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Forest, Walton Creek Campgrounds
It was approx. 4:30 P.M; weather: low cloud cover, good light, unlimited visibly. After an unsuccessful days elk hunting trek of many miles around the heavy timbered area near the Rabbit Ears pass region, my Uncle Bill, Cousin Charles and myself, decided to call it a day and head back to our camp in the Walton Creek Campgrounds. About four miles south of our camp, as we were talking softly together, a loud crashing noise behind us came to our attention.
My Uncle, an experienced hunter and woodsman of many years, replied that it sounded like we had spooked a large bull elk. Having accustomed ourselves to the area over the last few days, we knew that a deep canyon running through that location about 3 hundred yards in the direction the animal was moving would slow it down. Thinking that we could possibly get a fair shot as it crossed this canyon below us, the three of us started in pursuit. The animal was obviously spooked and running, as the sounds of its progress through the dense aspen trees and pines ahead, were easy to hear. After an exhausting chase through the heavy timber, the three of us broke out upon the canyons edge expecting to see the "Bull Elk" crossing the canyon bottom below us.
The canyon runs in a southwesterly direction, dry bottomed and is sparsely treed do to its steep sides. It is approx. a hundred yards deep, narrow sided, approx. 50 yards across the bottoms, with heavy foliage of brush averaging 3 to 4 feet high. Trying to catch our breath, we were amazed that no elk was in sight below us running across the bottoms. After a few seconds I was alerted to the sound of rolling rocks across the canyon from me. As I looked up horizontally and directly across the canyon from me, I spotted what I at first believed to be a very large Black Bear running up the steep sided canyon opposite where we were. The distance was approximately 200 yards. Startled, I called out and raised my rifle to view the animal through my riflescope.
I lost several seconds locating the animal in my scope and was stunned. The creature was running up the steep hill on two feet. It was cover completely with what appeared to be matted, shaggy coarse black hair. The full back, shoulders, buttocks and legs were turned towards me. The back of the head appeared to be hunched slightly forward. The back of the head was rounded skull. Through the scope, I did not see the arms or hands, as they were directly in front of the creature and blocked from my view by its body. In hindsight, I believe the creature was using brush and limbs in its path to help pull itself up the incline. It only took seconds for the animal to reach the top of the opposite canyon. Without pausing, it disappeared through the trees.
After a moment of startled silence, the three of us compared notes about what we saw and what to do. In any case, it was too close in resemblance to a human to shoot it. However, we were excited about seeing a creature that none of us had ever seen before and decided to back track it towards our camp.
The creature's trail
was very easy to find due to torn brush and tree limbs in its passage,
we followed it for about 3 miles to where it emerged out of the forest,
crossing US Highway 40, where it continued back into the forest on the
other side. Due to the lateness of the day and exhaustion we abandoned
the trail and returned via the highway back to camp.
Judging from 3 to 4 inch thick tree limbs 7 to 8 feet above the ground, the creature stood approx. 71/2 to 8 feet tall, which coincided with our judgment at the time of the sighting. In several wash out areas the creature hand left a few clear enough scattered tracks for us to get a measurement. For the most part the animal appeared to have traveled in a wandering action, leaving tracks of 15 3/4 inches. From one impression it was discovered that the creature was missing the little toe from its left foot. It was judged by my uncle, an experienced game tracker of 40 years, that the creature had weighed upwards of 350 pounds.
The following day
a report was made to a Colorado State and Game officer checking hunters
in the area for licenses and game kills. The officer seemed skeptical
at most and unwilling to check out the physical evidence. In his opinion
it was only a bear and possibly a combination of hunting nerves. He also
warned us about the use of alcohol while accompanied by firearms. We were
offended by the way the report was received and by the accompanied remarks.