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COUNTY: Cherokee County
LOCATION DETAILS: It was near the Illinois River S.E. of Park Hill. I can't remember the exact location, but it was within a few hundred feet of the river in a clearing. There was a small hill on the other side which was covered in some trees and thickets of sumac.
NEAREST TOWN: Park Hill
NEAREST ROAD: Highway 62
OBSERVED: I was out with my fraternity camping near the Illinois River. It was around early October. We were in a small clearing near the river under a small hill. There were several of us in the group. Me and two of my friends walked into the treeline under the hill to gather some firewood for the campfire. It was dark and we only had one flashlight.
As we gathered wood, up on the side of the hill something started rustling through the trees. The hill was thickly covered in Sumac, which would be very difficult to navigate, especially in the dark. Whatever was on the hill started approaching us, maybe about 100 feet away. It was starting to break some of the branches in the sumac and sounded big! We couldn't see anything through the dense brush, but whatever it was, was coming towards us.
One of my friends picked up a rock and threw it towards whatever was making the noise. It stopped just momentarily and then began running in our direction. At that we all got scared and ran back to the campfire where the rest of the members were. None of the rest of our fraternity members heard anything. We thought they may have been trying to prank us, but all said they'd been right there waiting for us to bring back wood.
We all decided to end our outing and got in the vehicle and headed back to the campus. This is about the best I can remember what happened, it's been many years ago now.
ALSO NOTICED: The only other thing I can remember right now is that there was a "musty" smell about the time whatever it was, started walking down the hill. It smelled like dead fish in stagnant water. I'm no expert in sounds, but whatever was rustling was making footfalls that sounded bipedal.
OTHER WITNESSES: 3 witnesses. We were looking for firewood, we stayed fairly close since we only had one flashlight. We'd walked away about 300 yards from our other fraternity members into the treeline and were out of sight of them. I don't think we could hear them because of the river running, it had just rained quite a bit and the river was full.
OTHER STORIES: Yes, one of my other fraternity members (he didn't gather wood with us) had told us that when he and his brother were younger, they lived further up the river about 7 miles in the woods. One night when his parents were gone, he and his brother were at home and something started banging on the side of the house. They were too afraid to go look. When their parents got back, they told of what happened and their dad went outside and found some large bare footprints around the house. They were going to take pictures the next morning, but it rained and washed the prints away.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: It was around 10:00 p.m. Clear night. No moon, very dark but stars were out. Was calm winds and cool, probably in the 50's.
ENVIRONMENT: It was a flat area near the river, however the hill was close by, within about 300 feet. It was probably within about 1/2 to 1 mile of farms and houses nearby.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Bill S.:
I visited with the witness over the phone. He was quite appreciative of the opportunity to share his encounter. It was October to early November of 1982. He was a freshman in college and was pledging to a fraternity. He and about 8-10 other guys from the frat went out on a camping trip. They all were piled into a pick up. Upon arrival they built a campfire behind their truck and were enjoying the fire. They were in a clearing that was about 50 yards wide, and about 50 yards from a creek. There was a hill that had a lot of brush, mainly sumac.
The fire started to die down somewhat and being the freshman he and 2 other guys were sent to get more wood. They approached the hill and started to work their way into the brush to look for wood. They were approximately 75-100 yards from the campfire and he was 25 – 50 feet farther in than the two other guys. All they had between the three of them was one very dim flashlight.
He began to hear bipedal footsteps. They were heavy but they were approaching him cautiously. He feels that whatever was making them was curious about him and his group. The witness has spent time in the woods and knows the difference between deer and other four legged animals walking and the sound of men walking. At first, he thought that someone from the group still at the fire was trying to play a trick on him. So he kept moving. Then he heard the animal break two branches. By the sound of it they were branches about 2-3 inches in length and he states that they were not the sound of dead branches. They were green branches. He also noted a pretty strong smell of “stagnant water with dead fish”. He felt the animal got to within about 30 feet of him at this point.
The other two campers heard this too and they immediately turned and went back to the campfire. When they get back to the fire, the witness noticed that all the members of the group were present so it was not someone from the group playing a trick. They told the others about what had happened. The consensus from those that had stayed by the fire was that the sounds were made by a cow or a deer or something else. Their response was that deer do not break branches. The president of the frat and one other guy got up and proceeded back to the hill area with the three witnesses. Again they hear movement in the brush. One of the guys in the group yells/screams toward the brush. They then immediately hear 5 or 6 rapid, heavy steps, almost running, right at the group. This scares the entire group. The witness stated that he was petrified and frozen in fear for a few moments at the animal’s charge.
When the animal charged, the group turned and ran back to the truck. The president of the frat said that they were leaving. They left in such a hurry that they backed over their fire and just left it burning. At no time was the animal seen at all. There was some alcohol present at the party, but the witness states that he had not had any drinks and they were only there about 45 minutes total so even the guys that had been drinking did not have time to consume much.
The witness expressed more than once that just retelling the story to me brought back the feeling of fear when they were running toward the truck and an overall sense of anxiousness. The event has had an impact on him. He now is an avid reader about sasquatch and has attended some symposiums. But he is not interested in going out and actively looking for a sasquatch.
About BFRO Investigator Bill S.:
Bill is a business owner who has attended OK 2011, AR 2012, CO 2012, NM 2013, NC 2014, CO 2014, 2015 and several private expeditions.