by Matt M.
The first time I saw a deer kill stash was in November of 1992 while I was looking into a cluster of bigfoot reports near the border of Stark and Carroll Counties in Ohio. A handful of incidents happened near a group of farmhouses situated in a large tract of 50 year-old second growth forest on reclaimed strip mines.
The first sighting involved a local bow hunter who was out hunting at dusk. For a few hours he had shadowed a relatively large herd of deer (15 or so) through the woods. Just after sundown he laid down at the edge of a field where these deer would group together at night. Eventually part of the herd was grazing in the field just out of bow range. He laid there for some time, waiting for a buck to wander within range. He was sitting motionless when the whole herd suddenly fled into the treeline across from his position. Turning to right, he saw what the deer were running from. A large, upright walking animal had snuck up to the edge of the treeline, seemingly trying to approach the herd. The shadowy figure came out of the treeline and apparently saw the bow hunter about ten meters away. It then let out a high-pitched, screaming wail, which the hunter described as being far louder than any scream that any human could make. It screamed four or five times repeatedly then moved back inside the treeline. Once back inside the treeline it made a stomping sound briefly before it moved back deeper into the trees. The hunter used the opportunity to run to a nearby house where his friend lived.
From that day forward the residents of the nearby house were more observant of the surrounding fields and treelines. A few days after the bow hunter's incident, the bow hunter's friend, Mike, while sitting in his kitchen, noticed the entire deer herd grazing close to the house. He sat at a table and watched the herd through the kitchen window for some time. As the deer grazed quietly the owner heard a knocking sound coming from a wooded hillside overlooking the field with the deer. The knocking sound, which sounded like a piece of wood being hit against a treetrunk, was answered a moment later by a similar knocking sound coming from a wooded slope closer to his house. A moment after that, from the first hill, came a short, loud, growling roar. In response, the deer herd bolted in panic toward the closer treeline -- at the base of the slope where the answering knock came from.
The following day Mike decided to take a walk in the woods with his dog. He hiked up the nearby slope to a gated dirt road leading to a watertank back in the woods. Walking along that drive he found a couple of manlike footprints, 14" x 6", very clearly imprinted in the mud on the edge of the road. He continued up the road to the water tank with his dog. Up at the tank his dog wandered into the trees and Mike followed. The dog led him to, what appeared to be, the recently killed carcass of a young deer. Mike continued to look around and found two more young deer carcasses. On each of the deer at least one of the legs were broken. These fractures were very noticeable as the limbs were violently twisted and contorted. The semi-frozen carcasses were otherwise basically intact (they had been nibbled on by small animals), there were no bullet or bolt wounds, and there was no other major trauma except for around the belly, which had been ripped open. The deer's intestines were still attached but had been pulled out of the belly and left in a pile along side the belly.
Over the next few days the owner, his wife, and other neighbors also noticed these same inexplicable knocking sounds emanating from the woods at various times of day and night. Within a week the neighbors noticed that deer herd had apparently moved out of the area. This coincided with a cessation of the knocking sounds.
When the owner met me the following week he was able to take me to the deer carcasses, which were more eaten by that point, but not pulled apart. The broken legs were still very visible.
Mike asked me if bigfoots attack deer. I told him what I knew at that stage -- I had read bigfoot books and reports for years, I had met and corresponded with dozens of bigfooters, but never read or heard anything like that. Everything in print basically repeated the "nuts, berries, roots, and occasional opportunistic scavenging" assumption. Nowhere was there any suggestion of predatory behavior. Frankly, the thought of it conflicted with my impression of bigfoots as harmless woodland foragers. Resisting the possibility that these creatures, whatever they were, were out brutalizing bambi, I asked him (and, thereafter, anybody who might shed light on it) if there was anything in nature or human activity that might explain it. Do farmers illegally cull deer herds this way -- by targeting baby deer ? Do Ohio poachers typically trespass so close to farmhouses, several days in a row, and go after young deer without antlers, and carry the carcasses to one area, and partially gut them, but then leave the whole behind mess behind to rot ? Are stray dogs known to carry road kills back to one spot, then open the belly and pull out the guts, then not eat the guts but leave the rest of the flesh intact ? Could some pollutant or disease in the environment cause only young deer to drop dead all in one area ? If so, then how did their legs get broken, and what other carnivores came along and got into their bellies without dismembering the body as they usually do ? Do bears do this ? Do cougars do this ? What else is out there ?
