Bigfoot Encounters

Monroe County, Wisconsin
"Cashton Bigfoot Recalled"

By Steven Stanek

For some folks, 1976 will always be remembered as the year Halloween came early to Cashton Wisconsin. It was 13 years ago this fall that people in the surrounding countryside reported seeing something terrifying. A huge unknown creature that walks erect, a creature thought by many to be a Bigfoot!

Bud Cavadini first investigated the initial sighting sometime in September of that year. His story did not appear in the Cashton Record for a month and a half. "I sat on it for 6 weeks," he recalled on Sunday, relaxing in his garage located just west of Cashton. "It was a little bit hard to believe. I knew I was going out on a limb. I wanted to be sure of my facts."

Cavadini visited the farm of Allen Arnold, situated along Brush Creek about seven miles east of Cashton, twice; once during the daytime and once at night. "On the ground, I observed droppings of unfamiliar excrement," he said. "In the barn, quite high, were stains from saliva or urine. Even at that time there was an odd odor in the hayloft.

These observations would seem to bare out Arnold's own description of the bizarre events which occurred on his farm that autumn, which he remembers as following a very dry summer which had been marred by numerous forest and brush fires across the entire state. Early one morning with the sky still dark, the young farmer stepped outside to herd the cows into the barn for milking. With his dog, he walked along the center of a ravine near the barn. Though he was expecting nothing out of the ordinary to occur this morning, he did notice a peculiar odor. "It smelled almost exactly like a skunk; he said, "it wasn't much different than a skunk only stronger. As I walked up the ravine, I didn't think anything of it."

"Most of the cows were in the ravine. When the dog started barking, I thought he was barking at the cows but he was barking at this animal." Looking off in the direction of the dog, Allen spotted the cause of the commotion. A large creature was standing behind one of his cows, near a line of fence outside of the ravine. It was between 6 to 7 or maybe even 8 feet tall by his estimations. "I saw it fairly good," he asserts, "but it was dark. All I saw was a huge animal swinging at the dog." Ask if the experience frightened him, he admits, "You bet I was afraid! I was afraid for days afterwards."

Arnold and his brother-in-law searched the nearby woods for signs of the beast. We heard noises up in front of us but never saw anything," he revealed. He feels the creature remained near his farm for several weeks. "We often heard a bellowing noise coming from the woods," he recalled, like a bull rushing after a cow but much louder.

"You could tell it'd been close by when the cows would come down in the morning. That same smell was on them. Maybe he was grazing with the cows." Arnold and his family virtually barricaded themselves indoors fearing to allow the four young children outside. "We watched day and night," he said. "We'd sit in the house and once and a while you would smell that real strong smell and you knew he was out there." What struck Cavadini when he met Arnold and his wife was their genuine terror about what was taking place around them. No family can live with the fear they expressed. "My impression was that they were sincere people. Cavadini says that's what convinced him something out of the ordinary had transpired at the Arnold farm. "It was the actual fear of the family that convinced me," he stated.

Thirteen years later, [now 25 years ago] Cavadini has no idea what it was he investigated. "It's just probably one of those things we will never know the true answer to," he said. The man who probably got the best look at the Cashton Bigfoot won't say what it was he saw in the wee hours of that early autumn morning in 1976. Some of his friends and neighbors believe it was a bear injured in one of the Wisconsin forest fires, thus causing it to walk erect. Others feel it was the genuine article. "It would have been a bear," Arnold admits judiciously, "or it could have been a Bigfoot, or it could have been a man in a suit. It didn't hurt anyone, so he was probably just as afraid of us as we were of him.
© Hillsboro Sentry-Enterprise, Wisconsin
October 26, 1976
From the files of René Dahinden.
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Follow-up articles:
Sparta-Monroe, Wisconsin County Democrat;
November 11, 1976 - DNR MAY CHASE BIGFOOT

