Sunday, September 29, 2013


Y'all like my "Redneck Selfie"? My wife & kids
almost peed themselves when they saw this!
     Thank y’all very much for keepin’-up with this blog; I really enjoy sharin’ stuff with y’all as well as hearin’ what-all y’all may have to say ... so please post yer comments.  Beforehand, however ... I’d like everyone abide by the rules; this site is intended for real folks and I only post genuine comments from like-minded people and friends who want to be here.  If y’all got somethin’ constructive to say or want to contribute to this blog, bring it!  However, if you feel intimidated with the whole “Bigfoot” thing, e-mail me and we’ll figure it out.

     No “Anons” … period.  Use a pen name, a nick-name or whatever.  If y’all disagree with somethin’ I post, I’ll be happy to publish your opinions or criticisms; however, all comments will be moderated.  This site is for everyone and no vulgar material will ever be posted here.  Sad to say, there is always goin’ to be some chigger out there that’ll try to post malicious comments, and they’ll simply be blocked.  Mean people suck!  If somebody feels the need to play nasty, ‘cmon & get you some!  I got grit and plenty of huntin’ & fishin’ buds in both IT & law enforcement, so 'nuff said.
     No “Haters” … period.  This here is a friendly site, and I would like everyone to feel welcome.  I won’t be postin’ about any drama that may be ongoin’ in the world of “Bigfootery” ‘cause that ain’t what this blog is about.  No hoaxers, hoaxes, blob-squatches, videos or articles that don’t pertain to the subject at hand will be posted here.  If any of y’all have had an experience you’d like to share, some pointers or tips, I’ll be happy to give credit where credit is due and post it as a contribution.  Now, if some of y’all wanna trade some smack ... I’ll be more than happy to smack back, but please keep it clean.  I’ve set-up a special comment area called The Smack Shack to post any pokes, jokes, rants, criticisms, arguments and the likes.  Simply e-mail your message to and we'll roll from there!  I will not post your personal information.  Don’t y'all be bashful, I can handle it; God obviously has a sense of humor … just look at me!

… and, here is my version of a DISCLOSURE:

     Please remember, there ain’t no experts in this genre of field research, and I ain’t claimin’ to be one.  As of January 2015, I have been an Investigator for the North American Wood Ape Conservancy.  If any of y'all have had an encounter, please contact me or you can submit your sightin' to the NAWAC Web site and we'll take it from there.  My goal is to share what I have learned since I have become involved with this phenomenon.  I do have an agenda; I want to know exactly what it was that my son and I saw lurkin’ 'round out there in them woods, or what turned the table on me last summer in the Ouachitas.  I’d say that I’m an amateur field researcher in respect to the area of our sightin’… which over the past few years has become much more than just another outdoor activity.  Please understand that I’m a workin’ man, a family man and have a full-plate as far as honey-dos and responsibilities.  My time and funds are limited, but I would love the chance to check-out any local activity.  If you have somethin’ to share that has occurred in East Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas or Oklahoma, gimme a shout and I’ll get back with you as soon as I can.  I work, fish, hunt & mow just like the rest of y’all … so please be patient.  If I don’t respond in a timely manner … I ain’t bein’ rude; I’m probably just out doin’ my time in the grime!

     Please be careful out there, ‘cause I got a gut feelin’ that these critters won’t play too nice if you get cross-ways with 'em.  As of now, I ain't on any fence with the whole pro-kill, no-kill thang.  If given the opportunity, I will (again) attempt to take one type specimen for the discovery process.  I'm not a killer, but a conservationist as well as a realist.  Science needs definitive proof.  Period.  I've failed once; but hopefully, if given the right opportunity ... I can nut-up and not fail again.  So in order to be a true conservationist, one must provide definitive proof of a viable species.  And once that goal is accomplished, we can then work to protect the species as well as its habitat.  Now, if you personally do not feel this way, I respect that and would simply suggest that you shoot with a quality camera, but definitely have you some back-up.  If you see one, use your head ‘cause these critters definitely ain’t solitary.  Been there, done that; if there’s one, there’s bound to be at least one or more lurkin’ ‘round close by.

     These things ain't monsters or haints.  It is my personal opinion that they are a higher form of primate ... as-in non-human.  And in my opinion, I think that they are way smarter than we give 'em credit for.  Please keep in mind that if one of these animals wanted to hurt you, there ain't much you or anyone else could do about it.  Period.  I strongly suggest that you always go prepared, and try not to go alone; too much can happen out there in them woods.  Remember, even though the outdoors is a wonderful place, it's a dangerous place as well.  There’s plenty of things that could hurt you out there … and in these days & times, I ain’t just talkin’ ‘bout just the wildlife.  More and more of us outdoor folks are runnin’ into growers, cookers or them predators of the “human” kind.

     Please respect our outdoors, and leave only footprints.  Make sure you ain’t tresspassin’ on someone’s property … ‘cause land owners don’t always ask questions first.  And make dang-sure that you have the proper permits before you go traipsin’ around a Wildlife Management Area or a National Forest.  I done learned that the hard way when I bolted my game-cams in a WMA; don’t do it.  Them rules are created and enforced to protect our natural resources.  Speakin’ of which … I’d like to give a shout-out to the hard-workin’ folks at Texas Parks & Wildlife for keepin’ Texas wild!  I’ve added the TP&W link, as well as the Arkansas Fish and Game Commission, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation links on this site so y’all can read-up on them rules before you go do somethin’ out there in them woods!
     And speakin’ of shout-outs & links … y’all check-out Texas Cryptid Hunter …  Mike Mayes is a friend as well as a plethora of knowledge on known Texas wildlife as well as accounts and evidence of our local cryptids.  Mike’s site has been one of my main go-to pages since we had our encounter, and I promise his articles won’t disappoint.  Keep up the good work, bud … lotsa folks out there really appreciate you!

