By Rick Hinton
The creep factor for me always begins when I enter Morgan Monroe State Forest, just south of Martinsville. There is just something about this place that’s always resonated with me – and it’s not warm fuzzy memories. I don’t know how to describe, other than it’s dark, mysterious, the woods are tight and claustrophobic and at night it seems to come alive. There are “secrets” in those wooded hills! Others have expressed the same sentiment. For me, it started with day hikes and camping with my Boy Scout troop, eventually transitioning into paranormal investigations in Stepp Cemetery. Then came stories of UFO sightings over those dark woods. Then … Bigfoot sightings in those dark woods!
In October of 2015 a man hunting with two other people in this forest became separated. He wasn’t too worried about it; he had grown up in the woods and felt comfortable in that surrounding. Comfortable until he heard it – the loudest howl he had ever experienced! He’s heard numerous animals in his lifetime, including a coyote. It wasn’t anything he’d ever previously heard – “I heard a sound that still haunts me to this day,” he claimed. “It was almost as if I spooked what I believe was a Bigfoot. And he was letting me know THAT was his territory!”
Stories about Indiana sightings, however, reached the mainstream well before 2015. On the second season (2012) of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot, the team of Matt, Cliff, James “Bobo” and skeptic Ranae journeyed to Morgan Monroe State Forest in search of Bigfoot. The gang experimented with tree knocks, fireworks to draw their curiosity and a three-day solo camping trip with Cliff and a cameraman. The highlight was Cliff’s yodeling into the dark and the return vocalization that set off a pack of coyotes, though the response sure didn’t sound like coyotes. It was either the real thing or drunk college students messing around in Stepp Cemetery. Finding Bigfoot ran for nine seasons before being canceled in 2018.
Other reports from nearby Hoosier National Forest, Hardin Ridge on Lake Monroe and nearby Highway 446 would seem to indicate Bigfoot likes the area. “One of the interesting things with stories or experiences like these is that they challenge our sense of what’s possible and what the world’s really about,” says Dr. Donald Braid, who holds a PhD in Folklore. “We tend to interpret things from our perspective of ‘that’s how the world works.’” Bigfoot? “That possibility … that mystery … is intriguing!”
How are they so elusive? Why haven’t we found a dead one? Theories abound that it might be an inner-dimensional/parallel universe scenario where they come and go and retrieve their dead in a shadowy alternative realm-defying explanation. Or, the conspirator in me might just believe that the powers in charge do know and acknowledge such creatures, maybe having a couple tucked away. Much like flying saucers, they don’t want to alarm the public, so they keep it hush-hush.
On June 5, the FBI declassified and released a Bigfoot file from the 1970s. I can’t believe it would be the only file. It’s a start, yet pretty dry reading from a now 93-year-old Peter Byrne, director of the Bigfoot Information Center and Exhibition in Portland, Oregon. The file is a back- and-forth dialogue during this period, including an analysis of a hair sample sent in by Byrne. The verdict: Bigfoot has deer hair!
It’s fun to speculate upon what might be. Doesn’t everyone at the end of the day enjoy a good mystery or ghost tale? A monster tale makes it all that much better!