As I learned, cougars and bears operate much the same way with deer kills. They drag the kills to the nearest, suitable spot and partially bury them with leaves and/or dirt. They'll feed on the remains until they're full, then "lay up" nearby until they're hungry again. They'll keep returning to the same kill until it's either completely devoured or too "ripe" to eat. In the dry regions out west cougars will occasionally wait alongside trails leading to watering holes. Over time a cougar may end up killing several deer in the same general area near a watering hole, but these kills will not be found piled up or collected in a stash. Cougars will concentrate on one kill at a time, and the conditions of the carcasses show obvious signs of a large carnivore's feeding. When cougars are feeding their offspring they regurgitate the remains back at the den unless it's small game.
In December of 1992 a different farmer in Guernsey County, 60 miles to the south of this first deer kill stash, reported seeing and hearing what he described as more than one bigfoot, near his home over the course of a few weeks. When I came to check it out, I found him to be a very credible old menonite farmer. His house was perched on top of a plateau near the edge of a steep slope forming the wall of a creek valley. The creek was one of the larger feeder creeks flowing into Salt Fork Lake. I ask him about the activity, and its consistency, and the possibility of staking out his property when the visitors returned. The farmer told me the activity happened only intermittently, and it only happened at night, and he hadn't heard or seen anything for a week or so.
During that first meeting he asked me, "Do these things kill deer ?" I answered, with a bit of a shudder I'm sure, "Uhhh ... why do you ask ?" He proceded to tell me how he kept finding these dead, young deer down by the creek. These deer hadn't been shot and his family had lived in that county for generations and had never known any animal to kill and collect deer like that. He was puzzled why some of their legs were broken and twisted around.
A few days later I and my wife returned to the Guernsey County farmer's place to look around. Following the farmer's directions, we looked for some deer kills on our own. Shortly we came upon one kill in the creek bottom. We spent some time examining it before enduring too many cuts in the briar.
This young deer was in substantially the same condition as those in Stark County when they were first discovered -- semi-frozen (the night time temperature in eastern Ohio is typically well below the freezing point from November to March), only nibbled on by small animals, guts hanging out, broken and twisted leg, no bullet wounds.
My wife is a M.D., the daughter of two veterinarians, and the granddaughter of a zoo curator. She has a much stronger stomach than I when it comes to closely probing stinking animal carcasses. It wasn't long before she noticed something curious in the open belly. The liver was gone. It's a rather large, dark reddish-brown organ that's sandwiched between the rib cage and the intestines. Carnivores don't typically go for the liver first, or the liver only. The wound that opened up the belly was not a clean cut, as with a sharp knife. The wound looked similar to those on the other deer carcasses in Stark County. The belly wasn't ripped and torn to shreds, the way a carnivore would do. It was just cut open with something dull. The impression my wife got was that the predator merely wanted to open the belly, move the intestines out of the way, lift up the rib cage, and remove the liver in its entirety. We looked around and found another carcass on top of a large rock outcropping, which the farmer had described. Then another at the base. We checked both, and both of the livers were gone. Truly a spooky sight.
In the summer of '93 I met up with a witness near Wills Creek in Coshocton County, about 10 miles to the northwest of the Guernsey Co. farmer's place. This witness was a retired machinist from Cleveland who had permanently relocated to his cabin in Coshocton. He was well known in the area because after his encounter he built a statue depicting the bigfoot he had encountered, and even posted a sign in front of his cabin proclaiming "SASQUATCH VALLEY". The story of his encounter goes like this : He was out hunting, in the fall, and had followed trails back into some of the more remote, uninhabited hollows of the Wills Creek area, a few miles from his cabin. He followed a deer trail to a cavelike overhang. Once inside the overhang he found a collection of severed deer legs. The rest of the remains were not present. The deer legs on the floor of the cave were neatly arranged side-by-side.
He sat down and rested. He said he was there a while before it happened -- the sasquatch returned to the cave. The old guy was paralyzed with terror as he sat there staring at this hair covered thing which stood motionless, staring back at him a few yards away, at the lip of the overhang. Eventually the old guy stood up and slowly climbed out the other side of the wide mouth of the cave. The sasquatch didn't chase after him.
In the fall of 1993, I followed up on a flap near Berlin Lake, Ohio. Several reported sightings occured in that area in October, 1993. A Portage County sheriff's deputy who investigated one of the sightings told me, upon my inquiry, about a find a few years previous by wildlife officers near the lake. Several deer where found dead, the carcasses were found close together near the edge of the lake. They had been "mutilated". Other than that the deputy didn't know any specifics regarding the conditions of the remains. Poachers had been ruled out, which indicated no bullet wounds, and there was no official explanation or further investigation. "Devil worshippers" was mentioned as a possible explanation.