     And, if you have not already done so, I urge y’all to go to our Web site at and read the North American Wood Ape Conservancy’s Ouachita Project Monograph.  This written account details several years of study performed by our members, who have all volunteered serious time, effort and personal finances to try and provide definitive proof of the existence of these yet undiscovered mystery primates.
     Oh, and by the way … I’ve been busier than a cat tryin’ to cover-it-up on concrete puttin’ all this stuff together for y’all!  All of the photos in this blog were taken by me, and belong to me.  All of the writin’ is mine as well, so if y’all wanna re-publish any of this, please make sure to e-mail me and get my permission beforehand.  Any contributin’ articles or photos will only be published with expressed written permission of the author and/or photographer.  Intellectual Property, y’all … and there ain’t a court in this-here great country of ours that won’t enforce protectin’ it.    Thanks, God bless and be safe!
© 2013 - 2016 Angelo D. Landrum

Sunday, September 22, 2013


A bitter harvest ... my day in them woods retrievin' my game-cams.
    Howdy!  Hope all is well with all of y'all, and my blog is servin' some purpose other than releasin' the noise in my head.  Some of y’all probably already know this, but I ain’t big on keepin’ up with Facebook; that’s why I decided to create this blog … which I feel is comparable to scrapbookin’ for Rednecks.  If y’all wanna know what I’ve been doin’ as far as my amateur field research goes, it’d be right here.  Again … if my journalistic “style” (or lack thereof) offends anyone, please feel free to move on and God bless!  For those of you that’ve hung-on … I told y’all that I’d continue to post about sloughstalkin’ as well as some of my “misadventures” in Uncertain, Texas.  This is definitely one of ‘em …
     I’m one of them folks that try to follow every letter of the law.  I keep all licenses current and make a concerted effort to follow all of the rules, especially in the outdoors.  My wife might tell y’all differently ‘cause she’s always sayin’ that I never listen, but we won’t get into that here.  I do, too listen … ‘cause I took (and passed) the Texas Parks & Wildlife (TP&W) Hunter Education Course this summer.  Even though I was technically exempt (age-wise) I mainly took it to share the learnin’ experience with my son, who passed as well.  And speakin’ of learnin’ experiences, here’s somethin’ I really shoulda done-learnt a long time ago; my dad always said that no matter what you do, somebody somewhere is goin’ to know about it, period.  Read along and you’ll see how this fact will come ‘round full circle at the end of this blog entry …
     As previously stated in Our Encounter … soon after gettin’ a taste of what may have been an undocumented species of animal at Caddo Lake, I became abso-friggin’-lutely obsessed with findin’ out exactly what it was that my son and I had come across.  Since Caddo Lake is a 275-mile drive one-way from our home, weekend trips to the woods weren’t likely to happen that often … so I decided to set-out some game-cams.   I researched different brands of cameras and figured-out exactly what I needed, as well as what I could realistically afford.  Reconyx were out of the question ‘cause at the time, I was tighter than a skeeter’s ass in a nose-dive ... so, I settled on the Moultrie Game Spy I-35 Infra-Reds.  I actually followed the instructions and tested them for a month or so in the back of our property. After I was comfortable gettin' some shots of local wildlife (both day & night) I figured I'd better be able to secure my investment before leavin' 'em unattended in an East Texas swamp.

     Next, I ended-up purchasin’ the Moultrie metal, lockable security boxes for each of the cams.  Now, my wife’ll be the first to tell y’all that most store-bought gear just ain’t good enough for me.  I’m one of them creative-types … so I spent some time modifyin’ each of them boxes to suit my specific needs.  Just about everything I own has to be camouflaged … that’s a given; but first, I added some handles to make ‘em easier to carry in and out of them woods.  Then, I drilled a buncha-dang holes and inserted deck-screws with lock-washers from the inside-out of the covers of each box.  Why in the Hell, you may ask, would someone do that?  Well, I got that particular idea from watchin’ the “Sasquatch Attack” episode of MonsterQuest.  I figured doin’ this would serve two purposes: one, I may get lucky enough to collect some DNA evidence if my target quarry got overly curious with my cams; and two, to teach any other critter that might decide to mess with my cams that no means pain.  Sad to say, some folks like to take things that don’t belong to them, and I didn’t want my hard-earned cash settin’ in some pawn shop in Marshall or Shreveport.

   Accordin’ to the instructions supplied with each security box, you were s’posed to be able to strap the cams inside the boxes and to a tree.  That just wasn’t happennin’ … ‘cause I found issues with usin’ straps; the cams didn’t line-up properly inside the box, and they could be moved or misaligned easily.  The biggest issue I had was that straps could be gnawed or cut through.  The other option in the instructions was to use the bolts supplied and bolt the inside of the security box to a tree prior to lockin’ the cover over the box.  Again, store-bought gear ain’t good enough, so I bought stronger stainless-steel lag-bolts & fender washers that wouldn’t rust.  Y’all know how damp it gets in them woods, so stainless was my choice.  After gettin’ my cams set-up out in the field in early 2010, I started to get some really cool pics & video; but, sad to say, the only bipeds I caught on film were hunters.  I got pics of deer, hogs, coyotes, foxes, mink, coons, dillers and a squirrel that stuck his mug in the lens; but, those weren’t the Caddo critters I was tryin’ to film ...
     Durin’ the beginning of our drought in 2011, my buddy from Uncertain called and told me of some possible big-cat tracks he found behind his property in the Caddo Wildlife Management Area (WMA).  I had just purchased a new, smaller Moultrie Game Spy M-80 Infra-Red Game/Plot Camera and thought the perfect to place to deploy it would be in that immediate area.  I quickly purchased and customized a smaller Moultrie security box and planned a late-summer trip to Uncertain.  After scoutin’ the area one afternoon, we found (and casted) some pretty impressive big cat-tracks.  I had found an area to one side of this dried-up pond where several trails converged, and there was some scat and even the dried, partially devoured carcasses of fish.  Hmmm, here, kitty-kitty!

