Friday, April 20, 2012

TBRC Report #01120043

Below is the write-up of an investigation of an alleged sasquatch sighting that took place in Liberty County, Texas earlier this month. This report illustrates the importance of actually getting to a sighting location and meeting witnesses face to face. As stated in the report below, I initially had some concerns regarding some of the details the witness reported. Once I was able to visit the location of incident and walk through what happened with the witness the details he reported seemed plausible.

Witness Observation

I am a 56 year old of sound mind with many of those years spent hunting and exploring Liberty County and other East Texas woods and bottoms. I continue my passion of wilderness back-packing with recent trips to the toughest areas in Big Bend National Park and a solo backpack on the Eagle Rock Loop in Arkansas' Ouachitas (where I came face-to-face with a bear). I am cautious but composed when I get into the woods and not inclined to overreact to critical incidents in the wilds.

The other night (Tuesday) while walking at an edge of Liberty that leads down toward uninhabited Trinity bottoms, I saw something. Disclaimer: although I did see something, I acknowledge that minds play tricks on perceptions and imaginations fill-in gaps around what eyes see and don't see. I have taken several days to soberly sift the conclusion that I will now share.

At about 10:30 P.M. I was walking along an area on the edge of Liberty that leads down toward the Trinity bottoms. My mind was completely at ease and drifting around various projects, backpacking memories, and dreams of a purchasing a new gun. The night was clear and I was enjoying the moon and stars. I was carrying my trusty old golf club for safety.

ALL OF A SUDDEN, a supercharged adrenaline rush focused all of my concentration on movement on my side of a tree located about 50 yards in front of me. You have experienced these moments - from day dreams to instantly tense, all-in fight-or-flight. In a fraction of a second my arms and hands began tingling, my ears rang with a TV static kind of sound, and my vision and hearing became sharply acute. Whether or not my perception is accurate, this instantaneous physiological rush was 100% real. It was a time-stands-still, brief loss of motor skills moment.

My adrenaline focus involuntarily targeted a large (shoulder-high to the lower limbs of sizable trees) bi-pedal something walking deliberately around a tree and down toward the bottoms. The walk was upright but a little hunched from upper-mid-back up and the head was erect. Color: a burnished red-grey (more on the grey in a second). The walk was the swaying gait of a Star Wars wookie, but quite a bit less exaggerated with knees sightly bent. The swinging arc of the right arm was very visible (relative to my location, "it" was walking from left to right) and I saw that the arm-wrist-hand was somewhat longer than normal human proportions. "It" used its left hand to push aside a limb. "It" took a brief, glancing look at me and and moonlight (the center of the face was less hairy and seemed to be slightly more grey) made visible the standard eyes-nose-forehead-jaw features of a hairy face. This glance did not slow "its" motion, in fact the deliberate motion became more purposeful as it pushed around the tree and back into thicker trees. Note: this was a two or three second glimpse before the "it" disappeared into thicker trees and brush.

My reaction was instant. I called my wife on my cell phone and told her that I saw something and that I was getting the heck out out of there fast. Instead of following the trail (it would have taken me nearer to the location of the glimpse) I tore straight through from where I stood to a gate out of the area and closer to more developed Liberty.

Time and Conditions

10:30 pm - The sky was not perfectly clear, but there was enough moon to see. Note: at this end of the track, the school's lighting has only a little effect and is not strong.

Investigator's Comments

Michael Mayes and Tod Pinkerton

This interview was conducted as a result of an alleged sighting of a large upright biped that matches the description of a wood ape in Liberty County, Texas on March 3, 2012.

After an initial phone interview with the witness, fellow TBRC investigator Tod Pinkerton and I paid a visit to the witness in his hometown of Liberty, Texas. The witness was gracious, extremely cooperative, and visited the sighting location with us in order to walk us through the events of the evening of April 3rd.

The witness, a 56-year-old male, was walking laps on the track that surrounds the practice field at Liberty High School on the night in question. The time was approximately 10:30 P.M. The north side of the track borders a densely wooded area that is part of a riparian greenbelt that runs east all the way back to the Trinity River. The witness, who walks often at this location, related that he had been on his cell phone during most of his walk. He had just ended his conversation as he began to round the curve at the north end of the track. It was at this moment that he spotted a large, upright figure just outside the tree line. The witness reported that he immediately knew he was looking at a “sasquatch.” He said, “Even though I’ve never seen anything like that, there was no ‘what’s that?’ moment. I just knew.”

The witness described the subject as being very large and covered in hair of a reddish shade. The subject walked from the witnesses left to right around and in front of a very distinctive small tree before pushing a limb/some brush aside with a sweeping motion of its left arm and striding into the woods. The witness said as the subject walked in front of the tree it looked back over its shoulder and briefly locked eyes with him, which gave him a good, albeit brief, look at its face. The face was described as grayish and definitely lighter in color than the rest of the animal. The features were described as, “the standard eyes, nose, forehead, and jaw of a hairy face,” but no more detail could be discerned due to the distance, estimated at 50 yards, between the witness and the subject. Other details noted by the witness in regard to the subject were arms that seemed very long by human standards, a slightly stooped posture, an odd swaying gait, and immense size. The witness could not recall hearing any unusual sounds and did not detect any type of odor before, during, or after his visual. The witness was quite unnerved by this encounter and immediately returned to his vehicle and left. He did not continue around the curve of the track, which would have brought him closer to the spot where he had seen the subject, but cut right down the middle of the football practice field in order to exit.

