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DATE: late March Early Apr
COUNTY: Polk County
LOCATION DETAILS: N.e. 11th ct behind 5900 address in swamp that is now mostly a housing development.
NEAREST TOWN: Saylorville Iowa
NEAREST ROAD: Highway 69 and n.e. 60th ave.
OBSERVED: about 2 or 3 a.m. I was awakened by my st. Bernard puppy who was quite upset. I soon learned why as I could hear my neighbors 2 dogs, a great Dane and a husky by the back of our house crying loudly. I was almost 14 at the time and was quite scared by the commotion as was my puppy.
I looked out my window towards the cornfield and swamp behind the house but saw nothing but the dogs staring out towards the swamp, they started to go back out to the darkness in full attack mode. they weren't even barking but like screaming at whatever it was out there. I then heard a large rustling sound in the dried reeds by the fenceline. It sounded as if the dogs had been hit and they ran back to the safety of our back porch light.
I ran to Moms room but found her at our back kitchen window staring towards the commotion. When the dogs would silence a little we could hear something walking in the reeds. It sounded very heavy like a cow but made no sound other than the walking noise and extra commotion when I believe it defended itself against the dogs.
My neighbors across the street also watched from their front porch as this event continued for about an hour. Myself and my friend looked the area over from the safety of our dirtbikes about 3 days later as we were too scared to go out there after what happened. We saw reeds smashed down most of the length of the fenceline and what looked like a deer lay but it was way overgrown and would have been tough to leave a footprint that would be identifiable to a couple of young kids.
Just after our incident, maybe a couple of weeks later I remember seeing on the news about a bigfoot sighting at the Cherry Glen campground not too far from our house. Also sightings in the Adel Iowa area the previous November that also made the news. We do not know what was out there that night but my mother remarked how funny it seemed to happen in between two sighting occurences in the area.
The swamp is now mostly developed into a housing area nestled in between Saydel High school and n.e.60th avenue in saylor township. I thought this story which is quite well known among my old school buddies would maybe complement the other stories in central Iowa at that same time. Its not dramatic or filled with terror but it sure shook me up for a couple of weeks after as me and my friend were sure it was bigfoot. We never looked at that gloomy old swamp the same way again.
ALSO NOTICED: Slow walking in dry reeds outside of the scope of our porch light. Two large mean dogs belonging to our neighbors trying to attack whatever it was by the swamp but kept being forcefully repulsed several times returning to the safety of our back yard only to attack again.
OTHER WITNESSES: myself , Mother, 1 friend and his mom and dad across the street.
OTHER STORIES: Most definitly, November 1979 sighting at Adel. Then our encounter, then a sighting at Cherry Glen ( Saylorville lake) by a park employee. Our encounter was never reported to anyone but friends but the Adel and Cherry glen sightings both made the news. The Adel sightings are in your database which prompted me to contact you.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: About 3a.m., Poor lighting, Back porch light. Fair weather, High 30s for temps.
ENVIRONMENT: unplanted cornfield with swamp behind. Lots of dry reeds and overgrown and storm damaged trees.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Steve Moon:
Note by Matt Moneymaker (chief editor):
The elements of this Iowa report that make it a possible bigfoot-related incident (rather than just a possible horse or cow in the reeds) and thereby justifying its inclusion in this database of possible bigfoot-related incidents:
1) Proximity to the Des Moines River. This river basin has a history of reported sightings extending back several decades, at least. The zone is rich with well fed deer herds.
2) The correlation with two other visual sightings nearby, reported in the local newspaper at the time.
Comments by Iowa BFRO investigator Steve Moon
I spoke with the witness on the phone on two occasions and found him to be very credible. He relived the experience from thirty years ago as though it was yesterday, and added a remarkable amount of vivid detail about the incident.
A day later I interviewed the reporting witness' mother, who also could recall the incident. I found her equally credible and her account of the incident equally compelling.
Although the area where the incident took place is urban it is situated on the edge of a broad river valley which is extremely wild. The Des Moines River is the largest river of interior Iowa. There have been many sasquatch related incidents reported along the central portion of the river where this incident took place, as well as along the lower reaches of the river in southeast Iowa.
The following information is from an interview with the reporting witness:
In the Spring of 1980 the witness had a new puppy, 'Gus', who was not well, and as a result the witness was not sleeping well. If he heard Gus whimpering he would get up. Gus was in the basement of the house. At about 1:30 or 2:00 he heard Gus whining. He then heard the two big dogs from down the street. He got up and found his mom in the kitchen looking out the back window toward the corn field and swamp. Something had awakened his mom by walking close to the house. Neighbors next door also had their lights on and were watching.
