Like many of you, I hunt. Frequently I go alone by choice.
Does this scenario ring a bell with anybody?
You've tracked a nice buck deep into a river bottom or backwoods thicket. You've been on the stalk all day, taking quiet measured steps, listening hard and glassing.
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Mindful to keep the breeze in your face, you keep quicker strides in reserve until the wind blows hard enough to cover the sound your movements.
Setting up a few yards back from the edge of a little clearing, you carefully put up your blind cloth and settle in.
Counting on the distance from other humans to put the animals at ease, you're betting the buck will follow a doe into the open to browse before the shooting light goes. Positive no one else is out this far, you watch and wait.
At this level of concentration, time slips away, you don't notice it's getting late. The shadows grow long and start to play tricks with your eyes and imagination.
You snap to the fact that something has changed. The sparrows and chickadees have flitted away en masse. The red tail hawk you've been watching across the way leaves his perch in a hurry, shifted by something you can't see. Somewhere off to your quarter a gang of crows take to the air, you hear them calling as they circle something on the ground and are gone, calling off into the distance.
Involuntarily your hands tighten their grip, and just as you begin to your draw bow in expectation, the buck you have been waiting on explodes across the clearing without warning and hightails it through the trees at full speed. Clattering his way through the brush like a freight train, he definitely wants to be away from the area, and right now.
You start to question yourself. Did he wind me? No, the breeze is still good. See me? Not likely, I wasn't moving. I didn't even get my bow up as he bolted across. What then?
That's when you catch a faint acrid smell on the breeze. Kind of like the monkey house at the zoo.
A heavy branch breaks somewhere, and the woods go dead quiet. The hair on the back of your neck stands straight up. Your pupils have dilated to their max and you can feel your heartbeat in your ears. You, my friend, are spooked, and don't know why.
Then you hear this.
That's the howl of bigfoot, according to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. "As far as we know it is the first howl of this type ever recorded in the state of Florida," they said back in 2006.
Some will never go back in the woods alone. Some like me don't ever go without iron. Some never go again...
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Is something out there? An Animal Planet special titled Southern Sasquatch, The Lost Tapes might be worth a look. Stories of skunk apes and boggy creek monsters abound and fascinate. While many sightings are dubious and some just down right hoaxes, there are however a few encounters that could merit attention.
Regardless of opinion, the fact remains that tales of large ape-like creatures are part of the collective memory of many indigenous tribes. Across Asia, the Pacific Northwest and throughout the southern states some stories have been told and retold for hundreds of years.
Is there truth to any of these encounters? You will need to decide yourself. But the next time you are out hunting and something howls, or a shadow moves unexpectedly, whatever you do, don't shoot. It could be a valuable new species, or just some nut in a ghillie suit. Either way; remain calm, and get some pictures if you can.
Just try not to run away screaming.
Featured image via BFRO.net