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COUNTY: Marion County
LOCATION DETAILS: Rush is between the towns of Yellville and Harriet. The vocalizations were heard about 1 mile down the Buffalo River from Rush, at the junction of Silver Hollow and the Buffalo River.
NEAREST TOWN: Rush
NEAREST ROAD: 1+ miles away from small road leading to Rush
OBSERVED: Probable Sasquatch Vocalizations
I am writing this in October 2009, three and one half years after hearing what were likely the vocalizations of two Sasquatches in southern Marion County, Arkansas in April 2006 in the Lower Buffalo Wilderness Area. I have told many people unashamedly of my encounter over the past 3.5 years, and I have thought about it hundreds of times to keep the memory fresh in my mind.
The date of my encounter was either Wednesday morning, April 19 or Thursday morning, April 20, 2006. The reason I am not certain of the date is that I do not keep a daily journal, and I cannot remember if I left home for my 3-day, 2-night turkey hunt on Monday or Tuesday. Whatever the case, the encounter happened on the final morning of my hunt.
At midday on Monday or Tuesday, I launched my canoe at the Rush, Arkansas landing on the Buffalo River. Rush is between the towns of Yellville and Harriet in the heart of the Ozark Mountains. Before getting to the river, I had my last association with another human until two-plus days later. I had purposefully planned my trip for mid-week while school was still in session, most adults were at work, the summer canoeists had not begun their season, and probably few other turkey hunters would be out hunting. Indeed I did not see nor hear another person on my trip.
I floated only about one mile downstream from Rush to the spot where Silver Hollow empties into the Buffalo River. I pulled off on river right (the south side of the river), and pitched my tent camp to be used for the next two nights. I turkey hunted in Silver Hollow that afternoon and all the second day. This entire region is mature deciduous woodland with a sprinkling of pines and cedars on certain slopes and bluffs. Spring was just springing. The dogwoods were blooming, and all the deciduous trees had just begun to leaf out.
Silver Hollow is nearly pristine. I saw no sign of humans having been in that 1.5-mile long hollow in many years. There are a few signs of very old activity from 70+ years ago when some mining took place, but otherwise it was just me, the turkeys, and numerous species of neotropical songbirds (warblers, vireos, tanagers, and others) that had returned for the summer.
I had heard several gobblers over the course of my 1.5 days hunting, but I had been unsuccessful in taking one. As the second day came to a close, I returned to my camp and made a plan for the final morning’s hunt. I was to awake at 4:15 a.m., eat my Cheerios breakfast, and then hike by flashlight 1.5 miles up Silver Hollow to set up where I’d heard a gobbler late the second evening.
My watch-alarm awoke me at 4:15 a.m. on the final morning. I lit the dim lantern at my campsite, and sat down to eat my Cheerios. The last quarter moon was overhead shedding a small amount of light onto the otherwise very dark landscape. It was chilly (probably mid-40’s degrees F), and there was no wind. There was not a sound to be heard – no crickets, no Whippoorwills, nothing, owing to the cool, crisp, calm morning. While eating, I was sitting facing northward into the darkness across the Buffalo River.
As I was eating, the silence was broken by a loud, clear “hoooOOO-op” call from the mountainside behind my left shoulder to the southwest of me. I immediately stopped in mid-crunch to soak in the brief, 1.5-second call I was hearing. Within two seconds and before I had resumed crunching, an even louder, clear “hoooOOO-op” call came from the mountainside on the north side of the river. This call was to the northwest of me. The second call was not an echo of the first call. It was a second animal responding to the first. There were no 90-degree cliff faces in the area to have created an echo. Besides, the second call was louder than the first, with no hint of echo after either call.
So, I was sitting there thinking with a mouth full of Cheerios, “What on earth could have made those calls?”
I am a lifelong birder. I have seen all but two of the approximately 650 regularly-occurring North American bird species. Furthermore, I can identify more than 600 of those species by song or call note alone. I immediately ruled out all birds as having made the sounds, even the Barred Owl which has quite a repertoire. My mind turned to the mammals – coyote, fox, bobcat, otter, etc. I quickly ruled out all of those. Mountain lion maybe? I have never seen or knowingly heard a mountain lion in the wild. However, once I returned home from this trip, I listened to every mountain lion vocalization I could find on the Internet, and I ruled out the mountain lion.
But still, as I continued eating my bowl of Cheerios, I kept thinking, “The sounds I just heard were distinctly human/primate in quality.” At that point in my life (I was 43 years old), I had done enough self-study to be a believer in the existence of Sasquatch. But I didn’t think too much about Sasquatch in my everyday life. I certainly started thinking about Sasquatch as I was finishing my cereal that morning! I am not frightened by knowing Sasquatch is out there, but I have a scientific curiosity about the animal.