     I returned alone the next mornin’ to deploy my cam, but little did I know that the possibility of confrontin’ a big cat would be the least of my problems.  When I got back home, I located a wildlife biologist who worked in the area where I had cast the tracks.  We spoke on the phone and corresponded via e-mail.  Even though she thought that the track that I had casted was canine, I told her that I had set up a game-cam to catch the culprit.  When she inquired further about the camera and found-out that I had bolted the security box to the base of a tree in the WMA … she told me that I needed to call this person from TP&W who managed that WMA to find out the rules concernin’ have somethin’ bolted to a tree in the refuge.  Ruh, roh … Raggy!
     Obviously, I’d been a bad dog; not only did I bolt that particular game-cam … but I had four more set-out around Caddo as well!  Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so I figured that if I wanted to continue my amateur field research, I’d better fess-up & make it right.  I called TP&W and spoke with the person in charge of that WMA … and told her who I was and what I had done.  As expected, she told me that boltin’ or attachin’ things to trees out there was a no-no, and that if she found anything out there … she would remove it.  I told her that I was 275-miles away, and could not just come up there right away and remove my trail-cams.  I assured her that I would not put any more trail-cams out there, and when I took them down, I would patch the holes in the trees and figure-out another way to secure my cams.

     She asked me why I had the trail-cams out there in the first place, so I proceeded to tell her what had happened to my son and I in June of 2009.  Zoiks!  After droppin’ that bomb ... I could tell that the entire tone of our conversation pretty-much well changed. Hell, I never even used the word “Bigfoot”; even though she remained polite … you’d have thought I had just farted over the phone or somethin’!  I tried to let her know that I wasn’t part of the tin-foil hat crowd, that we had legitimately seen somethin’ out there and just wanted to know what the Hell it was or wanted to possibly catch it on film.  Awkward … and that conversation was almost two years ago.
     In the spring of this year, I headed  to Caddo to do my routine camera maintenance.  I had arranged to meet the folks from Squatch Unlimited, who ended-up takin’ me on a film-shoot for the upcoming movie, Skookum: The Hunt for Bigfoot.  Jeff Meldrum (who I had met at a TBRC Conference in 2010) was there, and we ended up talkin’ for quite some time between takes.  By the way … the low was 38° that night, so I think the film-crew and the actors earned their keep!  The next mornin’ … I took the SU gang into the area of our encounter.  The deal was, I was goin’ out there to do my camera maintenance anyways, they could tag-along and afterwards I’d take them on a lake tour.

     Sometimes … sh¡t just happens; a fallen tree had blocked our way through the channel, and them folks really weren’t dressed to go wadin’ through the goo around Smith’s Slough.  Tryin’ to find my cameras was a friggin’ joke; my GPS kept searchin’ for satellites and shuttin’ down.  So then we followed my trail-tape as far as we could until it disappeared into the flooded forest.  After a long hike back to the boat, I tooled them around the slough so they could film & take pictures.  As I was bringin’ ‘em back to the State Park on Big Cypress, an over-zealous wake-boardin’ boat did what wakeboardin’ boats do best … it waked the Hell out of us!  Two of the SU crew got soaked, and I felt like I’d pretty-much well failed as a swamp tour guide.  Embarrassed, I drank about it that evenin’ … and then it was all good.
     My wife can tell y’all that sometimes I can be a persistent little pecker; so the next day, I loaded my kayak onto my boat and headed for Smith’s Slough.  After chainin’ my bass-boat to a cypress, I launched, lugged, tugged, drug (over that fallen tree) re-launched & paddled through a butt-load of giant salvinia to find and and service the first pair of my game-cams.  The second pair were fairly easy to get to off of Big Cypess, but when I got to the WMA, I couldn’t find the fifth cam.  I checked my GPS coordinates and walked around for about 20-minutes before I found the tree with two holes in the base where my cam had previously been mounted.  I thought, Holy sh¡t … somebody ripped me off!  I was beyond p¡ssed, especially after the luck I had tryin’ to show the SU gang around.  That particular cam ran about $250.00 includin’ my custom security box, hardware, the 32-GB SD card and batteries.  And that particular cam had produced the most wildlife on it to date!  Now I’d never know whether I had captured any “bad-old puddy-cat” action or not.  I drank about it that evenin’ … but I was still madder than woodpecker with a creosote buzz.  I packed my gear the next mornin’, said bye to my friends and drove home, tail-tucked!
     That evenin’ … I went through the SD cards on my other 4 cams.  On one of ‘em I noticed a video of a bunch of deer haulin’ ass; the very next frame showed some gun-hunters walkin’ up to my cam, and then … the very next video shows three of the four “said hunters” tryin’ to remove my box from the tree!  The last culprit was a big-ole corn-fed boy who took ahold of my cam’s handle and yanked.  Hmmm, no wonder the dang handle was bent when I serviced it!  Now, the most amazin’ part of this video was that the time/date-stamp clearly shows that this incident took place in October … which is bow season here in Texas.  Hmmm, these guys weren’t carryin’ bows, so unless they was hog huntin’ … I wonder what they was doin’ out there in them woods?  The next time my buddy from Uncertain came to visit … I showed him that video.  He said he knew exactly who one of the guys was, and said he’d have a word with him.  Later, I posted an article on the SU site and mentioned my spring-trip fiasco and included a photo showin’ these hunters walkin’ up to the cams.  Remember what I said earlier, no matter what you do … somebody is goin’ to know about it.
     Hmmm, I guess that goes for me as well … ‘cause a couple weeks back, things come ‘round full circle.  In conversation with my buddy from Uncertain, he said, “Well … I got some good news, and some bad news about your missin’ camera.  The good news is, I found out where it is; the bad news is … it’s in the game warden’s office and she wants you to call her.  She said it took her a couple of trips and 2½ hours to get your camera off that tree!  Hmmm … looks like I was fixin’ to cough-up a fine.  Now, it had been almost two years since my conversation with this person, so I spent about three or four beers lookin’ through old e-mails tryin’ to remember what her name was, and how I was even goin’ to get ahold of her.  Well, after some diggin’ ‘round on that-there internet … I found a name and a number.  When I called her and told her who I was … she’d already knew what I’d done.  And, she’d obviously read my articles on the SU site … which was how she knew who my buddy was.  Holy sh¡t … I’d done been cyber-stalked!  Seriously though, she was very cordial & polite, but to the point.  She said that I could have my camera back and not get a fine (this time) as long as I could prove to her that I’d taken the other four game-cams out of them woods and patched the holes in them trees.

