Bigfoot Encounters

Hoaxed Report: November 1975

Hoaxer confesses twenty-seven years later:

The hoaxed story was originally published in the St. Petersburg Times, Florida then picked up and published by Marion T. Place in her 1978 book "Bigfoot All Over The Country" on pages 167 and 168 and again in the out of print version of "The Bigfoot Casebook" by Janet and Colin Bord on page 122-23. It may have been picked up and noted in John Green's files as well, I didn't take time to run down which book.

The description of the alleged incident reads as follows:

"The events occurred in November 1975 in Citrus County, Florida, where seven young men were sitting around a camp fire when they briefly saw three Bigfoot, the biggest 8 feet tall.

The men got out their lights to search the area and 18-year-old John Sohl collected his camera with flash unit from his car.

He separated from his companions, set his camera for an average range, and crouched down in the grass waiting for something to come into view.

The charging circuit of the flash unit made a quiet, high-pitched note when witched on, and Sohl later thought that that may have attracted the Bigfoot towards him.

He heard a noise behind him and turned slowly. Two feet away stood a Bigfoot observing him. He fired his camera and as the brilliant flash went off the Bigfoot leapt away into the darkness, spinning Sohl off his feet and throwing him a distance of 15 feet.

He was not badly hurt and thought that the blow had been accidental, caused by a flailing arm of the fleeing Bigfoot. And what of the photograph? As he had not expected to be so close to a Bigfoot he had focused his camera at 40 feet. He knew that the picture was unlikely to be of any use and in fact the only result was a large, very over-exposed blur.

"In August 2002, a much wiser (than he was at age 18) university physics professor wrote:"I came across web pages which contain the entry:" November 1975; Citrus County; Seven young men including John Sohl (18); all saw 3 Bigfeet near their campfire. Sohl was later tossed by one when he tried to photograph it."I am that John Sohl and your entries are correct as reported in the local newspaper. However, it was actually a hoax.

The group of us were trying to play a practical joke on a friend of ours who was also camping with us. (There were a total of about 5 or 6 of us camping out that night.) We were sitting around the campfire when one of us deliberately made a noise in the bushes. (I think he tossed a rock or something into the bushes when no one was watching, but I don't recall the exact details.)

A few of us went to "investigate" the noise having planned it in advance. We came back all excited with this story about seeing a bigfoot family of two parents and a "child" bigfoot. He didn't buy it.

So we waited an hour or so and made more noises in the bushes then went to "investigate" again. Armed with a camera we hoped to take a blurry shot of one of us to use as "proof." This time we staged the sounds of a scuffle and went back to the campfire with this wild story about a yeti stalking the campsite. We claimed that we accidentally got too close to the youngster yeti while trying to get the picture and were attacked by one of the parents.

He still didn't buy it. So we dragged the practical joke out some more, extending it into the next few days. I tried to get a local high school teacher involved (can't recall his name off hand but he was at Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, Florida) who was a member of the "YRS" the Yeti Research Society.

We had hoped to get this teacher to tell the victim of our practical joke that there had been other yeti sightings in the area. Well, what actually happened was the teacher went to the local newspaper (the St. Petersburg Times) and told them the story.

At this point it was getting out of hand and we wanted to stop the joke but we didn't know how to do that and still save face. We hoped it would die out but it didn't.

Much to our dismay, the newspaper reported it. Once it hit the papers we just dropped the whole thing and hoped it would go away. In retrospect, had I been more mature I would have just told the reporter that it was all a big joke that failed.

Anyway, I can't say anything about the accuracy of the other items in your list, but I can honestly tell you that the Nov. '75 entry is wrong and was a hoax that took on a life of its own.

That entry should probably be removed if you would like your list to be as accurate as possible. Thanks, John Sohl

Unfortunately the hoax cannot be removed from published books and articles, but we should be grateful for the wisdom of the physics professor for confessing the foolishness of his youthful and much publicized prank albeit 27 years after the fact.

If there is anything praiseworthy to be gained in all this, it is that the A-plus reports are not accounts researchers should judge reliable. The Sohl incident had corroborating witnesses but no evidence.

November 28, 2002
Contact information withheld...

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