Bigfoot Encounters

San Diego County 1979 - 1980
Fellow San Diegan, Phil Conroy sent this tale in after having read it a few years back on the old BFF forum. It appears to be written like a story, but who knows? The only tracks I've seen in San Diego County in recent years were in the back canyons of Alpine along a drainage, the west side of Mt. Laguna near the old Diegueno-Cuyapaipe Reservation lines and another set of tracks around some peach trees on private property in the Flynn Springs. There were stories of large tracks seen in and around the Old Warner Ranch near Warner Hot Springs a century ago; San Diego is not without its hairy-hominid history. Is this particular story true? I don't know, you decide. Bobbie Short

SEASON: fall
TIME: About midnight
CONDITIONS: Calm, damp, with mist, about 45 degrees

In the middle seventies, my mother bought a seventeen-and 3/4-acre ranch in a rural part of San Diego County. Four semi-abandoned buildings were on it; an old barn down in the valley, and up on the hill, a pool-house with two small locker rooms, a 3 bedroom guest house with a big two-level basement, and, as the main building, a giant old 12 room thing; known as the Ranch house.
This hulking structure was begun in 1905 as a farmhouse with a huge barn attached. It was centered around a two-story rock chimney, with 3 big fireplaces; one upstairs, two down. One side for barn uses, the other was designed for heating the house, and cooking.

The subsequent string of owners made a few modest additions, and then later, in the early 'Fifties, it was bought by a wealthy doctor, who extensively remodeled the place, and it was turned into a private school. Many elaborate additions were made, and the barn now became a big auditorium, with an indoor balcony, and large windows on two sides. Then, up the hill, the doctor built an indoor pool-house, and had 2 wheelchair ramps added to the guesthouse. After the doctor was gone, it all fell into heavy disrepair; the roof came off the pool house, and the giant sliding-glass door disappeared from the big room of the Ranch house. It was vacant for some time. Occasionally, we would find evidence that transients, or even sheep and horses, had been through there.

It was all up on a hill, overlooking thousands of acres of marshland and chaparral that ran all the way west to a saltwater lagoon. The large drainage area had a creek that ran along one side of it, with lots of trees, cattails, and dense brush. When there was lots of rain the entire bottomland was flooded. In drier years, the creek had several channels, with ponds scattered in, and around it.

In the old days, the place harbored everything from crawdads, turtles and frogs, up to raccoons, coyotes, bobcats, and even an occasional deer or mountain lion.
To this day, the amount of bird-life in there is considerable. Where freshwater meets salt, it is often called an eco-zone.

Once in a while, I would go out and spend the night in the old place by myself, or with a cousin, or friend or two. We would bring a stick of butter and sleeping bags, and "live off the land," by collecting a pile of crawdads from the swamp, then picking lemons and oranges from one of the old orchards. Later, someone came up with the idea of having a toga party out there, which we did, but the aftermath caused my mother to hire a live-in caretaker, a guy who, although a few years older, ended up being one of my close friends. Burk, the caretaker and I, used to go down at night with our flashlights, and BB, or pellet guns, to shine Bullfrogs. We would sneak up to a pond, and while one man shined the light, the other potted the frogs. We had a long painters' pole with a treble hook on one end, to haul out the frogs. We worked out a looping trail, which used the narrow openings through the heavy brush, and it went from pond to frog infested pond. We had done this a few times now, and were really pleased with the system.
This night, I had a green fisherman's creel over my shoulder for the frogs, and Burk was awkwardly carrying an old white bucket, the handle in the crook of his left arm. I pumped up and loaded my air rifle and we happily headed down the hill toward the swamp. We hit the trees, and followed the narrow, twisting trail that led through the few openings in the tangled undergrowth. We sneaked up to the first pond on our loop and were shining the light and whispering about the frogs.

Suddenly, the crunching of leaves, and snapping of branches behind us, made us think that someone was coming. He was violently crashing his way up to us, maybe drunk, judging by the way he breathed and thrashed around. We weren't sure what we were doing in the swamp was exactly legal, so we turned off our flashlights and Burk quickly grabbed Stewart, his wonderful dog, who was growling now like I'd never heard any dog growl. Burk held him tighter, grabbed his mouth, and shushed him.

When all the noise we had been making silenced, we could tell that whatever it was, it was getting closer. I thought to myself; "My God! Why is he coming right through the thick stuff, instead of going around?" I noticed too, alarmingly, that the intruder was not using any flashlight. There was no moonlight either, only a glow from the distant town. It was creepy hearing something huge thrash around toward you in the dark. It came to a halt about fifty feet away where it made a few sniffs like it was searching and then a slight whine, with an anxious note.
My blood ran cold. A Human shouldn't do this, I was thinking. Besides, it seemed too big to be a human or any other animal around. It's breathing sounded large, almost like a horse.