     A little quick plannin’ forced me to initiate OPERATION: Pull-Out!  I now had to drop everything and go get my cams outta them woods and quick!  I’d hoped there’d be a happy-endin’ to this, but even though I wasn’t goin’ to be fined … it would still cost me about $120 in gas alone just to get up there & back.  I immediately told my wife what was up and she said to just take-off and go get ‘em.  Wow … that part was easy!  Thank God I have an understandin’ wife that now semi-tolerates my obsession with whatever my son and I saw out at Caddo Lake.  At first, I was spendin’ so much time out there that my wife hinted that maybe I had some Cajun-honey for a “fishin’ buddy” that I might’ve been shackin’-up with!  Really?  I was offended by her sarcasm at first, ‘cause after 20+ years of marriage … she ought to know that I don’t park my truck in any strange garages.  So, to get her goat … I done come-up with the bumper-sticker that I now sport on my truck.  I’ve gotten lots of compliments on that sticker; but, there is a true story behind my inspiration to create it …
     Late one Saturday night, I had gone to this little waterin’ hole they got out towards Cypress Village called The Lighthouse.  The place was actually kind of fun, and was packed full with the locals.  I had me a couple of beers, bought a couple of bags of ice and had walked outside when I seen somethin’ in the parkin’ lot.  Bathed in moonlight, I could see this tall, dark-haired woman smilin’ at me all glassy-eyed with smeered red lips and smoke slowly emittin’ from her nostrils.  As she staggered my way, I suddenly had this Travis Tritt tune goin’ off in my head.  Suspectin’ what animalistic intentions this inebriated beast may have had, I figured it would be in my best interest to get to the truck quickly and pull-out!  Y’all may think I’m just funnin’ ya, but I seen her … and I was scared!
     Getting’ back to the subject at hand, and since I have (almost) always followed every letter of the law, I completed OPERATION: Pull-Out!  After spendin’ a gruelin’ hot day in them woods … I extracted all four game-cams and patched the holes in those trees.  That game warden was nice enough to meet me on her own time, and I showed her the pictures of me takin’ my other four cams down and patchin’ them trees … ‘cause I’m a man of my word!  The moral of this story is, ignorance of the law is no excuse … and I’d better figure-out another way to secure my cams out in them woods without boltin’ ‘em to a tree.  Y’all need to make sure to have the proper permits and know all the rules before you go traipsin’ around a Wildlife Management Area or a National Forest.  Them rules are created and enforced to protect our natural resources.  Remember that …
     In closing, this whole situation did open my eyes, and I guess I need to be more careful about what I post on that-there internet.  But it also leaves me to ask one burnin’ question:  Why would a game warden (who probably wouldn’t publicly acknowledge even the slightest possibility of the existence of somethin’ like what my son and I saw out there in them woods) be lookin’ at “Bigfoot” sites?  Hmmm … interestin’ … think about it.  And, y’all come back now, you hear?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Our Encounter ...

