In the summer of 2009 I spent some time in the vast Ouachita National Forest in northwest Arkansas. I had selected a specific area to investigate, where there was a cluster of reported sightings going back many years by average residents who were generally unaware of previous reports. I reasoned that a history of sightings, some of which pre-dated television and computer technology, would be more likely to contain legitimate sightings. By studying satellite imagery, I concluded that the area was a prime site. There was a natural pass through the mountain range, and the thickly forested area also had numerous freshwater springs.
The terrain had steep slopes with towering pines toward the ridges and deciduous trees toward the bottom-lands. There was an abundance of hickory and pecan in the mid ranges, raspberry, chokecherries and the occasional strawberry patches on the lower slopes. Game trails criss-crossed the mountain ridges.
Scouting the area the first day, I saw evidence of foraging, such as large overturned logs that had been broken apart and bent and broken saplings that only a large creature such as a bear or Bigfoot could manage. There were sizable but indistinct footprints around the area. But there was no conclusive sign to specifically indicate a Bigfoot or Sasquatch, as they are also known.
For a few minutes, I was able to observe a pine marten (member of the weasel family) as it scampered agilely about in its quest for edibles.
The following day, we had a tremendous thunderstorm. A powerful bolt of lightning, splitting into several forks, struck the mountain just above the place we were staying. I could see smoke from smoldering fires in about five or six places on the slopes. I was concerned about the fires spreading, so I went out alone to investigate. I hiked for several miles around the slope, following the game trails. It was raining intermittently, so I had a big black umbrella that I used in the downpours. Otherwise I was dressed in light sports gear and generally soaking wet. I found the trees that had been stricken. A couple were split in half, and all of them were smoldering at the core. But the fires seemed to be contained to the stricken trees, and with the heavy rain, there seemed to be little concern of them spreading.
On the way back, I was walking on one of the main trails very quietly in my moccasin-like foot gear as is my habit. I heard a commotion on the ridge above me, and then just below me on the slope, five white-tailed deer ran past, but going in the same direction as I was. They didn’t see me until they were right next to me, and only one stopped and whirled around to look back at me, ears flared and eyes bulging in terror.
I could hear something bustling on the ridge above me, which suddenly stopped as it came alongside my position. Reasoning that it was most likely a predator in pursuit of the deer, I proceeded quietly and deliberately ahead at a slow pace. The creature followed me, keeping nearly abreast. The slope above the trail was steep, so in places the creature made considerable noise in the brush. I was armed with pepper spray, and I unfurled the umbrella, which I have found is a deterrent to most animals, who are intimidated by it. It also makes a good shield, which I sometimes have used to fend off attacks by stray or feral dogs (at times I carry the umbrella even in good weather).
As I paced along I could see glimpses of a large dark form scrambling through the brush. At first I was undecided if it was a bear or perhaps a Bigfoot. Since it was getting near dusk, I gradually picked up my pace until I was walking rather swiftly. I could hear huffs and grunts from the being as it bounded over the occasional rock outcropping or small ravine. The being kept following me, easily keeping pace despite the rough terrain on the slope. It had left off pursuit of the deer, and I started getting concerned. I decided to cut over to an old logging road I had seen previously. That offered less chance of an ambush, although it was a longer and more circuitous route back.
When I neared the valley floor, the creature made a lot of bustling noises, and suddenly a large rock, about 18 inches in diameter, crashed through the trees in an arching trajectory and thumped down in the trail in front of me. At this point, I knew the creature was not a bear, and even an Olympic shot-putter could not have hurled the rock for that distance. I froze in my tracks. All was quiet.
Even though I was frightened, I reasoned that the rock was probably meant to be a distraction or misdirection. I paused for a few minutes, then looked back in the direction that the rock came from. Through the brush I could see a natural meadow or clearing with short green grass under towering oaks and elms. I saw some white objects that seemed to be arranged in a triangle. Curiosity overcame trepidation then, so I proceeded in that direction.
The objects were placed at the points of an equilateral triangle. Two of the objects were large stones. One was a white marble-like metamorphic limestone, and the other was a native rock, white vermiculite. The third object really surprised me. It was a canine skull, in every respect identical to a wolf! This is remarkable in that the native red wolf population is no longer reported in its former range and is generally considered extinct or absent in the area. Alternatively, it could be the skull of a large wolf-like dog such as a German Shepherd or Husky. The skull was about the same size as the rocks.
The sun was setting, and I did not have a camera with me. I gently removed the skull, which seemed to have weathered for about six months, to take back and photograph. There was more faint rustling in the brush, so I turned and hastened back to camp, not wishing to provoke the being further. I returned the skull to the area the following day in a torrential downpour without incident. I was unable to do any more research at that time, due to the violent weather, which included flash floods and treacherous conditions on the slopes.
There are a few aspects of this encounter that bear consideration. On reflection, it would appear that I was being followed out of curiosity and not for hostile purposes. I think the route I took along the logging trail coincidentally took me near an area that was perhaps a favorite habitation or seasonal camp of the Bigfoot The short grass beneath the trees could be an indication of an area that has compacted soil from frequent traffic and also used as a bedding area for several large creatures over many years. The slope was gentle with adequate drainage, and the dense tree canopy would offer some shelter from sun and rain. Then there was the symmetrical triangular arrangement of stones and skull. If this was placed by the Bigfoot, it would indicate advanced cognitive skills requiring forethought, planning, specific selection of size, shape and color as well as symbolic thinking. Symbolism involves associative reasoning, whereby an object or icon represents a concept other than its literal description. I felt that this could be a special marker or even a memorial of sorts. The use of symbols, if confined by further research, could provide valuable insight into the cognitive capacity of the Bigfoot or Sasquatch
I hope to return to the area at some future date for more investigation. The illustration and photos accompanying this article can also be seen in an easy-view slide show at this link: http://www.associatedcontent.com/slideshow/85395/bigfoot_encounter_in_arkansas.html?cat=58
Sources: The article, illustration and photographs are entirely created by the author, David A. Claerr and are copyrighted in his name, as are the images in the slideshow seen at the above link.