COLORADO HISTORICAL SASQUATCH
TIME PERIOD: AD 1870ís
AREA (San Juan and Conejos River Drainage, Colorado)
PROFESSIONAL BEAR HUNTER "WILLFORD" MEMOIRS
A professional bear hunter by the name of Willford hunted in the San
Juan Mountains of southern Colorado in the 1870ís. His memoirs were
dictated in 1930 and have not been formally published to date and so I
will only share generalities that may be relevant. Grizzly bears
were common in the area in the late 1800ís and Mr. Willford killed 39 bears for the bounties put on their head at that time.
Mr. Willfordís memoirs state that while hunting in certain drainageís
in the southern San Juan Mountains of Colorado that feelings of being watched
and feelings of dread were common. Local Indians said that only the
bravest of hunters would venture into some of the areas
involved. Horses were mysteriously spooked and bear-proofed camps were raided anyway. Meat was taken from camps, even though placed high in trees out of the reach of bears. Mr. Willford recounts how his horses and pack burro were once greatly spooked and panicked in the area by a loud animal noise from close range that he had never heard before. On another occasion he encountered some Navajo men camped in the area that had been terrified by an encounter with what they described as a 15 foot tall beast. The terrified Navajo men had told Mr. Willford "Donít go there", "One terrible big thing is there". They described the beast as
possibly some kind of giant bear that stood on itís back legs to a very great height (15 feet is a probable exaggeration by the Navajo involved). These Navajo were experienced hunters, familiar with grizzly bears and black bears. This event occurred near the New Mexico
border, where the San Juan River exits Colorado. The place was three or four miles up into the mountains from that point. They all "got the hell out of there", according to Mr. Willford. (Note: The Southern Ute that permanently occupied the region at the time have many tribal stories of
giant hairy man-beasts that lived in those same mountains at that time and now. The Navajo involved may not have known about the man-beasts described in the area and interpreted the creature seen as some kind of bear).
Credit given to Colorado BFRO member Keith Foster <email@example.com>
Uploaded to the BFRO Database by: Dawn Harrack <Dawn@BFRO.net> and Matt M. <Matt@BFRO.net>.
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