Posted by: Craig Woolheater on December 21st, 2012
Cliff posted his behind the scenes views for the latest episode of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot entitled “Bigfoot and Wolverines” on his website.
With over 19 million forested acres, Michigan is excellent bigfoot habitat. The landscape is dotted with swamps and small bodies of water giving rise to numerous feeding sites for both herbivores and the animals that feed upon them. Throughout the spring and summer, the forests are rich with life. During the harsh winter months, cedar bogs offer a warmer, more temperature-stable environment into which animals can retreat. These habitats are critical for both white tailed deer and snowshoe hares, both species I suspect bigfoots rely on for their survival. Other large mammals that are found in the Great Lake State are moose, gray wolf, cougar, and lynx.
The phone call that brought us to Michigan was made by Silas Ward. He daughter, Shawna, was driving home from work when something seemingly hit the left side of her car with a loud thud. She got out of the vehicle to look at what happened and found a branch lying next to the car, and there was a dent and series of scratches in the dust on the door. She became frightened, so she called her father to come out to meet her at the location. Silas brought out a spotlight, with which he proceeded to scan the forest line. A short distance away, the two saw a shadowy humanoid figure standing in a patch of honey locust. Its eye glow was distinct, while the details of the body were hidden in the shadows. The figure simply turned and walked away into the forest, but broke a large branch as it left.
The behavior of having a large object thrown at a moving car is not unheard of for bigfoots. I personally know two bigfooters that witnessed this same behavior in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. While driving down a logging road in an area of previous bigfoot activity, they both saw a 30 inch branch fly off of the hillside and land on their front windshield. This happened during the day, and the damage done to the car ended up costing about $40 to fix.
The one thing that gives me pause to totally accept this encounter as authentic was the behavior of the witnesses. In the initial recording, Silas specifically said that his daughter was driving down a paved road, yet the location was pretty far off of the nearest paved road. Secondly, Shawna described the intense fear she felt after seeing the branch on the ground and the dent and scratches it reportedly caused. Yet she got back in the car, pulled over, and called her father who arrived about 15 minutes later. That doesn’t seem like a natural reaction to such fear. I would think that perhaps she would just drive quickly away and tell her tale from the safety of her home. While this seems suspicious to me, it doesn’t necessarily mean the two are lying about the encounter. I find human behavior to be very strange and unpredictable.
Since the episode aired, I have received several emails about a comment I made during the first night investigation. I noted that perhaps we were walking in a Christmas tree farm because the trees were all uniformly planted. This is very often the case back home in Oregon, where Christmas tree sales is a large industry, and outlying farms are sometimes abandoned allowing the fields to return to a natural state. However, in Michigan this apparently isn’t the case. These uniformly-planted stands of trees are the results of efforts in the 1930′s by the government to replant trees in Michigan after logging and other land uses. The Civilian Conservations Corps would do this as a way to put people back to work after the first Great Depression. Thank you to those that emailed me this information. I find the history of the areas we visit to be fascinating, and I love to learn in general.
The logging historians made for a fun and interesting visit. The story of the “agripelter” was particularly interesting. Apparently this creature would be up high in the trees and throw branches down on the loggers below. Throwing objects at people is clearly a bigfoot behavior (that same behavior is basically what brought us out to Michigan with Silas’ phone call), but despite Matt’s claim that no other animal besides humans and bigfoots throw things, it is also a well-documented behavior of the other great apes. Orangutans do this same thing from the tree tops. Researchers in the jungles of Southeast Asia have reported branches raining down on them from aggravated orangutans above them. This throwing behavior by chimpanzees has been filmed on several occasions. To see this behavior in humans, just think back to when you were a kid in a snowball or dirt clod fight. It is at least possible that early reports of the “agripelter” were actually just run-ins with bigfoots, possibly juveniles, up in the trees.
My visit with Stuart Kunkle at his property was most enlightening. He runs a small ranch on which he raises animals for food. He keeps pigs, chickens, lambs, rabbits, and goats. Additionally, he grows a great deal of vegetables for food as well. In addition to the sighting report he shared with us for the show, he has had a number of other encounters on or near the property as well.
