Woodsmen claim noisy
Bigfoot stalks Oklahoma forest
By Ron Wolfe The Tulsa Tribune - Published November 13, 1989
-- Down near Idabel, where the Little River borders the Ouachita National
Forest, where the woods are thick, where the wild things are -- down
there in the dark, people are reporting sightings of a large, smelly
creature that seems to fit the description of the legendary Bigfoot.
Also known as Sasquatch,
Yeti and the Noxie Monster, the existence of such a creature never has
been confirmed, although people have reported seeing it in wooded areas
across the country, especially in the Pacific Northwest.
County residents report that it is making noise down their way -- and
what a noise. Whatever it is produces a scream that Joe Atwood has trouble
a real shrill scream,' Mr. Atwood said. "It sounds kind of like
a siren that's off-key.' Mr. Atwood said the sound is enough to scare
his coon dogs out of the woods."Whatever this
is, they don't want anything to do with it,' he said.
And he said he
agrees with the dogs' good sense. Mr. Atwood, a 52-year-old timber cutter
and longtime coon hunter from Bokhoma, tells of two occasions when he
have seen the giant, ape-like creature that scared his dogs back to
the truck."I don't know
what it is,' he said. "Something unusual . . . , something that
doesn't belong out there.'
Mr. Atwood's account is one of several reported
the past six months of "something unusual' in McCurtain County,
in far southeastern Oklahoma.McCurtain County
Deputy Sheriff Kenny McKee said "probably a half-dozen or more
people' have reported seeing an animal that fits the general description
know why they would lie about it, or want to start a rumor,' Mr. McKee
said. "I was raised up in that area for 50 years,' Mr. McKee said.
In all that time, he said, he never saw a Bigfoot.But the woods are
deep enough to hide a mystery, and there are caves along the river.
Mr. McKee said he is willing to concede that, "evidently, there
is something down there, but I don't know what.'Mr. Atwood said
the first time he saw the creature was about five years ago, and the
second time was about six months ago.
Both times, Mr. Atwood said, he
was coon hunting at night, and he was able to shine a light on the animal
that he saw from a
distance of 50 to 75 yards before it lumbered away from him."He's a big
animal, 7- or 8-feet tall . . . dark-colored, heavy-made . . . weighs
300 pounds or better,' Mr. Atwood said. He said the stringy-haired animal
"smells pretty raunchy; he needs a bath real bad.'Mr. Atwood said
he thought it was odd that the animal's eyes didn't seem to reflect
light. And when he tried to find tracks in the daytime, he couldn't.
"Over the years, I've had people laugh at me 'cause I said I saw
it,' Mr. Atwood said.Bigfoot stories
date at least to the early 1900s in Oklahoma. Even earlier stories abound
in the Pacific Northwest, but no one has been able to prove what the
Bigfoot really is. Missinglink?
Elusive, endangered wild animal? Nothing
but a shaggy
myth? Dr. Grover Krantz,
visiting professor of anthropology at Oregon State University in Corvallis,
Ore., has been researching the Bigfoot phenomenon for 20 years.People laugh at
"That's a common
reaction that people have,' Dr. Krantz said. But to him, the study is
"part of my field of human evolution.' "I don't have any real
knowledge of the Oklahoma area,' the anthropologist said, but the sightings
County are similar to some reports from the mountainous, wooded states
of Oregon and Washington."I'm satisfied
that half the reports in my area are real,' Dr. Krantz said. His evidence
includes plaster casts of massive footprints he identifies as being
those of a Bigfoot.However, Idabel
High School track coach Skippy Smith doesn't need that kind of evidence
to be convinced.
Mr. Smith told of the June morning when he went
squirrel hunting a half mile into the woods. "I thought all morning
that I could feel something watching me,' Mr. Smith said. And then,
he began to hear the sounds
of something big and strong on the move, something just out of sight."The sound
of breaking limbs, shaking trees . . . ,' Mr. Smith said. Through a
gap in the leafy cover near the ground, Mr. Smith said, he saw the hairy,
reddish-brown legs of an animal that appeared to be walking upright.
"I got the
heck out of there,' he said. "And I haven't been back. "I've
got a reputation for being a real good hunter,' he said. "For a
long time, I didn't tell anybody' about the animal. When he did tell
people, "everybody made fun of me, so I
haven't said too much about it.' But he is beginning to feel vindicated."Too many other
people have seen it,' Mr. Smith said. "A lot of coon hunters have
been talking.' State Game Ranger Mike Virgin's job includes listening
to that talk, although he has not been persuaded by it.
He recalls too
many other times of "bears' that turned out to be hogs, and "mountain
lions' that turned out to be dogs in the woods. These woods have been
full of stories about Bigfoot by one name or another "probably
as long as people have been here,' the ranger said. "The Indians
-- Choctaws -- had stories about them."I'm in the
woods all the time, and I haven't ever seen the track of one. I haven't
ever seen one.
"Of course, that doesn't mean anything,' Mr. Virgin
said.Bringing in evidence
probably would mean shooting or trapping the animal, and Mr. Atwood
said he has no intention of taking a shot at any 8-foot-tall creature,
least of all with a .22-caliber squirrel gun."It seems to
be that if you don't crowd him, he won't crowd you,' Mr. Atwood said.
And the hunter would just as soon keep it that way.
If somebody was
to shoot him and get him upset,' Mr. Atwood said, "he might make
it rough for everybody in the woods.'
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