. Pictures? Humphreys has them, but he said he is not ready to produce them for the world.

"People are going to say what they want to say; I'm not in this for the recognition,'' Humphreys said. "I didn't go out looking for them.'' The curious, though, have come looking for Humphreys since he went public with his Sasquatch sightings. Several private investigators traveled into the woods with him and also saw the beasts, he said, but hard proof is, well, hard to come by.

So the rumors fly faster than an Abominable Snowman off a Himalayan cliff.

State wildlife biologist Mike Sams has heard the whisperings about a giant "Stairmaster on Winding Stair Mountain,'' and has even been the subject of a rumor or two himself. " The latest rumor has me shooting him,'' said Sams, who admitted that he has never had Sasquatch in his gun sight. "And apparently I can't shoot well enough to kill one. I just wounded him.''

Local tales about the Horror of Honobia won't die, either. Local resident Leroy Williams said he hasn't seen the beast himself, but he knows people who say they have. "They say that at night they've seen the eyes glowing,'' Williams said. Fewell resident Marcus Wilbey said, "I was with the guy who said he saw glowing eyes, people see strange things that aren't there when they're scared." A big hulking 260 pound man himself, Wilbey said, "we looked at the same thing and I didn't see no glowing eyes."

Oklahoma State forester John Clark said he believes that the beast Humphreys and others supposedly saw may have been a black bear, which are fairly common in the Kiamichis; "there is an uncommon number of bears in the Kiamichis," Clark noted. And, although he doubted he existence of a Bigfoot in his back yard, Clark said he knows that something strange made quite an impression on Humphreys. "It's spooked him, whatever it was, it really spooked him.'' Clark said.

Martin said a close friend observed a deer kill allegedly left behind by a Sasquatch. The telltale sign, she said, is that the deer carcass was basically whole except for a missing liver. Missing livers are a new claim by Bigfoot enthusiasts attributed to the Horror of Honobia Oklahoma; those stories put Honobia on the map.

Humphreys warned that Bigfoot will end up worse than that if its kind makes another foray onto his land. "All the fear is gone out of me,'' he said. "I know what they look like. I know their tricks. They better stay away from me.'' For those who would love to see living proof of a longtime legend, though, the hope is that Sasquatch, if it actually exists, might someday come close enough to be filmed or captured.

"I just try to stay out of it until there's some proof,'' Langdon, the area forester, said. When it comes to Sasquatch sightings, however, proof isn't half the fun. The story is. And Humphreys is certainly sticking to his story. "I'm not calling around trying to convince people,'' he said. "People are asking me, and I'm telling what I've seen.''

News article courtesy Ron Schaffner

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