In the winter of that year I was contacted by an acquaintence from the Berlin area who had found the carcass of young deer on the edge of field a mile or so north of the lake. By the time I got there the carcass had been there for a while. This one was frozen solid, partially submerged in a puddle which was solid ice. That prevented me from poking around in it's belly to see if the liver was missing. However the guts were along side it just like the others. The deer was otherwise in one piece. I spoke with a man whose house sat about 100 meters from this kill. I asked if he had ever seen any cougars or bears in the area. He hadn't. The only thing unusal was his wife's observation, a week before, of what looked like a large man's footprints in the snow close to their barn. They didn't know what to make of it, because from the tracks, it appeared the trespasser wasn't wearing any shoes, despite the snow and sub-zero temperatures.
In the summer of 1994 I was exclusively working one location in Columbiana County. It was at this location I obtained recordings of the unexplained vocalizations fitting the description of those attributed to bigfoots, both in Ohio and the Pac NW. I and the family on whose property I had recording equipment set up, were experimenting with various methods to attract and videotape the bigfoot they saw and heard repeatedly. Several residents in the area had also contacted me with sighting reports extending back to the mid '80's. It wasn't until late October that the family found the first of, what would, over the course of a couple weeks, add up to four, young deer carcasses in the woods near their house. I drove out to take a look at this first carcass and found it in the now familiar condition. Having obtained a lot of good video equipment by that point I was able, and now thought it wise, to video tape this carcass, showing the cavity where the missing liver had been, and the broken legs.
Over the past few years I've brought up the subject of deer-related bigfoot sightings with a few bigfooters in this area of the country. I heard about two from PA and one from WI. The one from WI (1994) I heard from my contact at Berlin, it involved members of his own family. They were driving through central WI on the way home from visiting the family in Berlin. At some point in central WI (they weren't sure of the county) driving at night in a wooded area they came close to colliding with a bigfoot, as they described it, crossing the road ... with the body of a young deer slung over it's shoulder.
In Washington County, PA (I'm not sure of the years of these here, both these reports came from Joan Jeffers, a well known PA bigfoot researcher) a bigfoot was seen by a group of people in a car, crossing a road with a deer slung over it's shoulder.
The other incident in PA involved a hunter who had a shot deer. He got his deer ready for gutting by hanging it from a branch, but left it for a few moments to go to his car to gather the tools needed to gut and prepare it for transport. When he returned to where he had left the deer, it was gone. Leading away from the place where the deer had been left hanging was a trail of blood and large bigfoot tracks, as he stated. If my memory serves me right, I think he also stated that he had been gone such a short time that the culprit must have been watching him the whole time.
During a conversation in 1994 with former radio talkshow host, Chris Roth, (who hosted a weekly, UFO oriented, radio show called "In Advance of The Landing" on station WHPK, the Univ. of Chicago radio station) I was mentioning the finds of deer carcass stashes in connection with bigfoot sighting reports in Ohio. His friend and co-host immediately brought up a report of a similar find in Illinois where several "mutilated" deer carcasses where found "stacked" in a forest, which he recalled as being in the Shawnee Nat'l Forest. The discovery had circulated back amoung local UFO buffs in order to inquire about possible UFO correlations. Roth didn't think there was a correlation with UFO's. The only thing close were the well-publicized reports of unexplained "cattle mutilations" but those cases involved, without exception, according to Roth, high-tech surgical procedures and disections believed to have done with a laser or something like it. The Illinois "stacked, mutilated deer" case went unexplained, but, once again, "devil worshippers" came up as a possibility.
In an article by WA bigfooter Vance Orchard titled "Report from Walla Walla - February 1995" (The Bigfoot Co-op Newsletter (BCONL), Vol.15, Feb.'95) he talks about the major WA flap of early '95 in the Blue Mountains. The incident is refered to as the "Bigfoot of the Blues" affair, which, among other things, involved the discovery of "thousands of tracks" in the Mill Creek - Scenic Loop - Meinera/Coyote roads vicinity. One of the investigators was man named Dave Been. He's one the Freeman crew, and I think he was a party to the group that brought in the hairs being talked about in the news recently. Orchard writes, "It had been the contention of Been's for some time now that a grove of firs on the creek could be a Bigfoot mecca. He says he has found several kills of deer, probably made by cougars, and stashed in a brushy area. 'A Bigfoot could spend a day or two in there if there's a kill or two for it to feed on.'" Orchard or Been can still consult with any expert on cougars to find out that cougars do not collect multiple, uneaten deer carcasses. They eat 'em one at at time, and they don't usually drag them too far from where they kill them.