Stuart initially observed the eye glow of the figure, and then the shape of its body because it was back lit by his neighbor’s property lights. He stared at each other for a few moments, and then it turned to its left and ran off. Stuart could hear the creature making its way through the abandoned fields like a freight train as it escaped.
I thought it was weird that a chicken would just sit and allow something like a bigfoot to pluck its feathers without making a fuss, but Stuart said that this would be expected. Apparently, “meat chickens,” as he called them, are bred to be so stupid that they won’t make a fuss about such seemingly unpleasant activities. I find it amusing that the bigfoot didn’t seem to understand how to open the chicken pen. This pen is called a chicken tractor because it can be moved around to target the bugs and edibles in different parts of the yard. It is a PVC cage that is covered with chicken wire on its four walls, open to the ground, and the top is just a lid that is attached by bungee chords. As Bobo often says, not all bigfoots are rocket scientists, and this one had apparently never broken into this kind of safe before. It instead plucked the part of the chicken that was pressed up against the walls of the pen until Stuart came and disturbed it.
Nathaniel Bronis, the young man Ranae, Bobo, and I visited, was one of the most articulate and descriptive witnesses I have yet had the pleasure of interviewing. Not only did I find him to be a very competent observer, his vocabulary and details painted a vivid picture of what he observed that day. He saw the sasquatch in broad daylight not far from where he lives. Though the creature wasn’t very tall, it was massive in bulk, and clearly wasn’t anything else but a bigfoot. Nathaniel’s observation of the faun with the hide pulled up over its body is the only eyewitness account of this behavior that I am aware of, though I have heard several stories of people finding dead deer in this condition.
The area around Nathaniel’s home has continued to produce bigfoot activity, but they seem to have moved further away in recent years. Apparently, Nathaniel’s neighbors have built something on their property that has affected the amount of water in the meadow where Nathaniel saw the bigfoot. Since that time, it seems that most of the activity has shifted to a low-lying location about four miles away. A footprint cast was obtained by Nathaniel near his property a few years back. His brother shared with me an encounter he had just a few weeks before we got there of a bigfoot running across the road in a stooped-over fashion less than 20 yards away from him.
This footprint was cast by Nathaniel near his home back in 2010.
Nathaniel’s encounter changed his life. He is now an enthusiastic bigfooter who regularly tries to obtain data in the form of footprints and sound recordings. He goes out at night whenever he can, often being dropped off by his parents in a remote location before dark and getting picked up the next day. It was inspiring to see someone with such a love for bigfooting. It reminded me of a much younger me.
The last night investigation was one of the best ones we’ve had. There seemed to be at least two bigfoots in the area, and quite possibly more. Matt and I walked a lower road, while Ranae and Bobo tried to get to some low-lying hills nearby. While Matt and I were at a fork in the road, a clear knock came from down by a slow moving creek. It was close and loud, so I went to look in the area, but saw nothing. That’s when the first scream happened from the hills nearby. Matt wanted to head that direction, and though I was hesitant because of the nearby knock (I thought we should stay and see what happens), I went with him that direction.
We heard a couple more vocalizations over the next 30 or 40 minutes, and even heard the same knocks that Ranae and Bobo heard, but from much further away. The vocalizations sounded different live from what they sounded like on the recording. In person, they were much more baritone or alto in pitch, rather than the high-pitched, hollow sound that is portrayed on the recording. They were pretty dramatic, and very likely bigfoot vocalizations. When one considers the knocks as well, I’d say they were certainly bigfoot vocalizations.
For me, the Michigan expedition was fantastic. The witnesses that I personally spoke to were of very high calibur, and the night investigation was one of the best we’ve had. I’ve heard that the Upper Peninsula can be even better, so I’m hoping there will be another Michigan trip in the near future.
~ Cliff Barackman
See Cliff’s photos and the rest of the report here.
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.