Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Latest Black Panther Reports

It has been a little while since I did a post on the legendary black panthers of Texas. That does not mean that there has been nothing happening on that front. Not by a long shot. Reports continue to roll in to me on a weekly basis from people who claim to have seen these animals, which are not supposed to exist. I have two active study areas right now where I am attempting to get photos of anomalous cats. Finally, the preliminary testing on the hairs sent in by a reader who claims to have hit a black panther with his vehicle is complete and the results are promising. More on all of that later…

In the meantime, below are the latest batch of black panther and out of place big cat sightings to have come to my attention. The people who sent these reports did so on their own with no prodding from me. While it is possible some are hoaxing me by sending in bogus reports, and I have not spoken directly with most of these folks, I believe the people who represent the reports below are sincere. They have seen something that they cannot explain.

The italicized passages are the unedited, unless otherwise noted, words sent in by readers. My comments will follow each passage.


“I have seen a black cat smaller than a cougar or Florida posted in black water forest in North West Florida. I heard it before I saw it and it sounded like a woman screaming.”

TCH Comment: A brief and to the point report. I get a lot of these types of messages. This report comes from Florida. It is not unusual for readers in other states, especially those in the south, to send reports to me. There just aren’t many other places to do so as most wildlife officials dismiss the possibility of large black cats. The report of “screaming” is interesting. Cougars certainly do make a sound similar to that of a woman screaming from time to time. One does have to be careful though, since nobody saw the cat making the screaming sound, as other animals, foxes would be one example, make screaming sounds that can freeze your blood if you are not familiar with them.


“Two years ago, I heard a cougar at night. Once you hear that "scream" you will never forget that sound. It was during deer hunting season here at my ranch 7 miles Southwest of Johnson City. TX. We were able to verify it was a cougar by our game camera that was fastened to a tree near the deer feeder. Then again last fall (2012), I heard a throaty sound as if having labored breathing. It's difficult to explain, but I recognized the sound when I heard it this evening at approximately 7:10 pm. Its a beautiful evening. but my border collie and I both got startled and came into the house. We all need to be careful out here in the Hill Country.”

TCH Comment: Another report that mentions screaming. I know that back home in SE Texas any strange sound was often attributed to “panthers.” They were pretty much blamed for any, and all, weird noises that came out of the swamps, marshes, and woods. This witness is right in that once you hear a cougar screaming you won’t soon forget it. I would love to see the photo this reader’s game camera captured of the mountain lion. The “throaty, labored breathing” sounds the witness reports are very interesting. I’d like to hear more detail on these sounds.


“First part of Dec, 2012. A big black cat in private green belt back of my fence in Great Hills NW Austin. Have put up game camera, and so far nothing yet. But coyotes 1 to 3 times day and night every day since Christmas. Also notice very few deer around the area as in past.”

TCH Comment: Another short and to the point report. I wouldn’t be surprised if a mountain lion occasionally wandered into the area NW of Austin. A big black cat is something different, however, as they are not supposed to actually exist. I hope this reader keeps me informed and lets me know if any photos of the cat in question are captured.


“My grandparents used to live outside of Salado, TX on a large ranch and had property that backed up to Stillhouse Hollow Lake. On several occasions while hunting with my father when I was younger we would see a very large solid black cat with a long tail across one of the coves near the bank. We also saw the prints on our side of the lake and numerous times my family members would hear the screams from some sort of cat. Not sure what it was, but my Dad always said it was a panther!!”

TCH Comment: I am very familiar with this area as I live in Bell County. To the reader: Does your family still own the property? Have there been any sightings in the last couple of years? If so, please contact me via email at I do get reports of “long-tailed cats,” both tawny-colored and black, from this part of the state on a fairly regular basis. A big cat wandering into the Stillhouse Hollow area would not surprise me at all.


“My uncle and I encountered two one morning after church in Knox county 1 mile south of the brazos river five miles north of Goree, Tx. They ran across a county road and were leaping through a cotton field and into an old abandoned house. Neither one of us would go in even with a gun. They were very large black cats I'd say bigger than mountain lions because I've seen them.”

TCH Comments: Goree, TX is located in Knox County about 85 miles north of Abilene. According to the 2000 census there were only 5 people per square mile in the county. The area features a lot of pretty lonesome country. The report of the cats running together is interesting as is their use of an abandoned house as a hiding place/shelter. I think it is entirely plausible big cats use man-made structures from time to time. As a matter of fact, I believe it helps explain the sightings of big cats and coyotes in more urban settings. I hypothesize that larger predators are finding their way into large cities via greenbelts and railroad tracks and then making themselves at home, at least for a while, in abandoned homes, warehouses, etc. Many larger cities have a lot of areas that fit this description.


