At the beginning of the 21st Century monsters still roam the remote, and sometimes not so remote, corners of our planet. It is our job to search for them. The Centre for Fortean Zoology [CFZ] is - we believe - the largest professional, scientific and full-time organisation in the world dedicated to cryptozoology - the study of unknown animals. Since 1992 the CFZ has carried out an unparalleled programme of research and investigation all over the world. Since 2009 we have been running the increasingly popular CFZ Blog Network, and although there has been an American branch of the CFZ for over ten years now, it is only now that it has a dedicated blog.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

BIGFOOT IN MY OWN BACKYARD

  
 The oldest reported sighting I could dig up from around Chesterfield was from 1976. Two teenage couples where driving in a car down Hull Street Road late one night when suddenly, about 50 feet ahead of them, they saw a large hairy upright creature cross the road. They reported it to the local police, but they were not taken seriously. After all what person in Chesterfield County would believe that something like Bigfoot was roaming around here? For years there were no new sightings, then after more than two decades a fresh case. I live in Chesterfield County, Va., about 30 minutes south of the state capital of Richmond. I have lived here all my life and while I’ve traveled far and wide on vacation and in order to attend college, there is still no other place I would rather call home. For the past several years more and more people have been moving into this once small little county and have transformed it into a little city rather than a residential area. And while many of the local wildlife was chased off by initial development, I’m happy to report that a great number of species are being seen with much more frequency again. They include flocks of wild turkey, deer, rabbits, and groundhogs. But to my great surprise something else is being sighted on occasion, something I thought I would never have heard reports of in my little home town - Bigfoot.


 In the summer of 1999 a young man was fishing at a private pond when he noticed something watching him from a nearby hill. He said it was covered in dark hair, moved like a bear, but was between 7-8 feet tall, and stood on two legs.

On an October day in 2002 a young couple where enjoying one of their favorite outdoor activities, kayaking in beautiful Pocahontas State Park. It consists of 7600+ acres of thick woods, hiking trails, camp grounds and miles of interconnected ponds, creeks, and small lakes. As dusk approached the couple observed a flock of Great Blue Herons near the shore line and decided to get a closer look.

 As they got closer they started to notice a terrible smell in the air. Something that smelled like decaying flesh. They then noticed a large greyish brown object floating in the water nearby. It was the bloated carcass of a dead deer. Naturally they didn’t want to get close to a dead deer so they decide to paddle away. As they did, the herons began to become nervous and in an explosive burst they all flew away. They then noticed the sound of something large crashing through the undergrowth on the shore line. It was moving fast and headed in their direction.

They started paddling faster and faster. After a short distance they looked back and noticed that the deer carcass was gone. About 5 feet from the shore line they noticed something big moving from the water’s edge into the trees and it was dragging the deer carcass behind it. The couple admits they didn’t get a clear look at it, but they said it was about 6-7 feet tall, covered in brown fur, and seemed to be walking upright. They have since that day gone back to the park several times, but have never again seen something like that.

Over the years I have been to Pocahontas Park dozens of times. It truly is a great place to spend an afternoon or even a whole weekend camping. And there is wildlife a plenty, but I don’t know if there would be enough room for something like a Bigfoot to live there undetected.

For years everything seemed to be quiet, but then in 2006 there came not just one or two sightings, but an entire wave of fresh reports. In June of 2006 a man was driving outside of the housing development of Woodlake when he noticed a huge hairy creature running alongside the road. Woodlake is a mega-subdivision home to hundreds of houses and thousands of people. It’s hard to image something like Bigfoot being anywhere near such a place, but that year the sights just kept right on coming.

The next major break came in October of that year. That is when several locals started hearing loud whooping calls and grunts out in the wooded area in and around Woodlake. Some people found bizarre stick piles in the woods. And at least one foot print was cast. However, the print has no real definitive shape and in all honesty looks to be nothing more than an impression that was found in the woods, but because it was in close approximately to the calls and stick piles were found it was assumed to be from whatever was making them. Yet despite all of this no one besides the driver in June, actually saw any creature. That was about to change.

On November, 10, 2006, just off of Bailey Bridge Road at around 11 p.m. 11:00 pm a local we will call Edward heard his two Jack Russell terriers begin to bark wildly. He went outside with a flashlight to see what was going on. There in a creek bend about 35 yards from his porch he saw a large hairy animal crouching down. At first he thought that some kids where trespassing, when suddenly the animal rose up on two legs. Edward said it was between 6-7 feet tall and eyes that reflected in the light. Then the creature shuffled up the creek bed and into the woods on two legs.

Finally, at last, someone had actually seen something. Baily Bridge Road is about five minutes from Wood Lake by car and less than two minutes from the place where my grandparents have lived for more than thirty years! When I first heard this I immediately hopped in my car and drove out there. I looked around for a while, but I didn’t find anything.

 Baily Bridge Road is one of the few places left in Chesterfield with significant woods where few people live and wildlife is still abundant. If there was any place however with a chance of something like this hiding around here, however remote a chance, this would be it.

Sightings where sporadic after that, but they did continue, including a group of fishermen in May of 2007 and a couple in September of 2009 who didn’t see a creature yet heard the strange whooping calls like those from a few years earlier.

When I started out looking into possible Cryptid sightings in my local area I had no idea that I would find as many as I did, let alone so many reports of something like Bigfoot. I was so puzzled - could something like this exist here?

 Chesterfield is very populated now, but just a few years ago it was like living out in the middle of nowhere. Chesterfield is also surrounded on both sides by Amelia and Powhatan Counties, both of which are still sparsely populated and full of dense woods with an abundance of wildlife. Maybe something from these counties was occasionally coming over into ours.

The only animal common in all three counties that would be anything close to the size reported are deer. These animals have become quite the pest problem as of late, eating up everything in sight and unfortunately being hit on a regular basis by cars. Yet they really don’t match the physical descriptions of what people where seeing. There is only one animal that occasionally makes its way into Chesterfield County, the American Black Bear.
Black Bears aren’t regular inhabitants of Chesterfield yet they do on occasion turn up. When I was in elementary school one wandered into the neighborhood of one of my best friends. Just a few years ago one was spotted crossing a road near one of the major shopping centers. But most memorable for me was during my freshman year of high school a large bear wondered out of the woods and right on to the football field.
I started to wonder if maybe bears where responsible for what people were seeing. After all the accounts for the most part where vague, or that the person didn’t see an animal they only heard it, and some eyewitnesses used phrases like 'bear-like' to describe what they saw. So I began reading local newspapers to get a firm idea of when these bears were roaming about and I made a surprising discovery. The years where people had the most frequent Bigfoot encounters where the same years that these rouge bears where running loose.
At last I think I have it. The reports of Bigfoot like creatures in my own back yard where most likely people misidentifying a normal animal, albeit one they were not use to seeing on a regular biases in the suburbs.  So it seems that bears are the culprits in these cases, but Bigfoot like creatures weren’t the only strange things I started digging up reports of on in my own back yard. But that’s a subject for another day.

                                                ---Zachary Mann

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