For more than 60 years, I have spent a lot of time in the Ozarks hunting and fishing; until recently, it never occurred to me that there might be a “Bigfoot” living in the Ozarks.
Of course, “Bigfoot” refers to a mysterious, ape-like creature that allegedly lives in remote areas of this country and thus far has successfully avoided any significant contact with humans.
I have always assumed that if they do exist as people claim, it is in the remote areas of the Northwest, not here in the Midwest.
But recently I came across a website that indicates that there have been at least 145 Bigfoot “sightings” in Missouri and more than half of those sightings have been in the Ozarks.
The website is www.bfro.net and it is maintained by an organization known as the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, a group monitoring “Bigfoot” sightings throughout the United States.
Information on the website appears to be thorough and current; it notes, for example, that in addition to many nationwide sightings in 2018, there were two recent Bigfoot sightings in Missouri.
In fact, there have been enough sightings in Missouri that this organization is sponsoring an outing this fall in the Missouri Ozarks to explore some reputed Bigfoot territory and see what evidence they can find to prove that these creatures do exist here.
As I understand it, those who sign up for this outing will spend several days and nights in the outdoors, accompanied by two “experts” in an attempt to follow up on Bigfoot sightings.
Details about the outing are on the website.
It is not clear what part of the Ozarks is regarded as significant Bigfoot territory by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.
The BFRO website lists every county in Missouri and the “sightings” of Bigfoot in each county. Some counties have no sightings but most of the Ozarks counties have at least one reported sighting and some have as many as three.
The definition of a sighting for purposes of this organization falls into several classifications: one is actually seeing a Bigfoot; another is hearing the sounds reportedly made by a Bigfoot; and a third is seeing footprints, broken twigs and other secondary signs suggesting a Bigfoot had been in the area.
The people running this organization seem very dedicated. They try to check out the credibility of every claim at least with a phone call and in many cases, a visit to the location and an in-depth interview with the witness.
After an investigation is concluded, each sighting is rated A, B, or C based on its probable credibility.
For example, a deer hunter in a tree stand who claims to have seen a Bigfoot walk by his stand would be regarded as a very credible witness and worthy of a Class A sighting.
On the other hand, if someone reported hearing an unusual sound in the woods that might or might not be a sound associated with a Bigfoot, that sighting might receive a Class C rating because the sound could have been caused by something else.
The names and exact locations of the witnesses are not revealed in these reports. This is to encourage people to report these things without fear of being ridiculed.
While the interviews seem relatively thorough, it is curious that the witnesses apparently are not asked if they were drinking alcohol or smoking something at the time of the encounter.
And they are not asked if they had ever watched a Sasquatch or Bigfoot movie before their encounter. Those would seem to be important questions to me.
So exactly what are the signs that a Bigfoot has been in your neck of the woods? A Bigfoot creature is reputed to be taller than an average adult human male, with an ape-like appearance in the face and a black or brown hairy body.
Normally, they walk on two feet, just like a human, but with a long, lurching gait and huge footprints. It is said that as they walk, they swing their arms in an exaggerated manner; the arms appear to be much longer than human arms.
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It is also said that they emit a strong, unpleasant odor. They are reclusive, avoiding human contact at all costs.
In terms of secondary signs that a Bigfoot is nearby, they allegedly make several distinct sounds and these are mostly at night. The most predominant sound is described as a “whooping” sound that starts low and becomes louder and higher over the span of about five seconds.
These sounds, by the way, can be heard on the BFRO website. Another common sound is a knocking sound, as if someone were pounding on a tree trunk with a large rock.
It is said that the Bigfoot is inclined to engage in rock throwing as a means of scaring humans away, so if you suddenly notice that someone (or something) is throwing rocks at you, perhaps you are being asked to leave the area.
And speaking of rocks, the Bigfoot will sometimes stack rocks in piles or bend small trees over to the ground as a means of marking its “territory.”
Obviously, there are some significant credibility issues that Bigfoot believers have to deal with.
For example, during the second week in January 2019, the sheriff’s office in Davie County, North Carolina, was flooded with calls, all after dark, from drivers and their passengers saying that they saw a Bigfoot in their headlights, standing on the edge of some woods next to a county road.
Some witnesses went so far as to say that this creature was eight feet tall and that the eyes were glowing red.
Attached to this article is a photograph posted by the sheriff’s office which was taken several days after the calls started; it was hoped that this would calm folks down a bit.
This photograph shows the “Bigfoot” that drivers were seeing in their headlights; the description of glowing red eyes is believed to have been caused by the red glass eyes on this creature reflecting back on headlights.
You can read the witness reports in detail on the BFRO website for yourself. Many sightings seem questionable simply because the sighting was made from a moving car at night or otherwise made by someone obviously not accustomed to being in the woods.
On the other hand, hunters who report a sighting — particularly those who are in a deer stand at the time of a sighting — seem more credible because these folks usually have learned how to distinguish things moving through the timber.
So, what do you think? Could there be a Bigfoot or two in the Ozarks? Or on a bigger perspective, does a Bigfoot exist anywhere?
Personally, I have always doubted the existence of a Bigfoot creature anywhere, but I am impressed by the volume of sightings throughout North America and frankly, some of the detailed descriptions on the BFRO website seem very credible indeed.
But the credibility issue is complicated by several factors. First, we have the class clowns who gin up a phony sighting, complete with a video of a guy in a monkey suit lurching through the woods or making phony footprints and duplicating other Bigfoot signs and sounds.
Second, has anyone ever come forward with a Bigfoot cadaver? Or are we to believe that they always bury their dead?
And with all the thousands of trail cameras in operation in this country every night during deer season and beyond, wouldn’t you think that by now we would have a trail camera photo of a Bigfoot up close and looking into the camera with an Alfred E. Newman sort of grin?
I am not suggesting that anyone is intentionally lying about what they have seen. My wife once saw a mountain lion up-close and personal in Illinois, long before the “experts” were willing to admit that there were mountain lions in Illinois; people thought at the time that she was “seeing things.”
But once a mountain lion cadaver was found in Illinois, her experience became credible.
And so it is with Bigfoot: a cadaver or even an up-close frontal view of a Bigfoot on a trail camera would be a game changer for many of us.
(Bill Hoagland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)