“I live in midwest Missouri and I my self have seen a very large solid black panther with gold colored eyes run across 13 Hwy shortly after dusk about a year ago I remember yelling at my friend to stop the van she was gonna hit it, we swerved just in time and luckily the roads were clear it stopped looked at us then took off & finished crossing the road.”

TCH Comment: Another out of state report. The account is very typical in that it involved a cat crossing a road. The “gold-colored” eye shine intrigues me. Many witnesses have reported yellowish eye shine reflecting from the eyes of black panthers.


“We saw the same black adolescent "jaguar" twice in our back yard, 1.5 miles south of Liberty Oklahoma in the last 5 weeks. It was walking slowly in the tall grass, was ~ 75 pounds, and had a 3+ foot long tail. My dogs were barking at it from their fenced in enclosure and it was completely unconcerned. I started asking friends and neighbors about ‘black panthers’ and to a man and a woman, they have no doubt of their existence. One neighbor reported to me that something [she assumed it was a mountain lion] attacked her 250-pound mastiff some years ago, almost killing him. He had to have a drain in his neck for more than 4 months.”

TCH Comment: This report originates from Oklahoma. Texas’ neighbor to the north has a long history of black panther sightings. The only thing about this report that bothered me had nothing to do with the sighting itself or the description of the cat; rather, it was the reference to the 250 lb. mastiff. That seemed outlandishly large even for this giant breed. I was wrong, however. English mastiffs are reported to routinely weigh between 150-250 lbs. That being the case, my concerns were alleviated and I decided to include the report in this post.


“All I know is that where I grew up in the 1960s in south east Texas; that non existent black cat (call it what you want I call it a black panther) probably averaged 80 pounds did exist. So much so that I hunted them for a bounty paid at the county clerks office. Just bring in the pair of ears and I got paid $7.50 which in those days was a lot of gasoline at 16.9 cents per gallon. They may not exist any longer, possibly to over hunting of them but they did then. If the TPWD deny it then they LIE LIE LIE.”

TCH Comment: This comment is fascinating to me for several reasons. First, the attitude of this gentleman perfectly represents that of almost all people living in the bottomlands and back woods areas of SE Texas where I grew up. They don’t believe black panthers exist, they know they exist. In fact, most don’t consider them anything all that unusual. These black cats are just another animal that lives in the woods. Folks don’t get fired up until you tell them that science does not recognize the existence of black panthers. The second thing I find so interesting about this comment is that the reader says he hunted these cats for a bounty. This sort of thing was not all that uncommon when it came to “nuisance” animals. As recently ast 5-10 years ago many Texas counties were offering similar bounties on coyotes. All you had to do was present the ears and you got a check. I assume the programs are still in existence but it will, no doubt, vary county to county. The question this all raises is if these animals were hunted for a bounty then why have they remained undocumented? Why is there no record of them? Why do no county or state officials “remember” these programs. This may be an area that someone could research. If county or state records do exist showing that bounties were paid for black panthers, that would go a long way toward legitimizing their existence.


“I live in a Stamford, Texas. This is a small town north of Abilene. I know this site is dedicated to large black cat sightings but I have been puzzled lately by a smaller size of cat and would like to question you all. I have seen this cat or cats 4 times. 2 times at approximately 5am before daylight savings time and 2 other times just after dusk but before full night. This cat is small but larger than an average house cat. It has a very long almost pole/rod shaped tail that was almost as long as the body. It did not appear to have shorter legs like I see in pictures of Jaguarundi I have found on the internet. These have crossed the road from a mesquite/brush area over to a clearing. It was the tail that actually made me pause, being long but very full, yet like a baseball bat without the taper in size from end to end and the abrupt rounded end like a bat. My friends are starting to think I'm crazy because I keep asking if they see these at night. Thankfully my daughter was with me one evening and saw it also lol. So now I don't feel so alone. It was dark enough at all these times that I cannot tell you a color except that they did not appear black but more brown and the reflection of their eyes were noticable. I know we have bobcats around here but never have I seen a bobcat with a tail almost as long as the body.”

