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COUNTY: Clay County
NEAREST TOWN: MIDDLEBURG
NEAREST ROAD: BLANDING
OBSERVED: I DIDN'T GET THE DATE EXACTLY BUT WAS A FEW DAYS BEFORE WE HAD TO GO BACK TO SCHOOL.ME AND MY FRIENDS WERE CAMPING IN THE WOODS IN MIDDLEBURG.IT WAS ABOUT 9 OR 10PM AT NIGHT...I DIDNT HAVE A WATCH ON ME SO I CANT BE EXACT.BUT AS ME AND MY FRIENDS WERE HANGING OUT I DESIDED TO TAKE A WALK ALONG THE CREEK THAT BASICALLY CIRCLED THE CAMP.WELL IT HAD BEEN ABOUT 15 MINUETES AFTER I LEFT MY FRIENDS WHEN I DESIDED TO SIT DOWN BY THE CREEK.WELL A MINUETE LATER I HEARD SOME RUSLING LEAVES AND STICKS ACCROSS THE CREEK SO I LISTENED...I HAD A FLASH LIGHT BUT I DIDNT USE YET.IT STOPED AT THE EDGE OF THE CREEK. WELL WHEN IT STOPPED I TURNED ON THE LIGHT AND ABOUT FIVE YARDS OUT OF THE LIGHTS BEEM, A LARGE CREATURE SAW THE LIGHT AND TURNED AROUND AND JUST TOOK OFF RUNNING. IT HAD TO HAVE BEEN LARGE BECAUSE AS IT RAN 10 TO 20 YRDS INTO THE BRUSH, IT WAS SHACKING AND PUSHING TREES OUT OF THE WAY.AND THESE TREES WERE DICENTLY THICK(A GOOD 6 INCHES).IT STOPPED ABOUT 30YRDS IN AND GAVE OFF A WIERD BISTURBING (IN MY BEST DISSCRIPTION) A GROWLING SNARL.ITS HARD TO DISCRIB.THATS WHEN I YELL **** THIS AND RAN BAC TO CAMP.I COULD HARDLY FIND MY WAY BACK TO CAMP MY FRIENDS HAD TO HELP ME.THE BEST PART OF THE CREATURE I SAW WAS PARTALLY THE BACK OF ITS HEAD. IT WAS A BROWNISH BLACK AND LOOKED KIND OF RAGGED.IF I HAD TO GIVE A GOOD HEIGHT ESSTIMATE ABOUT 6 OR 7 FT TALL. BUT IT WAS DARK SO IT WAS HARD TO TELL. I TOLD MY FRIENDS WAT HAPPED AND I THINK THEY DIDNT PAY MUCH MIND TO IT. BUT LATER ON THAT NIGHT ABOUT 1 OR 2AM ONE OF MY FRIENDS SAID HE WOKE AND HEARD A WIERD HOWLING ABOUT A MILE AWAY IN THE DIRECTION OF MY ENCOUNTER.
OTHER WITNESSES: YES MY TWO FRIENDS. THEY WERE AT CAMP HANGING OUT WHEN I SAW IT.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: NIGHT ABOUT 9 OR 10 WITH ME AND ABOUT 1 OR 2AM FOR MY FRIEND
ENVIRONMENT: UM PINE, OAK LOTS OF MOSS, HUMID, REALLY THICK WOOD LAND.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator David Wright:
I contacted this witness by phone, on 9/10/07, and conducted an interview of approximately 45 minutes. This witness has discussed with me privately, a previous Class B incident that took place in the spring of 2007 in virtually the same area, in which he experienced significant fear and trepidation, but did not want to report it. That incident involved him catching minnows in a little feeder creek to a bigger creek, when he heard heavy, bipedal footsteps above him, from the bottom of the 8' gully where he stood. He called out to his friends who were not nearby. As he went back to catching minnows, the steps resumed and he became scared and left the area. One of those friends has reported two other encounters in the same area over the last 2 years, so he knew of those incidents, and immediately became very alarmed, and vacated the area.