The kitchen window and back yard faced west toward the swamp. It was about 70 feet to the field from their house, and then there was a fence another 120 to 200 feet beyond that, with dried cat tails, storm damaged trees and a small swamp with open water. The big dogs from down the street that were in their back yard that night were viscous to the point of being feral, and had the run of the neighborhood. Their owners typically made no attempt to control them. There was about a 130 lb. great dane mix, and Primo was about a 70 lb. German shephard-husky mix. The dogs were running back and forth together from the light in the back yard of the witness' house out to the fence on the far side of the corn and back. When the dogs were up by the house they were quiet, listening and looking at a point in the darkness. You could hear something crunching reeds beyond the light. You could tell from the sound and from where the dogs were looking where the animal was. At the time the witness and his mom weren't thinking bigfoot, but horse. But it didn't sound like a four legged animal. His mom made the point that it sounded really heavy and walked like a man, making a "crunch, crunch, crunch" sound. The dogs seemed horrified. They would run into the dark, and then would instantaneously scream as though hit by something. When the dogs charged into the darkness you couldn't hear a strike by the animal, but the dogs would go from a growling attack to a shriek, like both dogs were struck hard simultaneously. Then they would be back into the light right away. The witness reported that it was the sort of sound you hear when a dog is hit by a car. This happened eight or ten times. The dogs wouldn't take their eyes off of the animal the whole time, and they were looking in different places each time they came back to the light as the animal moved. It was unnerving to the witness and his mom.
The fence beyond the corn field enclosed the swamp, and there was an opening on the north end of it that was about 60 feet long and one on the south end that was about ten or twelve feet long, with sections of fence laying on the ground. The fence was a typical woven field fence that came up to about chest high on the witness. The animal was moving back and forth on the other side of this fence, moving as though it was lost. The dogs would run to different places to attack each time. They were acting like feral animals. There were no smells, and no sounds from the animal other than the heavy crunching.
The witness's school chum lived next door, and his dad was a hunter and sort of a river bottom guy. This animal had the friend's dad confused. He had no idea what it might be. The houses and swamp were on the edge of the Des Moines River valley, which is very wide and quite wild at this point. There were people who lived in shacks along the river there, and police would go there to find bodies when there were murders, that sort of thing. It was a notorious place, and still is. The area had a reputation for strange things going on, and there was a story of a swamp monster that lived down there that was called "orange eyes". The witness's grandfather had lived along the Des Moines River and farmed back in the 1920s and 1930s, and he reported that he had never seen anything like that. But it was an unnerving area. You can still get lost real easily down there because it's so overgrown, and at the time of this incident it was much worse. On the edge of the valley, in the neighborhood, there was a dirt road that went between two schools, Woodside Middle School and Saydel High School, and the witness and his friends were scared whenever they walked it.
The witness and his friend were terrified about going back to the swamp after the incident, but did go back on their dirt bikes about a week later. They found a noticeable path on the swamp side of the fence. About 400 yards or so southwest of the house there was about an 8 by 8 or 10 by 10 foot area that was all mashed down that led to speculation. No foot prints were found, but it was not the sort of place where foot prints would show.
A few weeks later at Cherry Glenn Park, not too far north, a park worker saw a bigfoot standing next to a shelter. It's head was as high as the low part of the roof, so it was about eight feet tall. There was also a sighting on I-80 by a truck driver outside of a nearby community at about the same time.
I interviewed the mom, and she provided the following details about the incident:
She heard something large walking past her bedroom window, which faced south. The walking was in the corn, about 50 feet away. You could hear the corn stalks crunching. It was very heavy sounding. It was like a two legged animal. It made a straight bee-line past the window toward the corn and tree line on the west side of the house. It made big strides with heavy steps, but there were no other sounds. It startled her, and she turned on the back light. She and her son stood and listened to the dogs. The animal would stop in one place, the dogs would strike, circle back, then after a while the animal seemed to move. It went on for about an hour. It was shocking.
The previous Fall and Winter of 1979 had been strange. A woman saw a bigfoot looking in the window of her kitchen near Van Meter, which is to the west, on the other side of the Des Moines River. The window was quite high, so the animal had to be huge. There were several sightings at that time. There were five or six sightings in the Spring of 1980. Her son's friends' grandfather worked for the Sheriff's Department and had lots of stories. Her dad told stories. He saw a creature down by the river that looked like a cross between a bear and something else.
About BFRO Investigator Steve Moon:
A native of southeast Iowa, Steve has long been a cave explorer and outdoor adventurer. He became involved in bigfoot research in 2008. Steve organized BFRO IOWA Public Expeditions in 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2016, and is currently organizing a 2017 IOWA expedition. Steve is an artist, photographer, farmer, anthropologist and professional researcher. His primary research areas are the river basins of the Mississippi River and its tributaries, and all of eastern Iowa.