     Howdy, y’all!  This here is my second post … and I’ve added some of my pictures to help break-up the monotony of my marathon-esque story-line.  This is kinda like one of them “This Happened To Me” stories from Outdoor Life, ‘cept a Hell of a lot longer.  Y’all please remember that bein’ a graphic designer … I’m a visual sort and sometimes pay too-dang much attention to the details.  This’ll prob’ly be about a two-beer read; but as always, I tells it like I sees it
     In June of 2009 my (then) thirteen year-old son and I were fishin’ the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area off of Big Cypress Bayou.  The lake-water level was high, which allowed us to fish a few areas that were normally too shallow to navigate in our 1,300 lb. bass boat.  On Monday mornin’ … June 8th, we had left our friends' dock at 5:45 A.M., and by 6:15 the visibility was already gettin' clear & sunny.  I had turned off of Big Cypress into a small channel, and my son had his video camera out filmin’ our boat ride along the way.  At one point about half-way through the slough, we passed an area that smelled awful; almost as if somethin’ out there had died out in them woods.  You can actually hear me on his video sayin’, “Damn … somethin’ smells nasty!
     We made it through the secluded channel where I shut-down the Yamaha and began trollin’ towards an open area with an abundance of lily pads.  
This area is only accessible by boat; we weren’t talkin' or makin' much noise despite me catchin' a couple of small bass.  It was peaceful; the only sounds that we heard at that time were cardinals, wrens and frogs.  It was now after 6:30 A.M. and I noticed that my son was filmin' me catch those bass on top-water lures.  I had just told him to put his video camera up and pick-up his rod and fish … ‘cause that was what we were there for!  That was a huge mistake ...
     After trollin' past the open area, there was a small berm to our right, with dense flooded woods beyond it.  I was castin' at the edges of the vegetation under the tree-lined bank, when all of the sudden, we heard a loud splashin' about 30-yards over the berm, which sounded like someone was quickly walkin' through the water.  I thought, a hunter, maybe?  The brush was so thick that all I could see through that vegetation was a very large wake.  Now remember, this was June … and ‘cept for hogs, there really ain’t a season for any kind-of wild game.  Whatever was walkin’ out there was doin’ it on two legs, so I thought that maybe it was a poacher!
     I loudly whispered for my son to get his camcorder back out.  He put his rod down and stepped from the back of the boat, over the fold-down seats into the floorboard.  Our gear bag, which held both of our cameras was under the side-console.  Our boat is carpeted and we were both barefoot ... so he didn’t make much noise movin' about to get down to the bag.  About that time I also noticed that some crows overhead were cawin' loudly and seemed to be circlin' directly overhead.  As my son was gettin' his camcorder out, whatever it was that was walkin' through the water had stopped.
     I was standin’ up on the on the castin’ deck workin’ the foot-controlled trollin’ motor.  On the floor of the boat, my son now stood a good foot-and-a-half lower than me (on top of already bein’ a foot shorter) which put his line of sight right-at eye-level just over the top of the berm.  In a loud whisper he said, “Dad … I can see it! Lookin' into the thicket toward the source of the wake, I asked, “What do you see?”  In a louder whisper, he replied, “I can see its legs! They’re this big!” he exclaimed, holdin’ his hands out about the size of a bucket.  My next thought was that it may have been a black bear … but they really don’t walk on two legs for any great distance.  I asked, "What color are they?" in which he replied, "Kind of a brownish-gray."  I immediately thought to myself, “Oh, sh¡t!
     At that point, whatever it was immediately started walkin' away from us through the flooded forest; the sloshin' became louder, and it was definitely movin' faster, as if in retreat.  As my son tried to find his target on the camcorder screen, we then heard brush crackin' and limbs breakin'.  I said, “Can you still see it?  Did you get it on film? He replied, “No, I don’t think so … I can’t focus; it’s too thick! We heard whatever it was movin’ further into the brush, and then all was silent except for the crows.  They kept cawin' … but further away; they seemed to follow whatever was movin' through the flooded thicket.
     In the couple of minutes that this all happened, the current had moved us quite a bit, so I trolled back around to the spot where we initially heard the sloshin'.  The channel that we were in was barely wide enough for us to turn our boat around.  As I maneuvered the boat, we both peered into the thicket.  I could see a very large pile of brush at the head of the berm, which consisted of large dead tree limbs, but did not appear to be the work of beavers.  They were piled-up around a couple of Cypress trees, and I noticed that it looked fairly dry there, but the rest of the forest was flooded.  It looked like the creek that this animal was wadin’ through fed from the main channel, which started from the tree line at the open area where we had begun fishin’ the lily pads.  The creek flowed for about 40-yards and then went under a very large fallen tree.  I ran the boat parallel to the berm and wedged it into the vegetation so we wouldn’t drift.
     I then asked my son to explain to me exactly what he saw.  He said that all he could see were two large hair-covered legs, but only from just above the knees to where they met the wake that it made while walkin' through the water.  He described them as being brownish-gray in color, and much bigger than mine.  We stayed there for at least 30-minutes, but saw or heard nothin' else.  We both kept askin' ourselves what it could have been.  My son is no stranger to wildlife, havin' killed his first hog at age eleven, and he’s seen plenty of deer as well.
     I had been huntin' and fishin' for well over forty years.  I’ve been in very close proximity to both deer and hogs crossin' water, and what we heard was definitely not a four-legged animal.  I know for a fact that what I heard was walkin' on two legs, and was very large.  I don’t quite know how to describe it, but whatever it was it just sounded heavy.  For example, I’m a heavy guy (okay, let’s be honest; I’m fat for my 5’8” height at 200+ lbs.).  Hell, I don’t even make that much noise wadin' back to a duck blind after settin’ out decoys prior to shootin' time.  We just stood there in the boat tryin' to figure out what it was …
     My son was so excited, he wouldn’t even fish; he just sat in the rear pedestal seat clutchin’ his camcorder for the next hour while I fished.  Needless to say, cell phone service (and sometimes even GPS) is sketchy at best in the swamp.  When I finally got a couple of bars, I called the friend that we were stayin’ with to tell him what had happened.  He was born and raised in Uncertain and his father was a commercial fisherman, so he knew exactly where we were when I described the area.  He said, “Aw … it was probably a couple of deer movin’ through the water in tandem; or a panther … or maybe that old bear people’s been seein’ back there.  I immediately told him that it wasn’t deer or a cat, and unless “that old bear” could walk a good distance through floodwater on two legs, that he was dead friggin’ wrong!  He must have thought I was some kind of trippy-assed tourist and just laughed it off.  After I hung up, it hit me; I asked my son, “You think there could there be some tracks back there?  We immediately stowed our gear, pulled-up the trollin’ motor and hauled back to the area of our little incident.
     When we arrived back at the spot, I ran our boat nose-first into the bank of the berm.  All we had for our feet were flip-flops, so from the castin’ deck on the bow of the boat we scouted the berm for snakes and poison ivy.  The ground around the berm was semi-firm, but our hopes were dashed when we discovered that most everything else was submerged.  I particularly didn’t feel the need to wallow ‘round in mud, so we looked around from the safety of the berm and then headed back to our friends’ place in Uncertain.  On the way out of that slough, we saw a small herd of deer to our left on higher ground.  I asked my son if what he saw had the same color hair as the deer, and he said absolutely not; the deer were more of a reddish-brown and what he saw was more of a brownish-gray.  He also said that the hair was longer, and that he was very sure of what he had seen.
     When we got back to our friends’ place … there was quite a crowd; his best friend was there, as well as both of his sons and their wives and/or girlfriends.  His older son had seen us night fishin’ near Jackson’s Arm the night before as he was headin’ out to go froggin’.  Just short of mass ridicule, we were told it was most probably just a couple of deer.  I think my son was a little uncomfortable arguin’ with our friends, but he’ll swear as to what he saw.  We visited a while, cooked & mowed-down on some lunch … then took a little power-nap.  Late that afternoon we headed straight back to “the spot”.  I shut-down the Yamaha well before the area where we had our little incident, and put the trollin’ motor down.  Within about 15-minutes of trollin’ before we even got to the open area with the lily pads, you’d never guess what we saw; deer … at least five or six of ‘em, movin’ through the waist to knee-deep water.  And when they saw us, they bolted; but even then, they sounded nothin’ like what we had heard that mornin’.  He actually filmed one of ‘em movin’ through the floodwater and climbin’ through the brush up the bank (notice how blurry the image is ... due to the thickness of the vegetation it was very difficult to focus the video camera).

