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"In The Pines With Dana Goolsby"

East Texas
Woolly Booger

Creature Seekers Beware

By Dana Goolsby
Dana Goolsby

At the turn of the season when the first cool snap moves in, and the Pineywoods are speckled with red and gold autumn leaves, east Texans begin to notice it is getting dark earlier. The dense pine trees cast a shadow that make the darkest night darker, every surrounding sound seem louder, and the hair on the back of one’s neck stand straight up.

East Texas piney woods
East Texas piney woods
Photo courtesy Maryanne Gobble

East Texas is home to many creatures of the night that humans fear, and occasionally claim to encounter. East Texas has given way to Bigfoot sightings, alien encounters, and close calls with blood–sucking creatures. Individuals claiming to have come in contact with numerous unexplainable creatures all share one thing in common, and that is a certain look engraved in their faces, that can only be made by fear of the unknown.

East Texas is known for its legendary, hairy, apelike creatures said to dwell deep in the pineywoods. The bi-pedal creatures have been spotted all along the Texas-Louisiana border, making little known towns famous. What Houston and Anderson County creature seekers may not realize, is these woolyboogers have been reported in the area on a somewhat regular basis.

Texas - Trinity River bank
"The Neches and Trinity rivers produce regular sightings of the creature. Hunters camping on the banks have made numerous claims of encounters with large, hairy creatures."
TE Photo

Bigfoot, otherwise known as Sasquatch, the Forest Giant, or the wild man of the woods, has been a topic of discussion for over 400 years. Sighting of the illusive creature have reached the thousands, and many of those reports have come from East Texans. Throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s Bigfoot made headlines in East Texas by way of local newspapers. The pineywoods are said to provide the perfect conditions and plentiful food sources that would allow the creature to not only survive, but thrive in the area.

Statue of Bigfoot - Museum of Weird, Austin TX
Museum of Weird in Austin

Photo by Dana Goolsby, October 2010

Many of the individuals who have claimed to encounter the hairy legend wandering about East Texas describe the first impression as undeniably human-like. Bigfoot is said to have 10 fingers and 10 toes, human-like facial features and expressions, and capable of walking upright.

Those who cross the hairy creature almost immediately notice a profound difference in size to that of a human. The overall massiveness of the creature, which is hard for witness to put in proportion, makes up the powerful build that many witnesses report. Others report a malodorous smell permeating in the air.

According to the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC) many witnesses who spot the up-right walking creature hesitate to share their stories of the strange animal. Though each sighting that does get reported varies in some form or another, the details of the creature are always similar, if not the same.

The Neches and Trinity rivers produce regular sightings of the creature. Hunters camping on the banks have made numerous claims of encounters with large, hairy creatures. The Davy Crockett National Forest is also said to be home to Bigfoot, and has produced several sightings in recent years. Anderson and Houston County also have a history, nearly a half century long, of sightings coming from within county lines.

Neches River, Beaumont, Texas
Neches River
Postcard courtesy Cruse Aviation

In 2004, a hunter filed a report with TBRC concerning a sighting in the Davy Crockett National Forest of not just one, but two sasquatches, one male and one female. The observation made by the hunter was a lengthy encounter, during which he claimed to have witnessed the pair moving about the brush and feeding, at approximately 8 a.m.

The witness reported to TBRC Investigator, Mike Hall, that he heard mewling, guttural noises, accompanied by whistling and clicking noises coming from the animals. He believed the two creatures were mates and communicating with one another through the various noises.

Hall interviewed the witness extensively, and referred to the encounter as “compelling.” Hall also recorded in his in depth report and analysis that he could find nothing that lead him to believe the witness was fabricating the story.

Just north of Houston County, along the outskirts of Palestine, area residents have laid claim to encounters with the creature said to roam the area.

Bigfoot plaster casts  - Museum of Weird, Austin TX
"Bigfoot Plaster Casts"
Museum of Weird in Austin

Photo by Dana Goolsby, October 2010

In 1998, during the cold winter months of February, two young men, approximately 16 years old, were rendered speechless after encountering, what they claim, could have only been a Bigfoot. While on a camping trip, on family owned property, near the Gus Engeling Wildlife Management Area, the two teens allegedly got a look at massive upright creature from roughly 20 yards away.

At approximately 2 a.m. the young men were spotlighting for rabbits. The two teens were slowly fanning the spotlight when they saw something much larger than a rabbit. Just ahead of the light they noticed something big, allegedly eight feet tall, and moving quickly trying to avoid the light. The boys said the creature appeared to have grayish-brown hair covering its body, and long arms.

The creature allegedly crossed a five-strand barbed wire fence with no hesitation and great ease. The witnesses reported hearing no sound in the event of the crossing.

This report was published after the two boys’ parents saw a special report with Jonna Fitzgerald on NBC Channel 56 of Tyler and Longview, about the TBRC and Bigfoot sightings in East Texas. Parents of the two teens contacted the TBRC and put the boys in touch with researcher and investigator, Craig Woolheater.

Woolheater’s report said after the sighting the two young witnesses’ encounter they sat “in stunned silence” for a few moments before leaving the area as quickly as possible.

Hunters regularly claim to encounter the wild man in East Texas, due to the amount of time they spend in the woods. Hunters are outdoors in remote areas, significantly more than the average person, seeking the perfect hunting spot. Though hunter’s reports of Bigfoot encounters are perhaps more lengthy than others, they are certainly not the only people encountering the creature.

According the TBRC, in Oct. of 1998, another report was made near the South-East Houston and Anderson County border. The report did not come from a hunter, but rather a local man that had to pull his vehicle over in order to relieve himself.

The man allegedly stepped from his truck over to the edge of the woods, approximately 20 yards away, and began to take care of business. The witness said he began to hear leaves crunching, under what sounded like heavy footsteps. The nervous and quickly headed back towards his truck and away from the woods.

According to the report made to the TBRC, as the witness made his way back to his vehicle he noticed that when he stopped walking, so would the footsteps of the unknown stalker that were coming from within the darkness of the woods. Suddenly the heavy footsteps that had been stalling began to gain speed.

The frightened witness bolted for his truck. He jumped into his truck and fled the area. The man claims that as he was speeding off he looked into his review mirror and saw “something big and black, standing on two legs” in the road behind him.

The witness’s report to TBRC, researcher and investigator, Daryl Coyler, claimed the “wide and thick” creature was within 10 yards of his tailgate at one point. The Anderson County witness could not discern further details, due to making such a quick getaway.

"Texas Bigfoot" sign- Museum of Weird, Austin TX
"Texas Bigfoot!" Sign
Museum of Weird in Austin

Photo by Dana Goolsby, October 2010

East Texas Tales of the legendary Bigfoot have captivated and haunted locals for many years. The deep dark Pineywoods are capable of implanting fears in those who enter their piney domain, and instilling skeptics with new found beliefs of the creature’s existence. Though there is no hard proof that Bigfoot inhabits the Pineywoods, those who claim to have come face-to-face with the legend are convinced the creature lives among us, and is watching us.

The TBRC is funded by membership dues, fundraisers, and the annual Texas Bigfoot Conference, in addition to donations and grants. It is the TBRC’s desires to enhance the credibility of Bigfoot research, as well as facilitate a greater degree of acceptance by the scientific community of the likelihood of a biological basis behind the sasquatch mystery.

For more information regarding the creature or the TBRC log on to www.texasbigfoot.org.

© Dana Goolsby
"In The Pines With Dana Goolsby" February 1, 2011 Column

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