Preface: This is a report of a sighting by one the RFP Research Project’s lead Researchers/Investigators in northeast Alabama. His primary area of study is in Talladega County. It is his first visual observation of one of the reclusive forest primates.
The RFP Research Project (RFPRP) – Report of Encounter
Date Report Submitted to the RFPRP: January 2, 2008.
Date of Encounter: December 15, 2007.
Time of Incident: Approximately 7:30 am.
Weather Conditions: Temperature in the mid 40’s, light breeze from the northwest, partly cloudy, with fog in the lower elevations.
Nearest City or Town: Sylacauga.
Location: On leased hunting land southwest of Sylacauga.
Nearest highway or road: U.S. 280 approximately 2 miles the east, and Talladega County Road #036 about 1.5 miles south.
General Land Use Description: Timber production. The land has been owned by a timber company for about 50 years. The company allowed hunting on the land by permit only until 1996. That year hunting rights were leased to the hunting club of which the witness is a member.
General Terrain Description: The area is within the foothills marking the southwest termination of the Appalachian Mountains. It consists of high, rock ridges cut by spring-fed branches and small creeks. There are numerous rock bluffs and some caves in the area.
Nearest Lakes or Streams: The Coosa River (Lay Lake) is about 5 miles to the west, Cedar Creek 2.5 miles to the south and Kahatchie Creek 2 miles to the west. There are several man-made lakes or ponds a few miles west of the area.
Witness Profile: The witness is a male in his early 50′. He is unusually familiar with classified native flora and fauna of the South. He is a skilled hunter, tracker and fisherman, and spends much time in the field.
Activities of Witness Prior to Encounter/Incident: He had driven to his deer stand on the hunting lease to take part in an organized deer hunt using trained dogs.
Details of Encounter / Incident: He was standing on a large hill waiting for the dog handlers to release the hounds. About 6:45 am one pack of dogs “jumped” a deer and started following its trail around a large cut-over at the bottom of the hill directly across the hollow from him. The witness was watching intently to see if the deer ran into an opening on the opposite hill. About 7:00 am he noticed something walking around on the top of the hill across the hollow. He at first thought it was one of the hunters, but then realized there should not have been a hunter in the area because he had helped organize the hunt that morning and knew none of the hunter were supposed to be at that location.
He then raised his 10 X 40 binoculars and scanned the top of the hill. He saw a large, dark, uniformly colored figure pacing back and forth along the ridge and apparently watching the movements and location of the dogs. He saw that the figure was walking upright like a man, and it was standing in a “hunched” position, with it hands dangling below its knees.
He immediately called MG on his cell phone (who is the area’s other lead researcher/investigator and a member of the club) to ask him if he could see that particular area of the hill from his position. MG advised him he could not see the area because of thick pine trees between him and the spot. Both stayed on their cell phones for about one minute while the witness described the dark figure and its movements while it monitored the dogs’ position. As the dogs move off, the figure turned and walked back into a thick stand of mountain pine and disappeared from view.
The witness estimated it was about 1/4 to 1/2 mile from his position on one hill to where the figure had been pacing on the opposite hill. While he was watching the figure through the binoculars, he carefully observed the height relationship between the figure and the smaller brush and trees in which the figure had stood and walked.
Description of the Animal: A large man-like creature walking in a bipedal fashion. It was of a very dark brown (nearly black) uniform color. Its back was stooped or hunched, and it had long arms that allowed the hand to hang below its knees. It’s shoulders were wide and its body looked very stout. Because it upper body was slouched forward, it appeared to have no neck. The head appeared to be rounded, but did not appear to be oversized in proportion to the body.
After the witness and MG went to exact location two days later and determined the height of the trees and brush where the figure had been pacing, the witness stated the animal he saw would have been 8 or 9 feet tall. The witness was unable to make a good estimate of the width of the animal’s shoulders.
Photos or Drawings Made? None made.
Description of Related Sounds: None heard.
Description of Related Scents / Odors: None detected.
Other Details: On December 17 the witness (KT) and MG examined the location in which the creature had been seen for tracks or other sign of its presence. They found no foot prints, but saw that something large had passed through the brush and pine thicket. They also noticed a large area of sage grass that been flattened just inside the thicket.
They decided to leave food at the location, and hung a jar of honey about 7 feet off the ground by tying it to a pine limb. They also used a pine limb to tie an apple about the same height off the ground. They placed the carcass of a deer, that had been killed by a vehicle the day before, at the bottom of the hill below the sighting location.
On December 18 the witness returned to the sighting area. The deer carcass was intact at the base of the hill. On the hill, he found that both the honey and the apple were missing and the strings that had been used to suspend them were broken. At the base of the same tree he found a large, sound, ripe watermelon, of the same type that MG had grown on his farm located about 3 miles or so (straight line distance) from the location. (Because of the hot, dry weather in the area, MG, with the assistance of KT, had gathered the largest melons from his patch about the middle of August and sold them. The smaller melons that remained were kept to feed MK’s livestock. Both men agreed that if the melon found at the sighting location had come from MG’s patch, it had been taken in early August and preserved in a cool dark place for four months before being left at the sighting location.)
Other Possibly Related Details: About two months prior to this encounter, on October 24, the witness (KT) was bow hunting along a small “green field” about 1/2 mile from the sighting location described above. About 4:30 pm a small doe entered the green field. He noticed that the deer kept looking behind her as she entered the field, but he didn’t think much about it at the time. When the deer was in range, he released an arrow which struck the deer in a vital spot. As soon as the arrow hit, the deer emitted a loud grunting sound. Immediately he heard loud growling and screaming sounds coming from four different locations in the woods around the green field. The ominous sounds caused KT to return to his truck and retrieve a firearm before he went back to the field to collect the deer. After doing so, he left the area quickly.