     Since our encounter, we have scouted and even sat overnight (no fire) out there on that island.  We took plenty of pictures and recorded our entire night’s stay on an Olympus® sound recorder.  That was a night neither of us will ever forget, but I’ll save that experience for another entry to this blog.  Other than a possible limb-twist that I discovered in 2011, we haven’t found anything significant to show us what this critter might be, or if it's even still in that area.  However, we’ve had five Moultrie® infra-red game-cams out there (until I had to remove them on 09/14/13*) … and I’d change-out the batteries & SD cards every 4 months or so.  I’ve spent a bunch-of dang money on gas & gear for that 550-mile round-trip, which I’ve made well over a dozen times since June 8th of 2009.  We’ve bought a night-vision monocular, digital sound recorder, a Canon® Powershot SX50 and a Wilderness Commander kayak.  We’ve been treatin’ this as if we were huntin’ … although I wouldn’t feel the need to shoot this animal unless I felt that we were in immediate danger.

     Contrary to what other amateur field researchers might do, we don’t tree-knock, vocalize, call-blast or bait (other than impalin’ apples about 6’ up in trees in front of our trail-cams).  I personally have never heard a tree-knock, and other than a strange, distant cry that we couldn’t identify (which was recorded durin’ Spring Break of 2010) I wouldn’t know what this critter’s vocalization would sound like.  I don’t want to spook it, nor would I wanna p¡ss it off!  If it happens to reside in that area, I’m sure that like most animals, it’s territorial; what its range is … I couldn’t really begin to tell you.  The way I look at it, we were quiet when we happened upon it the first time, so I try to keep a pretty low-profile each time I’ve gone back into that area.

     We really just want to know what this animal was.  From what-all that I’ve read and have heard from some of the locals, somethin’ has been out there in them woods for quite some time.  I personally believe that due to the flood of 2009 – 2010, the deer were pushed onto higher ground, and we may have interrupted this animal while it was stalkin’ those deer.  My son and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time … and because we were quiet, we were lucky (blessed) enough to get close to it.

     I hope I haven’t bored you or wasted any of your time.  If you’re interested … I’ve compiled the majority of our journeys (and some misadventures) along with plenty of photos of our trips to Uncertain.  I’ll be postin’ those from time to time, along with some field tips I’ve learned along the way.  And if we’re lucky enough to find somethin’ of any significance, be assured you’ll see it right here!  Until then, y’all take care …
Note:  Except for my son’s photo of the deer crossin’ high-water (posted here as a video-capture), the rest of my photos were shot on Sunday, September 27th of 2009 when I returned to the area after attendin’ the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (now known as the North American Wood Ape Conservancy) Conference in Tyler,Texas.

*Y'all stay tuned for my upcomin' blog entry, "OPERATION: Pull-Out!" ... and find out why my game-cams had to be removed.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sort-of Like Fishin' …

Tiny-tackle record!  This is the
smallest bass I've ever caught.
     Howdy, y’all … this is the first post to my brand-spankin’ new Blogger site!  I hope everyone will click-around to figure-out who I am and why I’m bloggin’.  I’ve set this site up as a repository to post my pictures, pointers, pokes and personal accounts of slough-stalkin’ over the past few years … kinda-like scrap-bookin' for rednecks!

     So speakin’ of personal accounts, I’m an avid angler and I could tell y’all countless tales of the big one that got away! I’ve been fishin’ since I was six years-old, and I’m now in my early fifties.  I’ll fish any chance I can get; and sometimes, no matter what the conditions may be.  Hell, I even fished on our honeymoon.  Seriously … just ask my wife!  Oops, wait a minute; maybe I shouldn’t have told that one.  As I recollect usin’ my keenly-honed power of selective-memory … I have never forgotten nor have I ever been able to live-down that particular incident.  I’ll have to admit that I married way out-of my league.  However, I can distinctly recall my sweet young bride gettin’ angry enough to make a freight train take a dirt road over that episode!  But since I still got all my parts … I’ll just pass on re-hashin’ the grisly details.
     As y’all have probably gathered … I’m a bona fide fishaholic.  I’ve fished throughout Louisiana, Texas and Arkansas for everything from lunker-largemouth to trophy trout, and I’ve done more than my fair-share of wranglin’ redfish outta some of them coastal marshes as well.  No matter what the southern species, I’ve probably done-hooked-it at least one time or another.  Don’t ask me to list ‘em all … ‘cause my wife can tell y’all that I’ve posed for more pictures holdin’ fish than I have with my own family!  While that may be a sad fact, I’m pretty-dang sure it’s just a “Y chromosome thang”.   But not all of my fishin’ trips have glory-stories associated with ‘em; aside from gettin’ skunked (admit it, y’all … we all have come-up zero from time to time) there’s always the big one that got away.  Fact of life, y’all … you cain’t catch ‘em all, but you can keep on tryin’.  Hmmm, that particular fact reminds me of one of my single-buddies, and I ain’t talkin’ ‘bout his fish!  That boy had better slow down some, or he might wind-up catchin’ somethin’ that he cain’t get rid of …
     Back to the subject at hand, I was on a fishin’ trip with my son in June of ‘09 on Caddo Lake out of Uncertain, Texas when the biggest one of all got away.  On the third mornin’ of our trip, we caught some bass, saw some deer … and then we had an experience with somethin’ that was quite unexpected.  We briefly heard and saw what may have been an undocumented species of animal; possibly, the one that some folks are callin’ the Texas Bigfoot, the Caddo Critter … or currently, the North American Wood Ape.  It pretty-much well freaked us out; but at the same time, it was really cool!  So over the past four years since this incident happened, I have become abso-friggin’-lutely obsessed with findin’ out exactly what it was that he and I had come across.

