|Posted on July 4, 2011 at 2:33 PM|
SKUNK APES: HAIRY HUMANOIDS OF NORTH AMERICA'S SOUTHERN SWAMPS AND ELSEWHERE - PART 1
Not all Bigfoot are the same. Bigfoot tracks have been found with 5 toes and some with 3 toes. The 5 toed tracks are generally associated with the Northwest, but 5-toed tracks are also found in other parts of the country. The 3-toed variety is generally associated with the Southeast. The Skunk Ape of Florida and the infamous Boggy Creek Monster are the 3-toed variety. In Western North Carolina, both 5-toed and 3-toed tracks have been found. So do we have an overlapping of these two types of Bigfoot? The Bigfoot species have been classified into three different races based on physical characteristics and geographic location.
1. Sasquatch: Has 5 toes, brown to black fur and primarily inhabits the Pacific Northwest of North America.
2. Skunk Ape: Has 3 toes, orange to brown fur and generally inhabits the Southeastern United States.
3. Yeti: Has 5 toes, white to gray fur and inhabits the Himalayan Mountains.
According to evolutionary theory, the genetic adaptations in each race may be the result of natural selection theoretically starting when the Sasquatch moved from Asia to North America and adapted darker fur, better blending in with the dense woodland environment. As the species moved across the United States, they adapted a three-toed foot better designed for climbing trees and traveling through marshy areas in the Southeast. It is also reasonable to theorize that the individual species have been unique since the beginning.
The Bigfoot living in the Northeast probably began establishing a solid population base over the last 3,000 years, and it remains the least densely populated by these creatures for several reasons: namely, a high concentration of humans and competition between races for food supply. It's possible there is more diversity in the Bigfoot species, lending to numerous races which are not known at this time.
THE MYSTERIOUS SKUNK APES
Skunk-apes are hairy humanoids sighted in many areas of North America, but especially in swamps, and especially in the South. They are held distinct from Bigfoot by having a different home range (Bigfoot is generally considered as being restricted to the Pacific Northwest) and by having both a different physical appearance and a different set of habits ascribed to them. The Florida variety of skunk-ape is sometimes referred to as the "Florida Sandman." At least two, if not three, distinct varieties of skunk-ape exist in these legends. This is partly because the definition of skunk-ape has varied from one cryptozoologist to the next and because this definition has also evolved over time. Another reason why it is hard to think of the skunk-ape as just one kind of creature is because the creatures in these reports show enough natural variation that it is hard to lump them all together.
The most consistent characteristic ascribed to skunk-apes is the smell. It is generally said that all of them have a rather extreme odor that is nauseating. In other respects, the definition varies. In the past, this horrible odor was the one characteristic used to define a skunk-ape, but today more non-smelly beasts are given the label of "skunk-ape." Some skunk-apes are generally said to look something like Bigfoot, but they tend to be really large, and sometimes have oversized heads that look more monster-like than ape-like. Other creatures labeled as skunk-apes look more like a cross between a dog, a giant monkey, and a kangaroo.
The fur color of skunk-apes is usually dark, with many individuals who are black or deep brown, and there may be a tail. When it exists, this tail is often bushy like the tail of a wolf or fox (thus linking skunk-apes to North American devil monkeys). Some individuals are described as particularly big, up to ten feet tall, but the average height seems to be about six feet. Skunk-ape feet are often described as being different from Bigfoot, especially in terms of the foot shape and the number of toes. Skunk-ape toe numbers are sometimes quite variable, with three-toed footprints often being found. Since, according to evolutionary theory, the number of toes is one of the slowest-changing features as a species evolves, it is not generally thought that a primate could have developed such a foot. This leaves a lot of problems for those who accept evolution, yet hope to prove that skunk-apes with atypical feet are real creatures, because the skunk-apes' feet really ought to better match up to evolutionary biological expectations.
Skunk-apes tend to be very aggressive towards dogs, and are often reported as carnivorous. In any case, they seem to kill a lot of livestock, especially the smaller varieties such as goats and chickens. Every so often, a panic breaks out about the idea that skunk-apes are about to start eating humans, but reports of man-eating are extremely rare and often based on very old legends, so that it cannot be verified that anyone even died, let alone that an unidentified creature killed them.
All too often, skunk-apes seem to exhibit paranormal characteristics as well in these reports, features that make them decidedly unattractive to cryptozoologists who hope to uncover a new species instead of a mere urban legend. They may be described as having glowing red eyes, or they might be bulletproof at close range or have other weird abilities. Like many mythical creatures, they seem to be mysteriously attracted to anyone who has sex in a car in a remote area. Most of them are bipedal, but they show a tendency to drop to all fours and run that way at times.
