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COUNTY: Citrus County
LOCATION DETAILS: Hernando City Rt 41, turn East on Parsons Point Rd; south on N Lake front Drive to fish camp before the dead end for launch point to Island.
NEAREST TOWN: Hernando City
NEAREST ROAD: N. Lakefront Drive near US 41
OBSERVED: In March 1961 The Boy Scout troop I belonged to was camped on Gilchrist Island in Lake Tsala Apopka Citrus County, FL. near Hernando City. The days activities included hiking, swimming, camp craft, night games, and finally on Saturday night the ever popular campfire. The campout was very exhilerating and when lights out came all found it easy to fall asleep.
As Jr assistant scoutmaster it was my responsibility to make sure everyone was in their tents and secure for the night. As a boy of 17 years of age this position was one of importance and was not looked upon lightly. The days duties were completed about 11:30pm. I walked for approx. 15 minutes from the campsite, down a moon-lit path without a flashlight to take my evening constitutional. The return trip was uneventful and it seemed unusually quiet for a location normally filled with the sounds of frogs, crickets and occasional bump in the night. I decided to take a shortcut through the forest to bypass a bend in the trail and came into a clearing with what appeared to be a stump. I reached a distance of about 6 feet from the object when it stood up. The creature was 5-6 feet tall weighing about 200-300 pounds. I was 6 feet 1 inch tall and weighed 120 pounds. The figure in front of me was much broader than I with very long and heavy arms. The moon light source was behind the creature, so consequently eyes or facial features were not discernable. The light revealed a body glistening with long hair. What seemed to be an eternity but was only a few seconds we stared at each other and then he was gone. The creature ran with a long, fast, heavy stride as it crashed through the palmettos until it could be heard no more.
The campsite was still when I returned. Frightened, I went to wake up the Scoutmaster, and he suggested a good nights rest and all would be well in the morning.
ALSO NOTICED: None noticed
OTHER WITNESSES: There were no witnesses during this sighting.
OTHER STORIES: In a seperate instance at a boyscout campout in the Fall of 1962 at Gilgrist Island; I along with other witnesses were standing in the brush when something started throwing sticks at us from the swamp area. All the boyscouts were accounted for.
Another incident Boyscout campout March 1963 Gilcrist Island. Witnesses and I observed barefoot prints 12" - 14" long and 6"-7" wide.
In April 1963 campout with a college friend. We observed at 2:30am squirrels in the tree tops running about moving towards our camp, then screaming in fear above us. Then Silence followed by footsteps around our camp, followed by a loud terrifying scream or howl then footsteps running away.
No incidents after 1963.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: 12:00 midnight, Clear Moon lit night, good weather, cool night
ENVIRONMENT: Florida Hammock Island 3000 feet long with a hard wood stand. The island has some swampland, and is surrounded by lily pads, sawgrass and shallow water areas. This is one of many islands in the area.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Cathy Betz:
I spoke to CV for over an hour by phone. I found him to be engaging, forthright and matter-of-fact in his narrative of what occurred during the scouting trip back in 1961.
He had these details to add to what he encountered while he was taking a short cut through a clearing to get back to the camp.
-While approaching what he thought was a stump, when he got to within about six feet away from it, the 'stump' stood up on two legs.
-There was a bright moon at the time, bright enough to see the trail and to make out details in the dark. But the moonlight was behind the ‘creature’ standing before him, so all he could make out was a silhouette of the thing.
-His immediate impression was that the creature standing before him was completely covered with hair. He could not make out the color of the hair, but that it glistened in the moonlight and that he could make out some long strands of it where it was silhouetted against the moon light.
-He and the creature stood completely still and silent for approximately 10-15 seconds, gazing intently at one another. Then it turned its body just before walking away, but its face did not immediately turn. It kept looking at him until it actually started to walk away with its arms at its sides. CV said that he could hear its footsteps and that its stride was noticeably bi-pedal and long and that it made a lot of crashing noises when it got into the heavier brush.
-CV estimates that the creature was between 5-6 foot tall, and that it weighed about 200-300 lbs. He says that he could not see a neck, that its arms hung very low, and that the thickness of its arms was twice as thick as his arms. CV did note that the arms might have appeared thicker because they were covered with hair. CV went on to state that the shoulders and chest were very broad and that the shape of the head was more rounded at the top than conical. He also stated that he did not notice its feet, its fingers or any unusual odors or sounds. He also said that he could not make out any facial details because the light of the moon was behind it.
