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COUNTY: Collier County
LOCATION DETAILS: I am not sure if I got the correct highway or even the county (it may be the county south of dade). We grew up in Miami Springs and we took 2hr trips to the Everglades to the south.
NEAREST TOWN: Everglade City
NEAREST ROAD: I want to say highway 27?
OBSERVED: My father along w/ brothers Eric and Mark at a young age were hunting in the Florida Everglades w/ two friends of the family, Ronnie and George. It was a "boys" trip out. I was approx. 13 yrs, old. I can approximate my age because my family started building a second home behind ours in 1972. It took 3 yrs to build and these "friends of the family" were hired by my father to assist in the project. I was born in 1962 and towards the end of the project, this trip took place. Aprox. in the fall of 1975.
Anyway, we drove to a secluded area of the Everglades. Later I was told we were 17 miles away from any paved road. Us "adults" we went out with .22 rifles (my first time), after parking in what we call now "BFP" at about 6PM. Ask anybody in South Florida and they know what I mean by "BFP" [Bureau of Fire Prevention land??]. Way out in the middle of NOWHERE. We tracked through waist high vegetation growth when we reached a clearing and continued in a horizontal line towards a tree line approx. 100 yards away. We suppossedly were hunting for rabbits but never saw one.
As we approached the tree line we came upon a recently dried out water hole. Here is where I spotted the tracks. There were at least 17" in length. Two half prints and one full print in the mud going into the brushline. The brush on the otherside was thrashed.
I recall that we left that area not longer after that. It basically ended our trip.
I feel now with what I know, it was a skunk ape. I will swear on the bible on this experience and I have only Eric to back my story. Marc was only 10 and remembers nothing and my dad has passed away. I will take a lie detector test on this event.
ALSO NOTICED: I clearly remember no sign of animal activity to include land or air. No birds, wierd for 7pm (Dusk) in the Everglades.
OTHER WITNESSES: six of us saw it but in that time no one took it as anything. Remember, it was 1975, only 8 yrs. after the Patterson film.
OTHER STORIES: Later as an older teenager, I first heard the term "Skunk Ape". I must have been 16 or 17 in high school. This gave me the creeps.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: The time of the sighting of the tracks was about 7pm, 1 hr. into the hunt. Clear weather and warm.
ENVIRONMENT: We were in the middle of nowhere. Tree line here and there but mostly waist high brush in the clearings.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Caroline Curtis:
At the time, his father claimed he was not impressed by the footprints, but he insisted they leave the area not long afterward.
The witness now lives in Michigan.
About BFRO Investigator Caroline Curtis:
- Worked as an Assistant to a Circuit Court Judge in Florida for thirteen years
- An avid outdoorswoman, growing up in the UP of Michigan on a family-owned fishing and hunting resort. Currently lives in the Hiawatha National Forest
- Certified Visual Tracker, Level 1
- Attended and assisted with numerous public and private BFRO expeditions
- She and the Florida BFRO organized South Florida Expedition 2008, North Florida Expedition 2008 and Central Florida Expedition in 2009.
- She and the Michigan BFRO organized the Lower-Michigan Expedition in 2011, Michigan UP Expeditions in 2012, 2013 and 2015. She will be co-organizing the 2016 Michigan UP Expedition in October.