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DATE: a Friday
COUNTY: Pinellas County
LOCATION DETAILS: 3030 County Road 70, Palm Harbor.
NEAREST TOWN: Palm Harbor
NEAREST ROAD: US Highway 19
OBSERVED: We lived in a rural area of central Florida that was mostly pine forest. There were a few hundred acres on derelict citrus groves nearby as well as a cypress swamp to the north and east of the pine forest. The area we lived in was roughly 4 square miles between paved roads, but to the north, east, and west beyond the area I am describing, there were additional substantial areas of pine forest, palmetto scrub, and dense cypress swamp. Our house was situated on the crest of a hill, or at least what passes for a hill in that part of Florida.
It was about 8:00 one night and I was home alone with my father. My parents were separated and my father would occasionally come to stay with me when my mother and siblings were out. During the late fall and winter months, it was our custom to shoot rabbits at night. Our house was roughly square, with small flood lights on each corner of the house that would illuminate our small yard area and the edge of the tree line out back to the north and west. We would typically wait until it was fully dark before we would go out. We would load our shotgun in the house, get our flash lights ready, and on occasion my father would wear a headlamp, or as he called it “a one-eyed dog”. We would leave the corner flood lights of the house off until we were ready, then we would turn the lights on and quickly step out the back door. Most of the time there would be a rabbit or two, nibbling the grass at the border between our poorly kept lawn and edge of the forest. Not a difficult shot with a shotgun at just under 30 yards.
On this particular night it was my father’s turn to shoot. I held a large flashlight, he held a Steven’s 12 gauge side by side double barrel and wore a less than powerful headlamp. As we flipped the lights on and emerged from the back door he stepped to the right and panned east towards an old ear tree at the edge of the grass. I turned west towards the northwest corner of our yard where there was a clothes line and an old bench my grandfather had made. On the edge of our yard, just 6 or 8 feet from the tree line, was a large, crouched figure. When I first saw the figure it was reasonably well lit from the flood lights on the house and from the upper edge of my flashlight beam. By my first glimpse of the creature it was already moving, springing up from a crouch to a fully erect, bi-pedal stance while simultaneously rotating away from me (turning to the creature’s right). As there was motion when I first saw it, I was not able to get any meaningful look at its face. But as it turned I saw the creature with very good clarity from a distance of just under 30 yards. It was not a giant creature – it was almost the same height as my father (who was 5”10”), perhaps an inch or two shorter than he was. Most of my view of the creature was from the back after it had turned and started moving away. The creature was clearly much stockier than a man, with very large shoulders and not very much narrowing noticeable at the waste. Its upper legs were thick and powerful looking. It was covered in fur of medium length – not shaggy or super long, but long enough to obscure the details of most muscle tone. The fur was longer than that of a deer, yet not quite as long or as deep or dark as a bear. The fur was not especially dark and was certainly not black. The flashlight we had back then made everything look a little bit lighter, and a little bit more bluish purple than it really was, which I had previously observed many times when examining close up the rabbits that we had shot.
The creature took 3 or 4 very distinct strides before its lower body became obscured from view by some undergrowth. Its shoulders and head were visible for perhaps another two or three strides and then nothing could be seen because of pine branches and the fact that the creature moved beyond the area illuminated by the flood lights on the house. I never shown my flashlight directly on it as I was stunned to the point of both immobility and speechlessness as soon as I saw it. I will never forget the distinct look of the creature from behind. It had some kind of deformity. Its head was tilted quite far down on the left side with that side of its head at an awkward angle to its shoulder. It was like the muscles or tendons in the left side of his neck had been injured and were now contracted a bit and shorter than the muscle on the right side. It was not a temporary position or part of the creature sudden movement; that awkward, left leaning head position was maintained even as the creature ran away.
I do not recall any vocalizations or any specific smell. I do remember the sound of twigs snapping and leaves and pine needles crunching very loudly as the creature moved away. The sound of it moving through the forest and undergrowth was quite distinct and had a cadence that no other local creature made. The sound of the creature running stopped when the creature reached a small clearing about 70 yards into the woods (or I assume that is why the sound of its exit stopped based on its direction).
My father who was with me saw nothing, although he heard the creature’s exit. He was facing about 160 degrees opposed to where I was facing and the entire incident lasted perhaps only 3 or 4 seconds. My father asked me what was going on and I was absolutely (and very literally) speechless. I could not speak! I simply pointed and stood there frozen. He took me in the house and tried to get me calmed down, but it was more than 5 minutes before I could speak. I remember feeling fear, but I think my physical reaction was actually a mild form of shock. What I saw was so unbelievable, so unexpected, and so close. I suspect my physical reaction would not have been any different than if I had seen a headless horseman.
After about 10 minutes I had recounted what I saw two or three times to my father, who was clearly in disbelief but quite moved by my physical reaction. At about this time we heard a loud, but distance barking, howling and baying from our closest neighbors hunting dogs which he kept in a large outdoor kennel at his home about 1 mile through the forest from our home. We would occasionally hear the dogs bark at night – but never like this. I could see the look on my dad’s face change from disbelief to some level of fear as the dogs made the most agitated sounds we had ever heard – and that we never, ever heard again. We tried to find the phone number for our neighbor with the dogs, but we didn’t know where my mom kept it. After about 20 minutes the dogs settle down a bit, although they continued to bark without the same level of agitation. After another 10 or 15 minutes my father suggested that we go investigate the area where I saw the creature enter the woods…………I thought this was a really bad idea and wanted no part of it. But my father insisted there was some explanation for what I had seen, and that I would feel better once I had things cleared up in my mind. My mind was not unclear – I was quite certain of what I had seen, although I could not explain it and had no name for it.