In another article by Orchard titled "On the Trail - Journal of a Researcher" (BCONL, Vol.16, June '95) he talks about a conversation with woman "in her 80's" who grew up and spent her entire life in upper Coppei region of the Blue Mountains: "She opened the conversation by observing that a comment I'd made in a recent Bigfoot report, about Bigfoots possibly eating deer killed by a cougar, would prove a point she remembered about her childhood days on the upper Coppei. There, at Coppei Falls, she said, Bigfoots reputedly would chase elk and run them over the brink of the falls. Then, at the base of the cliff, the critters could pack off the elk and their leisure. When I reminded her that early American mankind had used the same tactic to kill off thousands of buffalo, she felt certain the old stories were true."
Why the liver ?
Some people have expressed doubts that a predator would go to the trouble of hunting down a deer just to get at the liver, ignoring the rest of the flesh. It's difficult to quantify how much energy it takes to hunt a deer. A lot depends on the style of hunting. An intelligent strategy could minimize the chase and the overall effort. Logically, it would be easier to chase or trap a younger deer, especially if two predators were hunting cooperatively. It would also be much easier to carry a smaller deer back to a particular location, perhaps some distance away from the kill site. Nor would it be a waste time to focus on the liver exclusively. You won't find much else in the natural flora and fauna of North America that's a more profitable score than a deer's liver. Of all the parts of any large animal -- the muscles, the intestines, etc. -- the liver provides, far and away the best pay off. It's no small catch. The liver is one of the largest organs in the gut. Even a juvenile deer's liver, if rolled into a ball, would take up nearly as much space as a bowling ball. In terms nutrients, particularly in fall and winter, an exclusive diet of deer livers could easily sustain something like a bigfoot until spring. The only better, exclusive, natural diet for the snowy season would be the liver of a larger ungulate, like a moose, elk or a bison, but only because there's more of it to eat.
Here's what you get from a deer's liver :
1) A fresh, raw liver of a naturally fed, young deer contains substantial amounts of every vitamin necessary for life, particularly those which would become naturally depleted in the fall and winter.
2) A deer's liver contains very substantial amounts of vitamin A, which is crucial for a nocturnal animal's ability to see in dark, and
3) equally crucial for the thickenning of skin -- callous formation (through a process called keratinization). There's so much vitamin A in a deer's liver, in fact, that if a bigfoot were to live on an exclusive diet of deer liver all year round for many years it could eventually suffer from vitamin A poisining, but that wouldn't happen over the course of the fall and winter seasons.
4) 90% of all cholesteral produced in an animal is produced in the liver. Cholesteral is the building block for hormones.
5) Of all the organs, the liver dumps the highest amount of proteins into the blood. When this great repository of protein is eaten and digested the proteins get broken down into amino acids, which are then used as the raw materials to build new proteins and enzymes.
6) The liver is also primary repository for glycogen. Glycogen molecules are basically ready-to-use energy storage molecules formed by giant clusters of glucose molecules. In the digestion process these glycogen molecules get broken down and absorbed as glucose which can be used by the muscles and other tissues, such as brain cells, or can be rebuilt into ready-to-use energy storage molecules in the predator's own liver.
7) The liver stores tremendous amounts of lipids, another excellent calorie source.
8) On top of all this nutritional value, a liver is relatively easy to remove from a carcass. It's soft, and easily eaten and digested. It would be a natural choice, perhaps even the exclusive choice, for a large primate -- an animal not equipped with sharp carnivore teeth.
In terms of the work/gain equation, a bigfoot's habit of going after several livers and ignoring the raw muscles attached to the bone would be (does it surprise you) the most efficient use of its energy in fall and winter.
It would seem logical that Ohio's present overpopulation of deer, the worst on record, may be a factor contributing to the number of deer kill stashes found in this state as opposed to others. The important part about being aware of this deer predation behavior is that it will, I predict, make it easier to locate groups of bigfoots in the future. If the public is made aware of it, it's much, much more likely that people will find, report, and photograph something like deer kill stashes rather than bigfoots themselves. Government employees may also find it easier to talk about deer kill stashes. Records might be kept of these finds, and government agencies might be more likely to release this sort of information because it's not quite so politically tainted.
Questions Submitted about this article:
Question: In some cases you mentioned that these deer would lie around
dead (virtually intact except for the missing livers).
How is this possible ? Why didn't scavengers take the rest ?
Answer: Scavengers eventually DID take the rest, but it took a few days at least, because of the freezing temperatures. The fact that these carcasses were at least partially frozen made it possible for people to notice the kills before too much damage was done by scavengers.
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