Some creatures labeled as skunk-apes seem very much like known primates, especially chimps and orangutans. These sightings could represent feral populations that have developed from abandoned pets or lab animals, and this is the interpretation given to skunk-ape reports by some researchers working in the field of cryptozoology. However, mystery hairy humanoids that resemble known primates are more properly known as napes, short for "North American apes."
The Florida variety of skunk-ape is seen most often in swampy areas such as the Everglades. Florida skunk-apes tend to be more physically normal than skunk-apes found elsewhere, so that some researchers define them as a unique type that is much more likely to turn out to be a real species. Some people think that these creatures smell so bad because they spend most of their time in underground dens, curled up with carrion stolen from alligators. It is said that this underground lifestyle is the also the reason why they are rarely sighted and have not yet been captured by scientists.
Since certain types of skunk-apes often sound more like supernatural creatures such as werewolves or hairy ogres from some fairy tale than a legitimate variety of Bigfoot, and even the more normal varieties often suffer from other weird characteristics that seem unlikely from a biological viewpoint, skunk-apes have a credibility problem and they have received less attention and funding in the cryptozoological community than their more respectable cousins in the Pacific Northwest. Some examples of famous skunk-apes include the Honey Island Swamp Monster, the Fouke Monster, Momo, the Myakka Skunk-Ape, the Green Chimp, the Holopaw Gorilla, the Abominable Swamp Slob and the Everglades Ape.
THE FOUKE MONSTER
There's a legend among the hills and lowlands of Miller County Arkansas, a story which has transcended time and ages. It's a story about a monster, a species of Sasquatch (or Bigfoot), which invaded Fouke, Arkansas, a tiny town in the southwestern region of the state, back on the moonlit night of May 1, 1971. Initial sightings of the creature were concentrated in the Jonesville/Boggy Creek area, where it was blamed for the death of local livestock. Later, sightings were made several hundred miles to the north and the east of Fouke. Sightings of the Fouke monster have been reported since the 1940s, according to newspaper articles. In all that time, no one has photographed the creature or captured it. However, for one young couple, the legend came alive. Bigfoot stepped through the realm of "Tall Tales" and into the plains of reality. What transpired that spring night would forever change their lives and put the sleepy little town on the map.
THE CREATURE'S STOMPING GROUNDS
The city of Fouke (Pronounced "FOWK"), Arkansas (pop. 614), is a sleepy farming community that gained its popularity in the 1970's as the home of a Bigfoot-like beast known as "The Fouke Monster". Fouke is located just a few miles southeast of Texarkana in Miller County, an area of pine forests and swampland...the kind of area into which you could imagine a creature would easily be able to hide, even from the rural farmers who inhabit the county. [Note: To find Fouke, take US-71 southwest out of Texarkana for approximately 15 miles.] There, in 1946, the first sighting of the monster was reported. At the time, the beast was known as the Jonesville Monster, because most sightings took place around the Jonesville area. Early descriptions of the creature use words such as "apelike." After that, rumors of a large hairy hominid wandering around the swampy areas of Miller county cropped up occasionally, fueled by the occasional sighting. Today, the town is listed on the Internet as one of the top 10 places in the world to look for bigfoot, the name associated with creatures similar to the Fouke monster, Rickie Roberts, Fouke's unofficial monster spokesman, said, "We get people in here every day" looking for the monster. "We had a guy save his money for two years to come down from Indiana..."
THE MONSTER'S APPEARANCE
The creature was given its current name of the "Fouke Monster" by journalist Jim Powell, who reported on it for the Texarkana Gazette and the Texarkana Daily News.
Earlier reports of the creature, made between 1971 and 1974, described the creature as being large (estimated to be about 7 feet (2.1 m) tall with a weight of 250-300 pounds), hominid-like, and covered in long dark hair. Witnesses said that its chest was about 3 feet (0.91 m) wide. Later reports, published during the early 1980s, claimed that it was far larger, with one report describing it as 10 feet (3.0 m) tall, with an estimated weight of 800 pounds and with red, brown, black or black-gray hair covering its body.
Some accounts describe the Fouke Monster as running in a 'hunched/slouched' posture and swinging its arms in a fashion similar to an ape. Reports also describe it as having a terrible odor and as having bright red eyes, about the size of silver dollars and with red, brown, black or black-gray hair covering its body. The monster is said to kill chickens, cattle, dogs and livestock, but so far it hasn't killed any people.
Rickie Roberts, Fouke's unofficial monster spokesman, who sells monster T-shirts, caps and bumper stickers at his store, said he has never seen the animal, which he speculates might be a "swamp ape," and he wouldn't admit it if he had. "I wouldn't say a word," he said. "People'd think you're crazy." However, he went on to say he has heard an eerie howl, possibly from the monster, that almost defies description."
"I've heard it twice. It's a different sound. I don't know what you would call it," he said. "It'd be a sound like a cross between a cow bellow and a panther screaming." Roberts went on to say, "The monster has never harmed anyone, although it may have caused a few heart-pounding frights....this thing has never attacked anyone."
