Sunday, April 05, 2020

Fortean Feature: The Return of the Okeechobee Ogre


A Florida couple describes their encounter with a large hairy hominid, known as the 'Okeechobee Ogre'


By David Hoes - A Florida couple from Palmdale just reported their recent sighting of a large hairy bigfoot-like creature. They spotted the creature while they were camping along Fisheating Creek close to Lakeport, Florida. They were camping near some Indian Mounds, not far from the site of Fort Center, an area that saw heavy fighting during the Second Seminole War. Lakeport is a small retirement and fishing community on the west side of Lake Okeechobee. The mounds are considered a sacred site for Native Americans and contain artifacts along with human remains. There is a small artificial lake among the mounds that is believed to have been a channel pond for human corpses.

This couple reported hearing and then seeing a large hairy beast outside their tent in the middle of the night. The next morning, they found the carcass of a partially eaten deer nearby. They also found some long reddish-brown hairs on a branch.

Although it has now been mostly forgotten, back in the late 1990s, the Lakeport area was the epicenter a wave of skunk ape sightings.


The first sighting, which wasn't widely reported, happened early one morning in 1995 or 1996., Two hunters and their dogs were travelling by boat down Fisheating Creek, intending to hunt on ranch land that border both sides of the creek. They were hunting without illegally, so they were trying to sneak in and out without being seen.

As they traveled down the creek in their boat they heard something on shore and then caught a bad scent. Thinking it might be wild hogs, the hunters steered the boat to shore and the hunter up front prepared to jump out. However, his dogs refused to leave the boat.


The hunter finally jumped on shore and his flashlight shone on a large creature covered in dark hair that was standing on its hind legs. The hunter immediately jumped back in the boat and the other hunter threw the boat into reverse and headed back out into deeper water. They could hear the creature trying to follow them. According to the hunters, "That it wasn't no bear"

The first widely reported sighting was on November 2, 1997. Fishing guide Ronald Mosley was taking a young couple on an airboat tour when the woman saw what she described as someone in an ape suit. Neither Mosley nor her husband saw the creature, which disappeared into the woods.

Although the woman's claim was not taken seriously, two local fishermen had a sighting a few weeks later. Brian Hammock claimed that he and a companion saw a creature emerge from an alligator hole on the bank. The creature was reported as being hairy and about 6 or 7 foot tall. It left the water and disappeared into the sawgrass. Brian reported going to the area after his sighting and seeing tracks and noticing a "god awful" smell.


By the summer of 1998, there had been quite a few more sightings of what came to be known as "The Okeechobee Ogre." Locals were selling memorabilia and guides were taking visitors on skunk ape tours. There was even an Ogre webcam. According to Fish Camp owner Jim Smith, his camp was "Skunk Ape Central". Smith had several sightings of the creature and made several plaster casts of his prints.

According to Smith the creature is about 7 feet tall and has a horrible smell. Smith claimed to be leaving fish guts out for the creature to eat.

Over time, sightings dropped off. The webcam was taken down; the t-shirts stopped selling. The creature disappeared. Until now.

Sources:
Interview with anonymous couple

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