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COUNTY: Union County
LOCATION DETAILS: About 5 miles north of Lake Butler, the lake located just North of the town.
NEAREST TOWN: Lake Butler, Florida
NEAREST ROAD: Florida Road 231
OBSERVED: I was archery hunting in Lake Butler Management area in Baker County, Florida. I had found a hog wallow, and set up a ground blind to cover the main trail coming into the wallow. After about 30 minutes in the blind I heard several grunting and breathing noises within 10 to 15 yards of my position. I did not see what was making the noise, but I assumed it to be one or more wild hogs. Upon leaving my stand I walked through the wallow to see if any tracks had been left by the animal I heard. I discovered scat that was approximately 3.5" to 4.0" in diameter, and about 1.5' to 2.0' in length. I then found some large tracks, deeper than my boot print, leading to and away from the scat. I assumed that they were the tracks of a very large black bear. I am 6'4" and weigh over 300lbs. The tracks I saw were not as long as my boot print, but they were deeper. I now realize that the scat I saw was much too large to be that of a Florida black bear.
ALSO NOTICED: No
OTHER WITNESSES: Only myself
OTHER STORIES: No
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Late afternoon
ENVIRONMENT: Dense vegetation, marshy.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Alan Fisher:
I spoke with the witness by telephone for approximately 45 minutes on April 24, 2008. He's an intelligent person and works as a manager. He has been a hunter his entire life.
He was archery hunting for wild hog in late fall or early winter. It was approximately 2 PM, and hot, sunny and humid. He had been sitting in his stand for approximately one hour. He was very quiet while on stand. He was dressed fully camouflaged. Wind from the southeast. Calm to very light breeze.
He was within bow range of a mud wallow used by wild hog and surrounded by tall grass approximately 6 feet in height or higher. The witness is over 6 feet tall.
In a sitting position he could not see an upright animal close to him if it remained in the tall grass. The greater area is scrub/slash pine with some marsh, sinkholes and wallows. There are three medium sized lakes within a 3 to 5 square mile area and numerous other water sources.
At approximately 2 PM he heard grunting, deep and guttural in the area of the wallow. He could not observe the animal that was making the grunts.
After the grunting stopped and things were quiet the witness inspected the wallow and found a large scat pile approximately 2 yards from it. The scat consisted of two pieces, one approximately 18 to 24 inches in length and 4 to 5 inches in diameter the second slightly smaller. The scat was medium brown in color, smooth and firm in texture. It contained what appeared to be vegetable matter but he did not observe any twigs, berries, bones or other foreign material. The scat had a distinct odor to it.
He also observed approximately 6 to 7 tracks coming from his left and returning to the left. The witness wears a size 13 boot and he leaves an approximate 15 inch track. The tracks found were about 14 inches in length and one and half time the width of the witness' own track. This would equate to a width of over 6 inches. The stride was over 4 to 5 feet and aligned as you would find in a bipedal walk. Toe impressions could barely be seen. He also stated that the impression made into the mud substrate was twice as deep his own. He could not measure the depth. The witness weighed approximately 320 lbs and the animal creating the track made an impression almost twice as deep.
The witness went on to state that in all of his years in the woods he has only become lost once. On this day, however, he felt mildly disoriented and twice got himself turned around in the woods. Finally, he was able to hear a car and traffic and found his way out. He considered this to be highly unusual for him. He also felt watched and he said, "The hair on the back of my neck was standing up." He cannot attribute to the encounter or to the fact he realized he was becoming lost.
About BFRO Investigator Alan Fisher:
30 years experience hiking and camping across the United States.
Member 2008 South and North Florida Expeditions.
Certified visual tracker - Level 1
Assisted in organizing 2009 Central Florida Expedition.