TCH Comment: Another report from the area north of Abilene. I don’t think the jaguarundi should necessarily be ruled completely out though they aren’t supposed to live anywhere even remotely close to this part of Texas. It could be an unusually large feral cat, I suppose. Also, it could simply be that this witness spotted a young animal. Whatever black panthers are, they aren’t born weighing 75-150 lbs. Like any other real species, they will have young. Maybe this witness saw a juvenile animal.


“My son and I saw one in Burnet County two years ago. The jaguarundi is a diurnal animal. Unusual for this one to be out at night.”

TCH Comment: I am assuming that this reader believes he saw a jaguarundi and not a classic “black panther” since he refers specifically to that species. If he and his son did see a jaguarundi in Burnet County it would be big news. Most jaguarundi distribution maps don’t even show them living in Texas. The TPWD does include them as a species living in the Lone Star State but claims they only exist in very small numbers in the “dense thorny shrublands of the Rio Grande Valley." I know they live up and down the coast up into the SE Texas and into the Piney Woods region. That is still a long way from Burnett County, however.

As you can see, reports of the black panthers of Texas are not going away. People continue to see big cats matching the description of the classic “black panther” of myth. Are they all lying? Mistaken? I find the thought of that much more unlikely than that of these big cats actually existing.

Please keep the reports coming in to me. If you would like a reply please email your account to me. If you post your report as a “comment” to an existing post I do not have any way to get in contact with you. My email address, again, is

I hope to hear from you soon…

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ape Appellations

Ape Appellations
By Alton Higgins and Daryl Colyer

Over many centuries numerous appellations have been ascribed to the huge hairy hominoids said to inhabit North America, “Bigfoot” being one of the more widely used in recent decades. In his opening address at the 2013 Texas Bigfoot Conference, Brian Brown first announced the TBRC move to officially change its name to the North American Wood Ape Conservancy and the rationale behind the NAWAC decision to largely cease using the media moniker “Bigfoot” when referring to the species (Brown, 2013a).

As a companion piece to his conference presentation, Brown subsequently provided an article on the NAWAC website summarizing the reasons for the change (Brown, 2013b). While it is not necessary to reiterate those reasons, we would like to further discuss the “wood ape” appellation in terms of its use by others, predating the NAWAC’s use of the moniker, and its relevance from a natural science perspective. Although some may question or even deride the semantic modification, we propose that the term “wood ape” is an altogether more fittingly descriptive term and a more appropriate designator from a scientific perspective.

Many interested parties may not realize that the term “wood ape” has a history of use when addressing the North American ape phenomenon. One example, written quite a few years ago, is from the Q&A section of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO) website, written in response to the constantly asked question: “Where are the physical remains?”

No serious work has ever been done to look for remains of surviving wood apes in areas where they are rumored to reside. No one should expect remains of such an elusive species to be found, collected and identified without some effort.

Very few remains of ancient wood apes have ever been found in Asia, where they were much more abundant. Millions of Gigantos (a branch of the wood ape line) lived and died in Asia over the ages. All the remaining physical evidence we have of them could fit into a few shoe boxes. Fossils of any land animal are very rare.

Remains do not become fossilized very often, but unless that happens, all the remains will, in time, become completely reabsorbed into the ecosystem. There would be remains of animals everywhere if remains were not naturally recycled, including bones and teeth.

Fossils or preserved bones of wood apes may exist in the Americas, but they will be exceedingly rare, because these animals are rare to begin with, and only a tiny fraction of that population will die in locations and soils that will preserve bones somehow. Odds are slim at best that any bones (which are normally fragmentary) will be found, collected and identified unless a focused effort is made to look for them. Until efforts are made in many places, over a long period time, no one should be scratching their head wondering why “we” don’t have any physical remains. (BFRO, n.d.,

Regarding a scientific perspective, interestingly enough, the apes that moved out of Africa into Europe millions of years ago, such as Dryopithecus, are referred to as “wood apes” by some anthropologists, including Chris Stringer, a human evolution expert (Andrews & Stringer, 1989, p. 22). After moving into Europe, Dryopithecus then immigrated into Asia where it apparently was ancestral to subsequent lineages, including Gigantopithecus and today’s orangutans. The species we refer to as the North American wood ape would almost certainly have dispersed from Asia, so the reference to the creatures as “wood apes” is a very reasonable alternative to “Bigfoot” and the plethora of additional locally derived epithets.


Andrews, P. J., & Stringer, C. P. (1989). Human evolution: An illustrated guide. Ipswich, England, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.
Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization. (n.d.). Where is the physical evidence?: Nobody looks for physical remains. Retrieved from
Brown, B. (2013a). In the valley of the wood ape. Live presentation at 2013 Texas Bigfoot Conference.
Brown B. (2013b). New name, same mission. Retrieved from

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A Tough Outing

Sometimes you get the bear; sometimes the bear gets you.