     If y’all haven’t had an encounter with such a critter, I can tell you that it’s sort-of like fishin’.  For example, let’s say that you hook into a trophy-sized fish and you get a fleetin’ glimpse of it as it starts to run; but suddenly, the line goes slack ‘cause it’s done-throwed your dang lure … and then it’s gone!  Your adrenalin is up, and your heart feels like it’s about to pound right outta your chest (kind of like when my new bride caught me fishin’ on our honeymoon).  You now know it’s out there, and now all you can think about is how to catch it again.  You ain’t got any pictures to back-up your story, but you know it was out there.  You actually have a witness, but nobody believes either of ya … ‘cause y’all know how us anglers tend to exaggerate the details sometimes, right?  But when your own family and your fishin’ & huntin’ buds start laughin’ at you, it’s friggin’ on!  It was time to put-up or shut-up, so I was goin’ to hafta get me some proof …

     I was now the one who was hooked; but this time, it was ‘cause of somethin’ totally new and different.  I’m thinkin’ … what the Hell was that?  I wanna see that again … only this time, I wanna see it up close & personal.  Y’all know what I mean?  I was kinda like that kid who just saw his girlfriend naked for the first time.  Okay; maybe I should’ve used another analogy, but I was just tryin’ to drive the point home.  Oops, maybe that was a bad idiom as well; c’mon, chuckle-chuckle y’all … have some dang fun with this!  But seriously, I got to them crossroads where I had to ask myself, so … what am I goin’ to do now?  Am I goin’ to be that guy that folks joke about who claims he saw a Bigfoot?  Aw, Hell no!  So I did what any true angler would do … I got right back out there and started to fish.
     I figured that lookin’ for this critter would just be sort-of like fishin’; so to catch it … I just had to try and “match the hatch”.  For any of y’all out there who don’t fish, matchin’ the hatch means figurin’ out what kind of bait the fish want durin’ specific times, weather conditions or seasons.  But in this surreal scenario, that was much easier said than done.  I had to wonder, why was that critter out there?  What was it doin’?  It just didn’t happen to wander out there for no reason.  Out of the whole Caddo Wildlife Management Area, why was it in that particular spot at that particular time?
     Answerin’ my own questions … I had to assume that it was for the same reason any critter comes around; it must’ve been lookin’ for some food.  After thinkin’ about it, I’m pretty-dang sure that it was stalkin’ those deer that we saw out there that mornin’.  So, sort-of like fishin’ I asked myself, if I wanted to replicate this sightin’ … what were the conditions?  Well, let’s see … it was early summer, early mornin’ durin’ a full-moon phase, with higher than normal water-levels in a flooded forest with an overabundance of deer.  And I supposed that the reason there were so many deer in that one area was ’cause the floodwaters had forced ‘em onto higher ground.  And that higher ground, as it turns out … was this patch of swampy-woods just off of Big Cypress Bayou where we happened to be fishin’ that mornin’!
     Next, I figured that I needed to learn as much as possible about this animal.  But where in the Hell are you ‘sposed to get information on somethin’ that ain’t even a documented species?  First, I done a bunch-of dang readin’ … and come to find out, there’s lots of stuff out there about this mystery critter.  I found plenty of books, documentaries, news articles and Web sites galore on this subject!  But keep in mind … y’all gotta have a little backwoods-savvy to figure-out what portion of this information was legit, what was rehash and what was just plain-old tabloid-trash.  There are some really cool sites out there with interactive sightin’ maps, incident reports and articles written by people just like me (‘cept probably not typed in redneck-eze).  Most of the material is free, and it’s posted to both educate and help folks figure-out what this critter is.  I sincerely appreciate the time and effort that some of these folks have put into their research, articles, Web sites and posts.  Without these folks grindin’-it-out over the past half-a-century or so, most of us would be clueless as to who William Roe was, or to the significance of early field research from Peter Byrne, René Dahinden, or John Green, networkin’ by George Haas and Jim McClarin, or what a mid-tarsal break is, dermal ridges, etc.

     But sort-of like fishin’ … you gotta cull through the trash-fish & bottom-feeders to get to the table-fare.  I’ve found that some sites out on that-there internet post some pretty ridiculous and malicious stuff.  Hey … I know that y’all know what I’m talkin’ about; the ones with the inaccurate reportin’, the plagiarizin’, pot-lickin’, conspiracy theories, blatant hoaxes, drama, infightin’, “anon” comments and haters bashin’ everybody.  It’s a shame that folks cain’t get along & play nice … but some of them dang sites thrive on postin’ stuff that don’t even pertain to the actual subject at hand!  These are the sorts of sites that make this subject taboo for anyone with even the slightest-bit of common sense.  No wonder why some of the folks who believe that this critter exists get labeled as bein’ bat-sh¡t crazy or part of the lunatic-fringe.

