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COUNTY: Cherokee County
LOCATION DETAILS: I would have to get the directions from my mom, as I haven't driven there and haven't been back since this incident.
NEAREST TOWN: Gore
NEAREST ROAD: SH 100
OBSERVED: In the summer of 2000 I went with my stepfather and his friend to some land (40 acres) that my mother inherited from my grandfather. It’s in a fairly remote and sparsely populated area near Lake Tenkiller. My grandfather had bought the land because we went to the lake multiple times every year when I was growing up, and fancied building on it. He passed away having never done anything with the land.
We were going to clear a “road" from the public road to as far as we could go to the back of the property. That meant clearing brush and cutting trees (with chainsaws). We arrived around 9:00 am and began work. We took a break for lunch and I decided to explore the rest of the property while they sat in the truck and ate. At the back of the property (approximately 150 yds from where we were working) the land dropped steeply into a canyon/ravine. It was pretty clear all the way to the bottom and probably 80-100 feet of vertical drop. As I neared the bottom I saw what looked like a cave on the opposing side. That side of the canyon was much steeper and nearly solid rock. I walked down to the cave entrance and looked inside. I quickly realized it had another entrance as it was fairly well lit (being noon during the summer). The entrance I was looking into was about 5 feet high and 3 feet wide. I couldn't see the other entrance from it as the cave made a curve. I went inside and realized something had been living in there.
The other entrance was about 30 feet from the first and roughly the same size. In the middle of the cave was a large “nest". It consisted of a shredded (filthy) sleeping bag, various pieces of cloth, grasses, and leaves. It was clearly fashioned into a large sort of oval shaped nest about 6 feet across. There was a few pieces of torn up trash scattered around that was mostly food wrappers. My first thought was maybe a homeless person was living there. That would be really weird though because it is miles to any towns or even campgrounds. There are a few nearby, the nearest being about a half mile away.
I began to get a very uneasy feeling. I went out the other entrance/exit and decided to go back and tell my stepfather what I’d found. I was about 25 feet from the cave when I heard a “huff", like an animal snorting. I looked back and up the hillside above the cave probably 30 feet up I saw the head and shoulders of what can only be described as bigfoot. It was looking over the top of one the big rocks covering the hillside. It was covered in reddish/brown hair and didn't look like a human or an ape, more like a cross between the two. It was looking directly at me and I turned around and ran screaming back up the hill towards my stepfather and his friend.
When I got back to them I was out of breath and huffing and puffing and trying to tell them what I’d seen. They laughed and told me I was full of crap. Despite my frenzied insistence, they didn't believe me. They said they thought we'd cleared enough “road" for the day and we'd come back again another day.
Well, we never went back. It's a 2 hr drive from where we live in Norman and my mom decided it wasn't worth the time and effort. As far as I know, she still owns the land but none of us have been there since. I will never forget that day. No one I know believes me, but I know what I saw. I'll never go back there without at least a pistol. Whatever that thing was, I got the distinct impression that it didn't like me being in it's cave.
Visiting Lake Tenkiller many times over the years I’ve heard and read of many sightings in the area. I always thought they were kinda kooky, probably just people mistaking deer or maybe even a bear for bigfoot. I'll never doubt them again. I'm 52 years old and I know what I saw that day. At times I've tried to tell myself that I was mistaken, but I realize I’m just trying to make believe it didn't happen. But it did happen and it's something I'll never forget.
ALSO NOTICED: Found a large "nest" inside the cave consisting of a shredded sleeping bag, various cloth, grasses, and leaves.
OTHER WITNESSES: I was the only witness, but ran screaming back to stepfather and his friend to recount the sighting.
OTHER STORIES: Been visiting lake Tenkiller for 50+ years and have heard of many, many sightings. I don't know any details and honestly didn't really give them much credence until this happened.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Midday in the summer. Very bright sunlight.
ENVIRONMENT: Heavily forested private property (40 acres) surrounded by thousands of acres of forest and sparsely populated.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Carter Buschardt:
I spoke at good length with the witness who is in his 50's now. He still lives in the area of the event. I will share his description of the cave and nest. The nest was created by weaving a discarded sleeping bag into some tree branches and twigs, and some larger pieces of trash which included paper and plastic bags, a few scraps of clothing or cloth, and finally some long grasses (hay maybe) and leaves. The nest was oval shaped with a clear depression in the middle where "someone" was obviously sleeping. As stated it was at least 6 feet around. "Something had gone to a lot of trouble making that nest".