Soon, during my hour-long hike by flashlight up Silver Hollow, I kept replaying what I’d heard over and over in my mind. About 1/3 of the way up the hollow, I shined my flashlight into the cave opening that I’d hiked past several times in the past two days. I thought, “You know, there is no sign of man at this cave entrance – no trash, no footprints, no graffiti. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of caves like this in these hollows, and many thousands of caves throughout the whole Ozark Mountain region. Sasquatches live here. They have protection from the elements. They’re largely nocturnal. They avoid man. The vast majority of canoeists who pour down the Buffalo River in the summer don’t leave the riverside, so the canoeists are no bother to the Sasquatch. Those few canoeists who spend the night in a tent on the riverside may be unknowingly sleeping within 100 yards of Sasquatches. Sasquatch doesn’t bother the people, and the people never know the animal is near.
I hunted that morning, did not bag a turkey, and I broke camp about noon. I paddled back upriver one mile to my car, loaded up, and drove 2 hours home to central Arkansas.
I believe the first call I had heard at 4:30 a.m. on that dark, calm, chilly morning in the Lower Buffalo Wilderness Area was a Sasquatch announcing, “I’m right here.” Within two seconds, the Sasquatch on the north side of the river responded with, “I’m over here across the river.” Perhaps it was their way of saying that daylight is coming in another hour or so, and maybe it’s about time to call it a night.
I estimate that each Sasquatch was roughly 1/4 to 1/3 mile from me at the time of the vocalizations. The three of us formed more-or-less of an equilateral triangle.
Why do I think that the sounds did not come from humans?
First, I don’t think there were any humans within earshot of me during my trip – not even another turkey hunter. I had not heard even a gunshot during the whole trip, and 2006 was the final year of a good turkey population in Arkansas.
Second, humans have much more sophisticated ways of communicating with each other than yelling “hoooOOO-op” at 4:30 a.m. from one mountainside to another across the Buffalo River in a designated Wilderness Area during mid-week in mid-April (!).
Third, gorillas and chimpanzees are known to make sounds like I am describing.
And fourth, for those of you convinced that Sasquatch exists, you know that Sasquatch is known to make such vocalizations.
I am a scientist. I have a Chemical Engineering degree, and I have been actively practicing the profession for 24 years in the plastics and chemical industries. For those readers of this story who approach nearly every aspect of your life with a strong scientific bent like I do, you already know that Sasquatch exists. You have seen the Patterson/Gimlin film from the late 1960’s near the California/Oregon border, and you know it could not have been a hoax. The animal videoed was a real, in-the-flesh adult female Sasquatch. You have further educated yourself with the stories from thousands of people over the decades and centuries who have described seeing a creature with a remarkably consistent set of features – large, tall, hairy, muscular, wide shoulders, no neck, cone head, long arms, big feet, smelly. Your knowledge of the fundamentals (or the entire science) of statistics tells you plainly that the probability that all of these thousands of people are wrong is essentially nil.
And then you think more about the multitude of reports. One person is not reporting seeing a white elephant here, another a purple tiger there, and yet another a green velociraptor somewhere else.
They are all seeing a Sasquatch – a large, tall, hairy, muscular, … creature.
ALSO NOTICED: Vocalizations as described in my document.
OTHER WITNESSES: Only me.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: 4:30 a.m. Calm, clear, cool, and dark.
ENVIRONMENT: Heart of the Ozark Mountains. Mature deciduous forest for miles around, sprinkled with pines and cedars on certain bluffs and slopes.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Stan Courtney:
I spoke with the witness by phone.
Without an audio recording of a sound it is not possible to eliminate known sounds completely. However, the detailed description by the witness and his background would lead one to believe that these indeed were very possible whoops from sasquatches.
The area is prime habitat for these animals to live and thrive.
Buffalo National River Wilderness is divided into three sections. The Lower Buffalo Unit is the largest, stretching from Buffalo Point Ranger Station to the town of Buffalo City on the White River, a distance of 32 miles. Here the water runs smooth and has few human visitors. The Lower Buffalo Unit adjoins Leatherwood Wilderness (managed by Ozark National Forest). Several trails provide access from the river into the Wilderness areas.
About BFRO Investigator Stan Courtney:
Stan Courtney has a special interest in wildlife audio recording. He has attended numerous BFRO Expeditions. See Stan's blog StanCourtney.com for recordings he has collected over the years.
Stan Courtney can be reached at email@example.com