Eventually we went outside, this time with both of us carrying shotguns. I refused to step away from the back door, but my father slowly ventured over to the area about 30 yards away and looked at the ground and the brush line. He entered the brush line where I indicated and went perhaps 2 or 3 more steps and bent down again. I kept my shotgun pointed in his general direction but not directly at him. After just a few seconds my father came hurriedly back and said that we needed to get in the house. He was clearly shaken and my construction worker, outdoorsman, purple-heart awarded father was afraid of nothing. My father called the local Sheriff’s office, but when he started to explain things he did not know what to say. He explained that I had seen something and was scared to the point of being speechless. He told the sheriff about the neighbor’s dogs. But the more he spoke, and the less he said about the specifics of what happened, the more frustrated he became. He finally told the Sheriff “never mind” I’m sure it was nothing. He did not give me any meaningful details of what he saw, but simply explains that “something big clearly went through there in a big hurry.” Both my father and I knew the woods well and we hunted all the time, spending hundreds of hours a year in these woods. I had never seen anything like this creature before, and I never saw anything like it ever again. I never saw any large animal tracks in that part of central Florida that I could not easily identify and I never saw any scat that I could not identify.
ALSO NOTICED: The creature appeared to have either an old injury to the left side of its neck, or perhaps a birth defect (see above)
OTHER WITNESSES: One person was with me, but they were looking in almost the opposite direction
OTHER STORIES: At the time of the incident I had not heard of any. A few months after the incident my father brought home the newspaper (either the St. Pete Independent, Clearwater Sun or perhaps the Tampa Tribune, I don't remember). But it reported a "bigfoot sighting" in an area that was about 40 miles from us. Over the next 2 months or so there were several sightings that made the paper.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: Around 8:00 PM. Dark outside but the creature was illuminated in flood lights and partially illuminated by a flashlight
ENVIRONMENT: Pine forest with undergrowth. At the edge of a clearing between the pine forest and grass
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator R. Monteith:
I spoke on the phone to the man who is an international business consultant now living in California. His recollection of the event that happened in the Fall of 1977 was detailed and intriguing.
The house his family lived in is still there, but now surrounded by development. Here is a Google Earth image showing what the forested area looked like in 1995 (as far back as you can go on the site):
The man was 13 years old that year and at the time the area was rural. He and his father would shoot rabbits in the yard on Friday nights, when his mother was out.
He and his father were playing cards in the kitchen, and the TV was on. The house did not have central air conditioning and the windows were open. When they decided to step outside to shoot a few rabbits around 8 pm his dad had a head lamp on, and he held a flash light as his dad quickly flipped the backyard flood lights on.
His dad was looking to the right, and he was looking to the left when movement caught his eye about 20-30 yards away that wasn’t a rabbit. What he saw was entirely different – a hairy creature that he couldn’t identify. It was about 6-8 feet from the tree line in the open yard crouching. It was in the process of standing from the crouched position. It spun to the right and walked rapidly into the woods on two legs.
He did not get a clear view of its face, as it retreated quickly. He described it as being light brown in color “like a buckskin horse,” and completely covered in hair. His father was 5’10” and 185 lbs. yet the creature seemed to be similar in height as him, but at least 70 lbs heavier. It was very broad in the shoulder and powerful looking in all aspects. The hair was about 5 inches long that looked unkempt but not knotted. It was not narrow at the hips as a muscular human is. He noticed the creatures head was tilted or pulled to the left side, and its posture never changed. He speculates it was deformed or injured in some way. There was no odor. Here is a sketch from the witness:
He literally froze in fear and shock. His father heard it move through the woods and asked what was going on. He pointed in the direction to where it went, and couldn’t speak. His father took him inside, and understood he was distraught. When he was finally able to speak he tried to explain what he had seen, “a hairy thing on two legs".
Several minutes had passed and they began to hear the neighbor's hunting dogs barking and howling. The man claims that they had never heard the dogs bay that way before.
His father called the Sheriff. After trying to describe what had happened he realized he couldn’t explain it and eventually hung up. The dad then went outside to investigate and determined that “something big had gone through there,” and appeared to be shaken by seeing the path that was left. It was several days later that he thought what he had seen could have been a bigfoot.
A few weeks after the sighting his father came home and placed a newspaper on the table. The headlines were about a Skunk Ape. They did not discuss the story however he felt it was his father’s way of validating what he had seen. I was able to find the story, BFRO Media Article 713:
The corner of the house where the creature was seen was near to the area they dumped the remnants of the rabbits. They kept the garbage and compost pile there too. Prior to going outside, they had been inside for an hour or more. From the location of where the creature was it would have been able to hear them and see the TV.
The property borders a powerline road. The location of the house is near Lake Tarpon and what is now the Brooker Creek Preserve, where we continue to receive reports to this day.
About BFRO Investigator R. Monteith:
Re Monteith has had a life-long interest in Bigfoot and has an extensive background in outdoor land and ocean survival as well as mountaineering. She has tran-sailed the Atlantic, backpacked in remote places throughout the world and has climbed three of the seven summits. She studied International Relations at Florida International University, and is a Financial and Real Estate Consultant. She has participated in many private expeditions as well as the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015 BFRO North Florida Expeditions and the 2013 BFRO UP Michigan & Alabama Expedition. She also organized Florida's 2017 Town Hall Meeting. She was an Executive Producer of the documentary film, "Skunk Ape Lives" and featured as a Crypto Expert on The Science Channel's television show, Strange Evidence for seasons 2 and 3.