Geographical Index > United States > Florida > Wakulla County > Report # 67296|
Submitted by witness Mike Randall on Monday, November 23, 2020.
Vocalizations heard and nests found in remote part of Ochlockonee River bottom
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YEAR: 2002; 2007
DATE: week of the18th
COUNTY: Wakulla County
LOCATION DETAILS: Ochlockonee river bottom, downriver of Telogia Creek. We hunt across from the Huey Arnold boat ramp, in a section of the Appalachicola NF that is inaccessible from the hard road (375) to the east since there is a private hunt club on the uplands blocking access to the swamp.
NEAREST TOWN: Hosford, FL
NEAREST ROAD: SR 375
OBSERVED: Two incidents, years apart, same woods
Background: I have been hunting in North Florida for 30 years; have a BS in Wildlife Ecology, and a MS in Fisheries. I am employed as a research biologist for a federal agency.
My brother and I have a long-standing tradition of hunting in the Apalachicola NF every Martin Luther King weekend. We hunt a chunk of Ochlockonee River bottom in Wakulla County, accessing it from the Huey Arnold boat ramp, near Telogia. There have been two incidents during these hunts that haunt me. Mind you, I have hunted about every WMA in North Florida, spending three to four weeks a year in the woods, for 35 years. For work, I have been on most of the rivers in the Southeast. These two incidents are the only two where I didn’t know, or could not make an inference about, what was occurring.
1) Keee- Grrrr: Around 2002, my brother suggested trying out a new location further down river than we normally hunt. He ran me down the river in the boat and dropped me off next to a slough, then went back upriver to go in the woods himself. This was for an afternoon hunt, so heading in the woods around 2 pm. I walked about 250 yards away from the river (east) along the bank of the slough until it started to curve upriver, then found an oak to climb with my tree stand. As I sat there, I started to notice that there was nothing going on in the swamp. Normally, there is a lot of background noise and movement- squirrels, birds, insects. The only time that stops is when a predator moves through or a major weather shift is about to occur- but this silence just kept on. I then started to hear something between me and the river, slightly downstream of me, that sounded like squabbling racoons but quieter. Nothing else happened all afternoon- it was just slightly off putting- the definition of ‘oppressive silence’. It started to get dark and I decided that I was going to get out of there a few minutes early. Got down and started assembling my gear (lash the stand together, get out the head lamp and flashlight, etc) as the sun was setting. Got my stand on my back and took a few steps toward the river when, between me and the river, there was a call I have never heard before or since: Keee. Sharp, loud, piercing. For some reason, all I could think was “That’s a four foot tall parrot”. It was immediately followed by a growl: Grrrrrr. Big. Deep. Volume. I can’t put enough r’s on that Grrrr to emphasize what that growl sounded like, or how long it rolled on for. My brain immediately went “Followed by a 800 lb tiger”- and then realized; oh, shit, that’s between me and the river- where I need to go. By now it’s dark. A deer went by me at a fast walk- I hear rapid hoofsteps, maybe 15 yards away. A few seconds later, and Keeee. Grrrrr. Closer. I hear no steps, wings, branches- nothing. But that call was about half the distance between me and the river. I’m still standing there, frozen. A third call, closer still. By now, I’m well past freaked out. I turn on the flashlight, headlamp, jack a round into the rifle (lever action) and sort-of squeak out “Hey”. I’m not proud of that “Hey”- I would like to think I could have responded to that call with a throaty “Don’t mess with me- I’m a bad MF’er” , but no, I was pretty well puckered up and all my 6’2”, 220 lbs could muster was a weak “Hey”. I’m sweeping the woods with the flashlight and headlamp, with the rifle now loaded and safety off- and: nothing. I see nothing, hear nothing, nothing moves- and in a few minutes, I hear the boat coming downriver and see the spotlight. As soon as I saw that, I start to hustle down the slough bank talking loudly. Got to the river bank, jumped in the boat, and told my brother to get the hell out of Dodge. I told my brother and the other two folks we were hunting with- and the consensus was, yep, strange things happen in the woods, and we don’t much talk about it.
2) Palmetto bed. Maybe five years later. After a morning hunt, my brother and I meet up in the woods on our way back to camp for lunch. On our way we passed near a saw palmetto clump. At this time of day, the animals (deer and hogs) have bedded down. These palmetto clumps are prime bedding sites- they are higher and dryer than most of the swamp around them, and great cover. So, what we do is split up- one person works wide around the outside of the clump, while the second waits a few minutes and then quietly works through the clump. Idea is that an animal would normally hold in the clump to let you go by, but will ease out if someone is coming in- and the forward person might get a shot at them. So my brother goes in as I’m waiting outside- and in a few minutes, I hear- “Um, Mike- come in here”. I work my way in, and he’s standing looking at a 6’ X 10’ space in the middle of the clump tiled with broken off saw palmetto fronds. Green, freshly broken off, evenly distributed to make a nice ground cover. I looked at them to verify that they were snapped off- no bite marks, no tool marks. There were maybe 60 to 80 fronds, one layer deep, nicely spread to cover the entire area. I saw no hair, there was no smell- just a bed of palmetto fronds laid out nicely in the middle of the clump.
Now, it only takes 10 to 15 lbs of pressure to break off a palmetto frond, but you need opposable thumbs. I looked at my brother, he looked at me; we didn’t say one word- just walked out of there and went back to the boat. Not discussed at all. A few years later he texted me to say he had “found another one of those beds” in a different WMA.
ALSO NOTICED: Silence and stillness except for intermittent grumbly soft squalling all afternoon for Kee Grrrr
OTHER WITNESSES: None for Kee Grrr; my brother for palmetto bed
OTHER STORIES: No.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Kee Grrr- just after dark, miles from the nearest electric light, in the middle of a river bottom. It's seriously dark.
Palmetto bed: noon, on a bright and sunny day
ENVIRONMENT: Ridge and slough river bottom; floods often, only accessible by boat
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Matthew Moneymaker:
I spoke with the witness by phone. He is credible and knowledgeable. The incidents happened in a part of the Apalachicola National Forest where few people ever venture. He hunts there each year because the area is so loaded with wildlife.
His description of the nests among the palmettos is particularly interesting and potentially useful. The palmetto palm fronds were not large and fully grown. They were young and relatively small but not tiny. They were all broken off where the fan part meets the stem. They were also all green when the nest was found, indicating that it was assembled not long before it was found.
The palm fans were clearly broken off by hand, not sawed off. They were not collected from the palmettos immediately surrounding the nest. They were gathered elsewhere and carried to the spot then laid out on the ground to create a ground cover.
As mentioned in the report, his brother found another one of these nests in the same general area of the Ochlockonee River bottom some time later.
The witness mentioned that most people do not venture into dense palmetto groves because they tend to harbor rattlesnakes. I've been in these environments in Florida many times and I do not venture into thick palmetto groves for that reason precisely.
There was no indication that any humans had ever ventured into the area where the nest was found. When a homeless person makes a camp in brush there is ALWAYS litter around the area. Nothing like that was anywhere near the area. The area is among the most pristine in northern Florida.
About BFRO Investigator Matthew Moneymaker:
Matthew Moneymaker is originally from the Los Feliz District of Los Angeles, California.
- Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
- Founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization,1995.
- Writer and co-producer of the Discovery Channel documentary "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science", 2001.
- Co-producer of the TV Series "Mysterious Encounters" for the Outdoor Life Network (OLN Channel), 2002.
- Producer of the "2003 International Bigfoot Symposium" (Willow Creek Symposium) DVD set, 2004.
- Co-host of "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet Channel, 2010 - 2017.
- Current Director of the BFRO