FAUKE MONSTER TRACKS
In June 1971, something left hundreds of tracks in a bean field, and they were very strange tracks. They measured 13 1/2 inches long, 4 1/2 inches wide at the ball, 3 1/4 inches at the heel, with a very high instep and only three toes.
Smokey Crabtree, James Lynn's father, had this to say in his book Smokey and the Fouke Monster :
"Where the sand was one half inch deep or so there was a narrow outer part of the foot touching down, connecting the heel to the front part with a one-inch wide or so strip. Where the dirt was soft there was a full track and very plain ones. They were so plain you could see the imprint of the lines on the bottom of the bare feet. There were only three toes and there wasn't that much difference between the size of the first toe and the third toe. There was no place for other toes. It was not like his little toes had burned off in a fire or frozen off. His foot was designed for three toes only. Stride measured as much as 57 inches from heel to toe and as little as 26 inches. There was a small toe or thumb about five inches back from the big toe which did not seem to have any bone in it, leaving only a shallow mark in every track where it showed. The tracks wandered aimlessly in a loop, covering several hundred yards and returning to the woods exactly where they entered the field. The creature had avoided stepping on the bean sprouts."
He estimated its weight at 300 pounds. A trapper, hunter and tracker since childhood, Smokey Crabtree terms those tracks "a surprise of my life." Casts of the tracks can be seen at Willie Smith's service station in Fouke (although the original casting was destroyed in a fire), and also a track itself, lifted in a slab of dirt and preserved in a box. Critical observers who have seen the track castings and spent several hours talking to Smokey Crabtree, have been satisfied that the tracks, and the animal, are genuine. The movie made at Fouke, The Legend of Boggy Creek, may contain fictional episodes, but there is a Fouke Monster.
The conclusion that there are indeed giant hairy bipeds living in the Sulphur River bottoms in Arkansas creates no problems. It has every appearance of being a suitable place for them. The conclusion that a three-toed track is genuine is quite a different matter. I got involved in this business in the first place by concluding that the "Bigfoot" tracks in California were genuine. That may seem to be no great thing when you read it over quickly, but it involves accepting the idea that mankind shares North America with some other kind of upright primate that despite its giant size has remained undiscovered; and that is a concept so unacceptable that nearly 20 years of effort have been insufficient to persuade the scientific world to so much as look into it.
Yet five-toed footprints in themselves are quite ordinary. They mirror just the sort of foot that an extremely-heavy, bipedal primate would be expected to evolve. Three toes are alright for a bird or a dinosaur and not entirely unknown for a mammal. Higher primates, however, all have five toes, and the thing described at Fouke has to be a higher primate. The oldest reference to three toes I know of is in a work of fiction. In The Hell Bent Kid, published in 1957, New York author Charles O. Locke puts in the mouth of an old Texan the following words: "If we leave her down here they are feared at home she might marry the first three-toed bush ape who comes along." Efforts to learn where the late Mr. Locke picked up the term have so far come up empty.
According to evolutionary theory, it is entirely unacceptable to assume that there is not one unknown giant bipedal primate, but two, one of which has evolved (for no apparent reason) a very unprimate-like foot; but it isn't much better to have to assume that there are three-toed individuals in a five-toed population. It seems it is the tracks at Fouke that establish that the problem has to be faced.
For a time, the only evidence of the creature was the plaster cast taken from a local soybean field. But the cast was destroyed in a service station fire in the late 1970s, Roberts said. "That was the only real proof you'd have around here" that the monster exists, he said. [Note: In 2001, the track previously examined by anthropologist Dr. Grover Krantz of WSU and archaeologist Dr. Frank Shamback at SAU back in the 1970's, determined to be a misidentification was re-examined by track experts who said that Fouke track was of gator origins, crocodilian in nature and not that of a hairy bipedal hominoid.]
Since then, however, a variety of tracks and claw marks have been discovered which are claimed to belong to the creature. One set of foot prints reportedly measured 17 inches (430 mm) in length and 7 inches (180 mm) wide, while another appeared to show again that the creature only had three toes.
ENCOUNTERS IN THE PRE-1970'S
Although most cases date from the early 1970s onwards, sightings of the Fouke Monster have been recorded since the 1940's and before. The earliest account was supposedly written for The Memphis Enquirer on May 9, 1851. It's existence has yet to be verified, but it allegedly recounts how a man from Greene County was out hunting with a friend when they were stopped dead in their tracks by a herd of cows in "apparent alarm." They soon learned what had been frightening the cows so. The two witnessed a large animal "Bearing the unmistakable likeness of humanity," pursuing the cattle. This "Wildman" as he was called, resembled the accounts of Bigfoot we hear today, with long hair covering its body from head to foot. Thirteen-inch-long footprints were later found where the creature had been running.