There have been no sightings in the Cashton area over the past week of the alleged creature with an offensive odor that resembles a prehistoric man, according to Cashton Record Editor, Martin Erickson. Erickson added that the services of the DNR are being sought to determine the identity of the mysterious intruder. A 28-year-old farmer spotted the creature in a wooded area on his farm about six weeks ago. The farmer said that the burly looking character he saw at a distance of 60 feet gave off a staggering odor. "I became teary eyed and began to gasp for breath," he said. The farmer, who wishes to remain anonymous, added that his dog, which approached the "thing" became sick and totally listless for several days. The farmer admitted to Herald reporter that, at first, he thought the creature was a Bigfoot. However, now he is unsure. The farmer also admitted he had seen the motion picture, "Bigfoot", about the elusive figure of the Northwest.
© From the files of René Dahinden.
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Follow-up News Article:
La Crosse, Wisconsin Tribune; November 17, 1976
BIGFOOT GONE, RUMORS LINGER By Terry Burt Of the Tribune Staff

CASHTON, Wis. - The Cashton Creature is nowhere to be found, but rumors about the demise of the Bigfoot-like animal are alive and well. Some of the rumors have lingered longer than the stench reportedly coming from the creature. The most persistent rumor has been that the hairy, seven- foot tall-unidentified creature, seen this fall by a rural Cashton farmer, was an injured bear. And a hunter or hunters unknown later killed that bear. If any bear, injured or otherwise, was killed in Cashton area this year it has been kept a secret. Cashton police Chief Dave Schaldach said he has no report of a bear being shot. Calvin Clark, Monroe County game warden, said as far as he knew no bear has been shot, or sighted, in the Cashton area. Mike Lanquist, a state forester with the Department of Natural Resources also said to his knowledge no bear has been shot or seen in the area. To have been shot legally, the deformed critter would have to have been taken with a bow and arrow, as Monroe County does not have a firearm bear season. If someone had killed a bear with a bow it is unlikely the proud hunter would keep it a secret. And if taken by gun, there is good reason why no one has stepped forth with the trophy. Clark and Lanquist both said that anyone shooting a bear illegally would be subject to a fine. Also, within a half-mile of where the farmer spotted the smelly, hairy, creature there are several beehives containing honey. These were unmolested during the time the creature was believed to have been in the area. In many minds, this discounts the bear angle. The rumor also said that the bear had managed to escape from a cataract forest fire this fall, suffering with burns on the front paws and muzzle. The burns, so said the rumor, resulted in gangrene. With the demise of this bear several unusual circumstances in the sighting could be answered. For example: The bear in most of the rumors had its muzzle disfigured, making it blunt and unbearlike (matching the farmer's description of the flat face of the creature which was seen mingling with cows). The rumor of the burned front paws would encourage the bear to walk erect (as did the creature). And the gangrene would give off a strong odor (as did the creature). Thus rumormongers would have killed the Bigfoot sighting by disposing of one bear. Another rumor is that the creature is an escaped gorilla, orangutan or chimpanzee from a circus, carnival or zoo. The most likely source of the bear rumor was explained by one Cashton man who said that a local farmer's wife was scared to go outside because of rumors of an unidentified creature in the area. Thereupon the quick-thinking farmer calmed her fears by making up the story of the bear. Apparently it worked to the satisfaction of the farmer. His wife now regularly goes to the barn and does her chores as before. The wife of the farmer who saw the creature in September said Monday that for the past three weeks the area had been silent. The family has not heard the strange bellow of the creature, nor smelled its vile scent. However, George Wuensch of Middle Ridge said his son, Paul, and an 11-year-old companion from Sparta were hiking in some nearby woods the last week in October when they came across a large footprint which was clearly visible in the soft dirt of a mole trail. Wuensch said the print, which showed four toes, was 18 inches long and seven inches wide at the widest point. It had a four-inch heel area and what was believed to be a deep arch. He said there were four prints in all, about 3 ½ feet apart, and that two strands of a wire fence had been broken near where the prints were found.

The Wuenschs attempted to make a cement cast of the print, but the cast broke and only crumbled pieces remain. When asked what the footprint was, Wuensch said: "It looks like a regular foot." - A Bigfoot?
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Yellow tattered news clippings from the files of the late René Dahinden, 1999, retyped by Bobbie Short, Halloween week, October 2001 © Bigfoot Encounters

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