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North American Wood Ape

North American Wood Ape

Freaky Friday

I must admit that I had not heard about the North American Wood Ape until I was researching The Beast of Bray Road.  A film producer, Seth Breedlove, who produced a documentary about the Best of Bray Road was interviewed by the folks at Astonishing Legends. During the interview he mentioned that he was a member of NAWAC, the North American Wood Ape Conservancy. (Once again, who knew there was such a thing?) He spoke about a remote area in the Ouachita Mountains in Southeastern Oklahoma where he was camping with researchers from the conservancy.  During the night, something in the woods threw rocks at a metal outbuilding at the research camp and then laughed with a “gibbon-like” sound. 

Was it a hoax?  Was someone trying to play an elaborate joke on the group?

Seth doesn’t think so.  He mentioned that the camp was nine miles away from civilization and, because of the conditions of the road and the terrain, it took them two and a half hours in “jacked-up” four-wheel drive pickups to get down to the site. He also commented that anyone trying to hoax them was risking getting shot, because they were all armed, or getting attacked by a mountain lion, copperhead or bear, which are prevalent in the area. 

Was Seth already convinced that these things were real before he started out? 

No, Seth actually called himself the skeptic in the group. He said that he went into those woods with a thirty percent belief that these things exist factually, but after the events during the night, he came out of the woods with a seventy-five to eighty percent belief. 

Now, as you’re reading this, you might be thinking that you haven’t heard of the North American Wood Ape either – but I bet you have. Although, you’ve probably heard of it as it’s referred to by its other common names—Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Yeti, Yowie, Almas, Skunk Ape, Grassman, Wendigo, and Yeren. 

What NAWAC does that might be different than what’s been previously considered, is treat Bigfoot as an undiscovered primate rather than a fanciful urban legend. But how fanciful is this creature?  How many people have actually had encounters with them?

More than forty years ago, a family in Minerva, Ohio had an encounter with this kind of creature that changed his life. Seth Breedlove and his production company “Small Town Monsters” did a documentaryon the story. But a local Fox affiliate also did a story about one of the men who witnessed the event and stayed silent for nearly forty years. 

“You’re the first we’ve talked to since,” said Howe Cayton, sitting down with FOX 8 News reporter Suzanne Stratford.

Howe was just a teenager in 1978, growing up with his parents and six siblings in a home on Lincoln Street.

“We’d play hide and seek,” said Howe. “It was just a playground for us kids.”

Until August, when he says someone, or something started throwing rocks at their roof.

At first, they thought it was a prankster, but Howe said soon things became aggressive.

There was pounding on the windows, and a large rock struck their neighbor in the face.

It became known as the Minerva Monster.

Although it was never located, the events that unfolded that summer continue to baffle even veteran law enforcement investigators.

“They were terrified,” said Cpt. Jim Shannon, retired Stark County Sheriff’s Dept. “I will always believe them, that they saw something …it’s just what did they see?!”

How long have there been Bigfoot or Wood Ape sightings? 

The website “Exemplore” share a story about Teddy Roosevelt and his belief in the existence of Bigfoot. 

“In his book The Wilderness Hunter, Roosevelt relays the story of a trapper named Bauman and his brush with what was apparently a Sasquatch. To be fair, The Wilderness Hunter was published in 1892, before Roosevelt was President of the United States. But he was still a professional man and politician with a strong reputation at stake.

According to Roosevelt, Bauman was a hunter, trapper, and frontiersman who had seen about all there was to see while living a life in the wild. In his younger days, Bauman and his partner had set out on a trapping expedition. After finding an area where they thought they’d have some luck, they set up camp and went off exploring for a while.

When they later returned, they found their campsite had been trashed. They assumed the culprit had been a bear, but upon inspection discovered by its tracks that this “bear” seemed to have been walking on two feet.

That night the men were awakened by noises, and what appeared to be a massive creature lurking in the darkness. They fired at it with their guns, but the creature ran off.

The next day they went out to check their traps, and once again returned to a smashed-up campsite. During the night the creature menaced them once more, and while it wouldn’t come near their fire it made a huge racket in the surrounding woods.

Deciding enough was enough, the men cut their trip short. Bauman went off alone to collect some of the remaining traps and returned several hours later to a horrible scene. His partner had been killed, and apparently flung around the campsite by a powerful animal. His neck had been broken and bitten, but apparently, he wasn’t taken as prey as his body was still intact.

Bauman left the traps and supplies behind and immediately fled the mountain as fast as he could.” 

Exemplore goes on to state that President Roosevelt might have had his own encounter with Bigfoot. “According to lore, Roosevelt may have had his own encounter in the mountains of California. While camped out in the depths of the forest one night he heard howls and growls which he admitted he could not attribute to any known animal.