Fouke residents claim that an apelike creature had roamed the area since 1964, but that sightings had not been reported to news services. Local legend also holds that the creature can be further traced back to sightings in 1946. Most early sightings were in the region of Jonesville. Owing to this, the creature was known as the "Jonesville Monster" during this period.
Strange things started to happen near Fouke, Arkansas in 1965. Fourteen-year-old James Lynn Crabtree encountered a strange animal while squirrel hunting. He first heard horses running, and heard them plunge into the lake near his home. Then he heard a sound like a dog hollering in pain. He ran towards the noise, but as he got nearer it changed to a different sound. Approaching cautiously he saw a hairy animal with its back to him, watching the horses in the lake and acting quite agitated about them. The animal was seven or eight feet high and had reddish-brown hair about four inches long all over its body. It stood upright like a man, but had extra-long arms. Turning, the creature saw the boy and stopped to look at him. Its face was covered with hair, showing only a flat, dark-brown nose. The creature stretched, sniffing the air, and then started walking towards the boy, who shot it in the face with his shotgun, three times. The thing kept coming and the boy ran. He said it showed no sign of being hurt by the light 20-gauge loads. That was the first report that attracted attention to what has since been tagged the "Fouke Monster," but it turned out that it had been seen at least three times previously, and within a month another 14-year old boy saw it and shot at it while deer hunting. The following year it was seen by a lady hunter during a deer drive and then a school bus driver saw it cross the road. It was heard screaming in the woods far more often than it was seen.
ENCOUNTERS IN THE 1970'S
Then, in 1971, Jim Powell, a reporter for the Texarkana Gazette and the Texarkana Daily News, and Dave Hall, a director of a local Texarkana radio station KTFS, were dispatched to a rural home to cover a series of strange events.
When Powell and Hall arrived, they found Bobby Ford, his wife Elizabeth, and his brother Don packing their things as quickly as they could to move out of a house that they had lived in barely a week. The hair-raising story that they told, that of being stalked by a large, bear-like beast, would capture the nation's imagination. According to the couple, they first heard the creature moving around outside their house several days before. But since they were new to the house, they dismissed the sound.
"It first started Wednesday (April 28) when our wives heard something walking around on the porch. Then Friday night about midnight the thing tried to break into the house again. Last night (shortly before midnight Saturday) it tried to get in again," Don Ford said.
As the waters of Boggy Creek flowed gently into the sulphur river bottoms nearby, Elizabeth Ford lay sleeping on the couch in the front room of her frame house. Suddenly, "I saw the curtain moving on the front window and a hand sticking through the window. At first I thought it was a bear's paw but it didn't look like that. It had heavy hair all over it and it had claws. I could see its eyes. They looked like coals of fire ... real red," she said. "It didn't make any noise, except you could hear it breathing."
Elizabeth Ford began screaming, which sent her husband, Bobby, 25, flying into the living room. Bobby Ford's brother Don and a friend, Charles Taylor, were just returning from a hunting trip. Bobby ran and got his rifle and apprehensively went outside to find what had so frightened his wife. He got there just in time to catch a glimpse of what he described as a 7-foot-tall creature about three feet wide across the chest walking away from the window. "At first I thought it was a bear, but it runs upright and moves real fast," he said.
Don Ford said they spotted the creature in back of the house with the aid of a flashlight. "We shot several times at it and then called Ernest Walraven, constable of Fouke. He brought us another shotgun and a stronger light. We waited on the porch and then saw the thing closer to the house. Bobby, his brother Don, and Charles Taylor saw the creature several times shortly after midnight and shot at it seven times with a shotgun. They assumed that they hit it, because it fell once. We shot again and thought we saw it fall. Bobby, Charles and myself started walking to where we saw it fall," he said.
About that time, according to Bobby Ford, something kicked in the back door of the house, and the women in the house began screaming. Once again, the creature was seen behind the house, and once more the men chased after it. As Bobby was returning to his house after chasing the creature, someone, or something lunged at him from the shadows that played upon his property. The next thing he knew his rifle was knocked from his hands and he had a stinging pain in his arm and side. Bobby ran frantically back toward the house, not even stopping to first open the screen door. He simply ran right through it. Mrs. Ford said she'd "Never seen anyone so scared." He was "Raving like a madman."
"I was walking the rungs of a ladder to get up on the porch when the thing grabbed me. I felt a hairy arm come over my shoulder and the next thing I knew we were on the ground. The only thing I could think about was to get out of there. The thing was breathing real hard and his eyes were about the size of a half dollar and real red. I finally broke away and ran around the house and through the front door. I was moving so fast I didn't stop to open the door. I just ran through it. I don't know where he (the creature) went," Bobby Ford said.
"We heard Bobby shouting and by the time we got there everything was over. We didn't see a thing," Don Ford said.
