by Brian Woods
Recently, I spent time with two fellow Bigfoot Researchers, Jeff Stephani and Mary Hovind, near the Mark Twain National Forest in southeastern Missouri. From March 25-28, 2019, we conducted day and night research on both private and public property south of Salem, MO. The following is an account of notable events that occurred in that time, as well as a few photographs and an audio file link.
CABIN AT SINKING CREEK
South of Salem, MO
2:00 PM - After we had all arrived at our rented cabin near Sinking Creek, Jeff and I drove down Highway 19 to Logger’s Lake, within Mark Twain National Forest. Our drive took us through a portion of the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry. Roads are gravel, and the landscape is heavily forested. Logger's Lake is tucked away and insulated by several hills, and is quite serene and quiet. Jeff and I decided the lake would be a great place to return to at night, which we did after dinner.
Shannon County, MO
9:00 PM - Mary, Jeff, and I arrived at Logger’s Lake and parked. I started a new audio file, and the three of us walked closer to the water. It was 9 PM, 37°. The area was teeming with different frogs, barred owls, and various birds. Occasionally, we would hear light splashes in the lake, but these were likely either frogs leaping into the water, or fish. We hadn't been there very long before each of us became fixated on the dark hill on the other side of the lake. At different locations on the hill, we would see tiny points of red or white light flash for a second, and then disappear. Although there were many visible stars, the points of light were among the trees on the middle of the hill, and were not stars peeking through from the sky. There were also no other sources of light, and there were no fireflies. In the photo of the lake, these pinpoints of light were seen on the hill directly across the water. Jeff used his small bat to make a few knocks on a nearby tree, but no responses were heard. Occasionally, I would use my owl call, and would get a distant response from the area barred owls. Mary sat in Jeff's car for several minutes to warm up, and during this time, Jeff and I heard shuffling movements that we assumed was Mary. She also later mentioned that she thought one of us had been walking near the car. We hadn't left our positions by the lake, so the source of the shuffling sounds are unknown. Audio review of this time period did not provide additional explanation. After spending approximately two hours at Loggers Lake, we left the area. The remainder of the night was spent on the deck of the cabin, until turning in at approximately 2 AM.
Daylight hours on Tuesday were spent in several areas, as we scouted potential spots to return to after dark.
DEVIL'S WELL Ozark National Scenic Riverways Shannon County, MO 1:30 PM - Jeff, Mary, and I first drove to a sinkhole cave referred to as Devil's Well. We immediately noticed that a large portion of the park had been subject to a controlled burn, most likely sometime last summer.
The burn has left the tall, mature trees in place, but has completely eradicated any brush and smaller plants. This leaves a very stark, yet beautiful scene. The purpose of our visit was to day scout areas to return to at night, so our impression of Devil's Well was that the controlled burn had removed any sort of natural ground cover that might embolden a sasquatch to approach us at night. Also, except for birds, there was no evidence of deer tracks or any obvious animal activity. With no obvious food source and hardly any cover for a sasquatch to utilize, we opted to leave Devil's Well and proceed down Highway 19 to Current River State Park. CURRENT RIVER STATE PARK Shannon County, MO 2:40 PM - We arrived and found a place to park. We began walking down a park trail, and soon found ourselves in a clear-cut area for power lines.
It has long been theorized among Bigfoot enthusiasts that clear-cut areas might be used by sasquatches as travel routes, with the added convenience of trees on either side to serve as quick concealment whenever necessary.
On the trail, we noticed a few piles of horse scat, which reminded us that in this area, there are wild horses that frequent the trails. We didn't see any wild horses, but hypothesized the interesting dynamic that might occur between them and local sasquatch. Read more about these wild horses, and their history HERE. While Mary and Jeff continued on the trail, I enjoyed several minutes of warm sunshine on a group of rocks. ECHO BLUFF STATE PARK Shannon County, MO 4:15 PM - This State Park was opened to the public in July 2016. Everything is very new and well-tended. The park offers lodging in the form of open campsites, and modern, recently built cabins and a lodge with amenities. The park had many visitors and vehicles cruising around. Echo Bluff State Park, while beautiful and well marked, has the potential to be less than ideal for night ops. The defining factors would be the level of traffic, campers, and night accessibility. Taking this into consideration, we left the park and returned down the highway toward our cabin.
RETURN TO LOGGER'S LAKE
9:00 PM - Our first stop was a return to Logger's Lake. For this visit, Jeff remained close to the lake, while Mary and I walked on a trail heading toward a closed primitive camping area. The campsites overlook the lake, and have access to a land bridge that borders one end of the water. At various moments during the hike, Mary and I heard shuffling among the trees and bushes. Our preference is usually to resist turning on our headlamps over every little thing, but it became necessary to illuminate the path. We were not able to determine the source of the movement, but we continued to hear it occasionally. We concluded our hike, and returned to Jeff's location.
11:40 PM - Mary and I decided to walk the private gravel road that runs along Sinking Creek, and is near the cabin. At 11:50 PM, the temperature was 32°. As we approached a cluster of thick bushes, we evidently spooked a larger sounding animal, and we heard sudden shuffling and movement as the animal retreated away from us. We could only hear the movements as the animal retreated, but the animal seemed to stop a short distance away. Not a typical retreat that deer usually take, it was evident that whatever it was, it was still nearby. We did not see the animal itself. After discussing it for a few minutes, we walked a bit more. Earlier that night, the three of us noticed a grove of bamboo near the road that seemed to be a nighttime roost for Grackle birds, and anytime our vehicle or one of us approached the grove, the birds would panic and practically fall out of the tree in clumsy swarms. While Mary and I were walking, the birds reacted the same way as we approached on foot. We stood back several feet from the bamboo to avoid the birds. After a few minutes of silence, I decided to pitch a hand sized rock over into Sinking Creek, just to try to stir any movement from the animal that we had heard. A few seconds after mine hit the water, another rock splashed about 30 feet away. Then, a second one splashed. The splashes were deep and loud, indicating something different than a beaver splash.
LISTEN TO THE ROCK SPLASHES HERE
Minutes later, after walking back towards the cabin, we heard the Grackle birds in the bamboo start their frenzied behavior again, as if something had moved closer, making them panic. After listening closely for several minutes, we continued our walk.
The following night, the three of us were walking in the same general area near the cabin, closer to the edge of the Roger Pryor Pioneer Backcountry.
10:00 PM - While we sat stationary near a farm gate, Jeff heard movement in the darkness. Rather than interrupt the activity with a bright light, we kept on quietly talking and acting as if we didn't notice the movement. We collected our folding chairs, and began walking along the trail back onto the private property where we were staying. Jeff lead the way, and suddenly stopped. A small rock had landed directly in front of him, on the footpath. We stood still, as Jeff whispered what had happened. Almost immediately, a second, much larger rock sailed through the air, landing audibly about 5 feet to our right. Startled, we froze in position for several minutes. We then continued on the trail, staying alert. Several hours were spent close to this area, until we retired for sleep around 2:15 AM.
In the morning, the three of us packed up our gear, said our goodbyes, and departed, heading back to our homes.
This was our first organized “squatching” trip for Spring 2019, and the area certainly didn't disappoint. With a landscape dotted with rivers, small lakes, heavy forests, and a thriving animal population, it would seem to have all of the hypothesized components of an ideal habitat for sasquatch to thrive in. Many areas are rugged, remote, and not easily accessible by humans. Of course, with an area this large and challenging, the local sasquatch population would have very little trouble evading humans with stealth and ease.