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COUNTY: Park County
LOCATION DETAILS: The sighting occurred in a high-elevation park meadow in the Fan Creek Drainage in Yellowstone's northwest corner.
NEAREST TOWN: Mammoth Hot Springs
NEAREST ROAD: US 191
OBSERVED: The following account was given to Colorado curator T.E. Stein during a phone interview with Bob Jackson in 2003. Recently, Jackson gave permission to submit his account to the BFRO. Jackson, also known as "Action Jackson," was legendary among park supporters - notorious among outfitters and scofflaws - for his enforcement of park rules and regulations. He retired as a Yellowstone ranger in 2004. Few people have ever known Yellowstone's backcountry and its wildlife like Jackson.
"The first time heard anything was in the mid-late 70s. An outfitter and I were riding up Fan Creek in the northwest section of the park. Up the drainage in Stellaria Creek, we heard a sound that just kept going and going. It was probably a mile away. It filled the whole valley up - kind of 1,000 like elk going to their death. I couldnít believe this thing had that much volume for that long a period of time. He had never heard anything like it, neither.
"A couple of weeks later, I was coming out from Sportsman Creek, taking a trail which comes out of Fan Creek. I was 11 miles back in, up high in a subalpine fir meadow complex.
I was on a steep sidehill with horses and in woods but down below about 40-50 yards there was a kind of fairly flat meadow, with dense subalpine thickets. There were these low fir growths that have a centerpiece tree and then everything kind of cone-shapes to ground. They were about 20 yards wide or so.
"The horses were flaring their noses and snorting, like they do when a grizzly bear is real close, but I could see fairly good all around and I couldnít see one. So I started looking down below me, and the horses were really agitated Ė theyíre wanting to get out of there. I held them but only with effort.
"I looked down to see where griz was, and I saw a deer at edge of thicket. All at once it bolted and started jarring ahead perpendicular to me. Right then coming out the other side was this thing that was running on two feet. It was black like a bear and it had long arms and ran. I think I held it there 30 seconds, but it got scared and then came out. It ran but not super fast. It ran to another thicket and went at angle out of thicket to another thicket about 40-50 yards away (At this point, the creature was 75 yards downslope.)
"It kept hitting these thickets trying to get away from me. Iíve never seen a bear do that. Theyíll always take a straight line.
"The first thing I thought was ďbearĒ but right away I realized this black shaggy thing wasnít a bear. This thing was smart. Iíve never seen animal trying to pick up protection as it fled.
"I tied that together with sound had on other side of the drainage.
"It wasnít that tall Ė it looked like it was like 6 foot, maybe 6' 5". The side of the face looked like it had a lot of fur. Most of the time it was angling away, so I only got a good look at the head for probably the first 10 steps.
"The proportions of the torso - it looked more stocky than anything else. I notived the arms swung more than a humanís would and it didnít have elbows cocked.
"This was no hoax. Iíve ridden maybe 50,000 to 70,000
miles in the backcountry on horses and you encounter a lot of bears when you do that. This thing, whatever it was, the horses looked straight down to it.
OTHER WITNESSES: Several other witnesses, unnnamed.
OTHER STORIES: After his sighting, Jackson started asking other people if they had ever heard any unusual vocalizations.
"One guy I met in the northeast section of the park, he was camped illegally. He said he heard a noise real close to him. I made him describe it. He said it was probably within 20 yards."
"One other outfitter heard that sound also, that would be back in early Ď80s for both of those."
"Another time a crew examining the blister rust (a disease of whitebark pine) in 1970s came on an elk in the southeast corner of park. They came on a deboned elk and saw these real big footprints. They got kind of scared and headed out. On that same trip they heard really weird noises up near Mountain Creek."
(Jackson also recounted this trackway.)
"One time I was skiing into to Heart Lake on the Thorofare. We were 5-6 miles east of the road, and myself and the e others. All at once we saw these footprints going across the trail. There wasnít any path, and no one used to ski that far in back then. These were real real big footprints stretched out far apart. It was deep snow but it was a fairly distinct track. That was the first and only track Iíve seen."
"In early to mid '80s, in same drainage as Mountain Creek, we were just coming into the Howell Creek cabin near Eagle Creek Pass at 8500 feet, we were coming in right before dark and we heard that noise. I timed it at 26 seconds, about 300-400 yards beyond the cabin up the drainage. I checked the next day couldnít find any footprints. Whatever that thing is, it, doesnít let up to take a breath."
(I asked Jackson to describe the sound.)
"Itís like mechanical, rhythmical, I can't even describe it, It isnít like a mountain lion or bear and bear can make some pretty weird noises"
"I heard no other reports of bigfoot until 3-4 years ago, I was in Mountain Creek, heard I this thing again
"A district ranger once took sighting from a backpacker near Buela Lake that would have been in '70s, west of the south entrance Apparently the person watched one on other side of small lake for 10 minutes. The ranger felt the witness was very sane."
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Various conditions and times from the early 1970s to the late 1990s in the four corners of the park. Elevations ranged from near treeline to 8,500 feet. The one common denominator is that the sightings, vocalizations and track finds all occurred deep in Yellowstone's backcountry.
ENVIRONMENT: High altitude, park-like meadow of stunted fir.
Follow-up investigation report:
In the long history of Yellowstone backcountry rangers, Bob Jackson stands out as one of the most colorful. "Jackson is the last of his kind, a lawman who still chases down outlaws on horseback," wrote LA Times editor Frank Clifford in his 2002 book "The Backbone of the World."
Jackson's crusades against the practice of creating salt licks to draw in elk for easy shots just outside the park's southest boundary earned him lifelong enemies among local outfitters. He also campaigned against their habit of leaving large portions of the carcass behind, meat that habituated grizzly bears learned to come running for at the sound of gunshots. The bears that learned to scavenge the carcasses often got into confrontations with hunters and outfitters, leading to their deaths.
During his career, Jackson spent a great deal of time in the park's most remote backcountry, including the Thorofare - the place in the lower 48 states that lies furthest from a road.
This is believed to be the first time Jackson has publically talked about sasquatch.