Bigfoot believers

Era photo by Fran De Lancey

Dave Inman of Portville, N.Y., at right, shows Mark and Ron, representatives of a Bigfoot investigating group, where the large footprints of an unidentified creature were found at the Kent Smith property on East Valley Road in Keating Township earlier this month. The men then walked the area.

SMETHPORT — Just over one week after The Era published a story and photo of fresh, large and strange footprints appearing in the snow at a property in Keating Township, a group of McKean County residents shared their stories and pictures of a possible Bigfoot presence with two representatives from a Bigfoot investigative organization on Saturday afternoon. 

For more than 400 years, people have reported seeing large, hairy, man-like creatures in North America. Those reports continue today, with many coming from credible persons. Still, there are many skeptics. That many people attribute the stories to hoaxes, wishful thinking or misidentification with other animals has led to widespread disbelief about the creatures’ existence.

The meeting, at the Dr. Kent Smith residence on East Valley Road, where the large and strange footprints were discovered, lasted over an hour and a-half.

On March 13, David Inman, a Portville, N.Y. carpenter who has worked on various projects for the Smiths, showed the footprints’ route that were clearly visible for hundreds of feet between a wooded area near Potato Creek and an open field across East Valley Road. At some places, the tracks were found within several feet of the Smiths’ home. The tracks measured 16 inches in width and 20 inches in length, and were found nine feet apart.

During the meeting, the investigators, Ron and Mark, recorded the personal stories and asked detailed questions after each presentation.

The first speaker related an experience he had on Jan. 30. He had just brought his daughter home from dance lessons and was shoveling snow for neighbors.

“As I cleared snow, something caught my eye, something I can’t explain,” said this teacher. “The footprints, which were found only at the top and bottom of the steps, were about a foot long and five toes were visible. I know what I saw.”

In a conversation with the teacher, the husband and wife indicated that they didn’t have snowshoes and had never seen the tracks.

Another speaker, who lives in a development, recalled an incident from last winter when he found mysterious footprints that were 13 inches long, 12 inches wide, with a seven-foot span. “What makes prints that large?” he asked.

This man’s wife spoke about several episodes. In one case three years ago, she found small footprints on their property. Then, last spring, four prints with the same shapes, only larger, were found on their land.

This woman referred to an incident that happened over night when, for the first time, she didn’t roll up her car windows. 

“Something got in and out of the car and left four fingerprints, larger than mine, in the dew on a door’s exterior,” she said. “In addition, I found one of our cats in the car, but another cat was gone. Three cats were missing that month.”

In his comments, Inman said, “I was never a believer in Bigfoot, but those footprints on the Smiths’ property were very consistent. I started wondering, ‘What kind of animal can do that?’”

It was Inman’s report about the original footprints that led to the investigators’ visit to the property and the subsequent meeting with the area residents.

Ron commented on the hair samples that Inman collected from freshly broken branches in a thicket last week shortly after the original tracks were discovered. After a cursory examination of the hairs, Ron said, “I don’t know if they’re from a Bigfoot. They’re not as coarse as Sasquatch hairs, but it’s probably not worth having a DNA analysis done on them because that’s an expensive procedure.”

At the same time, Ron said there could still be other hairs in the area where these were found.

Yet another speaker, who identified himself as “not a Bigfoot believer,” recalled the times in his youth when his father, who had a lease in the area, warned the children to be aware of the “Man on the Mountain.”

“We didn’t believe this story at the time,” the man said. “Then one night, when we were sitting around a bonfire near Coryville, we heard a scream like nothing we had ever heard.”

This man mentioned another occurrence, one from three years ago. “I looked out the window at the shed near the creek when I caught sight of the hind quarter of a creature that had walked behind a shed that was eight feet tall. For an instant, I saw the head extending above the roof.”

A 26-year veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Ron said that while he has never seen a Bigfoot, he has nevertheless heard the loud distinctive howling sounds often associated with this elusive creature.

On one investigation between 9 p.m. and 2 a.m., Ron said, his group had heard wood knocks, the action of hitting two pieces of wood together with the objective of a Bigfoot returning that or any other sound. He said, “We had been in the woods for about an hour when we heard a distinctive scream and then a wood knock. We were positive that no one had followed us into the woods and it was not a trick.”

Ron said that he will make a report of Saturday’s meeting.

“It’ll include what we found but no opinions,” he said.

After the meeting, Inman led Ron and Mark on a tour of the area where the footprints were found.