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Media Article # 619
Article prepared and posted by Sybilla Irwin

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Bigfoot in Wilkes?

By Jerry Lankford
The Record of Wilkes County

Bigfoot in Wilkes?


Record Editor

Does Bigfoot exist in Wilkes County?

Rick Lunsford says yes.

He said he has been haunted by a brush he had with an unknown creature more than three decades ago. Now, suffering from ailing health, Lunsford, 52, of the Cricket community, has decided to tell his story.

“I know it was a Bigfoot,” Lunsford said in an interview with The Record on Thursday. “I’d take a lie detector test to prove I’m telling the truth.”

Lunsford said his encounter with the elusive, legendary creature occurred in late August or early September of 1978. He said he’s kept his silence all these years because, “I figured people would think I’m crazy.”

Recent reports of a Bigfoot sighting in Cleveland County helped prompt Lunsford to share his tale. In June, a man said he saw a hairy, manlike animal, which was about 10 feet tall, in a rural area outside of Shelby.

Lunsford said his sighting came 32 years ago, during the twilight hours of a late summer morning. He said he was in a field near the Blue Ridge Parkway on Roten Creek Road in Wilbar, waiting for his girlfriend’s parents to leave to go to work so that he could pay her a visit.

Seeing vehicle headlights coming down the then gravel road, Lunsford said he dodged into a cornfield to avoid being spotted.

“I ran up in a cornfield when I saw the lights. Then, I smelled something like a strong stinking mildew,” he said. “I turned around and looked at the bottom of the steep mountain where the cornfield ended. When I first saw it (the animal), it blended in with the mountain.”

He said the distance between him and the beast was 25 to 40 feet.

“I saw his eyes looking at me,” he said. “It didn’t make any noise. It didn’t move a muscle, but he looked right at me. It had an oval shaped head and had hair hanging all over it. Its eyes were dark and big and round.”

Lunsford said he could have perhaps dismissed it as a bear had he not seen the creature’s hands.

“It had four fingers and a thumb,” he said, adding that its body “was as broad as a refrigerator.”

After staring at the animal for about half a minute, Lunsford said he bolted.

“I took off running,” he said. “When I went out of the cornfield, I hit a barbwire fence and it tore my clothes. I didn’t care. I just wanted away from there.”

Lunsford said he never looked back.

A short while later, he met up with his girlfriend at her grandparents’ home and told her about the incident. After that, he has remained mostly silent about the sighting over the years.

Part of the reason Lunsford said he didn’t say much about the ordeal was because of his young age at the time.

“I was just 20 years old then and had long hair and all,” he said. “I didn’t much think anyone would believe me.”

Recently he’s revisited the area and asked a few residents if they had ever seen anything similar in the vicinity. He said that one man told him he also saw a hairy, manlike creature he could not explain.

Lunsford told of yet another unexplained incident he had on the dirt roads in the Sheets Gap area of Wilkes.

He said that one night, a couple of months before he saw the creature, “I heard something running after me. I heard it breathing hard. It sounded like a football player but I never saw it.”

Also, according to Lunsford – who spent many hours in the woods of Wilbar – bear sightings in the area were rare if not unheard of in the 1970s. “I’ve never seen any bears up there,” he said.

Lunsford says he wants to return to the area and possibly explore the rock caves at the base of the mountains.

“I think it may have been living in the caves,” Lunsford said. “I think it might still be up there. If it’s dead, there’s bound to be bones or something. But, I think there would have to be more than one of them. I think it came down out of the Blue Ridge Mountains whatever it was.”

According to the Bigfoot Field Research Organization’s website, there have been encounters or sightings of possible Bigfoot creatures in Ashe, Yadkin and Caldwell counties.

The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization says there have been 57 Bigfoot sightings in North Carolina since 1997. None were listed on the website for Wilkes.

In July 2008, a man reported he heard unexplained howls at an area near Buffalo Road in Ashe County near Three Top Mountain.

In March of 1987, in Ashe County, off the Blue Ridge Parkway near Glendale Springs, park rangers and residents observed large footprints in deep snow. They said the tracks were 12 to 16 inches in length and in the shape of a foot.

A December 1976 sighting in Yadkin County, on Courtney Huntsville Road, reported that a group of teenage boys, participating in some nighttime sledding, heard a commotion near a fire they built. The next day they found large foot prints in the snow.

Another report from Yadkin County recalled an incident from either 1971 or 1972 near Asbury Church Road in the Hamptonville community. According to that report, a young boy startled a creature – which was described as about seven feet tall, covered with hair with long arms - beneath the porch of their home.

An incident was reported to have occurred in September, 1998 in Caldwell County. Then, a man stated that he and his son came across a large footprint in the sand while trout fishing in Wilson Creek off Brown Mountain Beach Road.

Lunsford says he’s convinced that what he saw was a Bigfoot creature.

“I don’t think his intentions were to hurt me,” he said. “I think I just got in his territory and he didn’t know what was going on.”

Still, he said, the incident was unnerving. “I had nightmares about it for years,” he said.

Lunsford stressed that, despite the passing of years, his memory of the creature is clear.

“I know what I saw,” he said. “If I had to die and face Jesus today, I would tell Him the same thing.”

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This article is written by the Editor of the The Record

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