Excerpts from Cliff’s field notes:
On January 22rd, 2011, witness Jeff was making his way to a duck hunting spot on Bull Mountain, GA. He and his buddy hiked in the back way across country, making their way to a hiking trail. When they arrived at the trail, they soon noticed peculiar footprints in the thawing ground.
At first, Jeff thought that somebody was playing a trick on him. Laughing, he took a couple photographs of the footprints with his cell phone. He started following the prints to see where they led. The more Jeff saw of them, the more he considered that they were not left for his discovery. After all, he had not seen anyone else that day in the area, and this location was chosen for its distinct lack of visitors. Also of note is that the daytime temperatures that day hovered in the low 30’s until mid-afternoon. Whoever left these prints was clearly barefoot.
Upon looking closer at these prints, Jeff noticed what he described as “fingerprints” in them. More commonly known as dermatoglyphics, these minute skin details are only found on primates. They are used to increase friction on our hands and feet for brachiation and grasping objects. This observation also negates the possibility of the impressions being left by a person wearing Vibram footwear. The excellent condition in which the prints were found indicated to Jeff’s experienced eye that they were within minutes to perhaps a couple hours old.
Though the photographs have no scale item, Jeff noted that he could fit his entire boot on the inside of the prints without overlapping the edges. When I had the chance to later measure Jeff’s boots, their size indicates that the footprints were somewhere in the vicinity of 13.5 to 14 inches long. We would later recreate the step and stride lengths to find that the left and right prints were spaced about three-and-a-half feet apart (this is the “step length”), giving a stride length of seven feet or so.
Being a hunter, Jeff followed the footprints for a ways. What he found was that the creature would walk uphills for perhaps 30 or 40 feet, then double back for seven or eight steps, then continue further uphill. Jeff interpreted this behavior like it was worried about something and unsure of the direction to take. We speculated that perhaps the creature heard Jeff and his partner making their way towards it from the ravine below, though this is far from certain.
On February 16, 2011, just three and a half weeks after the initial footprint find, Ranae Holland and I met up with Jeff for an interview. He took us and the production team to the location, though we hiked in the easy way, which was still a mile or more of creek-bottom travel. With us was bigfooting production assistant, and friend of the ‘squatch, Tyler Bounds. He served us with scouting the area and keeping his eyes out for bigfooty things that the production crew wouldn’t recognize, and I wouldn’t have time to notice since I was in front of the camera so much.
On the hike in, Tyler was ahead of us, and far off trail. He radioed in that he heard tree knocks from one mountainside above the creek valley we were hiking through. They were soon answered by another from the opposite side of the narrow valley. Enthused, I slowed my walk to hear more of the surrounding forest noises. We weren’t filming very much on the walk in, so I had a chance to keep my distance from the cameras. I used this time for listening, and also for ask Jeff questions about his experience.
As we pushed further up the valley, I also heard knocks from the same valley wall. They were loud and clear, and soon answered from the opposite side of the ravine. I alerted the camera men to keep their eyes open. Bigfoots were likely nearby.
We arrived at the location, not far from a marsh where there were plenty of ducks. This is a key aspect to finding bigfoots: look where there is a superfluous supply of protein. The local sasquatches were more than likely using the water fowl as their primary food item while in the area.
While we were filming a scene near the place Jeff found the prints, Tyler ran up, pale and winded. I immediately knew something was up from the look on his face. It turns out he found footprints nearby, and they reportedly showed toes! We finished the scene we were shooting, and Tyler told me the general area where they were found, but not their exact location, so the production team could film the authentic discovery moment.
The location was in the run-off at a turn in the trail. Water would run down the trail downhill to this location and spill out in this spot before going over the ledge into the ravine, or being soaked into the ground. It was this trail erosion that made this spot perfect for tracking, leaving a smooth layer of sand from the path above to record the passing of anything that went this way. It was off the trail by 20 or more feet, and hidden by debris and brush. In this one spot were two footprints, both of the right foot. The two prints led towards a steep drop off into the ravine below. The ground was covered by sticks and other forest debris except for a few square feet of sandy substrate.
I immediately started the documentation process while Ranae scoured the overhanging branches for possible hair or tissue fibers. The prints were measured and photographed extensively before casting.
Each print was measured separately, and with interesting results. The footprint measurements varied from foot to foot, which indicates that they were left by a living foot, not a fake wooden “stomper.” We only had one foot represented in the two footprints since both prints were of the right foot. The left footprint was not found in the thick forest duff. Measuring from the toes of the first print to the toes of the second gave a stride length of seven feet. This was identical to the hypothesized stride length of Jeff’s original footprints. Jeff also noted that these were just about the same size as the prints he initially stumbled on a few weeks earlier. It was entirely possible that these prints were left by the same individual and at the same time.
From the moment of their discovery until we removed the casts from the ground, at least four or five hours had passed. This amount of care should always be taken with casts. Footprints are among the rarest of hard evidence for sasquatches, and it is very possible that these print represent spoor left by the species.