According to the story, at the very least he appreciated the significance of these strange noises and recognized the possibility that they may have come from some unknown creature.”

But Bigfoot sightings have been recorded for much longer than Roosevelt’s tale. According to The Museum of UnNaturalMystery “Bigfoot, or as it’s often called in Canada, the Sasquatch, is mentioned in several native American legends. In fact, the term “Sasquatch” is Indian for “hairy giant.” The first sighting of a Sasquatch by a white man apparently came in 1811 near what now is the town of Jasper, Alberta Canada. A trader named David Thompson found some strange footprints, fourteen inches long and eight inches wide, with four toes, in the snow.”

However, according to the Sasquatch Chronicles Blog “The oldest account of Bigfoot was recorded in 986 AD by Leif Ericson and his men. During their first landing in the New World, the Norsemen wrote about manlike beasts that were “horribly ugly, hairy, swarthy and with great black eyes.”

“Among his accounts, Leif told of seeing huge hairy men who towered over him and his men. The “huge hairy men”, according to Leif, lived in the Woods and had a rank odor and a deafening shriek. It should be noted that Leif Ericson and his men describe huge manlike beasts that were loud and foul-smelling and clearly distinct from native peoples. Apparently, Leif had several sightings of the “huge hairy men” before departing the island.

They called the creature “Skellring.” People believe that the creature “Skellring” is what we know today as Bigfoot. This is the earliest recorded encounter with Bigfoot or Sasquatch.

The Norse word “skellring” is a term of contempt. It means, roughly, a “barbarian.” What is interesting is the word “hairy.” The Norse were a hairy people themselves, big men with matted hair and beards. Why did they remark on the “skellring” being hairy? Was it because they were very much hairier than the Norsemen?”

So, I’ve mentioned Oklahoma, Ohio, and Canada. Where else, you might wonder, have there been sightings of the large apeman?  According to this map from Weird Data Science every single state in the United States and most of the territories in Canada have had Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Wood Ape sightings. 

So, what should you be looking for to know if you’ve spotted one? 

According to the NAWAC site, here are some of the characteristics:

Large bulk, powerful build, and thick chest (Think of the Chicago Bears defensive line.)

Neck – a neck that is absent of exceedingly short or thick. (see parenthetical statement above!)

Face – a relatively flat face with little protrusion of the nose, but with lips and chin that protrude further than the nose.

Limb proportions – compared to a human, the wood ape has disproportionately long arms.

Hair color – this is directly from the site “Although wood ape hair color is most often described as brown (light to dark), black, or simply “dark,” other colors have been reported. These include gray, light, white, and silver-tipped. Red (like a Hereford cow) and reddish-brown are also reported with a relatively high frequency. In Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana, reddish-brown is the second most frequently reported color, after black or dark.”

Hair length – has been reported as short or long, smooth or shaggy and often longer on the head, shoulders, and arms. 

Walk – Again, this is taken directly from the website: “The wood ape bipedal gait differs not only from the quadrupedal gait of other mammals but also from the human bipedal gait in several small but significant ways. Many observers have remarked on the gracefulness of the wood ape stride. One man likened the wood ape he saw to “a really fit athlete” as it strode off. A woman who watched a wood ape stride across a beach on the west coast of Vancouver Island in August 1995 said it moved “as if it was walking on air,” and an Ohio observer watched a wood ape cross a field “taking strides as if it were walking on eggshells.” One Texas woman, while in the Sam Houston National Forest, in Walker County, Texas, 2005, described a wood ape she observed as moving “to the side of the road in a smooth motion.” She went on to say that its movement was “fluid—like it was floating.” Similarly, a man who watched a wood ape near the Alaska Highway in the Yukon noted that its motion was smooth and “there was no bobbing movement at all.”

Okay, now that I’ve filled you with facts and figures, let’s read some actual sightings:

This is from Reddit and was posted byu/HighScoop

“This happened a few years ago, but I remember it vividly.

This happened in Kanosh, UT.

My 2 brothers and I were hunting and had our younger horse with us and our dog. We were just hunting small game, basically wasting time hunting squirrels, and getting the colt used to hunting so we could use him in the future when we needed a pack horse. We had been walking off the trail for at least 2 miles, maybe 3. It was quite light outside still but getting close to sunset.

We were hiking uphill and our dog suddenly began acting very squirrelly. His hair stood up along his back, shoulders, and neck. He began huffing/snorting and getting very anxious. He was growling and woofing, but repeatedly looking in several different directions. At the same time, the colt began acting very spooky. His eyes widened, head thrown up high, nostrils flared, and he began to dance around nervously. He was letting out snorts and breathing loud and heavily.