-When asked about his impressions of the creature’s behaviors, CV said that he couldn’t be sure, but that it seemed as if the creature was trying to hide by crouching down in the clearing near the trail. It only stood up when CV took the short cut through the clearing. CV stated that he never had any feeling that the creature was dangerous, but that it only wanted to get away.
-CV remarked that it was definitely not a bear or a human that he had seen that night. He was also adamant that it was not his imagination, that he was not sleepy, nor was he chemically impaired.
At the time of the encounter CV had never heard of a bigfoot before. When I asked him what he thought he had seen he just stated that he didn’t know. But he felt, at the time, that he saw something so out of the ordinary that he should wake up the Scout Master to tell him about this encounter. But his Scout Master just dismissed him, saying that he should just go back to bed and get a good night’s rest.
CV told me that it was this encounter that drove him to learn more. Soon after this incident, while in college, he found a book by Ivan T. Sanderson and after reading it decided that what he had encountered was a bigfoot.
After reading and learning more about bigfoot, CV and a friend went back to Gilchrist Island in the hope of encountering a bigfoot again in 1963.
While camping they began hearing the squirrels in the tress become active. Being that it was about 2am, both campers realized how unusual it was for squirrels to be active at that time at night, but they could see them with their flashlights running around in the trees and then emitting vocalized warning chatter.
It was about then that they heard a twig break and the sounds of bi-pedal footfalls close to their position near the swamp line. Feeling brave, they picked up a bottle and a hatchet and decided to pursue the sounds. Soon after that they heard a scream from about 60 feet away.
After hearing this, him and his buddy decided to retreat. While walking out they could hear its footsteps close to them, as if paralleling them, but when they stopped, the footsteps stopped. After a few minutes of this, it ran off and they could hear that it ran with long bi-pedal strides.
CV stated that it was like no other scream he had ever heard before. He states that it was very loud and powerful and could not have been made by a human, or any other creature that he was aware of. He said that it was higher pitched than the 2006 ‘Florida Howl’, and that after listening to more recordings on the internet it was more like the 1978 ‘Whoop-Howl’ from Snohomish, WA. When asked how he perceived the scream, CV replied that it sounded to him like a “I want you to leave” warning scream.
CV also mentioned another unusual encounter while leading his Boy Scout troops on a night walk in the fall of ’62 at about 10pm. After walking down a path to an isolated spot where they built a small fire, something started throwing sticks at them from a swampy part of the island. CV actually saw one of the sticks coming towards them and described it as flying in at an arc, not from above. Deciding to go back, one of the scouts saw a footprint further down the path with a flashlight. CV stated that it looked like a barefoot human footprint except that it was 12-14’ long by 6-7’ wide. Much too wide to have been made by a human. And he also stated that it sat directly on ‘top’ of the footprints they had previously made while walking down the trail.
Bordered by the 10,550 acre Flying Eagle Preserve and the 8100 acre Halapta Tastananki Preserve, Gilchrist Island is now part of the 140,000 acre Withlacoochee River Basin Preserves that is owned and operated by the Southwest Florida Management District.
The island is a hardwood hammock that is about 3000 feet long and surrounded by vast prairie lakes and swamps. In the 1960’s the only access to the Island were several dirt bridges, but today those bridges have been eradicated by man-made canals that partially circle the Island.
(Investigator’s note-Given the relatively small stature and estimated weight of the creature CV encountered, it is my opinion that he saw a juvenile bigfoot. Based on ongoing field observation findings and studies, it is not unusual for adolescent bigfoots to show a high propensity for observing humans from a safe distance. Therefore, it is my opinion that the creature CV could have witnessed was an adolescent bigfoot that was merely trying to hide while observing him. If CV had not taken the shortcut through the clearing it is likely that he never would have spotted this creature.)
About BFRO Investigator Cathy Betz:
Cathy has been a nurse for over 27 years and currently works in a busy ICU. An amateur naturalist, Cathy has been intrigued by the bigfoot phenomenon from an early age.
Attended the following expeditions:
- The 2006 Florida Expedition
- The 2007 North Carolina Expedition
- The 2008 South Florida Expedition
- The 2008 North Florida Expedition
- The 2009 Central Florida Expedition
- The 2009 Utah Expedition
- The 2010 TN Survey Expedition
- The 2011 East Texas Expedition
-The 2012 North FL Expedition
-The 2013 Michigan Upper Peninsula Expedition
For more information, please see the Florida BFRO