With all the courage she could muster, Elizabeth Ford took hold of her husband and led him outside to the car as quickly as she could. They drove straight to the home of Constable Ernest Walraven. It was obvious to him that Mr. and Mrs. Ford had experienced something that scared them beyond their wits. Elizabeth was trembling and Bobby was rambling on and on about this monster that attacked him.
Officer Walraven could make no sense of anything Bobby was saying, but judging by the look of things, he immediately took the couple to St. Michael Hospital in nearby Texarkana, where Bobby Ford was treated for symptoms of shock, and the injuries to his side and scratches were tended to.
Walraven said he was called to the scene about 12:35 a.m. (Sunday, May 2) and searched the area without finding anything. "I looked through the surrounding fields and woods for about an hour. Then, I gave them my shotgun and light. A short time later they called back and told me they had shot at it again. I went back and stayed until 5 a.m."
Elizabeth and Bobby Ford, too frightened to return home, ended up spending the remainder of the night with Constable Walraven. The next morning, at the break of dawn, Mr. and Mrs. Ford, with Officer Walraven beside them, returned to their home alongside Boggy Creek. Bobby proceeded to show the officer where the attack had occurred, but the rains from the night before hampered any chances they may have had for finding anything. Authorities searched the area, but they found no blood. All that remained on Sunday morning at the Ford house were several strange tracks—that appeared to be left by something with three toes—and several scratch marks on the front porch that appeared to have been made by something with three claws. Several pieces of tin nailed around the bottom of the house had been ripped away and another window had been damaged by the creature, according to Ford.
Elizabeth and Bobby Ford had only moved into the house 5 days before the incident. Now they agreed that it would be impossible for them to stay in a place where they lived in constant fear. So the couple packed up everything they owned. They would never again spend another night in that house.
"I'm not staying here anymore unless they kill that thing, Patricia Ford said.
As for Bobby Ford, he said, "I've had it here. I'm going back to Ashdown."
However, Don Ford said, "We plan to stay here tonight and see if we can get the thing if it returns."
Walraven said several years ago residents of the Jonesville Community near Fouke reported seeing a "hairy monster" in the area.
"Several persons saw the thing and shot at it, some from close range. They said nothing seemed to stop it. They described it as being about seven feet tall and looking just like a naked man covered with brown hair," Walraven said.
The next day, the Texarkana Daily News and the Texarkana Gazette both published the same follow-up story indicating sentiment was shifting away from the monster theory and towards another, less abominable, wild thing. The Gazette played the short story on its front page. Its headline read: "Fouke fields combed in search of monster."
The Daily News played the story inside. Its headline read: "Monster may be mountain lion." The story itself contained the first published reference to the Fouke Monster.
The text reads, in part:
"We think now it might have been a big cat, like a mountain lion or puma," Don Ford said Monday while sitting on his porch watching people wander through his fields looking for a trace of the "Fouke Monster."
After a few paragraphs of background information, a few more new bits of information emerge:
The people said they had been living in the house for five days and had heard something around the house on Wednesday and Friday nights. "It is always around midnight every time," Mrs. Ford said.
The family said about 100 persons had been to the house Monday looking under the porch and in the fields. "I work nights and haven't been able to get any sleep today," Don Ford said.
Several more sightings, along with more three-toed tracks, followed. Within a month, a local archeologist asserted that the description of the monster, the three-toed-tracks, and the creature's behavior were all abnormal for a primate, and therefore the sightings had to have been a hoax.
Miller County Sheriff's Department officers said a search of the area where the mysterious creature was spotted near Fouke early Sunday failed to reveal a clue.
"Members of my department searched the area but didn't find a thing. I don't know what it could have been," Sheriff Leslie Greer said.
Greer, who was the Miller County Sheriff from 1967 to 1974, said he first heard of the monster as early as 1946.
There were other reported monster attacks, but most turned out to be hoaxes. More worrisome was the fear that would-be monster hunters would harm some innocent person.
"There was a group who were going to get together a hunting party, and I told them it would be all right to come and look, but they couldn't trespass and they weren't allowed to carry any guns," Greer said. "It hadn't hurt anything and they didn't need to be carrying guns." Trespassing did create some hurt feelings, though.
Word soon got out that Willie E. Smith, a local service station owner, found three-toed tracks in his soybean field and made a mold of the prints. He made souvenirs from the mold and sold them to monster enthusiasts. The original mold of the print stayed in the service station until it was destroyed by fire.
Greer said he took the local game warden to the bean field, but neither he nor the game warden, Carl Galyon, had ever seen animal tracks like those in the field and couldn't say the tracks were authentic.
Interest eventually began to wane, but the coming of the movie The Legend of Boggy Creek three years later refueled the story, bringing all the activity back to town. Powell covered that story, too.
