An enraged cacophony of mysterious growls, yells, and grunts broke the silence of the darkened forest.
While rabbit hunting in a remote East Texas creek bottom, my father and I happened onto something that did not appreciate our being there. With each passing moment the noisemaker seemed more agitated as it increased the intensity of its furious-sounding cries.
The sounds were guttural and and they pierced my 12-year-old soul, permanently embedding their frequencies in my memory bank. Although it is impossible to accurately describe them, they still echo in my mind as if I were standing by my Dad right now, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into.
I knew something was wrong when my Dad told me it must be a bull that got loose from a nearby ranch, as we retreated from the woods and called off the hunt.
No bull sounded like this. Not even close.
Neither of us had heard anything remotely like this again until August 20, 2000 while accompanying our friend Bobby Hamilton on an investigation into strange sightings in Polk County, TX.
It had been a long night as we sat out between a creek bottom and pine thicket. Other than a few faint moans heard in the distance, the venture was uneventful. That is until about 4 a.m.
That is when a low grunt sounded from a thicket 40 yards to the west.
Hamilton and I responded with grunts of our own and the mysterious noisemaker replied with great fury. A chill ran down my spine as memories of our encounter 15 years earlier came back. The tone was the same and so was the feeling we were in the presence of something highly unusual. This creature was without question the same kind that ran Dad and I out of the woods so long ago.
It started with low volume grunts and then worked itself into a yelling frenzy until it let out a high-pitched roar that can only be described as terrifying. After fumbling through our packs, we flooded the woods with the powerful beacon of a million-candle Q-Beam flashlight and the noisemaker retreated. Although it had approached us silently, it left cracking brush and snapping branches along the way almost as if it wanted us to know it was gone.
Just nine months before the aforementioned event, I encountered a howler monkey while fishing on Venezuela’s Lake Guri.
My guide and interpreter called the monkey a “mono vil” or “mean monkey” and after messing with one of the creatures, it is easy to understand why. As we approached more closely, it jumped from branch to branch, snapping limbs and increasing the intensity of its yells. Finally, I decided to do a series of grunts and see how the animal responded.
I would grunt and it would grunt. I would grunt twice and it would grunt twice. And finally, tired of my harassment, the monkey let out a loud roar and disappeared into the dense canopy of the South American rainforest
This was virtually the exact behavior and very similar sound to what occurred 3,000 miles to the north nine months later.
The difference was we were investigating the sighting of large, hair, bipedal ape-like creatures most call “Bigfoot” or “Sasquatch”. This particular case involved a public school teacher Hamilton had met who reported numerous encounters.
The encounters listed above sent me on a quest into the Animal Underground as a wildlife journalist to look into this phenomenon. Whether this is all a mass public delusion, a huge and complex series of hoaxes or something really is out there it is a huge story for someone in my position.
Did we hear a sasquatch creature that night? That is if such a creature exists.
Most won’t touch the subject with a 10 foot pole due to the controversial nature but that does not bother me. I am too curious to let the opinions of others halt a genuine investigation.
These two stories are some of the highlights on what has been an interesting sort of side trail taken in a career of wildlife journalism.
I wish I could tell you with certainty what the source of these encounters was but I do know this. We heard growls out there that matched nothing that lives in Texas either native or exotic.
Speaking of those growls.
I will never forget them.
(To subscribe to The Wildlife Journalist blog enter your email at the top right of this page.)
Chester Moore, Jr.