MOUNT VERNON — More than 50 people packed a library room Wednesday to hear a foremost bigfoot researcher from Cambridge-based Southeastern Ohio Society for Bigfoot Investigations describe how the eastern part of the state is prime for bigfoot sightings. The big guy is also known to go by sasquatch, “The Ohio Grassman” or numerous other names describing a giant, 8- or 9-foot tall man-ape-like creature.
“Down south, you’ll hear skunk ape,” said SOSBI investigator and bigfoot book author Doug Waller, addressing audience members gathered in the downstairs meeting room of the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County.
Still another name for them is “wood booger,” added Waller, whose half-dozen or so authored books for sale after his presentation included “Hidden Encounters, More Bigfoot Stories from Southeastern Ohio and Beyond.” Back by popular demand on Halloween after four years, he produced a lengthy slide presentation full of bigfoot sighting information, audio recordings and illustrative renderings based on visual accounts — in addition to having tables full of bigfoot evidence, such as photos and foot-centric bigfoot cast molds.
“I don’t know that Salt Fork has any more bigfoot (prevalence) than, say, Athens County,” he emphasized. “But (Salt Fork) gets two million visits a year.” And those visitors at Ohio’s largest state park often say they have detected bigfoot or actually seen him.
Though bigfoot sightings are tracked by BFRO and SOSBI, with Waller keeping tabs on sightings since 2006, the real crux of a bigfoot presentation like Waller’s slide show involves people relaying their personal encounters with the giant hairy hominid to Waller and other bigfoot investigators.
“There have been reports locally,” he said of Knox County. One such encounter was reported by a local man in August 2013, in a place called Norris Plain near the Kokosing River. The man was camping alone in a trailer, and at night, and had been burning scrap lumber in his fireplace and drinking some beer.
“He heard a tree crack from across the river, and then he heard something make a splash and thought it was a deer,” Waller said. But a deer it was not. Partially in the water, but its main torso and head visible, the man saw a creature staring back at him — “with red eyes like lit coals and large canines” — that he estimated was 7 or 8 feet tall. The creature let out a loud, hair-tingling yell, and the man ran back to his camping trailer. He clutched his 12-gauge shotgun and slept with it that night, which caused bleeding to his head the next day from the hard gun metal.
“He fully expected the creature to come rushing in and push over his trailer,” Waller said. He added that the man had some empty plastic jugs he used to store water. The next morning, they had all been arranged on their sides, pointed toward one another like spokes on a wheel.
“And, his beer was gone,” Waller said. “(Bigfoot) took his beer.”
Another man’s Knox County bigfoot encounter was told by the witness himself. Glenn Taylor, who said his family has owned a 200-plus acre farm between Mount Vernon and North Liberty, said his encounters occurred on three different occasions this past summer when he was fishing at night in his boat on Knox Lake. Taylor said he did not get a good look at the creature because it was dark and he was 75 feet from shore, trying to get catfish on his line. But Taylor said he did detect bigfoot’s presence — especially when a few large rocks, 6-inches in diameter, were thrown near his boat. There is just no way a human could throw large rocks that far, he said, offering, “So yeah, they’re around.” Taylor also said that when he was about age 10 on his parents’ farm, he remembers a mass of grapevines being pulled down from trees and put all in one big pile. He believes that was bigfoot at work.
Waller offered that bigfoot is often known to twist tree branches as a warning sign toward other males in marking a territory — likely an “alpha male.”
Waller advised anyone encountering bigfoot to “try to get a picture.” But as he and others pointed out, the problem in that regard is that witnesses are often petrified with fear being up close and personal with a giant hairy man-ape like creature. Photos of bigfoot that witnesses say are genuine and true unfortunately are often blurry or taken too far away or under bad lighting conditions needed for a verifiable image. Alleged bigfoot hair samples sent to colleges come back as “undetermined animal,” with Waller saying that makes sense since bigfoot is an as-yet unverified species in mainstream science.
Another audience member asked if there could be a connection between bigfoot and the alleged UFO sighting over the summer near Fredericktown. Waller said that is possible because people have reported seeing strange UFO-like lights at Salt Fork State Park, a known bigfoot hang-out. One audience member speculated later that perhaps aliens from a far-off planet commiserate with bigfoot, and help devise ways to hide bigfoot from humans in the wild.
Waller offered that prime places where bigfoot would be present or nearby include powerline right-of-ways between forested lands, along creeks and rivers, railroad tracks and along ridgelines. They are very shy and are not looking for confrontation. What they are most after is to employ some “intimidation tactics” to try and get a human, or humans, to leave an area. Those tactics include screaming and howling — with the audience listening, ashen-faced for some in their seats, to some incredibly loud groaning-type sounds — to rock throwing, tree shaking, growling and “bad smells” with odors ranging from sulphur to skunk to dead meat. Waller said bigfoot may have a skunk-like odorific ability that helps achieve their prime objective — getting humans to leave them alone. But when that encounter happens, tip-offs are hair standing on the back of one’s neck, unusual grunts, growls and howls, fearful behavior from other animals and eyes shining in the woods accompanied by “large silhouettes” in the trees.
SOSBI members meet informally every other month and all are welcome to meetings in the Cambridge area, Waller said. In addition, their members and other bigfoot investigators from afar gather each May for the Ohio Big Conference, held in a lodge at Salt Fork State Park.