Whether or not the Fouke monster exists—or ever existed—is the million-dollar question everyone in this small town ponder.
"I haven't seen it, but a lot of people have and some of them are very credible," Roberts said. "I believe them."
Fouke Mayor Cecil Smith also has ambivalent feelings about the monster, and although he has seen the movie that scared millions, his only comment was that he thought the scenery was pretty.
"I used to coon hunt down there," he said. "People would ask me if I was scared. But I never felt like anything that big could maneuver around. Some believe it strong, and some don't."
But for Powell, the veracity of the story is no longer as significant as its longevity. His primary satisfaction comes from the lasting interest in the story itself—a living tale that endures, like the Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
"At the time, it was a good story," he said. "I've had a lot of fun with it through the years. I've gotten to talk to people from all over North America, and get their views on the story. We don't have a lot of legends here, and it is interesting to be a part of that legend."
And every time Powell logs onto a Bigfoot site on the Internet, he is reminded of his contribution to the lore and legends that are kept alive there. He named the Fouke Monster.
The attack on Bobby Ford back in 1971 was only the beginning of what would soon become a nationwide outbreak of Bigfoot sightings. Perhaps it's because one man had the courage to step forward with his story of 'monsters in the woods', putting aside any personal cares as to how the so-called "normal" population would perceive him. It would light the way for the others who would step forward after him.
OTHER ENCOUNTERS IN THE 1970'S
The creature was spotted again on May 23, 1971 when three people, D. Woods, Wilma Woods, and Mrs. R Sedgass, reported seeing an ape-like creature crossing Highway 71. More sightings were made over the following months by local residents and tourists, who found additional footprints. The best known footprints were found in a soybean field belonging to local gas station owner Willie E. Smith. They were scrutinized by game warden Carl Galyon, who was unable to confirm their authenticity. Like the Ford prints, they appeared to indicate that the creature had only three toes.
The creature began to attract substantial interest during the early 1970s. Soon after news spread about the Ford sighting, the Little Rock radio station KAAY posted a $1,090 bounty on the creature. Several attempts were made to track the creature with dogs, but they were unable to follow its scent. When hunters began to take interest in the Fouke Monster, Miller County Sheriff Leslie Greer was forced to put a temporary "no guns" policy in place in order to preserve public safety. In 1971, three people were fined $59 each "for filing a fraudulent monster report."
After an initial surge of attention, public interest in the creature decreased until 1973. It was boosted significantly when Charles B. Pierce released a documentary-style horror feature on the creature. By late 1974 interest had waned again and sightings all but stopped, only to begin again in March 1978, when tracks were reportedly found by two brothers prospecting in Russellville, and there were sightings in Center Ridge, both approximately 4-1/4 hours drive northeast of Fouke. There was also a reported sighting in Crossett, 4 hours drive east of Fouke, on June 26 that year. During this period the creature was blamed for missing livestock and attacks on several dogs.
Since that famed night when 'Bobby Ford' was accosted by the creature, there have been many sightings of Bigfoot in and around the Fouke area. Three weeks after the 'Ford attack', a couple from Texarkana was driving home when they saw a large hairy creature run across the road in front of them.
Mr. and Mrs. D.C. Woods Jr., and Mrs. R. H. Sedgass, all of Texarkana, who were returning from Shreveport said the creature crossed the highway in front of their automobile.
"It was hunched over and running upright. It had long dark hair and looked real large. It didn't look too tall, but I guess that's because it was bent over. It was swinging its arms kind of like a monkey does.
"I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me," said Mrs. Wilma Woods, "but there it was. My husband turned to me after it crossed the road and asked me if I saw it too."
Mrs. Woods said when the creature started across the highway, "We were just awed. It was just unbelievable what we saw. I had been reading about the thing but thought it was just a hoax. Now I know it's true. It wasn't a bear," she said.
Woods said when he first noticed the creature he thought he was going to hit it. "It was really moving fast across the highway ... faster than a man. I thought we were going to hit it. The thing didn't act like it even noticed us. It didn't look at the car."
He went on to say, "It looked like a giant monkey in a way. It had dark long hair and I would guess it would weigh well over 200 pounds."
Mrs. Sedgass, who was riding in the back seat of the Woods automobile said, "I heard them say they saw the thing and glanced up. All I saw was a large shadow as it entered the woods to our right. I don't know what it was, but it was something big. Some people don't think there is anything to it (the monster) but I do."
Other stories were written in the ensuing days, yet the "big monkey" speculation never completely died. In a Wednesday, June 16, 1971, story written by Texarkana Gazette staff writer Barry Powell under the headline "He's been sighted again: Monster—a monkey's uncle," this theory raised its ape-like head again.
In 1977 a Miller County farmer went to check on his pigs and found more than he bargained for. Several of the pigs lay dead before him, their bodies ripped and torn open. Up, over, and away from the pigs' pen yet another pig was found, as if picked up and carried to the spot. It too was dead.