In the cave there was no indication of the use of fire in any way. No animal bones or other signs of eating. There was no signs that it had any human waste in there. He noted there was no animal waste either. The entire time he was in and around the cave he had the "feeling of being watched" and "he was creeped out". The cave was about 6 feet tall and about 4 feet wide. It was nearly totally level. When you entered, it curved around to the left and was about 25-30 feet deep.
When he went out the other end, the "feeling of being watched and a sense of dread was amplified" so he decided to go back through the cave and head back to join his stepfather and friend.
Time to get back to work anyway. As soon as he stepped out the other side as was about 25 feet away he "heard a huff" and he looked up, as that is where he thought the sound originated from. And there it was.
The creature was, as stated, about 30 feet up, standing on the rocks almost directly above the entrance. The rocks were "gray with a bit of green lichen growing on it" so the reddish brown hair made the creature really stand out. He saw it from "mid abdomen on up" and estimated that the portion he saw was "about 3.5 feet" and estimated the height "to be at least 7 feet tall" based on the height of the rocks it was behind. He also stated that it had to be "at least 350 lbs" but it was just a guess. The only feature that stands out were dark lips. He did repeat that the face had a human/animal hybrid composition and a "typical shaped head with perhaps a slight conical shape as many others have described".
Here is a bit of clarity he sent to me later after we had spoken: "I think I noticed the lips because it looked more like the face of an Ewok (Return of the Jedi) than it did either ape or human. Like a big Ewok without the cute factor. It also occurred to me it didn't have the hairless snout of an ape but I could see the mouth".
Entire sighting was "3 seconds and no more than 5" and as soon as he realized this was not a "normal local animal" he was out of there. "Screamed like a girl and took off running uphill as fast as he could". As he mentioned, when he got back he told them what had happened and they did just laugh it off. Also, as he mentioned, they decided they had cleared enough for the day and they would come back another time, and they left after just a few hours work, even though they packed tools and fuel for a full days work.
This is where the validation for the event comes in, at least for him. A few years later his grandmother told him that his stepfather admitted that he and his friend DID see the creature and the witness's encounter. Saw the whole thing from the front seat of the truck while eating lunch. They were attracted to the event by his screaming. In his opinion,THAT observation of the event is why they have not been back. The land is still owned by the grandmother.
The event is known by most of his family and it is simply not discussed. Sort of like it never happened. Since his stepfather is getting on in age and health, he intends to ask him point blank about the event and what he told the grandmother. Hopefully I will have an update to post later.
Even though these last 2 paragraphs are technically "second hand information" reserved for Class B sightings, even if they were removed from this report, it is still a very valid Class A sighting with most of the necessary observations needed for a Class A. This admission by the stepdad explains the silence from most of the family.
Very good credible witness. He was very thankful to be able to tell his story without the scoffing and ridicule that he has received from his family. Though it is mostly good-natured kidding, the fact they don't believe him has always frustrated him. He had a good clear view of the creature at a distance of 30 feet and was concise and clear as to what was standing there. This is a really good honest observation of his event.
About BFRO Investigator Carter Buschardt:
Carter is originally from Texas & moved to Missouri in 1988. Professional drummer for 20 years. Improv & sketch comic and writer for 5 years. Lighting technician for major touring groups for several years. Experienced outdoorsman and was a trained investigator for MUFON. Studied Herpetology in college. Longtime special interest in Sasquatch long term habituation, burial research, infra sound, language & stick structures. He led three Missouri BFRO Public Expeditions:, 2012 & 2013 & 2014. Led public expedition for BFRO in Illinois in 2019.Participated in Iowa, 2012 Illinois. Michigan 2016. Private Expeditions: Illinois 2011, 2012, 2013. Missouri 2011, 2012 (3) 2013(2) 2014. Iowa 2012, 2014 & 2015. Consulted on two Animal Planet Finding Bigfoot TV shows. Expedition leader in Missouri 2013 (1) & 2014 (2) & Illinois Expedition 2019 (1). Led night ops on numerous BFRO expeditions. Hosted a public Town Hall meeting in Missouri in 2017.