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Talladega County Report

The RFP Research Project (RFPRP) – Report of Encounter
Date Report Submitted to the RFPRP: August 23, 2007
Date of Encounter: August 11, 2007
Time of Incident: About 10:00am
Weather Conditions: Clear skies, temperature in the high 90s.
State: Alabama
County: Talladega
Nearest City or Town: Sylacauga
Location: Kahatchee Mountains
Nearest highway or road: Three miles west of US Highway 280. About one mile north of County Road 036, and one and a half miles northeast of County Road 034.
General Land Use Description: A timber company has owned the land for about 50 years. Until 1996 hunting was by permit only. In 1996 the land was leased to a hunting club.
General Terrain Description: The area is within the foothills marking the southwest termination of the Appalachian Mountains. The area consists of rolling hills and rock ridges cut by spring fed branches and small creeks. The hardwood timber has been harvested except in the hollows and on the steeper slopes, and the harvested areas have been replanted in pines.

Nearest Lakes or Streams: The Coosa River (Lay Lake) is approximately 4 miles to the west. Cedar Creek passes two miles to the south. Kahatchee Creek lies 2 miles to the west. There are various springs, small branches and several man-made lakes within a mile of the sighting location.

Witness Profile: The witness is a mature female who is employed in a customer service position. She has hunted and fished in the area, and is familiar with the recognized wildlife in Alabama.
Activities of Witness Prior to Encounter/Incident: The witness was riding with her husband in his pickup truck to an area to check on the maturity of elderberries they had located two weeks earlier. They intended to gather the elderberries to make jelly from them. The area is within their hunting club’s lease.
They were traveling downhill on a narrow gravel road through a forest of mixed timber. Ahead of them, at the base of the hill the road crosses a small branch. Just below the road on the branch there is an old beaver pond which was nearly dry. A short distance below the beaver pond on the same branch is a sizeable man-made pond.
Details of Encounter / Incident: The husband was driving very slowly down the road and looking to his left at a food plot on that side of the road. While doing so, he was talking to his wife about the particular area of the lease. The witness was looking straight ahead down the road when she suddenly saw a large reddish-brown animate object in mid air above the road about 50 yards from the truck. She saw that it was too big to be a turkey or buzzard, and too far off the ground to be a deer leaping across the road. She saw that the animal was 20 feet or more above the road. She quickly realized it was something she had never seen in the woods before, but something she immediately thought resembled an orangutan. The animal was leaping from the canopy of the trees on the right side of the road to the trees on the other side. As she watched the animal disappeared into the foliage of the trees across the road.

She quickly turned toward her husband to see if he had seen the strange creature, but he was still looking out the driver’s side window and still talking about some aspect of the area. She sat stunned and silent looking at her husband. She could not believe what she had just seen and rubbed her eyes. For a few seconds she could not speak. During that interval she decided not to tell her husband what she had seen for fear that he would not believe her. She sat silently but kept her eyes on the canopy on the left side of the road where the animal had disappeared. About 30 seconds later – at a spot very near where she had seen the animal cross above the road –  her husband slowed and soon stopped the truck. Somewhat anxious about stopping where the animals had crossed over the road, she asked him why he was stopping. He smiled at her and said, “Because there is a tree across the road.”

She had been so intent on looking at the tree tops she had not seen the green tree lying across the road. Her husband was puzzled that a green tree had fallen because there had been no winds in the area since he had been down the road the last time. He got out to look at the tree. A few minutes later he returned to the truck, retrieved a machete and cut off and moved the top of the tree out of the road. As he got back in the truck he told her the green tree, a sweet gum about 4″ in diameter, had been snapped off just above the ground.

As he drove slowly past the tree, she realized she should tell her husband what she had seen. When she did so, he began questioning her closely about the incident. After driving across the branch, he turned around and returned to the area of the downed tree. He stopped and  got out of the truck to look for tracks and other sign.