Also in 1977, a man squirrel hunting along the Saline River had the sensation he was being watched from the woods that enveloped him. He had seen some pigs in the area but knew it wasn't them. At one point, after he ventured further into some thicker terrain, something began following him. It would step when he'd step, stop when he stopped, and otherwise mimic his movements. Although he never saw it, he could feel it was there. It made him feel uneasy so he decided to head back to his vehicle. Once he passed the main thicket, the footsteps ceased. The very next time he went hunting the same thing happened. He hasn't gone back since.
ENCOUNTERS IN THE 1980'S
The saddest of all stories happened to a Greene County man on June 17, 1989. He went looking for his dog "Skipper," whom he'd heard whimpering in the woods. He climbed a hill that overlooked a meadow, the location of his dogs cries. He found Skipper, strung across the shoulders of a tall hairy creature weighing around 550 pounds and walking on two legs. For this man, nobody could convince him that what took and killed his dog was "Just a bear."
ENCOUNTERS IN THE 1990'S
Since the initial clusters of sightings during the 1970s, there have been sporadic reports of the creature. In 1991 the creature was reportedly seen jumping from a bridge.
"There were 40-some sightings last year (1997)," said Rickie Roberts, Fouke's unofficial monster spokesman. "There were 22 sightings in one day....There's even one guy who swears there's a family [of monsters] who live behind his house."
Ten miles south of Texarkana on September 17, 1997, a man was outside working on his car and tending to the lawn. At around 6 PM he had a strange and overpowering feeling that he was being watched. He began looking around his property, and that's when he noticed something moving in a nearby brush. As he moved closer to the surrounding woods, the image of a 7-foot-tall, dark-brown-bodied creature stood before him. For a time the two forms stood motionless as they watched each other. Then he ran back to the house to retrieve his pistol. When he returned, the creature wasn't in sight. He slowly made his way to the woods again and there, 200 feet away from him and 30 feet from where he'd first seen it, the creature sat on the ground. A half hour later, after darkness had begun to fall on their property, his wife returned home to find her husband sitting in the yard with a gun and flashlight in hand. He had sat there waiting for his wife to return, so he could make sure she got inside safely. Due to the darkness the man wasn't sure when the creature had gotten away. But he's certain he'll never forget the blackened face that looked into his own, and the eyes which seemed to hold no trace of white in them.
This wouldn't be the only time a mysterious beast would visit their property. On an October evening, the wife went to feed the pig which they'd housed in a secure pen with 4 foot tall sides. She'd only been back inside the house for a few minutes when their dogs began to bark. She ran outside to see what they were barking at and that's when she found her pig missing from its pen, the door to it in just the shape she'd left it 5 minutes before...closed. The only way for it to have gotten out was for someone to have reached over the 4 foot high sides and picked her up. Wanting to find their pig, she tried to get her dog to go and track it, but the dog refused to go any further than their barn. Once there, the dog would "Start whining and run back toward the house with his tail between his legs."
The couple's 50 acres of land seem to be home to this legendary creature. There was a third incident on the moonlit night of Feb. 2, 1999 while the couple sat watching from their second story window for the wild hogs to pass by. The hogs often frequented their land and on this particular night they had planned to shoot one.
As they watched, the silhouettes of the animals began to form in the distance and they could start to hear them as they approached. Suddenly, a strange sound invaded the air from the right and they listened as there came an answer directly behind the pigs. "It sounded like a whistle that turned into a gibberish type noise. Then the hogs started to scream and run for the tree line. Then there was a blood curdling scream. I could tell by the sound that one of the hogs was being slaughtered. It was followed by loud shriekish screams and howls with this gibberish sound mixed in. I have never heard anything quite like this before."
Whatever it was that got the wild pig that winter night, it made a lasting impression on the couple. "It made the hair stand up on the back of my neck," he said. For the next 5 minutes these heart pounding sounds would continue, and at the same time they reported hearing every dog within a few miles of them "Going nuts."
Just as daylight broke, they went to the field to see what they could find. No trace of the butchered pig was found, only a 4 foot wide area of flattened land drenched in blood, the apparent table of whatever had snatched the poor animal. Whatever it was, it's strength had to be tremendous, because the wild pigs that routinely crossed their land ranged in size from about 75 to 600 pounds. A puddle of blood was all that remained to give evidence of a killing the night before. Since no body was ever found, it had to have been picked up and carried off to another location. If it had been dragged, they would have surely seen the trail of blood leading away from the area.
On July 17, 1998 a family saw the monster walking along a dry creek bed about five miles south of town.
