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COUNTY: Alexander County
NEAREST TOWN: Olive Branch
NEAREST ROAD: Illinois Route 3
OBSERVED: October 10th, 2011, it was a Tuesday morning I believe, no it wouldn’t be a Tuesday morning because I was out here in the afternoon. I was walking down that trail on the next ridge over.
I was just coming back from the other campsite over there that somebody had made. I had been doing tree knocks and whoops to no avail, no sound, no return calls or anything and when I came back off the ridge to the main fire access trail I noticed a large pile of feces. No, first I saw the footprint. It measured nineteen inches long, seven and a quarter inches wide at the ball of the foot where the toes connect and it was five and a half inches wide at the heel.
I saw that and I said “XXXX!” And then I looked down and started measuring it and everything and I walked a little and that is exactly what I found was a pile of feces. The makeup of it was vegetable matter, mostly vegetable matter, crayfish, shells from the skull part not the tails. I guess they can’t digest the hard shell of it. And there was also mollusks, fresh water mollusks shell mixed up in the feces, and I took a picture of that and accidentally mishandled that photo and accidentally got deleted when I tried to transfer it to my memory card and to my computer.
And I took maybe two or three steps after that and I looked up and saw… he was seven to seven and a half feet tall, I’m guessing, he was probably bigger, I was terrified at the time. He was maybe three hundred, three hundred-fifty lbs. And he was about eighty feet away, seventy to eighty feet and he closed half that distance in three steps before he veered off the hill at a forty-five degree angle, ran down the ridge which is about an eight per cent grade for about maybe about 150 feet and then hits the valley of the two ridges and went up the next ridge which is about as steep and tall. So fast you couldn’t match it on a horse, motorcycle, three-wheeler even if it was paved.
It was digging up a ground hornet’s nest and later I discovered by looking on line that hornets make what is known as hornet honey which is a concentrated nectar mixed with insect protein that they store with the larva. Now it’s not in large doses from my understanding but if you was to dig up an entire hornet’s nest (as the picture of the hornet’s nest you have that he dug up) you could get quite a nice little bit of nutrition from that much.
If he made any sound it was no louder than say a squirrel moving through the leaves which for something so large moving and so fast is amazing. The bulk of its chest was just unbelievably broad, thick and dense. You could see the muscles moving. As it was running through, it was partly cloudy and there were still some leaves on the trees, and as it was running it ran through a bit of light coming through the canopy I could see that’s fur was dark brownish with a really bright red tint to it when the sun hit it directly. And he was gone up this other ridge and I collected my stuff and started running back to my car.
ALSO NOTICED: No
OTHER WITNESSES: No
OTHER STORIES: Yes
TIME AND CONDITIONS: 10 a.m. morning
ENVIRONMENT: Woods, ridges
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Stan Courtney:
I met with the witness and walked the area where the sighting occurred. We spent the night in a primitive camping site a hundred yards from the footprint find. I have since made two additional trips to the site.
• The animal was over seven feet tall.
• The animal's weight was over 350 lbs.
• The animal was very heavily built.
• Hair color was dark brownish.
• The footprint measured 19 inches long.
• The footprint was 7 1/4 inches wide at the ball of the foot.
• The footprint was 5 1/2 inches wide at the heal.
[Stan Courtney measured the hole at four feet wide and two feet deep.]
I called and spoke with Tim Cashatt, the Illinois State Entomologist, at the Illinois State Museum concerning ground hornets. He stated that although hornets would bring back sweet substances to the nest they did not make or store honey.
While on my first trip to the site with the witness he saw what he thought was a very large upright-animal step across the road behind us in the night. The next day while I was with him we found a 26 1/2" footprint near where the animal crossed the road. The print although very impressive and visible to me in the soft dirt and grass did not photograph well.
The article can be found here:
Southern Illinois Giant
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 firstname.lastname@example.org