The bear got me yesterday on my latest camera trap maintenance excursion. To say it was a rough day would be an understatement. I’ll break it down for you.

I was actually a week overdue on checking my cameras that are deployed in my study area NE of Temple, TX. This area has been very good for me and has yielded some terrific shots of a wide variety of animals. I’ve managed to get photos of coyotes, bobcats, river otters, great blue herons, vultures, raccoons, opossums, and more. Regular readers will recall that it was a series of mountain lion sightings that prompted me to investigate the area originally a year and a half ago. There was another cougar sighting a little more than a month ago very near the area where my cameras had been deployed. The sighting prompted me to get cameras back up out there and I had high hopes that I’d have pictures of the big cat that has eluded me.

I arrived at the property and made my way to the creek that winds through the property. I have the cameras deployed above the creek on a game trail that is well established and worn. I walk this trail once I get parallel to the location of camera #1 but walk the creek bed to that point as the vegetation is very thick and full of thorny vines. As I descended into the creek bed, my left knee buckled and sent me tumbling head long into the rock strewn creek about five feet below. I’ve been having some trouble with my left knee and have even taken to wearing a light brace just to walk around and carry out my daily activities. I was not wearing the brace yesterday (dumb mistake #1) and it cost me. To say I banged myself up would be an understatement. Fortunately, I didn’t land on my head. The large rucksack on my back proved to be a mixed blessing. It made me pretty top heavy which contributed to my inability to regain my balance after my knee gave out but provided a bit of cushion as it absorbed some of the blow when I landed in the creek bed. I gathered my now bruised, wet, and muddy self and trudged on.

I arrived at Camera #1 without further incident. I changed out the batteries and loaded the images from the camera onto my laptop (the laptop was in my ruck and I’m extremely fortunate it wasn’t damaged in my fall). I was disappointed at how few pictures the camera had taken over five weeks. There was nothing of any real interest captured. A few deer photos were all I got. It was time to move on to camera #2.

I moved down the game trail and struggled to find the second camera. The area has greened up considerably since the cameras were deployed last month and I just figured some brush had grown up and was making the camera difficult to see. I decided to go ahead and move on to camera #3 and hit #2 on my way back.

I located camera #3 easily and downloaded the handful of images it had snapped. Again, I was disappointed that more photos were not taken. There just didn’t seem to have been much animal movement over the last few weeks. While nothing unusual was photographed, I did get a handful of nice deer, coyote, raccoon, and skunk shots. I reloaded the camera with a clean memory card and new batteries and made my way back toward the spot where camera #2 should have been located.

I continued to have trouble locating camera #2. Understand, I have all the locations for my cameras loaded onto my GPS unit. I do not rely strictly on my memory to find the cameras. I simply should not have been having so much trouble in finding this camera. It was then that I began to think it might be gone. I’ve had cameras stolen before but they were in areas that were much more heavily trafficked by people. I just couldn’t believe anyone had been back here but what other explanation could there be? Earlier, I had gone to the tree on which I was sure I had mounted camera #2. I returned to that tree. It wasn’t there but this time I knelt down at the base of the tree and brushed some of the leaf litter away. It was then that I uncovered the two bungee cords that had been holding camera #2 to the tree. There was no longer any doubt about what had happened. The camera had been stolen.

I became pretty upset with myself. I failed to secure the cameras with cables and locks this last redeployment. Working alone, room in my rucksack and the weight of the equipment in it are always issues. I got lazy this last time. I’ve never had a hint of a problem on this property before and, if you watched the video I shot the last time out, you can see it is pretty isolated. Not only is it isolated but it is pretty difficult to get to the spots where I have cameras. One would have to negotiate the steep walls of the creek (not always easy as described above), the slick creek bed itself, the heavily wooded, brushy, and thorny vegetation, for a quarter of a mile to reach the first camera location. Reaching the location of camera #2 requires an even longer brush-busting hike. Regardless, somebody made their way back there and came across the camera. The bottom line is I got complacent and didn’t properly secure the camera (dumb mistake #2).