Shortly after the animals began acting up, we came up over a part of the hill where it flattened out for a couple hundred yards before it curved up steeply again. As we came up over the was thrown, there were trees 30-40 yards ahead and I did a double take. There was a huge black, hairy creature with bright yellow eyes standing slightly behind a tree, but peering out at us, as if it was making a very poor and careless effort to conceal itself. It was just massive. Its thighs were the size of tree trunks. And its chest was easily 4′ wide, if not larger. One arm was hanging loosely at his side and one was holding onto the tree next to it. The creature was swaying back and forth.

It stared at us for only a few seconds, and we stared back, and then we heard a very low, chest shaking rumble like the sound an elephant makes. As it made that sound, it turned and sprinted up the hill ahead of us, and into the line of trees that covered the rest of the mountain ahead, as far as we could see. As soon as it began running, our barking dog bolted and disappeared into the trees after it, as we yelled for the stupid mutt to come back. We could hear the dog barking further and further away and then silence for several seconds. Suddenly we heard a very faint yelp off in the distance and the yelping continued and slowly got louder and louder until we saw the dog emerge from the tree line and come barreling back to us. The dog had many small cuts and was very dirty and scared sh*tlessbut was otherwise in one piece.

We busted our asses back down the mountain. After walking for what seemed like forever, we found an old empty cabin that was actually in quite good shape. We went inside and unlocked the garage man door and led the spooky colt through it. Then locked that door and covered the little window at the top of the door with some newspaper and masking tape. We went inside the little cabin and made sure every window and door was locked.

All night long, we could hear something circling that cabin… branches and sticks snapping, loud, rustling hisses, etc.

We didn’t leave that cabin until daylight and we practically ran our a**es back to the truck.

Side note: The creature ran so fast, with such ease. I bet our horse would even have trouble out-running that thing.

2 side note: No, I have not hunted since.

3: I still fear going outside at night, even in pretty densely populated areas.”

This was posted by Underpaidwaterboy

“I’ve seen Bigfoot more than once. Tuesday night (5/8/18) my son had gone to class night with some friends. He got home around 10:15. I was in the kitchen when he came in the house. He looked a little excited/nervous. First thing he said was “I saw something” I asked him what and he said “I think it was Bigfoot. It was too big and too fast to be a person.” As he was nearing our yard he said it came running out of the woods and crossed the road in front of him. He said it looked to be about seven feet tall, dark in color and extremely fast. He mentioned he noticed the legs seemed to be very large. When he got to where it crossed the road, he stopped the car and looked out the window but didn’t see anything. He was a little spooked by the speed of it. He’s still talking this morning about how fast it was. It was running in the direction of my grandparents’ old house place. So, I went out in the backyard and just listened. I tried to make no noise. After a few minutes I heard what I can only describe as a foot stomp. A really loud foot stomp. This is the second time I’ve heard the stomp sound.

Really don’t know if this is related but it may be worth mentioning. The next morning my son said, “I almost woke you up at 2:00 this morning.” I asked why, and he said he was hearing bird noises. I told him it was probably a whippoorwill and he said he knew what they sounded like. He said this was really loud, it woke him up, but it wasn’t just one bird call. Would make one bird sound then change to a different type of bird. Also said it sounded more like someone imitating birds more than real birds. Last week I was woken up by what I thought was someone whistling like you do when you call a dog. I was starting to get out of bed when it changed from whistling to bird noises. Like my son said it was a lot of different bird calls. I decided it must be a confused mockingbird but now I’m really not sure.”

This was posted by Katarakc:

“I used to drive truck across the continental 48 states; from Maine to Los Angeles, from Seattle to Miami, I’ve driven the entire length and breadth of the United States. I drove exclusively overnight; it’s my natural schedule anyway and my driving partners always appreciated.

On this occasion, I was driving truck through the Appalachian Mountains, quite late at night–somewhere around 3:00 AM. I’m drinking a Mountain Dew, listening to an audiobook (Dark Tower III: The Wastelands), and focusing on the road in front of me.

Suddenly some…*thing* dashes across the road in front of my headlights. I only see it for a few moments, but there’s something completely wrong with it.

It’s bipedal. Its head is in line with my windshield, which means it must be 10 feet tall. It’s hairy. And while it’s human shaped, there’s something off about it that I can’t explain. For those brief moments, I see it, it looks misshapen. Hunched over. All the lines are wrong.

And then in a flash, it’s across the road and gone, and I can never prove it was ever there.”

I really like that we’re beginning the year with this blog. I hope that it makes you stop and realize that there are more things out there than we ever thought. And, even more, that we should never close to our minds to the perceived fantastic. 

Anything is possible. 

Happy Friday!

Like what you read?  Find more stories by Terri Reid here. 

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