The next day (October 25) he returned to the green field and left the remains of the deer carcass after he had trimmed it. He returned the next day and found the deer carcass gone, and another large, sound, ripe watermelon in its place. He found no evidence that the deer carcass had been dragged off; it appeared it had been lifted and carried off. The water melon was carried to MG’s home for his examination. He concluded the water melon was of the same variety as he had grown, and, if so, it had been taken from the field before he and KT had harvested in mid-August because is was one of the larger ones that would have been picked and sold. One of the melons found at the “baiting” sites was “red meated” and the other “yellow meated”. MG’s melons had the same characteristics. (MG later checked the rural neighborhood to see if anyone else had grown watermelons. He found that one nearby residents had grown melons, but they were of a different variety and size than those he had grown.)
(Editor’s note: In editing this report for publication on Mike’s web site, I called KT to discuss the two watermelons found at the two “baiting” sites. I remarked that if the subject animals had left the melon’s as gifts, they probably had to have been carried a long distance. KT remarked that the melons could have been stored in one of the many caves in the area. He stated that in fact there were caves within 1/2 mile of both locations and many more in the general area in which the melons had been found. He stated the hollows are so rough and inaccessible that he suspected few, if any current area residents had actually inspected all of them.)
Recently other hunting club members have reported hearing various howling and screaming sound while hunting. Some have played game calls and have had something to mimic the calls.
MG lives less than one mile east of one border of the hunting lease. That border is along the top of a large ridge, and the eastern slope extends nearly to his home site. His property consists of several acres, and a small branch which heads on the hill near the hunting lease boundary passes through it. After passing through his property the branch turns south, passes under a county road and empties into a large creek one half mile or so from his home.
MG works a late night shift. For several months his wife has told him of hearing ape-like and other unusual animal sounds during the early morning hours. At times MG’s oldest daughter and his wife’s sister have heard the sounds at night as well. His wife told him that at times their horses and dogs became alarmed and agitated during the late night/early morning hours. On some occasions she reported hearing wood-on-wood knocks during the same time periods.
Other area residents told MG they have on several occasions heard strange howling and ape-like sounds at night.
The family has some horses in a pasture behind the house, and the small branch passes through the pasture. The pasture is fenced with barbed wire. There is a horse barn inside the pasture. MG has a 16′ “car-hauler” type trailer he primarily uses to haul round hay bales and farm equipment. The trailer is usually kept parked inside the pasture beside the barn. There is a “jack-stand” under the trailer’s draw bar. The hitch weight of the trailer is such that MG cannot lift the draw bar of the empty trailer except a half inch or so for a brief period of time while trying to connect it to a truck hitch. And he states it takes all his strength to do that.
On two different occasions within the last few weeks he has gone to feed the horses during the day and found that during the night the trailer had been moved toward a far corner of the pasture. He was completely baffled because there were no truck tracks in the pasture (to get into the pasture a truck would have to be driven alongside the house) and, there was no evidence that the base of the jack stand had skidded along the ground. On the first occasion the trailer was moved about 50 yards, and the second time about 25 yards.
With no other rational explanation for how the trailer could have been moved, he toyed with the idea that one or more of the horses had placed their front feet on the back of the heavy trailer and lifted its jack stand off the ground while pushing the trailer with their back feet. (After thinking about the weight of the trailer, and visualizing such a laughable scene, he quickly discounted the possibility that the horses had pranced across the pasture on their back legs pushing the weighty trailer.) MG placed a game camera on a tree near the barn, out of reach of the horses, to try to solve the mystery. At present, his camera has captured only images of the horses milling around the barn, and large white blobs of something standing too close to the flash to show up as a distinct form.
One day during that same time period MG used a chain saw to cut firewood from several dead hickory trees that had fallen on a wooded part of his property. As he finished cutting, he noticed a rotted pine stump about 20 feet from where he had piled the cut firewood. He saw that the heart of the stump was rich, and would make good “lighter kindling” for the fireplace. He began trying to remove the rich pine stump, but after digging around it, twisting, pulling and rocking it side-to-side he saw that he would be unable to get it out by hand. He stated the root of the stump was at least 3 feet below the ground surface. He decided to come back later with a “come-along” (hand winch) to retrieve the rich pine stump.
A few days later MG returned with the come-along and was stunned to see that the rich pine stump had been pulled from the ground and placed on top of the firewood pile. After looking closely at the stump and walking over to the stump hole and seeing absolutely no evidence of any kind of mechanical device having been used to extract it or any fresh tracks of any kind, MG stated “that the hair stood up on his neck”. He instinctively turned to look into the thicker brush and trees along the branch below him. As far as he knows, no one was aware that he had tried to remove the stump earlier.
As MK was walking to feed the horses one morning during that same time period he found a dead squirrel “wrapped around” the top strand of his pasture fence. The animal had not been there the day before, and it could not have accidentally fallen from a tree and killed itself. The nearest tree is about 40 feet away. It was another unsolved mystery.
Historical Notes: This area has produced numerous reports of sightings of enigmatic primates. Some of those reports are recorded on this web site.
A report of a sighting by three men during October of 2007 on private property adjoining the hunting lease described in this report has been investigated and that report is being written now by the field investigators. It will be posted here when completed.
Report received from (KT) and MG, Field Researchers/Investigators, The RFP Research Project.
Editing and comments by THB
Report received from (KT) and MG, Field Researchers/Investigators, The RFP Research Project.
Editing and comments by THB