The witness told only his wife and his closest friend of the incident. He revisited the site the next day with his good friend and looked for trace evidence of the subject without success. The witness did show the friend the small tree that the subject had stood next to and walked in front of which has a very distinct limb that grows nearly parallel to the ground. The witness estimated the shoulder of the subject was at the height of this limb which allowed him to estimate its height at seven feet. His friend, like the witness, is no stranger to the outdoors and was open to the possibility that a sasquatch had been seen. “What else could it have been?” was his statement to the witness after hearing the account and looking over the area.

Fellow TBRC investigator Tod Pinkerton and I met the witness at the sighting location at 2:30 P.M. on Sunday, April 15th, 2012. The witness walked us to the spot on the track where he first sighted the subject. We then circumvented the chain-link fence that separates the track from the wooded area and began to look around. The wooded area lies just northeast of the track while the area due north is more open. The woods here were surprisingly thick and inhospitable. Thorns and briars were prevalent, making walking in the area difficult in many areas. Having said that, several game trails wound through the woods and it was clear the area was rich in wildlife. I walked ahead of Pinkerton and the witness and spotted three white-tailed deer within moments of entering the woods. Hog sign was also present. This was a true, hardwood-bottom type area; there was not a pine tree to be found. Black berries were growing in abundance and many were ripe already. I admit to helping myself to a few during the investigation. At 15 to 20 yards into the woods, there was, surprisingly, absolutely no sign that humans used this area. I did not see any beer cans, coke bottles, empty cigarette cartons, spent shells, or fast-food bags. Several hundred yards into the woods I found some debris, but it had clearly washed in during a high water event sometime in the past. Pinkerton and I agreed that it did not look as if anyone had been in the area recently. The floor of the forest floor was covered in thick leaf litter and we could not locate any spoor that might indicate the presence of any wildlife beyond known indigenous species of wildlife.

The area where the witness spotted the subject was just south of a spot where a game trail “exited” into the more open grassy area. Anyone or anything situated here would have had a good view of any deer or hogs, which the witness claimed to see in the open area, almost every time he has walked at night, coming out into the open field from the bottoms. The spot also provided a clear view of the high school track.

I will admit to having had some initial concerns regarding this report. Foremost among them was the amount of detail the witness was able to describe despite ostensibly seeing the subject at a distance of 50 yards at 10:30 P.M. Moreover, the location is practically in downtown Liberty. Main Street is literally only one-quarter of a mile away from the sighting location. In addition, the proximity to the high school left open the possibility that the witness had seen a young person out getting into mischief. I can say that my concerns faded upon meeting the witness and conducting an on-site investigation. The witness was fully cooperative and more than open to sharing the details of his encounter. He is a prominent citizen in the community and has no reason to lie about what he saw. In fact, if his identity were to be released it could potentially harm his career. He could not say for sure he saw a wood ape but he believed without doubt that what he saw was not some sort of “hobo,” homeless person, or derelict; he was certain it was not any other kind of animal. “What else does that leave?” he asked. The proximity of the sighting location to town became less of a concern to me upon closer inspection of satellite images of the area. There is a riparian green belt that parallels a levy that runs from town all the way east to the Trinity River. It is not implausible to think that an animal could have traveled this corridor and found itself near town without being spotted. Deer and hogs were certainly present and frequent the area with regularity. Why not something else? My main concern was just how much the witness was able to see from 50 yards at 10:30 at night.

When we recreated the details of the sighting, placing the witness where he had stood that night and placing investigator Tod Pinkerton in the approximate spot where the subject was first seen, we discovered the distance was, in fact, only 26 yards. I tend to believe that it is a strong possibility that the subject was a bit further out of the tree line and closer to the witness than he estimated. It is possible the witness and the subject were as close as 20 to 22 yards apart.

The moon that night was a waxing gibbous that was 87 percent illuminated. The fact that the witness and the subject were actually much closer in proximity than originally estimated on a very bright night makes the amount of detail reported by the witness much more plausible. Finally, the fact that no sign of a regular human presence was found in the densely wooded area, along with the extreme difficulty anyone in an ape costume would have had navigating at night through that dense vegetation, with its copious vines, thorns, blackberries, trees, and branches, made it seem highly unlikely that some mischievous high school delinquent in a gorilla suit was out pulling a prank.

Pinkerton and I both reached the conclusion that the witness saw something for which he could not account. Neither of us detected any signs of deception on the part of the witness and came away confident that he believes he saw a sasquatch that night. The description of a bipedal, hirsute animal would seem to eliminate the possibility that any of the area’s known wildlife was seen and misidentified.

The TBRC continues to collect and investigate reports of encounters—both contemporary and historical—with strange, bipedal ape-like creatures in Liberty County and surrounding Big Thicket Counties. This part of southeast Texas continues to make up the most prolific region in the four-state area for reports of encounters with creatures fitting the traditional description of the sasquatch, or wood ape.

*To see all the photos taken during the course of this investigation please visit the Texas Cryptid Hunter Facebook site. Just hit the Facebook link in the right margin and go to the 'photos' section on the home page.

1 comment:

  1. Before I even read the post, what's most interesting to me about this sighting is that it took place in an area where blackberries are in abundance. Blackberries are a great potential food for wild apes, and unless the gentleman reporting the story knew that, and sought out a location where wild blackerries grow to create an outlandish bigfoot story (unlikely), then the discovery of blackberries only lends credence to his story. I think this guy saw a bigfoot!