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COUNTY: Lake County
LOCATION DETAILS: West on st road 40, just past Astor, turn off to the left on 19, it is in the East side of the Ocala Nat. Forest. This is Alexander Springs Campground.
NEAREST TOWN: Alexander Springs, Ocala Nat. forest,Aster
NEAREST ROAD: State road 40
OBSERVED: It was a weekend in October on a Friday night. My girlfriend and i decided to go to Alexander Springs camping for the weekend. We were living in Ormond Beach, Florida approx. one hour from Alexander Springs. This was a spur of the moment idea that friday afternoon. We rushed around to pack our 4 man tent, lawn chairs, coolers and get groceries for the weekend and a case of oysters. We headed for the springs and we were in a hurry to get there in plenty of time of daylight so we could set up our tent. By the time we got our tent set up it was turning to dusk. We realized we had forgotten to buy firewood so we went into town to purchase a load of wood that would fill the trunk of the car. By the time we got back it was dark. The campground had some lighting for safety purposes I guess incase one had to walk to the bathroom, shower facillities. We started a fire and we also began cooking steaks on the grill and eating oysters and other snacks. We had plenty of food to last the weekend packed in our cooler. We ate our food, cooked on the grill then played cards till about 3:00am. We decided to quit and go to sleep so we could get up early to check out the sights. My girlfriend fell asleep right away and I layed there for about a half hour with a headache and coudn't go to sleep. I was listening to what sounded for sure like raccoons chattering around our site, figured they may be looking for crumbs. Suddenly the noise of raccoons stopped and everything was silent. I thought it was strange such a sudden silence and I smelled what semed to be the sent of a skunk. I thought that was strange because i had been living in Florida 20 years and never smelled a skunk. I thought there were no skunks in Florida. I sat up thinking i would go outside the tent and see what was going on, when i looked to my right i saw a shadow cast on the tent from the lighting in the campground, what looked to be like a man and my first thought was,"surely no other campers would take our food in the night." It made a noise that i questioned was a bear but didn't sound like any bear noise I had ever heard and I'm originally from upper Michigan near the Great Lakes very remote area with alot of bears and had seen and heard many in my life. Then i got to thinking this figure was standing up and not on all fours and was so tall I thought it couldn't have been a man stealing our food. There were not many campers on the grounds that night either. At first I was approaching the door of the tent to go out and investigate when i heard the strange noise again. It sounded like a grunt noise. I did not feel this was a bear but couldn't imagine what it was, I was somewhat frozen in fear for a minute. Then I started talking to my girlfriend trying to wake her up and she was scared. We only had one small flashlight and no weapons as we sat there stating we wish we had a gun, so i did not go outside of the tent, but could not go to sleep that night. The next morning at early daylight we came out of the tent to find a mess. Our coolers had been ransacked, most food gone. I attributed this to the raccoons but realized they were not there long enough to make such a mess i didn't think. So we just laughed about it most of the day and joked about Bigfoot but never did we actually think that was what may have been outside of our tent and eating our food, We had to go in to town for more groceries that day. Late that night things felt strange and it had been lightly raining all day, to a heavier rain by nightime. we sat in the tent playing cards talking about this thing i saw outside the tent. We decided to get out quick, packed our stuff up and even left the tent. At work a couple days later i asked a friend at work who had been there the week before camping if she had ever seen any bear there and she said yes. But when i told her what i saw she said it sounded too weird. It took a few days before i unpacked the car and then realized we had left behind the tent. I called the Ranger at Alexander Springs and told them we had left our tent. They stated they wondered what had happened to us. We told them to keep the tent or dispose of it. They said they could store it for us till we came back again. We told them we didn't think we would be back anytime soon to go ahead and do what ever they wanted to with it. We did not tell them of our experience and I never told anyone because i thought they would think I was crazy. When I came across this site i was hesitant to report it but my girlfriend has encouraged me too. I know that what i saw was not a bear and way to tall to be a man or even a tall man.
ALSO NOTICED: All animals stoped making any sounds, & I smelt a "skunk" also there was breaking of branches, movement. Alot of chaotic noise that sounded like a large animal ransacking our campsite.
OTHER WITNESSES: just me, my girfriend was sleeping.
OTHER STORIES: I read in this site about sightings in the ocala National forest. I also had an experience in a remote area of Cheifland Florida, in Levy County. in the summer of 89. I was on a ten acre parcel way out off a county road in a desolate area with only two other homes on the road. I was living in a bus that had been turned into an RV. I was staying out there putting up a Mobile home. I was purchasing the land from a friend and we were building a septic system and we had no power to the property at this time. The mobile home was set up at the back of the property near the woods and the bus was behind the mobile home closer to the woods. I was using a small generator for power at the time. I had awaken before dawn, about 4:am and was trying to make a pot of coffee with my generator. I sat there looking out into the woods and saw several pairs of red eyes. Some far away and some very close to the bus. At first i thought critters in the night. Then I began to wonder how i could see their Red eyes as dark as it was and they were high enough up that they were as high as rhe windows on the bus. I thought critters in the trees. But then i questioned how i could be seeing these red eyes when i've only seen the red eye in an animal due to a light reflection These eyes also seemed bigger than an animal eyes which made me very curious. I just sat there amazed, while everyone else was sleeping. I had two small children with me also and did not want to wake them and scare them. I don't know what kind of eyes these were but I had always thought them to be very questionable. When the sun rose that morning i rushed down to my friends stand at the flea market whom was helping me with this property. I told him he could have EVERYTHING! Just get me a 32 foot u-haul to get my family and furniture out of here I'm going back to Daytona Beach, the city life. I don't know what i saw that early morning before daylight but to this very day i have always wondered how i could see the red eyes on those animals without a light reflection, and how they could be so high up as high as the windows of the bus.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: very dark, but there was some lighting in the campground, it was a warm clear night. Aprox. 3:00 AM
ENVIRONMENT: Many lakes, deep forest Ocala National Forest & springs. Much wildlife. The forest is very dense and has a large area along state Rd 40 that is desolate.