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Monday, 22 February 2016

ZACHARY MANN ON ALLEGED VIRGINIA BIGFOOT

 “I wonder what moves the creature to return to a particular patch of woods again and again. These woods next to the bean field must be one of his favorite haunts.”


 This is a line from the 1972 cult classic film, The Legend of Boggy Creek. Here, the narrator ponders what makes a creature want to stay in one place for prolonged periods of time, even if there are people out searching for it. I have wondered this myself too. We could assume that if any Cryptid creatures do exist in the flesh, they would need food, water, and shelter as much as any other creatures do, and so like most other creatures, would establish a home territory where these things are available.  But would one of these creatures want to make a home range so close to an established human settlement? Well thought I’d look into that a bit, by looking at a relatively recent case of numerous activity and try and see.
          On May, 3, 2011, at approximately 2:00 a.m. a local resident of Blackstone, Virginia, located in Brunswick County, in South Central Virginia, was woken up by a loud noise. He said it sounded like a heavy object being dropped or crashing at the back of his house. Fearing it might be either a burglar or a bear, the owner of the home, who chose to remain anonymous when giving his statement, got up and went to investigate. He was joined by his then twenty-one year old son. Because, he wished to remain anonymous, his real name is unknown, but all the info I could find on the case from an investigator who was granted permission to do a face to face interview with the eyewitness referred to him as Mr. T, so we will refer to him as such here.
Again, fearing an intruder, the men armed themselves.  Mr. T took his handgun, a small pistol, and his son brought his hunting shotgun. They ventured outside and saw movement coming from the direction of the noise, a spot near a soy bean field some 50 yards wide at the far end of the property. They saw a deer coming running across the field and out over to some wooded area on the other side. Then, Mr. T noticed a large dark figure coming towards him from a wooded area in between a clearing and another soy bean field.
Mr. T, obviously terrified, yelled at the figure to stop, one can only assume he was hoping if it was a prowler, that he would be deterred. When the figure did not stop, he ordered his son to fire at it, which he did. He shot up in the air above the figure. The figure veered to the left, but didn’t stop coming. In fact, the figure got within fifteen feet of Mr. T before it stopped. The figure then went down from clearing moving on two legs to what appeared to resemble a three point stance. The position used by American Football players just before they hick the ball. Mr. T says it was too dark to make out a clear image, yet he somehow says he saw what he believes was a look of surprise on the figure’s face. He also claims it was breathing very heavily like a dog panting. Mr. T claims the figure was at least eight feet tall.
          Mr. T turned and fled back to his house with his son behind him. He then relayed what happened to his wife. Mrs. T says that when he first tried to tell her the story, his face was a ghostly white          and he was incapable of speaking clearly for a bit. After she got him to calm down some, he told her the full story, going into full detail about the size, shape, and very foul odor he claimed the figure emitted. Afterwards, Mr. T went back to the back porch and saw that the figure was still in his yard! However, it was a lot further back from the house moving around the tree line, before heading towards a street light and finally disappearing. Never the less, the time it took to do so, was almost five minutes! An unusually long time for alleged Bigfoots to stay around human habitation once they’ve been seen or confronted.
   The next morning he claims to have found 18 to 20 inch footprints around his property. It’s unknown if he ever casted any of them. Mr. T claims to have been a Bigfoot skeptic, but this made him totally rethink his position on the subject. What’s even more interesting, is Mr. T believes he may have seen the thing at least twice before this separated over the span of a year! Mr. T lives near Fort Pickett, a large military base stationed nearby. One night he saw what he thought was a “Marine” carrying a large backpack and wearing a ghillie suit, a military camouflage suit, walking along the road near his house. He then claims to have later seen the same or a similar figure walking around the same place around the same time. This time, Mr. T tried to get the man’s attention and yelled to him. In response, the figure walked very quickly, turned, and disappeared into he woods. A rather odd response, if I do say so myself.
Because of this particular instance, Mr. T began to string it together with a series of other very strange occurrences that had been taking place over the past five years on and around his property.
          He told the local investigator who visited him, after his wife encouraged him to post his encounter on a popular Bigfoot online forum, about several strange incidents. Incidents like; large farm equipment (like raiding lawnmowers) being moved in the night, loud howls and screams in the night, sometimes even being awakened by them, and loud slaps occurring on the side of his home at night.
          He also told of more bizarre cases of vandalism, like his back porch window being smashed, his back porch door ripped apart, and numerous bags of trash being taken on several occasions. So far all these ‘encounters’ could easily be explained away as bear activity, and why Mr. T never considered them too important until his sighting. He also recalls an incident in which a Young Member of the family claimed to have seen a big hairy man outside a window, something Mr. T at the time dismissed as either a bear sighting or the imagination of a small girl.
          Lastly, he told of how once he and his son, the same one from the sighting, where out in the front yard when rocks began to be thrown at them from behind the house some 100 yards away. His son picked up some and threw them back. In response, more rocks were launched forcing the pair inside. Since then they claimed to have had rocks thrown against the house occasionally at night.


