Bigfoot Encounters

Film crew says something’s afoot, hunting for Bigfoot
By Eddie Glenn, for the Tahlequah Daily Press

October 19, 2006 - A documentary crew has been shooting a film on Bigfoot in parts of Oklahoma, PHOTO From left are: Matt Elwood, Derek Mleynek, William Shattuck, Tyler Mleynek and Enrique Ramirez.
Tahlequah Daily Press

Well, they didn’t find Bigfoot. But a documentary crew from Kansas visiting eastern Oklahoma two weeks ago did find plenty of people to talk about the mythical hairy creature whose existence is – so far – unsubstantiated.

Wichita, Kan., brothers Tyler and Derek Mleynek originally set out to make a film taking a lighthearted view of the beast known as Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, and various other names around the world.

But once they started doing some research, they discovered one of Bigfoot’s most frequented hangouts (or, at least where people seem to see him a lot) is right down the road from them, here in the woods of Oklahoma – and the sightings were so numerous, it’s hard to take them lightly.

They recently visited Cherokee and Adair counties with a film crew to interview folks about sightings in the area, and then traveled on down to Honobia, in the Ouachita National Forest, for that community’s annual Bigfoot festival.

“I’d heard of sightings in other places, but I thought, ‘Oklahoma?’ I didn’t realize how ‘big’ Bigfoot was in central and eastern Oklahoma,” said Tyler.

While they were in Cherokee County, the crew interviewed some folks involved with the investigation of a sighting in the early 1990s in the Eldon community, and dropped by the 911 center, which has received calls about Bigfoot sightings -- including one about a year ago about an obviously female Bigfoot in the Welling area.

But the high point of their visit may have been their “Bigfoot hunting” experience, with a group of folks in Adair County who have formed an organization – the Green Country Bigfoot Research Center – to hopefully get some documented proof that Bigfoot really is alive and well in the woods of eastern Oklahoma.

“I can now officially say I’ve been Bigfoot hunting – or ‘Bigfoot researching.’ Not many people can say that,” Tyler said. “We heard a lot of stuff. We heard rocks hitting each other – I really can’t explain that one – leaves crunching, things that were obviously walking through the woods, but I don’t really know what they were.”

Derek is not convinced yet that Bigfoot’s out there, but he added that regardless of their elusive topic’s existence – or lack thereof – they had a lot of fun searching.

“We saw some stuff, and heard some stuff that kind of makes you go, ‘Is this real?’” Derek said. “There’s definitely something out there, but I’m not quite convinced that it’s Bigfoot.”

Derek said although the crew consisted of only five guys, they did a great job of shooting film for the documentary – especially considering their trip to Oklahoma was a quick three-day excursion, and their main “star,” if you will, may or may not really exist.

“We want to come back and get a little more information,” he said. “We’re hoping to line up other interviews with people who are out there searching for Bigfoot.”

Tyler said the crew was especially interested in some of the Native American stories they heard – both in northeastern Oklahoma and in Honobia – about Bigfoot. They shot footage of Cherokees, Choctaws, and a Chickasaw/Seminole talking about the Bigfoot mythologies of their respective tribes. In Honobia, they even got a chance to hear one fellow do his imitation of the various vocal sounds Bigfoot supposedly makes as he’s traversing the mountains of eastern Oklahoma.

“We found some interesting people – some very nice people – who were willing to show us what they do to try to prove Bigfoot’s out there,” said Tyler, who, like his brother Derek, said he’s still a bit skeptical, but then again. ...

“I keep reading these e-mails that say how dumb it would be to assume that we know about every species that exists in the world. But this is a seven-foot hairy giant,” Tyler said. “If he’s walking around in the woods, it seems like someone would see one and be able to get some conclusive evidence.”

Tyler concedes that until recently, people who claimed to have seen mountain lions in the Wichita area were looked at rather skeptically, too. (Similar mountain lion stories have also circulated in northeastern Oklahoma during the past couple of years.) Then, lo and behold, a mountain lion showed up.

“It was walking through the park,” he said. “So you never know.”

http://www.tahlequa hdailypress. com/features/ local_story_ 292144127. html?keyword= topstory

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