Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bigfoot Researchers Exploring Southeastern Oklahoma

(This cast, made about a year ago in Chelsea, is of a footprint that is about 15 inches long by 5 inches wide.)

Some 25 to 30 researchers will be braving the southeastern Oklahoma woods this weekend in search of the reclusive Bigfoot.

The Kiamichi Mountains provide the apelike creature a habitat that's rich with deer, berries, honeysuckle and plenty of woodsy cover, believers say.

"You could hide an army in there and never know it," said D.W. Lee of Stilwell, global director of the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center.

In October in Honobia, the researchers saw "eye shine" from a creature standing about 8 feet tall, he said.

"They would get close enough that the campfire would shine in their eyes and it would show green," Lee said.

Like ghost hunters, the Bigfoot researchers will be equipped with night-vision goggles and scopes, along with an array of audio and video equipment. They will record hours of footage from the trail for viewing after their trip.

Lee said the creatures typically throw rocks at them when they're sitting around a campfire.

"If they wanted to hit you, they would," he said. "It's like they just want to see how you'll react. Other times you may get in areas where you're not welcome. If you're close to the little ones — the young Bigfoot — they're going to make sure you leave."

The only time Lee said he became fearful in the woods was during a trip to the Chelsea area in northeastern Oklahoma.

"I saw three groups of Bigfoot going across a field in front of me," he said.

About a year ago in the Chelsea area, the researchers poured a cast of a footprint, 15 inches long and 5 inches wide, that they believe was made by a Bigfoot.

They've photographed other footprints along logging roads in the Kiamichi Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma.

Mountain-area natives and Sasquatch-track followers are familiar with what they say are the creature's distinctive screams and whoops.

Lee said Bigfoot is intelligent and can mimic the sounds of other animals.

"We do hear a lot of owl calls, but you can tell it's not an owl because it's like an 800-pound owl hooting at you," he said.

About five years ago, Lee's group received a report from a man hunting deer in a tree stand in the Kiamichi Mountains. It seems that his pager went off, and after he turned it off, he heard something in the woods mimicking its beep-beep sounds.

"When he turned around, he saw Bigfoot standing there," Lee said. "His words were that it was a 'big something' that he just didn't want no part of."

Perhaps Jane Goodall gives skeptics some pause.

In a 2002 interview with National Public Radio, the primatologist said she believes that the creature could exist. She said she based that assessment on descriptions given to her by American Indians, who reported two sightings and described sounds they'd heard.

Some people have dismissed Bigfoot sightings in Oklahoma as actually black bear sightings. But unlike bears, Lee said, a Bigfoot walks upright exclusively and — at 7 to 8 feet tall — is much taller than a black bear.

"We're not just a bunch of country hicks," said Lee, a network administrator.

Hundreds of people attend the Honobia Bigfoot Festival and Conference each year. This year it will be held Oct. 2-3 and sponsored by the Talihina Chamber of Commerce.

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