Roughly 1977, about 28 years ago, my brothers, Olie Westlund, Jay Rigdon, and a friend, Danny Daigel, were elk hunting in the Ragged Mountains above Paonia Colorado in the area of McClure Pass. Paonia State Park is to the northeast of the great Gunnison with the Grand Mesa National Forest sitting off to the northwest; the region boasts great fishing and huge elk herds.
We were hunting in a very rugged and tough terrain and were talking and joking about how quiet and eerie it seemed in this particular area because it wasn’t an area where we usually hunted.. It was quite different because we didn’t hear all the chipmunks, camp robbers, squirrels, etc. like we did in other parts of the McClure Pass area. There were few hunters in this area too because it was so difficult to get into.
After sitting and watching a meadow in the area for a while we decided to split up and go out and see if we could run into something.. Jay went one way, Danny another, and Olie and I yet another.. Now. Before I go any further, I must tell you what we found when we first arrived in the area. There was a cold campsite where someone had been camped and they had had horses with them.
The evidence was everywhere including a bale of hay that we saw a good 30 feet up in a spruce tree where it looked like it had been thrown by the way the bale was broken and the baling twine was hanging in the branches amid the hay. We thought this strange but didn’t get to excited about it at the time. Then along the trail leading into the meadow where we had sat, (approx 3/4 of a mile from the hay in the tree) we found a large mule deer, a pretty big buck, dead beside the trail.
Not at all strange in it's self however, this deer hadn’t been shot, nor had it been killed by a bear because there were neither any bullet wounds or claw or teeth marks anywhere on the carcass. This deer had had its head torn off, and its limbs were also torn off and it was scattered around an area of about 40 - 50 feet in diameter. Strange though it was we still weren’t concerned or worried about anything. We were there to get an elk and that was foremost on all our minds.
After splitting up, I'd say maybe an hour, my brother Olie and I heard a couple of shots ring out up the mountain from our position and we immediately recognized the sound of the shots as being from Danny’s rifle, a 30.06 in which Danny was shooting what he called "speeders". a 22 cal. sized bullet with a plastic casing around it to make it seat into the riflings of the barrel until the bullet clears the muzzle and then the plastic brakes away leaving the little bullet to go on it's way extremely fast but makes the rifle have a kind of muffled report like a 22 magnum.
So we headed in the direction of the shots agreeing it was Danny because if he had one down we'd need to get it taken care of quickly as it was almost dusk. Along the way we saw some tracks going across a sloped meadow and up a steep hill on the other side of the meadow and I said to my brother, "That must be Danny’s tracks there. Let's head up that way and follow them to Danny. "
When we got to the tracks we were both dumbfounded. Neither of us spoke for a few seconds. I guess because neither one of us could believe what we were looking at. These tracks were approx 18 inches long and 8 to 10 inches wide at the ball of the foot. I tried to step along side of the tracks at the same stride and couldn’t even come close. We thought it might be a hoax but when we got to where they went up the steep hill that I mentioned before, there would have been no way a man with a pair of "bigfeet" strapped to his feet could have traversed this slope and these tracks went straight up the mountain.
Well, we finally found Danny and he did have a spike down and while helping him dress out the elk I brought up the tracks that Olie and I had seen earlier and Danny looked at us as if he had seen a ghost and said, "Oh my God, I saw the same tracks in a muddy creek bed down the hill a little way."
We were all a bit shaken by this discovery especially after you factor in the deer and the hay and the rugged terrain etc. We said that one day we were going to go back up there and try to find more evidence or better yet, maybe get some physical evidence or even a picture of the creature. At least some plaster casts of some of the footprints. I am truly convinced that there are bigfoot in this area and my brothers and Danny and I are planning a trip back into the area early
Dale Westlund, Salt Lake City, UT
October 31, 2005
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