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COUNTY: Marion County
LOCATION DETAILS: I wish I could recall more.
NEAREST TOWN: Dunnellon
NEAREST ROAD: Unknown dirt road
OBSERVED: This incedent occurred when a DeMolay group I was a member of stayed overnight near Dunellon, Fla during my senior year in High School. We were staying on a house on a dirt road belonging to one of the DeMolay brothers' parents. My friend Ron and I were interested in photography, and we wanted to take some time exposure photos of stars away from city lights. Somewhere around 10:00 or 100:00 pm. Ron, another friend Rick and I went down the dirt road until we were away from the 4 or 5 houses on the road, and took some time exposures on my tripod. I noticed a light from a nearby house was still visible, so I moved about 30-50' further down the road; Ron and Rick stayed put. As I put up the tripod, I noticed a foul stench coming from the woods nearby, on the opposite side of the road from the houses. I asked Ron & Rick if they smelled anything, and they laughed, thinking I was playing a 'skunk ape' joke on them. I said I was serious, so they moved towards me. One said he smelled it, and then Ron said 'I don't hear any crickets chriping.' I then became aware of the unusual silence. Ron & Rich immediately turned and ran to the house; I grabbed my tripod & camera and followed. We go to the house, and before going in agreed to not tell anyone, so they would not make fun of us. The next morning, B4 breakfast, the 3 of us returned to the area. We found the exact spot from where the trees blocked the house where the light I had moved to block came from, and there was no smell. I pointed to an area where I thought the odour had originated, but we could see nothing from the road due to thick underbrush and small trees. We walked up the road, found a way into the underbrush, and came back to the site. Rick had stayed on the road to orient us back to the correct area, and when we found him throught the trees, the area directly where I had pointed to as the origin of the smell had a large [@4' x 5x] area of matted -down underbrush. There was a hill going away from the road, and a small area for runoff between the road and the hill that was damp, and in that damp area, we found a large footprint @1" deep and as I recall about 16-18" long. Ron, an offensive lineman weighing @275 lbs. barely left an impression next to it, so we knew what had left it was very heavy. I had B&W film in my camera, left over from the stars shoot, and took a few photos of the footprint. We planned to return after breakfast with colour film, but the group left B4 we were able to do that, and we had no choice but to leave with them.
ALSO NOTICED: Smell-during the incident. It was not there the day prior to or the morning after the incident.
OTHER WITNESSES: Ron and Rick
OTHER STORIES: No.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: @10-11:00 pm
ENVIRONMENT: Dense woods on one side of the dirt road, with a few rustic homes on the other. These were separated by woods, as well. There was a slight hill on the wooded side of the road, with a runoff area between the hill and the road where we found the footprint.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Keith McLain:
I spoke with the witness and got more information:
He did not hear any unusual noises that night, although the lack of noise, at one point, was noticeable -- there was the classic sudden eery silence, in combination with the foul odor. The dual effect was enough to frighten these boys, and cause them to run home. The stench was described as 'decaying, stagnant water' and seemed to be wafting from a particular direction.
The boys returned the next day to look around in this same direction, and found the brush bed. The bedding area consisted of a large portion of a long, 6' tall hedgerow. This hedgerow was flattened by something large laying on it. It was not just flattened grass. It was low brush, flattened by something large and heavy. The footprint-like impression was near the bedding area. Most the of the details about the impression have been forgotten. The witness did remember that toes were discernable. He remembered counting 5 of them.
Each of the elements may have been unrelated. And each of the elements may have had known causes. But the combination of these elements is what makes the memory stand out in the mind of the witness, and also makes it relevant for this database.
The report should be listed as a Class B- public report. It is uncertain, but it seems relevant, and I believe the witness is honest.