This particular report involves an actual sighting of a creature on the other side of that creek, about 200 yds to the south of the aforementioned incident. On 9/12/07, I met this witness, who I accompanied to the site. During the 30 minute hike to the site, he reiterated his story. The following account is rendered with clarifications based on his report, my interviews with him, and my visualization of the site.
-Around 21:30 - 22:00 the witness became bored at the campsite with his 2 friends, and wandered alone along the large creek's edge for about 50 yards to the south.
-As he slowed, he heard what he described as bipedal foot falls across the creek which he described as slow and cautions.
-The foot falls approached the creek opposite him (about 50') and stopped. He reserved turning on his light until the sound stopped, and then tried to illuminate the area across the creek.
-Upon turning on the light, in the periphery of the light beam, he saw a major disturbance and pointed he main beam in that direction.
-At that point, he described seeing a large animal hastily retreating in response to the light, back into the palmettos.
-The sighting lasted about 4-5 seconds.
-He described the head being the most prominent portion that he noticed; it being covered with brown/black hair, with a tinge of red, and the length he indicated with his hands, as being about 6" long. He noticed that the hair was significantly matted, but he did see minimal swaying of the hair as the animal retreated.
-He described the back as hairy, and when asked the width of the shoulders, he spread his arms about 3.5'-4' apart.
-He described the height as 6.5' - 7.5' tall.
-He described its retreat as quite fast.
-He stated that as it retreated, he saw tree tops swaying violently against the night sky and heard snapping of branches and/or trunks.
-He stated that (based on the sound) the animal retreated about 30-40 yards and stopped, then let out a loud, growling snarl followed by a silent moment, whereupon it let out with a kind of a "harrumph!" He described the snarl/growl as being so loud that it sounded right next to him.
-At this point, he "freaked out", and retreated in great haste, having realized what he might have encountered.
-His friends had to meet him in his approach to the campsite, as his light dimmed, and they heard his cries.
-Upon awakening the next morning, the witness told of his friend describing having heard cries and/or howls in the night (around 02:00) that were like nothing he had ever heard in the woods. He described the sounds as being like the ones the witness had made a previous night, as he attempted to call one of the animals. It was a "hoo-UHH....... hoo-UHH" kind of a call, similar to the Puyallup and Snohomish calls on the BFRO website, but shorter. The witness repeated them for me.
I interviewed the second witness who heard the night calls on 9/13/07. He described the eye witness' return to camp, saying that he was yelling for them to come to him as he ran towards them, and that when they met him, he was alarmed in the extreme. He said it took a bit to calm him down. Interestingly, when asked about the sounds HE had heard later that night while awake alone, he immediately changed his demeanor, acting indifferently, and said, "Ahh, it just sounded like a dog, man... uhhh yea, it was just a dog." I immediately got the impression that he did not want to get involved in a report. I reiterated this back to the witness later that evening, and he chuckled and said something like, "Yea, that doesn't surprise me. He's like that. But that morning when he told me about it, he said it sounded just exactly like the "whoop" calls you were making earlier!"
Having known the primary witness personally for over a year, and knowing his reserved manner and semblance, I have no reason to doubt this account as true. In addition, there are two other reported encounters that have taken place in this immediate area, which I have investigated. Additionally, this investigator has personally heard the "Florida Howl" in this area, recorded response knocks on two separate occasions in this area, and photographed tree formations in the same area.
All this taken into account, it is this investigator's opinion that this account is genuine.
About BFRO Investigator David Wright:
- Certified Florida Master Naturalist (U. of Florida)
- Visual Tracker, Level 1
- Teaches Biology, A.P. Biology, Ecology, and Environmental Science at a rural high school SE of Jacksonville
- See local TV interview with D. Wright
- Participated in the 2007 Private Florida Expedition [Click the video link on that page.], the 2007 South Carolina Expedition, the 2008 South Florida Expedition and assisted with the organization of the 2008 North Florida Expedition. Assisted with the organization of the 2009 Central Florida Expedition.