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COUNTY: Macoupin County
NEAREST TOWN: Shipman
NEAREST ROAD: Illinois Rt 16
OBSERVED: I have had several experiences over the years near my home. Five years ago I was picking blackberries on the back side of my property, late June. To the east of the blackberry vines is a farm field. The field was planted in corn and there was a strip of last year’s corn reside at the edge of the field, old stubble, hard to walk through with boots on. There were a series of footprints coming out of the field, moving towards the woods. There were five prints, about my size, men’s 11 or 12, bare foot, wide with no arch, flat footed. I go barefoot a lot, but no one in their right mind walks through a corn field with stubble in it barefoot.
Four years ago, my son and I were in my bedroom, watching videos on my computer about six in the evening when something passed by my cabin and beat on the wall as it went by. Scared us to death. The pounding started near the corner of the room we were in, near the ceiling. This is a good ten feet above the ground level outside. The second hit was in the other corner of the room, the third hit sounded like it came from above the window in the den and the fourth and fifth hits were on the bathroom wall. Quick, BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM! I live in a log cabin and it literally shook the house. Next morning I looked around outside, no prints and nothing on the logs. It was in July/August. Ground was dry and hard. I have ruled out the house settling, small animals, birds, etc. No idea what it was.
This year, May/June 2012 about ten thirty at night I was getting ready for bed, my son was in the bathroom. We both heard a low, very guttural grunt, “HOOO” outside the house. My son is eighteen years old and a large muscular young man but he came out of the bathroom pulling up his jeans and looking scared. We ran out onto the porch in time to see something large, dark, and low to the ground run past my neighbors house. Truthfully, it looked like a gorilla running flat out on all fours. It activated my neighbor's motion sensor lights in front of his home and about thirty seconds later the coyotes on the other side of the highway went nuts. It was moving, quarter of a mile in just under a minute. The next day my father said he also heard the grunt, it woke him up.
ALSO NOTICED: I sometimes find broken trees and bent trees in the woods. I have also hears screams and howls that I can't just write off as being a deer, bobcat, coyote or vixen.
OTHER WITNESSES: My son heard the knocks on the house. My son and father both heard the grunt that happened this year, son and I both saw the running animal.
OTHER STORIES: I have heard stories of squatch seen picking apples near Shipman and a lot of stories of screams in the night in this area.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Footprints were broad daylight, noon, farm field with corn stubble. Other incidents were at night, late summer, dry ground, back yard.
ENVIRONMENT: Rural IL. Corn and soybeans fields, farms, woods on two side of the property, scattered houses, lakes and creekbeds.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Stan Courtney:
I met with the witness at his home. As we walked around his property he described his experiences and I recorded them on my audio recorder. The following writings are transcribed with his permission from these recordings.
1984 - Sightings
Now this is the oldest sighting that I really remember. I was about nineteen years old. So it was 1984. Back then there was nothing out here, none of these houses. There was a farm house up the road. You can see where the neighbor has drug out all the woods. This used to be prime mushroom hunting.
My dad came up around by the golf course one day carrying a bag of mushrooms. I said "How did you do?" He said "Pretty good, I saw a bear." I said "You saw a bear? There is no bear in Illinois, that's what everybody says. Where did you see this bear?" He says "Down by the woodpile." Now you have to remember this used to be really thick, he's drug out a lot of trees. But at the bottom of this hill, right before you get to the creek there used to be a big wood pile. And my dad said the bear was down rummaging around in the wood pile. Now I've seen bears do that, I've hiked part of the Appalachian Trail, you see bears rip apart downed wood, they're looking for grubs and stuff. I didn't think much about it.
A couple of days later I am out here getting the mail and I hear this racket coming from down here, it's about six thirty at night, just beginning to get dark and there is a bear, standing down there, and he has his hands up on that pile and he is shaking that pile and I kind of watched it. I'm nineteen, it's a bear, that's cool. There was no big rush to grab a camera or record evidence, it was just an animal you see in the woods, it was a bear. I didn't think much about it until more recently I discovered the sasquatch thing, I got to thinking, I just don't know that it was a bear.
It was standing against the pile but it had its back to me. And it was just beating the pile, just rocking it. It was good size, maybe my size, dark fur. Like I said I have been a hiker since I was a kid, climbing mountains. I just kind of watched it for a second, "There is a bear there, dad was right." And then I walked back across the road to my home, it was getting dark. I don't want to be out here after dark with a bear.
June 2007 - Footprints
It was berry time, late June 2007. I walked down through here, there is this big cornfield. Now the woods around here are kind of fingered, they run up the creeks. So you will have a finger of woods, a field, another finger of woods. Now you're getting more houses of course. But this finger of woods runs about a quarter of a mile. That is where I hunt blackberries, it gets really, really thick, even early in the spring there is a lot of grape vines, wild rose and what I call "wait-a-minute" vines, those that grab your ankles and you have to stop and free yourself. And during berry season I walk out here every other day.