Dejected, I made my way back toward the location of camera #4 which is not too far from where I had parked my truck. I reached the spot where I typically climb out of the creek bed and started up. As I did, soil underneath my right foot gave way, which caused me to slide back into the creek about six feet below. I was leaning forward as I made my way up the bank so I didn’t fall backwards but I did bang both knees very hard on the rocky bottom of creek bed. Usually, I wear knee pads for situations just like this but had, in my haste to get to the site, forgotten to pack them this time (dumb mistake #3). I was comforted a bit by the fact that this fall was simply bad luck and not caused by any physical infirmities on my part. Now thoroughly banged up, I very, very carefully made my way up the side of the bank and limped toward camera #4.

I had a bad moment when I didn’t initially see the camera but it turned out to be right where I left it. I was especially thankful, as, like the other cameras, I had not locked this one up. I decided to pull this camera. It is one of my newer and more expensive cameras and having it stolen would really be painful financially. I had been thinking of taking it and deploying it in my second study area outside of Waxahachie in a couple of weeks anyway. The theft of my camera here helped finalize that decision.

I took the camera back to the truck and was extremely disappointed to see that it had not captured a single photo of an animal. The camera was in working order as it did get several shots of me as I was setting it up but nothing else. I have to admit I’m puzzled as I thought it was in a really nice location overlooking a game trail. I guess it is a moot point now as I’ve decided to move it.

As I said in the opening, it was a pretty disappointing trip. Few photos, physical pain, and a stolen camera certainly ensured that. Still, it is all par for the course. You have to take the good with the bad when you do this sort of thing on a regular basis. Some pain is inevitable (though I think I am going to finally break down and go get my left knee checked out). So, too, is camera attrition. Losing cameras to the elements or thieves is simply going to happen from time to time. What are you gonna do? I could leave the cameras in my closet and they would be safe from thieves but sitting in a closet is not why cameras are made. There are no pictures to be taken there. So, I’ll replace the lost camera when I can and continue to “risk it” by putting them out. I will, however, be more vigilant about locking them down.

I decided to make the best of a bad situation and take a lot of still shots. The area is really nice and I failed to take any shots of the area the last time out. I even explored a bit and sniffed around areas I had not previously explored. I was rewarded with the discovery of a large burrow. I’m guessing it was likely a coyote hideout but looked like it hadn’t been occupied for some time. I’ve included some of the still shots in this post. I will likely post the rest of the Facebook page. Head over there and give me a “like” if you have a moment or two.

It would do me some good.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Great White Shark Hooked in Gulf of Mexico

According to an ABC News report and Yahoo, a Canadian fisherman vacationing in Florida hooked more than he bargained for when he tangled with the most feared fish in the sea.

Fab Marchese, of Ontario Canada, was part of a charter fishing about 30 miles west of Treasure Island, FL. When he first spied what he recognized as a great white shark. The Captain of the charter, Joe Maisano, also spotted the massive shark, a rare sight in the Gulf of Mexico.

“I have seen Jaws enough times to know what they look like,” said Maisano who, along with his father, Sam, have operated Go Fast Fishing Charters for more than a decade. In all that time on the water neither had ever seen a great white before. This one turned out to be a massive specimen.

“It looked like a submarine with a tail,” the Captain told ABC News. Click here for video.

Maisano began chumming in earnest after the shark sighting while Marchese cast out a line in the direction of the great fish. Within 20 minutes Marchese was able to set the hook on the shark.

For the next 3 hours Marchese held on for dear life. Captain Maisano pulled the boat’s anchor and allowed the great white to tow the boat in the hopes the giant shark would tire. Marchese said it was some fight.

“We had hooked a 350 lb. goliath grouper earlier and you cannot compare the fight with the great white,” he said.

Maisano added, “It was like a slow steady pull. Great whites are not very fast sharks so it was a slow, solid weight.”

Indeed. Great whites are among the largest sharks alive today but this one was big even by those standards.

“He was anywhere from 16-18 feet long and it could have weighed from 2,500 to 4,000 lbs.,” said Captain Maisano. “That is what the experts are telling us.”

The great white is a protected species and, so, had to be released by the fishermen. The men, however, did get plenty of photos and video before this catch of a lifetime slowly swam away.

While rare, the great white shark is listed as a shark species inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico. White sharks cruise mainly the eastern portions of the Gulf but do range west of the Mississippi Delta down to at least the Corpus Christi and Padre Island shores. It is thought that their presence off the Texas coast is infrequent at best but it does occur. In fact, white sharks are present in Texas waters often enough to warrant recognition by the Texas Parks & Wildlife. If you visit the TP&W website you will find the following statement on possession and bag limits for sharks:

"For the allowable shark species, the bag limit will remain one shark per person per day, with a two-shark possession limit. In addition, a prohibited list (zero bag limit) will be established for the following 21 species: Atlantic angel, Basking, Bigeye sand tiger, Bigeye sixgill, Bigeye thresher, Bignose,Caribbean reef, Caribbean sharpnose, Dusky, Galapogos, Longfin mako, Narrowtooth, Night, Sandbar, Sand tiger, Sevengill, Silky, Sixgill, Smalltail, Whale, and White."

