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COUNTY: Putnam County
NEAREST TOWN: Paltka/Bardin
NEAREST ROAD: Highway 100
OBSERVED: I was hiking by myself on the Florida Trail near Florahome. I walked south from the Trailhead near Coral Farms about 7:00. It had rained the day before amd the red clay/sand jeep road had no animal or human prints. All washed away. I reached a picnic table about 3 miles from the trailhead and went down a sidetrail for 15 minutes and then back to the picnic table. I started heading back the way I had come and within 200 yards of the table were some bare foot prints that appeared human. I thought that that was very strange as I had seen nor heard any people around at all plus I was wondering why someone was walking around barefoot. That's when I noticed the prints were huge. At least 18 inches. I had a camera in my pocket, but, I was too freaked to stop and get it out. I tried to appear normal as I walked away quickly. I had the feeling that it knew I was there and was watching me as I glanced apprehensively in the direction it had walked off the trail. It gave a yelp, half dog/half human (acknowleging that I had seen his prints and knew he was there) and then I felt it was gone. I hurried back to my truck with no further incident.
My two sons saw Big Foot at Buck Lake, Ocala National Forest, a couple years earlier.
OTHER STORIES: The area is known as the Bardin Booger Woods.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: around 8:00 good light
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator David Wright:
On 7/8/09, this investigator and another tracker friend met this witness in Keystone Heights, from where we proceeded to a small area just NW of Palatka. The witness took us to the exact location where he had seen this foot print. The foot print was in an area that he had just previously hiked where there were no prints. However, upon his return trip a short time later, he noticed tracks on a dirt road, perpendicular to the road, along an ecotone between a turkey oak and hardwood forest. The area had been clear cut, and is being reclaimed naturally by pioneering sand pines. There was one clear, whole track. He stated that the best print was about 18"-20" long, and proportionally wider at both the heel and ball of the foot than a human print. He drew an approximation of the print there in the sand on the road.
It should be noted here that the reason my own close friend had an interest in accompanying me on this investigation is because 22 years earlier as a young man, while alone in a hunting camp in an adjacent track of 14000 acres of land, he heard the most frightening, penetrating scream he had ever heard at 2 a.m. while standing outside of his camper, urinating. He was, and is a seasoned Florida outdoorsman and knows the cries of local animals, including bob cat, coyotes and panthers. He stated that this was a deep, penetrating sound that could be literally felt.
After leaving the witness, we later stopped at a small local grocery that serves breakfast to the old locals every Saturday morning, and were invited back to interview some of them.
It should be noted that a 40 year-old "legend" remains in the local area about a creature known locally as the "Bardin Booger". While some advantage has been taken by locals to hype the legend somewhat, there is reason to believe that there is credibility to a few of these historical accounts.
On 07/25/09, I and another BFRO investigator met in Palatka at 6 a.m. and proceeded to this location for breakfast. We casually interviewed several locals, including the woman behind the counter who described an early morning encounter with a 7' hairy creature crossing Bardin Rd. four years ago on her way to work, about two miles from where we were standing. Her description was typical; bipedal, long gait, swinging long arms, hairy, bulky, no visible neck. She was affirmative about the sighting. In asking another early morning patron, we were told, "If you wanna know about the Booger, you need to talk to ####### ####. The clerk called this person, who, within 10 minutes, drove up and met us out front. This gentleman's family is historically indigenous to the area. His introduction to us was, "Hi! I'm the Bardin Booger!"
We spent about an hour with this bright eyed gentleman in his early 60's as he told us his tale. This interview is summarized as follows; during his late teens, he was fox hunting at night with friends, when they saw a creature run across the road. He described the creature as being about 2 1/2' tall, running on all fours, with a "monkey face" and a long tail with a bushy end, like a lion, and weighing he estimated, about 35 pounds. This description matches a Nov. 1, 1983 Boca Raton News article about the Bardin Booger, in which it was reported, "Other residents have reported seeing a bushy tailed creature, something like a cross between a monkey and a wolverine, weighing in the neighborhood of 40 pounds." This gentleman stated that his sighting of this creature "inspired me!" He knew of a story his uncle had told of actually seeing a bigfoot-like creature many years earlier, and he said, "My uncle isn't the kind who would make up such a story. If he says it, you can believe it!" So this boy of about 17 years of age got his grandmother's old long fur coat, bought an ape mask, and for the next 15 years, became the "Bardin Booger". He stated that he was very selective about his "victims", and never tried to hoax "old folks" in the community because he "might scare'm to death!" I got the impression that these events were not frequent, but maybe 5 or 6 times a year. "You know, I'd hear about some folks was gonna have a party out in the woods, or maybe in their back yard with a fire at night. I'd just get out there and let myself be seen, and everybody'd start screamin' and runnin', and I could get outa there easy. I never thought about gettin' shot, but now I know I sure could'a been!" He stated that he had indeed done a few "road crossings" but usually to folks in the community whose schedule he knew. He stated that he stopped this activity in the late 70s or early 80s. He repeatedly reiterated that it was just a joking thing, that somehow "got blown way out'a proportion, ya know?" He also described numerous other grave yard pranks and similar activities.
Based on all of the above, these are my investigative conclusions;
1. The overwhelmingly major portion of the "Bardin Booger Legend" are the result of a series of hoaxes, perpetrated by a fun loving local on his friends and neighbors over a long period of time.
2. The stories were picked up and run with by media and "got blown way outa proportion".
3. The reports of the smaller creature were most likely of a primate descendant of the numerous species of old and new world monkey escapees that were used in the old "Tarzan" movies, filmed in central Florida, in the 30's and 40's. These animals have been reported as far north as Baker County, Florida.
4. There ARE, nevertheless, other reports prior to and since, the admitted hoaxes that may bare witness to possible Bigfoot activity in this area.
About BFRO Investigator David Wright:
- Certified Florida Master Naturalist (U. of Florida)
- Visual Tracker, Level 1
- Teaches Biology, A.P. Biology, Ecology, and Environmental Science at a rural high school SE of Jacksonville
- See local TV interview with D. Wright
- Participated in the 2007 Private Florida Expedition [Click the video link on that page.], the 2007 South Carolina Expedition, the 2008 South Florida Expedition and assisted with the organization of the 2008 North Florida Expedition. Assisted with the organization of the 2009 Central Florida Expedition.