Any bigfooter who was alive in the 1970′s has been influenced to some degree by the movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek. This 1972 pseudo-documentary certainly affected me in a huge way. Little did I know that decades later I would be visiting Fouke, Arkansas in an attempt to run into the Fouke Monster for myself.
Our town hall meeting was held in an old movie theater after an abbreviated screening of the movie. Lyle Blackburn, author of The Beast of Boggy Creek, was in attendance. It is Lyle who has done the most work on following up on the events of The Legend of Boggy Creek, and also who has tracked down the most reports from both before and after the film from the Fouke area. Hands down, Lyle is the single most important expert on both the film and the bigfoot reports from the vicinity.
Our night investigation was chosen by Lyle as it had produced the most recent reports, as well as reports from that time of year. The terrain was largely a swamp with a few feet of water everywhere, but with artificially raised berms on which one could walk in many directions, at least for a while. The water was still, and it smelled pretty bad. Ranae and I did hear sounds that might have been bigfoots, but we were cut off from the area where they came from by a river. On the other team, Bobo, Lyle, and Matt heard what we think were the same sounds, but were also prohibited from getting into the area by water. I think that’s why bigfoots are in the area. It’s really hard to get around in without getting waist deep in crappy smelling water and muck.
I found Aaron and Shannon’s footprint cast very compelling. The context made sense in that bigfoots follow the creeks, and that one would be raiding raccoon traps certainly seems like something a hungry bigfoot would do. Aaron explicitly said that the traps had been opened, and the raccoons had been removed. The trap where the footprint was found was just plain missing. The footprint clearly showed all five digits, and the toe walls were curved over the digits in such a way it would be very difficult to make a prosthetic that would produce such a track. The toes were curved inwards and downwards like they should be if navigating up a slope, which the creature was when it left the track. I am confident that the track is real.
Taking the airboat ride through the Sulfur River Bottoms was amazing, to say the least. A dream come true, really, ranking right up there with when we got to ride to the Patterson/Gimlin Film Site on horseback with Bob Gimlin himself. We stopped at where Herb Jones had his cabin (and legendary bottle tree made of the empties that were the result of the weekly delivery of wine) and were shown where the cabin once stood, and the bottles were held before their removal. Traces of human occupation were still visible, but rare. Behind where the cabin was is the highest hill in the bottoms, where Native Americans once visited while hunting for turtles and deer in the swamps.
Doyle’s bigfoot encounter is interesting because of the location and behavior. He saw his creature literally across a waterway on the other side of the hill I mentioned above where Herb Jones had his cabin. Doyle observed the bigfoot wading in the water early one morning (around 7 am) at about 50 or so yards. It was wading in water that came up to between its ankle and shin. It seemed to be kicking at the water with its right leg in an upward-scooping motion. It would kick once or twice, and then just stand there. It would then do it again in the same spot, or maybe move a couple feet to its right or left. In a time period of about 15 to 20 minutes, it only worked a ten yard by ten yard area. It was clearly looking for something, and I hypothesize it was going after either turtles on the bottom, or crawdads.
Doyle was a particularly great witness because he actually lives right on the edge of the Sulfur River Bottoms. After finding strange footprints in 2003, he started paying more attention to the possibility of bigfoots being his neighbors. He later saw the bigfoot mentioned above (March, 2004), but in November of 2004 Doyle found and cast an excellent footprint. It was impressed into the soft mud around a lake which the local wildlife used as a clean water supply. The print was about 15 inches long, and has excellent toe detail. Its proportions very closely match other examples from the data set.
My journey to Fouke, AR started back in the mid-1970′s when I first saw The Legend of Boggy Creek, and the expedition was a dream come true. While the movie depicted events that occurred in a very short time span, it is clear that bigfoots had been around long before that, and still live there. On top of it all, the community has embraced the creatures that put them on the map by integrating the Fouke Monster into their local culture. I strongly recommend a visit to Fouke, and when you go by the Monster Mart, tell them Cliff from Finding Bigfoot sent you!