So, the next time someone says that great white sharks do not live anywhere close to Texas you will know better. These massive predators do, at least on occasion, swim the waters of the Gulf of Mexico but don’t let this knowledge trouble you.

They have always been there.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The North American Wood Ape Conservancy

One of the first things that took place at the 2013 Texas Bigfoot Conference was an announcement by TBRC Board member Brian Brown in which he stated that, henceforth, the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC) would be called the North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC).

The name change is something that our entire organization has debated for sometime. In the end, the group decided it was the right thing to do. The reasons for the name change are outlined below:

New name, same mission

In 1958, construction worker Jerry Crew discovered some large footprints in the dry, dusty Northern California soil and a legend was born. Crew’s find was eventually related to the world via the Humboldt Times along with the name he and the rest of his work team had given to the maker of those tracks: Bigfoot.

In the years that have followed, the name of this one individual (whoever or whatever it was) has come to stand for the entire phenomenon of large, hairy bipedal figures seen by people all over North America and the world, even though, in the minds of many, "Bigfoot" remains a solitary, presumably magical creature along the lines of the Tooth Fairy or Jack Frost. Eventually, the term "Bigfoot" was appropriated by the media as a proxy for the humorously improbable interests of simpletons and not the concern of serious, practical people.

Our organization's mission is to help establish and conserve "Bigfoot" — through a partnership with governmental, academic, and scientific interests — as what we believe it is: an extant population of higher primates living in the forests and wild places of North America. In the course of our work we have found that using the popular vernacular often raises barriers when attempting to engage those outside our specific field of interest. "Bigfoot" is not something serious people, they feel, apply effort towards. It's a phenomenon that belongs to tabloids, late-night comedians and scoffing network news anchors.

In response, we have adopted the term "wood ape" as a name for the animal because that's what all our observations and experiences tell us it is. Neither a joke nor a myth, but a living, breathing primate species deserving of protection and study.

Jerry Crew's discovery may have created the legend, but the animal behind it has existed on this continent from a time far earlier than 1958. How much longer it’s allowed to survive and thrive alongside man is very likely dependent on establishing it as real. Whatever helps us do that must be done, up to and including unmooring ourselves from a legendary, often ridiculed, name.

To that end, after long consideration by and following a unanimous vote of this organization's Board of Directors, we are pleased to announce that from this point forward, the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC) shall be known as the North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC). While we recognize changing how language is used is a long and perhaps quixotic endeavor, we feel that the needs of this amazing species are poorly served by the silly patina that has accreted over the term "Bigfoot."

Hopefully, our efforts or the efforts of others will make the North American wood ape a serious topic. We believe changing the very words we use while getting there is an important part of that process.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Texas Bigfoot Conference Tomorrow

I just wanted to remind everyone that the 12th Annual Texas Bigfoot Conference will be held tomorrow (Saturday, 3/16) at the Fort Worth Convention Center. The conference is sponsored by the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy and features a line-up of speakers that you won’t want to miss.

Bill Munns, Kathy Strain, Dr. Jeff Meldrum, Lyle Blackburn and Brian Brown are all scheduled to speak. The TBRC’s special guest speaker this year is none other than Josh Gates of Destination Truth fame. If you have any interest in the sasquatch phenomenon and would like to hear serious scientific discussions on the topic then this an event you simply do not want to miss.

The final event of the day will be interesting as each of the day’s speakers will participate in a panel discussion. I actually have the privilege of moderating the discussion, which will be driven by questions submitted by conference attendees.

Other bigfoot notables will be in attendance as well. Ken Gerhard, Nicholas Redfern, Craig Woolheater, and Robert Swain will be present in the vendor area as will nearly the entire TBRC team of investigators.

The entire event promises to be informative and fun. Tickets will be available at the door.