     Just recently while surfin’ “newsworthy” headlines, somethin’ caught my attention.  One of them sites posted “actual footage” of somethin’ walkin’ ‘round out at Caddo Lake.  Really?  Now just hold on … don’t y’all get excited!  In this particular site’s defense, they actually stated up-front that this video was an obvious hoax.  I watched it, and you’d have to be nuttier than a squirrel turd to think that what was filmed was a genuine animal.  But considerin’ this particular site, who would’ve thunk it?  So the real question is … why even waste the time to post it?  It’s kinda like a cottonmouth layin’ out on the bank of a pond sunnin’ itself … just don’t mess with it, y’all; just let it be!  Postin’ this kind of bullsh¡t will eventually get you bit, and it just breeds more of them hoaxers and their dang hoaxes.  I guess we’re all guilty of surfin’ some of them sites on that-there internet.  But for me, I either hafta be real-dang bored or flat-out frustrated that I cain’t actually be out in them woods, spendin’ my time tryin’ to figure-out exactly what this critter really is.
     So, sort-of like fishin’ … I found out that there’s a learnin’ curve tryin’ to do my own amateur field research.  A couple of years back, I eventually got to the point that I can remember askin’ some folks in the “Bigfoot community” for some advice.  Let’s just say I had asked this particular group or that certain individual about the solidity of my methods (or, lack thereof) while out in the field.  In both instances, I never really got a response.  But what I actually did learn, sad to say, was that there seems to be a lot of competition, secrecy and folks who have their own agenda in the world of “Bigfootery”.  Kind-of like gettin’ skunked fishin’ on a new lake, I come-up zero!  The majority of the locals or seasoned pros don’t want you to know what they’re bitin’ on.  Everybody’s out there tryin’ to catch the big one, but the reality is that in this kind of tournament, the stakes are extremely high.  God forbid somebody might actually learn somethin’ from sharin’ with one another.  The reason that I correspond and share stuff with folks is ‘cause I wanna learn more! So why be so secretive or private?  After all, it ain’t like these critters are restricted to private property; they’re out there on public land and in our state and national parks.  Needless to say, I didn’t ever get that advice or help I was lookin’ for.  Maybe ‘cause I wasn’t a member of some special group or society, or maybe someone was afraid I was just pot-lickin’ ...

     Sort-of like fishin’ … nobody likes a pot-licker.  Y’all know what a pot-licker is?  Well … let me try to explain it.  Let’s say you’re out drift-fishin’ out in the middle of the bay and you find a school of speckled-trout and just start tearin’ ‘em up!  But then a passin’ boat sees your bent rods or your buddy nettin’ a fish; so instead of fallin’-in behind your drift to take his turn, he cuts you off and scatters the school!  Not very productive, is it?  Sort-of like fishin’ … there’s plenty of fish and lots of water to cover out there.  Just like in field research, there’s plenty of ground to cover out in them woods.  So I could see that if someone’s been researchin’ a specific area, they might be leary of givin’ up some intel.  But it’s not like I was askin’ for them about their specific research area or for GPS coordinates; I was only askin’ for some advice!
     Some folks may feel the need to join one of them organizations ‘cause they perceive that there’s power in numbers, or it might make them “official”.  I’m not condemnin’ that; but y’all be careful ‘cause there are some hucksters out there that are just tryin’ to cash-in or make a quick buck.  Did y’all know that there are some groups that’ll actually charge folks to go out and look through them woods for this critter?  Hmmm … I’d recon that’d be like me payin’ a fishin’ guide to take me to fish one of my own-dang honey-holes on some public lake.  Really?  Well, I guess that might be sort-of like fishin’ … but I’m pretty-dang confident that I’ve been better-off out there on my own.  Y’all know what I mean?  Like doin’ my time in the grime tryin’ to figure-it-out for myself?  Sorry, y’all; I done got myself all worked-up and off the subject.  My ADD compounded by my little-man syndrome kicks-in every once in a while, and I get off track.  Maybe I’d better focus on havin’ me a cold one and calm down a bit … life’s too short (pun intended) to sweat the small stuff.

     Over the past four years, I’ve done a bunch-more fishin’ out there, but I still ain’t been able to “match the hatch”.  Between 2009 and 2010, the area around Caddo Lake experienced some of the worst flood conditions on record.  And in contrast, from 2011 through 2012 that area (like most of Texas) experienced a severe drought.  Matter of fact, it got so dry out there … I had to pick the ticks off the bass before I put ‘em in my livewell!  So sort-of like fishin’ … I’ve learned to have me some patience.  Through diligence and the pursuit of findin’ out what’s really lurkin’ ‘round out there in them woods, I ended-up settin’-out some of them infra-red trail-cams.  But sort-of like fishin’ … I’ve been skunked; so far I done come-up zero as to catchin’ one of them critters on film.  But I’ve learned quite a bit through trial & error, and now that the conditions are gettin’ back to normal, maybe I’ll get lucky sometime soon.  If I do, I’ll make sure y’all can see it right here … no drama, no hoaxes and no bullsh¡t!

     I hope y’all have enjoyed this first blog entry.  If y’all struggled tryin’ to read my redneck-eze, I offer no apologies … just get over it!  This blog is my escape from corporate America and havin’ to constantly be grammatically-correct.  I also tried to write this usin’ a little bit of humor; however, I’m pretty dang-sure I’ve probably touched a nerve or two.  I tend to have that effect on folks; just ask my wife!  If y’all are interested … I’ll be postin’ more stuff about slough-stalkin’ and doin’ my time in the grime.  I’ll be sure to include a bunch of the photos I’ve taken out there in them woods, and I’ll be more than happy to share with y’all any of the stuff that I’ve learned along the way.  So, sort-of like fishin’… maybe I can teach y’all a thang or two; or maybe … some-of y’all can even school me!  In the meantime, y’all take care …