Suddenly, it made a "Woof !" with an angry pitch to it. Like a dog that's found something he doesn't like and is about to attack. The branches started really breaking then, getting very close. Burk quickly dropped his bucket and cocked his BB gun, and then re-grabbed and muzzled, Stewart with his free left arm.
In the process, however, the dog made a frightened little whine. Whatever "IT" was, It abruptly stopped again right near us, --ten, fifteen feet at the most--like it had caught the dog's whine. Then we heard heavy, heavy, breathing, and it was going up in tempo. It sounded huge and angry, or maybe distraught; like a big man in the middle of a terrible fight.

The only thing we knew was that something very big, and very angry was coming at us; bulling it's way right through impossibly thick brush in the dark, towards where we stood in shocked silence.

Burk let go of his wildly wriggling dogs muzzle to turn on his flashlight and the dog went insane. Then Berk cussed and backed quickly out of the way because walking up from behind us, on two legs, there now came the angry thing itself; an enormous, hair-covered creature, with it's eyes reflecting in the flashlights' beam.

As Burk ran to my left, I turned on my light too, and saw that it was headed for me. Terrified, frozen and completely forgetting the loaded 22 caliber pellet gun which I had just switched to my left hand, I extended my right arm toward it, and shined my light directly into its face.

It stopped and leaned down at me with a menacing look, until it was actually leaning over the hand holding the light. For a second or two, it just stared and viciously glowered at me, panting, and seething hatred. I was frozen. I watched its eyes flicker and shine like an animals.
Then, it took a deep breath, and let out a thunderous scream right in my face.
It was so loud, it was humanly impossible. I could actually feel the blast of wind from it's lungs. My ears overloaded and throbbed and then just shut down. In a way so did my teenage (at the time) brain, my mind was flooded with a calming "It's O.K. This is all just a joke" kind of feeling. While my ears were ringing, I even thought I heard music. I guess that was shock.

The creatures' scream was blood curdling and high, like a terrified woman, but low and extremely powerful at the same time. The mouth was wide open and way bigger than a human mouth. Its jaw opened like a hinge and I saw it had big, wide-looking teeth.

My mind was in a slow-motion trance or something. I remember that I backed away, with my ears still throbbing; it turned to leave and somewhere in all that time I involuntarily shot the pellet-gun at it while the rifle was straight up along it's right ear. I don't know if I hit it or not.

It walked away angrily, in front of both flashlights for a few steps, still emitting short screams. It was covered with dark-red hair everywhere except its' face, feet and hands; which were light white skinned and large. It began plowing through the water, trees and brush and it totally ignored the lunging dog, who was barking in such a high pitch, anyone could have seen it was too terrified to do anything anyway. It was headed west, toward the confluence of the fresh-water creek and the lagoon, a mile or so away. We searched with the lights, as the thumping of feet, the snapping of large branches and the yelping dog faded away, until after a few hundred yards, the barking of the dog was the only thing still audible.

"Whoa!" We both said, seconds later when we were sure it was gone.
"Are you okay?” Burk asked, as he walked back over.
"Yeah. Whoa! What the hell was that?" I said.
"That...that…I don't know, I guess it was Bigfoot!" Burk said.
I stared at the swamp around me, looking at the mist rising off the ground like the set of a horror movie, listening to the dog still sounding off in the distance. It seemed possible for a second.

Then I said: "Yeah right!" "If that was Jay, he got shot with the BB gun, but it's his own damn fault". (Jay was our mutual friend who was very tall). Burk said; "You think it was Jay? No way! Come on man! Be real! That thing was HUGE!"

I was still dazed, but I stopped and thought about it. Suddenly, the whole 'prank' explanation I was hanging onto, became absurd for a number of reasons; starting with how terrified Berk looked; the size of the thing, the hair, etc. It was all too impossible to fake. "I guess it was".

I remembered how my ears rang and how I had actually felt the blast of the scream like I was in front of a giant horn or something. I also thought about the real-ness of its face and eyes and how incredibly 'thick' and muscular the thing was. We eventually called back the dog and went on hunting for a little while. Nothing else happened that night, but we discussed it thoroughly, and brought up facts like:

For one thing; Nobody could scream that way, or that loud. Nobody. Ever. Period. For another; we were on a path, and "IT" came and then left, through an area so thick with undergrowth, that I personally have gotten stuck and even "airborne" in it before--and that was during daylight hours. Also, it charged right through that stuff, breaking large branches, apparently without any pain.
And finally, when it took off, it was headed deeper into the swamp--in the pitch dark, at one in the morning.

The funny thing is, I never fully accepted it as being a Bigfoot, not in San Diego County. We mentioned it, and even went on to joke about it. Saying it was each other's angry ex- (or current) girlfriend, and then we dropped it, without too much thought. Though we didn't go so far into the swamp that night as we normally did, and cut the hunt short after one of us mentioned it might be sneaking back to watch us.

We told a few friends the story, and were shouted down with derision. I finally explained it as being a "Wild-man" although obviously it couldn't have been one; there being no such thing. But it was easier to say, and to live with. After a while, it became an almost forgotten memory.

No Name (posted on the old BFF)
September 15, 2006

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