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COUNTY: Lawrence County
NEAREST TOWN: Ironton
NEAREST ROAD: between S.R. 650 and S.R. 93
OBSERVED: It was an unusually warm February that year and me and 3 other friends of mine decided to go out and spend the night in the strip mines to kind of get away from things and shoot guns and just have a little fun without disturbing anyone. We arrived at the pull off about noon and proceeded to hike the 2 miles to where Crystal lake was located. When we arrived at the lake we set up a small fire and our sleeping bags on a small knoll overlooking the lake and then went down the hill to an old road and walked about a mile or so when my friend Darren found a large footprint in the clay-like mud off the side of the road, we all were amazed at how big this print was, I wear a size 12 boot and it was at least 4 inches longer than my boot. It was a very fresh track, so fresh Icould make out the loops and swirls on the pads of the toes and part of the sole. We got really nervous and a little scared because we all had a lot of experience in the woods hiking and hunting and none of us had ever believed or seen anything about Bigfoot, but We changed our minds very quickly after seeing that print. We made our way back to the camp and sat around the fire and just kind of took it all in and discussed what we had found and tried to dismiss it and go on with our trip. Later on in the evening we heard nromal woodland creatures and birds but it got very quiet and nothing made a sound for hours. We were getting scared and wondered if we should leave but curiosity got the best of us and we decided to stay the rest of the night. We ate dinner about 7p.m. and sat around the fire and talked until at exactly 11:23 p.m.(I will remember the exact time as long as I live)we heard what can be described as a cross between a bark and a scream came from below our camp near the lake shore, it was the most unnerving thing I have ever heard we all just sat and stared at each other unable to talk or move. This went on for about 5 minutes until about a half mile away we heard another answer the first with a series of high pitched barks and screams. That is when we decided it was time to go home, but we were afraid to leave the same way we had come because we would have had to walk past the area where we had heard the scream at first. We decided to walk up another level and skirt the cliffs around the back of the lake but when we make up to the steppe above us we ran right into whatever it was making the sound, I was in front and had a Maglite, the beam hit the midsection of the creature and I stopped dead in my tracks. I observed a seven to eight foot tall creature standing not more than 10 feet away from me as I shined the light up I seen red eyes. I have hunted all sorts of animals and I have never seen one with red eyes that seemed to glow in the light. I back stepped and almost knock over everyone behind me and the creature ran up an embankment and we all ran back to the fire and sat back to back until we decided to go ahead and go back to the road and make our way to the car. We made it to the raod and started walking the 2 miles to the car all the while listening to the 2 creatures yelling and screaming one was behind us and the other was on our right flank pacing us from about 10 to 15 yards. Earlier in the day we had passed a huge pile of old tires someone had dumped, But when we got to that point of the road about 30 of the tires were thrown out into the road like someone or something didn't want us to leave. When we made it to the car we all piled in and left as fast as the car would go. We never discussed it with anyone or even among ourselves because we were afraid of ridicule and people thinking we were crazy.
ALSO NOTICED: footprints were found earlier in the day then audible screams and visual sighting later
OTHER WITNESSES: There were four of us and we all seen and heard the same thing, we were sitting around a camp fire talking and eating
OTHER STORIES: Vesuvius lake is located about 5 miles north of the area where we were located and both are part of Wayne National park and I have heard of sightings in that area
TIME AND CONDITIONS: found tracks about 3p.m. and the sounds started at exactly 11:23 p.m.
ENVIRONMENT: Reclaimed strip mines, lots of pine trees, a large lake on one side and a smaller lake on the other side
Follow-up investigation report:
There were a few additional details of the physical description of what the witness observed gathered during a telephone interview. The witness stated that the first part of the creature illuminated by his flashlight was the torso. He stated it had a broad mid-section, no abdominal muscles were visible but it looked “solidly built” to him. The hair was reddish brown, around three to four inches long, not matted, but shiny and well kept. He did not recall any smells during the incident. As he swung the flashlight up he focused upon red, glowing eyes the size of fifty cent pieces. He did not remember any other facial features, he stated he was focused on the eyes at that point.
The animal let out what he described as a combination of a snort and grunt, and then quickly took two steps to climb a very steep six foot bank and disappeared into the trees above them. He stated that it was if it looped back around and came back toward them at an angle as they retreated back to the campfire. I did ask him about the time it would take to break camp, the witness stated that they were only carrying sleeping bags, .22 rifles and food. As they left the area the individual they had come upon trailed them, making noise, coming close and then falling back. He said at times it came back as close as 15 feet. They did not attempt to shine the flashlights on it again because they were using the lights on the road as they fast walked and ran back to the car. The other creature, which was also making vocalizations and other noises, seemed to be closing in at them from an angle. He said throughout the evening it was as if the creatures would mimic each others vocalizations.
We discussed the fact that the tires had been thrown into the road, and the witness added that they did find some vandalism of the car when they returned. My opinion is that it is speculation if those acts were done by the animals, I am more inclined to place the blame upon people who may have happened upon the parked car. The young men did have .22 rifles with them for target shooting, and so the chance that the whole incident was a hoax is unlikely as it would be quite a risk to a hoaxer.
I did ask the witness about having a gun and not taking a shot. His reply was it never entered his mind because the initial incident happened quickly and that, given the size of what he saw, taking a shot from a distance would probably have done nothing. He added he was glad they did not shoot because then he felt they might have been attacked.
At the time, the witness was working in a position where he felt talking about this incident would put his job in jeopardy. He never discussed it with co-workers, other friends or family. It was a genuinely scary experience for the witness and his friends, in his terms, “I almost wet myself”. To this day, he has not told his wife or family, and would not consider talking to his new co-workers about it. I was the first person he said he had actually talked at length about what happened that night. There were times during the interview that I could hear the distress he was experiencing in retelling the story. The event changed some of his outdoor lifestyle, he stayed out of the woods for awhile and now only hunts with others. He concluded by saying it was a relief to finally be able to talk about this experience with someone he could trust to not immediately call him a “kook” and make fun of him.
Southern Ohio can benefit from rare warm days in February, although the weather is volatile. Temperature highs in the upper 50’s and low 60’s do happen for short periods during the month. It is plausible that a group could comfortably camp overnight during one of these rare warm periods, and the report cannot be dismissed on that basis alone.
Wayne National Forest is a huge area that encompasses a large part of south east Ohio. The forest boundaries encompass around 834,000 acres, of which over 236,000 acres are owned by the federal government. It includes areas of second growth timber, mostly oak and hickory, and reclaimed mining areas. The Shawnee State Forest borders the western area of Wayne N.F., it encompasses an additional 60,000 acres.
I found the witness to be credible and the possibility for a misidentification to be low.
About BFRO Investigator Steven P:
Chief administrative officer of a unit of local government, a consultant and community faculty member.