     Now this all sounds like a lot of activity, one could argue that its proof of long term encounters with a territorial elusive beast. Me I’m not so sure. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there’s something about this case that just doesn’t sit right with me. For one, all these incidents leading up to the late night sighting; the rocks, the vandalism, the other quick sightings, and moved machinery are all perfectly explainable as the work of people, punk teenagers at the least, and an obsessed stalker at the worst. And yet, if Mr. T was such a skeptic, why were none of these very suspect activities ever reported to the police? It seems like the logical thing to do for anyone. If one or any of them ever were, Mr. T didn’t share it with the investigator he talked to.
          The case seems to get more suspect when, after several phone conversations, Mr. T allowed the researcher to come and visit his property. When he got there he told him even more stories. Namely, that he had since found more tracks, a sample of long brown/grey hair he couldn’t identify, and what appeared to be a hand dug tunnel under a nearby creek, with more of those footprints leading into it. That’s right, he claims to have found a proposed Bigfoot tunnel!
          Mr. T also told of several other encounters other locals claimed to have had. One such event involved a fox hunter on horseback seeing a large bipedal creature running as fast as his horse. Another was a retired sheriff’s deputy who claimed to have seen something like that cross the road a mile or so up from Mr. T’s property, and a neighbor who had, on and off, seen such a beast for over 25 years. The investigator wanted to talk to the other eyewitnesses, but none of them wanted to talk to him.
          Mr. T also told of people over at Fort Pickett having encounters there. Some service men spotted strange figures while on night maneuvers, and once a civilian saw a large bipedal creature run past him behind the mess hall. He says the Military Police collect these reports, but don’t use the term ‘Bigfoot’ rather the ‘Pickett Creature.’
          As stated earlier, an investigator from the BFRO, was allowed to visit and make a few night investigations. He recorded a series of calls coming from the area where Mr. T found the footprints as well as another recorder getting similar sounds placed near the edge of Fort Pickett. These audio recordings are available on the BFRO website. I’ve listened to them, and they sound not unlike some alleged Bigfoot calls, but then again, a lot of reported Bigfoot calls sound suspiciously like owls. You’re free to have a listen and judge for yourself.


  The investigator also left an audio recorder, no video ones from what I can tell, in the grove near the home for 29 days. On the fourth night, they did record what are clearly bipedal footsteps  coming across about 20 feet from the recorder coming from the direction of Fort Pickett. I’ve listened to them as well. I’ll admit, it’s clear as day that they are bipedal footsteps, but that’s all we can know from them, and since they are from the direction of the Fort, it’s not impossible for it to be military personal. Again, why were no cameras or video recorders left there if this was such a hot spot for sound and sightings?
          The alleged Bigfoot tunnel was also investigated and it was determined that it was most likely constructed by heavy rain water runoff, sorry no secret Bigfoot underground passageway. Since first investigation, Mrs. T has claimed to have seen a large hair covered figure retreat into the woods near their mailbox, Mr. T says strange incidents still occur, and he has been trying, without luck, to get any new sightings on camera.
          As stated before, I really don’t know what to make of this one. The amount of circumstantial encounters is intriguing, but nothing is really definitively Bigfoot. All of them have real world explanations. What this case does, more so than any other that I’ve come across lately, is exemplify one of the most frustrating things about Cryptozoology for me, if you have such high activity of alleged encounters, why not invest more time and equipment in this one spot?
          If an alleged Cryptid is taking this much interest in one area, then it would serve  everyone’s best interest to stake it out toughly. I’m talking camera traps, audio recorder, motion cameras, detailed land surveying, the whole nine yards. And should evidence be found, it needs to be collected quickly and as technically as possible. I don’t believe the alleged hairs Mr. T found were ever examined, or Hell even seen by anyone other than Mr. T. It always raises a red flag when so much activity happens around one place and nothing is ever expanded followed up on.
          So looking in back on my original question, I must say I’m just a stumped as before. You can say the reason a creature like this would stay close to humans is that people’s further encroachment into the wilderness is limiting their range. That is certainly what happens in many cases of people encountering large animals in their newly built homes and communities. However, in this case the homes have been here for decades and, with the exception of Mr. T’s neighbor, these sightings are all relatively recent. Maybe the creature is the one moving into town and not wanting to share with his new neighbors? Regardless, should any such creatures make their presence known again, let’s hope the new neighbors can peacefully work out any discrepancies between the two of them.

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