|Donald McDonald speaks to Evergreen crowd Saturday.|
There’s definitely “monsters” in the woods in and around Conecuh County, according to Bigfoot researchers who visited the county last week.
Donald McDonald and Michael Humphreys from the TV show “Killing Bigfoot” arrived in Conecuh County on Friday morning to investigate recent reports of Bigfoot in our area and to put on a program about Bigfoot at Saturday’s Collard Green Festival.
McDonald, who lives in Mississippi, and Humphreys, who lives in Oklahoma, teamed up on Friday afternoon with one of the biggest Bigfoot enthusiasts in our part of the state, Ashley McPhaul of Excel. They let me tag along as they investigated some of the local Bigfoot hotspots. Also in our group were the wives of McDonald and Humphreys, Vanessa and Kathy, who said they enjoy hunting for signs of Bigfoot almost as much as their husbands.
After fueling up with a big lunch out at Exit 96, we traveled the Loree Road to Bermuda and then cut north through Burnt Corn and on into the community of Pine Orchard, which sits on the Conecuh-Monroe county line. In the parking lot of the Pine Orchard Fire Station, we met an older gentleman who’d reported suspected Bigfoot activity to McPhaul several weeks ago.
McPhaul owns hunting property in the Pine Orchard community and firmly believes that Bigfoot-like creatures inhabit that area. It should be noted that McPhaul’s property is very close to the former home of the three Acreman brothers – Wesley, Virgil and Roman - who reported multiple encounters with a Bigfoot-like creature a couple of years ago.
On Friday we followed the older man to his house, got out and began to look around for tracks and any other signs of Bigfoot. As things turned out, we didn’t come up empty handed.
We entered the thick woods behind the man’s house and soon came upon unusual scratch marks on the trunks of trees. At first, we considered whether the marks had been made by a large cat or bear, and we noted that the marks started way off the ground, some as high as nine feet off the ground. We also found broken branches that had been inexplicably snapped off as high as 12 feet off the ground, as if something large and snapped it on his way by.
|Large claw mark found at Pine Orchard.|
We were all somewhat stunned when a few minutes later we came upon a large tree on the side of a steep slope that led down into a rocky bottom behind the old man’s house. Starting an estimated six to seven feet off the ground was a large claw mark that had ripped away the dark green moss growing on the tree’s trunk. The digits of this claw were widely spaced, and I could see where the creature’s claws had actually dug into the trunk of the tree.
Humphreys, who is an expert tracker, and McDonald both agreed that this claw mark wasn’t made by a bear or a cat simply because bears and cats don’t grow that large in our part of the world. Humphreys said that if it was a bear it’d have to be the size of a polar bear. He and McDonald both agreed that it was clear evidence of a Bigfoot-like “monster” in our area.
Many in the reading audience will wonder if this is some sort of hoax or if the claw mark was faked, and we all considered this as well when we found it in the woods. I took a good, long look at this claw mark, and in my opinion, it’s the real deal. I think that if it had been faked, we would have been able to see where the hoaxer made several starts and stops to make the deep grooves in the tree.
Later, we found a pile of leafy branches piled up beneath a tree at the top of a hill that overlooked this wooded bottom. We couldn’t tell if anything had been laying on the large pile, but it was odd to find such fresh branches all piled in one place out in the middle of the deep woods. The old man told us that he often hears the creature howling in the woods, and we noted that if something were to emit a loud howl from the top of this hill, it would carry for a long way, perhaps miles.
The old man eventually led us back to his house, where he showed us his large pit bull named “Max.” The man said that the Bigfoot-like creatures near his home often howl so loud that it makes this ferocious dog cower in fear and hide indoors. To be honest, I didn’t want to get within 10 feet of this mean-looking dog, so if it’s scared of whatever’s in those woods, there’s probably a good reason.
As we stood there, Ashley mentioned another recent incident that happened in Pine Orchard that involved a coyote that was found dead 10 feet up a pear tree. To our surprise, the old man said he’d heard about that, and that it actually happened about 100 yards from where we were standing, just on the other side of a stand of pines we could see from his yard. He said the best way to get there was to go back to the road that runs down beside a house that was heavily decorated with all sorts of lawn ornaments and African-themed wall hangings.
McDonald said he had noticed the house with all of the decorations out front earlier and asked the old man about the home’s owner. The old man shrugged his shoulders and said that the older lady who lives there told him once that she put all the decorations up to ward off the “wild man.” We all just kind of looked at each other as the Bigfoot evidence seemed to build.
After checking out the site where the coyote was found in the pear tree, I split off from the group and called it a day as the “Killing Bigfoot” crew proceeded on to McPhaul’s hunting property, where he’s had all sorts of experiences attributed to Bigfoot.
On Saturday, I found myself among the large crowd who showed up to hear McDonald’s Bigfoot presentation inside the airport’s Big Red Hangar during the Collard Green Festival. McDonald gave an outstanding presentation and showed the crowd several examples of Bigfoot tracks that had been found over the years.
|Peacock, Humphreys, McPhaul and McDonald.|
McDonald, who is an expert land surveyor when he’s not hunting Bigfoot, also produced a detailed topographical map of the Conecuh County area and showed the crowd where he’d plotted all of the area’s reported Bigfoot sightings. Interestingly, the map showed that most of those reports have occurred in clusters near the Burnt Corn Creek and Sepulga River watersheds. At the end of the presentation, he encouraged members of the crowd to see him afterwards to report any additional reports on his map.
In the end, anyone interested in learning morning about Bigfoot is invited to attend the next meeting of the Southwest Alabama Bigfoot Hunters, which is scheduled to be held on Mon., Jan. 30, at 6 p.m. at the Old L&N Depot in downtown Evergreen. For more information about this meeting, please contact organizer Wesley Acreman at 251-227-2843.