That same month, on the eleventh, a woman in the Jonesville area, near Fouke, was baby-sitting her sisters kids. Around 9 AM, while the heat wasn't too unbearable, she took the kids for a walk down the road, to an area where some timber had recently been cut down and cleared away. As they reached the clear cut area and were proceeding to walk towards the back of it, something caught the woman's eye.
Standing there just off to the right edge of the woods, was what the woman described as a 6 1/2 foot tall, brown colored creature. It just stood there watching them, as if it were curious. She quickly made up an excuse and calmly told the kids they needed to head back before it got much hotter. She didn't want them alarmed by what lay ahead. "It was the longest walk I have ever had to take," she said. "I was scared to death and was so afraid that thing was going to come after us, but it never did."
As recently as December 1, 1998, The Fouke Monster was continuing to make headlines in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The locals have never stopped seeing "something" in the woods and swamps that inhabit Miller County.
A member of the band "Brave Combo" said, "I think I saw a Bigfoot once. It was on a small lonely highway between Texarkana and Shreveport. In that area they call it the Fouke Monster, named after Fouke, a swampy little town in southwest Arkansas. I was with my cousin, driving her Volkswagen Beetle. We were wide awake and there it was, walking swiftly along the road."
SIGHTINGS IN GENERAL
With every sighting of Bigfoot, certain elements seem to coincide with each other. The creature is often seen at night, usually in and around heavily wooded areas and swamps, it usually has a smell associated with it that witnesses have described as being the cross between the odor of a skunk and wet dog. Descriptions of the beast often refer to it as having red or glowing eyes with no apparent white in them. It's often "felt" before it's seen and has a tendency to stare right at you without the apparent threat of having to hurry away. Lastly, it's more often associated with the killings and disappearances of pigs, dogs, rabbits, and the occasional deer or cow. For some reason, pigs tend to be the most pursued prey for this elusive creature. Very often pigs go missing or have been slaughtered wherever the threat of Bigfoot lies.
Toby Giles, Miller County's chief sheriff's deputy, said there haven't been any reported sightings in the past few years, but "we do [have one] every once in a while." The sheriff's office used to receive a few reported sightings when he joined the department about 14 years ago, Giles said. "But nothing was ever confirmed. It's still a well-talked-about subject." Of course, the town plays up its connection with the monster. Down the road from Monster Mart, a visitor can poke his head through a hole in a metal silhouette and have his photo taken as the monster.
Miller County Sheriff Leslie Greer said a sighting of a creature on a gravel road two miles south of Fouke led officers to believe the creature is a member of the ape family—maybe even a "monkey's uncle." Sheriff Greer said he believes the creature sighted is the same creature that has been seen several times in the Fouke area since the first monster incident May 1. He said Al Williams and A. L. Tipton, both residents of the rural community, spotted the creature as it "slouched" across the road in front of the car early Tuesday. Greer said the two men told officers they were close enough to see that the creature was either a small ape or a large monkey. "It appeared to be about three or four feet tall as it crouched over and walked across the road," Tipton told officers.
Williams and Tipton were traveling a gravel road about one-fourth of a mile from the soybean field where officers investigated the discovery of strange animal tracks in the field.
Sheriff Greer said he believes the creature spotted Tuesday morning fits the various general descriptions of creatures spotted in the Fouke area since the creature allegedly attacked a resident May 1. Since that sighting, residents of the Fouke area have been reporting "strange noises" and several have seen creatures and described them as being "seven feet tall, with hair all over and real red eyes."
Sightings of the creature have been reported in the Southwest area of Texarkana, mostly in wooded areas on Oats street. Tracks of a strange animal were reportedly found in a vacant part of the fertilizer plant near the intersection of Oats Street and Dudley Avenue.
Sheriff Greer said he and several deputies, along with several residents of the area of Fouke where the creature was spotted Tuesday, attempted to set dogs on the trail of the creature.
"The dogs refused to follow the trail," Willie Smith of Fouke, said Tuesday.
Smith, owner of the soybean field where tracks were found Monday, said the dogs could not follow the trail because "It was too hot and the woods are too dry to hold a scent."
Sheriff Greer said another attempt to locate the creature and capture it will be made "if the weather cools off and it rains." Greer said the dogs would be able to follow the trail of the creature if the ground holds some moisture so that the scent of the trail can be followed.
"Evidently the creature is harmless, unless cornered," Sheriff Greer said. "We certainly don't want anyone to shoot the creature, since it does appear to be harmless. We'll try and track it again, and probably shoot it with a tranquilizer gun to capture it." The sheriff said he feels certain the creature would remain in that area of the county.
The Tuesday sighting of the creature was the second sighting of an ape-like creature in the area since the tracks were found Monday. Sheriff Greer said several women and children who had traveled to the area to look at the prints in the soybean field reported seeing the ape-like creature on Monday.
"I feel like this creature that was seen Tuesday is the same creature that has been reported seen in this area since early May," Sheriff Greer said.