I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Waxahachie Black Panther Camera Project

About two weeks ago I visited some private property outside of Waxahachie, Texas. The landowner claims to have had several close encounters with a large black cat matching the description of the classic “black panther.” Below is the original email I received from this landowner:

“Please call me if you would like to hear my story. We have a black (or very dark) cat with a long tail, estimated 80+ lbs or fact, I was charged (In my YARD, he stopped just 15 ft from me). Our game warden practically laughed at me and will not do anything. The Sheriff's Department doesn't care either, I think they assume I am an idiot, hysterical woman that cannot tell the difference between a coyote, bobcat, etc and that I shudder at any sound. I assure you, I am not. It has been back after dusk and in the wee hours of the morning for the last 4 days. We live on 7 acres, surrounded by 100's of acres of pastures, wooded areas and hayfields, 4 ponds and Waxahachie Creek is just 100 yards from our house. I now carry a pistol to go out on my PORCH, I have a shotgun at the ready and I have stopped my normal activities. The horses are scared and the mule is exhausted from standing guard. Last time we saw it was approximately 16 hours ago (last night about 10 pm). We popped off several shots, hoping the sound would scare it away.

I do NOT want this cat dead. But he is not scared of me, therefore poses a real danger. He (Or she) is after something here. Maybe my Catahoula Leopard dog, the puppy...or even me, now that it has sized me up. It will be shot by my fiance or neighbors soon, (if it doesn't move on), as we had to alert people in case it goes after a child. Please help.”

I replied to this landowner and she graciously agreed to give me access to the property and granted permission for me to place three cameras in various locations. I was able to get up there the week before last.

The property backs up to Waxahachie Creek and is classic hardwood bottom land. It is a rich environment perfect for all manner of wildlife. Animal sign is everywhere. Hog sign is especially abundant. Deer and hogs here provide the makings of a solid prey base, at least on an occasional basis, for a large predator.

It should be noted that this black cat has been spotted by both the property owner and her fiancĂ© on separate occasions. Since I’ve been out to the property a third party claims to have seen two of these black cats walking together near the backside of the property near the creek.

I don’t know exactly what is going on at this location but I hope to help these good folks figure it out. I would have included some still photos with this write-up but my camera is on the fritz. I will get some still shots of the property when I return to check the cameras in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, I have placed three game cameras on the property in the hopes of documenting these animals. The property owners have expressed an openness to having the cameras in place for an extended period of time. This is critical as it is extremely rare to get the photo you are looking for the first rattle out of the bucket (I hope this time will be the exception). Assuming the animals hang around, I have a legitimate chance to get a picture if I can keep those cameras in place.

I will update you all after I retrieve the first set of images early next month.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

TBRC Report #01120093

Below is the write-up of an investigation I recently conducted into the alleged sighting of an animal matching the description of a wood ape in Polk County, Texas. The incident occurred just outside the Big Sandy Creek Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve. This area has a rich history of sightings of creatures matching the traditional description of the sasquatch.

Witness Observation

"In the Fall of 2003, my wife and I were driving on FM 1276 near the Big Sandy Creek unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve after sunset. (It was almost fully night.) We both witnessed a bipedal animal run across the road in front of us. It was running on two legs but ran in a bent over posture with its arms near or on the pavement sometimes. It ran very quickly and well. The animal was around 5 feet in height and covered with long reddish brown hair. It had a very broad build and looked somewhat like an orangutan except that it had a flat face and was proportioned more like a human with long arms. It had entered the road in front of us from the driver's side, ran across the road, and paused briefly on the other side of the road to look at us before entering the woods. It looked at us by turning its body partially. I had braked as it entered the road and passed it just after it entered the edge of the woods."

Physical Evidence

"My father saw the animal in a separate incident that week at the same location. He also knows a woman who saw the animal as well."

Time and Conditions

"Just after sunset. - It was barely dark not too long after sunset. I was using headlights."

Investigator's Comments

Michael C. Mayes

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 Polk County, Texas in the fall of 2003.

I interviewed the witness via telephone on the evening of Tuesday, February 26, 2013. The witness was friendly, open and cooperative. The wife of the reporting witness also participated in the interview as she too saw the animal in question while riding with her husband in 2003. For the purposes of this report the husband will be referred to as witness #1 and the wife as witness #2.