Although the witness was hesitant to do so, she got out of the truck because it was too hot to stay in it while her husband was outside. While she was outside she heard limbs breaking in the woods not far from the truck and in the direction the animal had been traveling. When she told her husband about the sounds, he got his listening device from the truck and turned it on. He quickly said that he could hear bipedal walking in the leaves in the same area as she had heard limbs breaking. He then handed the device to her. As she listened she heard the walking sounds and told him someone was walking around close to them. (She later stated the sounds were unquestionable made by something or someone walking on two feet.) About that time she heard the sounds of wood being beat against wood. At that point she became very nervous and told her husband she wanted to get out of the area and go home. They left the area.
Description of the Animal: When the animal was seen the witness said that it appeared to be in mid-air and leaping toward the trees on the opposite side of the road. She said the animal appeared to be about five feet tall, although she said that was just an estimate because when in the air the animal’s legs were bent at the knees and pulled up close to its torso.
She said that its long arms were outstretched and appeared to be reaching for the trees on the opposite side of the road. At all times the animal was looking straight ahead toward those trees. She said the animal had very dark, reddish-brown hair but that she did not notice it being long enough to flow in the wind as it crossed the roadway opening. The witness stated that she had no idea as to the identity of the animal. She said that because of her limited familiarity with the world’s primates, she immediately thought she was seeing an orangutan, although she knew there should not have been such animals in the area.
Photos or Drawings Made?  None made.
Description of Related Sounds: Only the sounds of bipedal steps through the forest litter and the sounds of wood-on-wood shortly after the sighting.
Description of Related Scents / Odors: None detected.
Editor’s Comments: The initial report was jointly prepared and submitted by the witness’s husband KT and MG. KT and MG are area residents and members of the The RFP Research Project. They are conducting significant field research in the area of this sighting report. While not known to this witness at the time , the primary area of that research is in the immediate area of this sighting.
With permission from both MG and KT, the editor contacted the witness to clarify and expand on the details of the sighting and the subsequent observations. After discussing the events with both the actual witness and her husband, the following details can be added to the initial report.
*  When specifically asked by the editor the witness could not say for certain that in crossing the road in the canopy the animal was not riding the top of the tree the two found across the road less than one minute later. She said her eyes and mind were so focused on the animal itself she might not have noted that its outstretched arms may have been clutching the top of that broken and falling tree as it crossed the road. She said that the gum tree had very few limbs along the trunk and she may have simply not noticed the tree’s movement because of her absolute surprise and disbelief during the sighting.

* The downed sweet gum tree was at an angle to the road, and the top was pointed directly toward a small pine tree that was noticeably bent and leaning back toward the road. The witness stated it was possible the animal had leaped from the falling sweet gum to the pine tree.

* The sweet gum tree was located at the only point along that particular part of the road in which trees actually grew close enough to the sides of the road for the animal  to have crossed over it in the canopy.
* When specifically asked, the witness stated she could not honestly say whether the animal’s arms were larger in diameter than a orangutan’s, although she was certain the animal’s arm were long in relation to its size like those of an orangutan’s.
* While discussing the event with the editor she mentioned that the split second she saw the animal she realized it was already in full motion and moving unbelievably fast. She felt like the animal had been some distance from the road when it heard the truck coming and was trying to get across the road before the truck came into view.
* The witness readily admits she does not know what kind of animal she saw. When asked, she could not say for certain that what she saw was not in fact an orangutan, however remote that possibility may be. (The editor supposes that most people would conclude that what she saw was more likely an orangutan than any other animal, but given the history of the area, I would tend to disagree.)
* After speaking with the witness on more than one occasion, the editor is convinced of the witness’s sincerity, and found the witness to be credible, intelligent and very articulate. I was particularly impressed by the very thoughtful manner in which she responded to specific questions, and her readiness to admit she could not remember some of the details that were of specific interest to the editor.
*  As they left the area, KT telephoned MG to advise him of the incident. Because of his work schedule, MG could not come to the site that day. The next day the two researchers met at the site to look around. In checking the top of the downed tree they noticed that the new-growth green leaves in the top had been removed. Close  inspections of this tree top and the tops of other downed sweet gum trees they found in the area revealed that the leaves had been stripped from the tops of the trees, and not bitten off. The leaves were gone from the area, indicating they had been eaten or carried off.
Historical Notes: The general area in which this sighting occurred has a very long history of reports of sightings of enigmatic primate. Some of those reports have been made public and some, at present,  have not. This web site has recorded some of those sighting reports, and recorded on-going investigations of such animals.
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Report received and recorded by: MG and KT, Field Researchers/Investigators, The RFP Research Project. (Edited by Tal H. Branco.)