That year, the corn is about three foot tall. The edge of the field gets a lot of runoff and a lot of times is damp and he didn't plant the edge of the field that year. He couldn't get his tractor in because it was too damp. So this field was corn but he didn't plant this whole low spot and it was last years stubble sticking up six, eight inches tall. I was walking along here when I saw the first footprint. It was about my size, quite a bit deeper. It didn't have that foot shape with the arch in it. It was like fat and flat. It was a man's size 12. And it was barefoot, this was all stubble. Nobody walks through a stubble field, you would tear your feet up, try it someday. Corn is tough enough walking through when wearing clodhoppers, let alone barefoot. There were several footprints and they were walking up into that area through the low spot where he didn't plant any corn. They came from the cornfield and headed towards the woods. There were three or four footprints back there and two or three up here. It was just like some old hillbilly barefoot guy walking through the corn. The footprints seem to have a good reach, not a normal gait.
And it just seemed odd. My first thought when I first saw it, and I'm thinking black bear. But black bear when they walk their feet are out, when we walk we have more of a tight pattern. Black bear are a little more spread out. This one looked like he was crossing his legs, they were out of kilter like he was crossing his legs. If you have ever seen a little kid tightrope walk that's almost what it looked like, but it was just off kilter. And I am like, that is not a bear, it's toes are in the wrong place. It didn't look bear and it didn't look human either.
On and off through the years I can remember being a little kid going up in these woods to play and sticks flying at me, rocks being tossed. When I was fourteen it always seemed like there was somebody in the woods.
2008 - Knocking on side of house.
Four years ago was the pounding on the side of the house, like I wrote in the report, something ran along the east side of the house, and as it ran past the house it hit the wall, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. It ran past pretty quick. The wall literally shook, you could feel it through you feet it hit so hard, my son and I both heard that. It was just an odd thing that happened.
June 2012 - Sighting
This year my son was in the bathroom and he comes flying out of the bathroom. We heard this, sounded like an 800 lb squirrel, it was a loud throaty bark, it wasn't a hoot, it wasn't a woof, it was like James Brown clearing his throat, like an 800 lb James Brown doing his dance. We both heard it, he came running into the bedroom, and then we went running out onto the porch. My son said he heard it twice, he said it sounded like it was outside his bathroom window. He said he heard it again out by the van.
By the time we got to the porch it was running between my neighbor's truck, that was parked in his driveway and the house. It was no taller than the hood of that truck, about three foot tall. It kicked on the neighbor's floodlight, it ran past his yard and I couldn't see it anymore and the motion sensor light went out. It was moving, the coyotes went nuts, I mean screaming, yelling, not their normal yip, yip, yip. You could hear them go off and then it got real quiet. It looked like it was three foot wide, it looked like it was powering. I've seen bear run, no, this looked more like something I would see on National Geographic, a mountain gorilla charging something. From the back that is what it looked like. Rippling shoulders, big. And it was moving. When I saw it in the light it looked dark gray, it reminded me of a silver-backed gorilla. It was dark gray but there was this play of light across its back, it looked like something you would almost want to pet, it looked like a very pretty fur, like a mink.
Other odd happenings:
My neighbor's front gate is open all the time. I'll hear it clanging in the middle of the night, I'll get up and I'll close it because I don't want his livestock getting out on the road.
Cat food has been missing. It was an 18 lb bag, just bought it, put it in the shed, next day it was gone.
It sounded like something was shaking my big door on the shed one evening, sounded like something had a hold of the handle and was shaking it. I came out on the porch and looked over that way but I didn't want to go over and see. I didn't want to run into something in the back yard at 12:30 in the night.
Not a whole lot of chickens missing, I think they go off and get snagged by something in the woods. But you kind of wonder where your chickens went. Something got into my garden and took the cantaloupes. I've had sorghum pulled out by the roots, I grow sorghum for the chickens from time to time and I have had it yanked out by the roots like something just came through. It kind of reminds me of teenage boy behavior, just enough but not too much to get into trouble.
Two or three days ago there was a cardinal in my mailbox. The mailbox is weird, and when it first started happening I thought it was kids. The first thing I found was a turtle shell, just a little round turtle shell and it had a hummingbirds nest stuffed into it and three or four little blue woodpecker feathers. I find handfuls of grass in my mailbox. Every time I find something in there its usually early morning when I am going out or late at night if I coming home. The box will be turned around completely backwards and there is stuff in it. I've found various nests, I've found three or four dead birds now. At first I thought it was kids. But dead birds, smashed dead birds, really? It is like something is picking up a dead bird and smashing it up and tossing it in my mailbox. It's not kids and there aren't a lot of local kids around here.
As to Black Bear within the state of Illinois. There have been a few sightings in recent years.
The following statement comes from Black Bears In Illinois published by the Illinois Natural History Survey.
"Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife Resources Manager John Buhnerkempe said the state currently has no management provisions for bears in its wildlife code since they're still considered an extirpated species (similar to cougars and wolves)."
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