The couple was driving southbound on FM 1276 near the Big Sandy Creek Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve just after sunset. Witness #1 did not recall the exact time but noted that it was almost fully dark. As their vehicle approached a slight bend in the road, witness #1, who was driving, caught sight of movement on the left side of the road. He described seeing something moving quickly toward the road. Witness #1 said there was an open field bound by a barbed-wire fence at this spot and, while he could not be positive, said he felt the figure had jumped over the fence “like a hurdler” based on how it was moving/landing when he first caught site of it. Witness #1 also felt this was a strong possibility since the figure was moving very quickly and he does not believe anyone, or anything, could have generated that much speed from a standing position so close to the road if they were not already running all out. Witness #1 slowed his vehicle immediately as it became clear the figure’s momentum was going to carry it into his path. Witness #1 recalled seeing the figure clear a ditch and come onto the paved shoulder of the road in a bipedal fashion. Upon reaching the paved portion of the road, the figure dropped down and quickly crossed in front of the vehicle on all fours. Witness #1 said the figure actually seemed to pick up speed after it dropped down to all fours. He noted that the hands—witness #1 did consciously use the word “hands”—really only touched the ground “a couple of times” as the figure smoothly crossed the road (see also TBRC Liberty County report 01040029). By this point witness #1 had slowed to almost a complete stop. The figure continued off the pavement onto the other side of the road and paused just outside the wood line. It was at this point that witness #2, riding on the passenger side of the front seat of the vehicle, got her first good look at the subject. According to the pair, the subject squatted briefly and turned back to look at their vehicle. It then stood up and walked on two legs into the woods.

The pair described the figure they saw in similar terms. Both agreed that it likely was no more than about five feet tall and covered in reddish-brown hair. Witness #1 described the hair as being “the same color as an orangutan.” He specifically remembered the hair being very long and hanging down from, the arms of the figure. The build of the figure was described as stocky and muscular. The witnesses agreed that the head of the figure was somewhat pointed and that it had a “tall forehead.” The couple did get a brief look at the face of the figure when it turned back to look at them and said it was human-like. When asked what was “human-like” about the face, the witnesses specifically mentioned the nose. The observers described the nose as flat and wide and “not like a gorilla.” Witness #1 expounded on that point a bit more, saying, “You know how you can look at a gorilla’s face and look right into the nostrils? This wasn’t like that. It was like a person’s nose but wide and flat.” Both witnesses insisted there was no hint of a snout of any kind.

Witness #1 said that the locomotion of the figure was very smooth and impressively fast. He said the speed of the figure was comparable to that of a deer running across the road. Witness #1 also wanted to stress that the figure seemed to speed up when it dropped to all fours and that it didn’t “bound” across the road like a chimpanzee or gorilla would. It stayed low and moved smoothly with no “bouncing.” The bipedal movement was described in much the same way: smooth and quick. When asked if the figure they saw could have been a cinnamon-colored black bear, witness #1 politely, but very firmly, said, “No.” He stressed that when the figure stood up and walked on two legs it did not move like a bear on two legs and it had a good stride without any side to side “wobble.”

The witnesses both agreed that when the figure squatted down and turned back to look at them that it was, “stiff-necked.” It turned its entire upper torso back toward the road when it peeked back at the vehicle. At this point, both witnesses recalled seeing very bright eye-shine. Witness #1 did not recall the color but remembered seeing the eye-shine very clearly. Witness #2, who was sitting on the passenger side of the vehicle closest to the animal when it turned to look at them, recalled the shine being a very bright “yellowish” color. Witness #1 was impressed by the bright shine as by this time they had pulled even with the figure and it was no longer being completely illuminated by the headlights of the vehicle.

Witness #1 added that two more people in the community, including his own father, claimed to have seen a figure matching the same description within two weeks of his encounter. To the best of his knowledge, no one in the community has seen anything similar since then.

Witness #1 grew up in the area and has hunted and hiked the woods, including the Big Sandy Creek Unit of the Big Thicket National Preserve, all of his life. He is familiar with the known fauna in the area. He claims he has never seen anything before, or since, like what saw on that fall night back in 2003.

I did not detect any signs of deception on the part of either witness during the course of the interview. Going into the interview, I felt it was possible the couple had encountered a cinnamon-colored black bear. Black bears are native to the area in question and, though all but extirpated from the region for the better part of the last seventy-five years, have been making a comeback of late. After thoroughly discussing the possibility of a misidentified bear with the witnesses, I feel satisfied that what they encountered in 2003 was not a bear. The smooth transition from bipedal locomotion to quadrupedal locomotion and back again along with the witnesses’ adamant assertion that the figure they saw had a nose and not a snout has convinced me of this. This description of the figure’s appearance and modes of locomotion would also seem to eliminate the possibility that any of the region’s other 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 Polk 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 wood ape or sasquatch.

*Visit the TBRC website for details on many more sightings in Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma.