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Bigfoot at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri

Pulaski County in Missouri has had multiple encounters with sasquatch. And some of the best witnesses have been the soldiers training at Fort Leonard Wood.

One of the best known stories comes from Erik Youngdahl back in May, 1982. He was in basic training when he had his eye-opening sighting.

They were on guard duty training that day. Youngdahl had just been paired up with another soldier, Unabia, and were alphabetically loaded onto the truck to be delivered to their assignments. Being the last one in the alphabet, Youngdahl climbed aboard last and found all the benches were filled. So he took a seat on the floor, leaning on the back, looking back the way they were traveling. He and Unabia were assigned the furthest outpost, a bridge crossing the training site and were going to be dropped off first.

After traveling about 20 or 30 minutes from the main post, they reached a T intersection. The truck turned left, giving Youngdahl a good view down the right hand dirt road. About 40 feet away he saw something large crossing the road. He knew it was not a bear. The bipedal creature looked at the truck and ambled across the road and disappeared into the woods.

"Bigfoot runner" by Linda S. Godfrey

Youngdahl started to yell to the others, but hesitated. They all appeared to be semi-drowsing. Further, the way they were seated they would not have been able to see much beyond the canvas of the truck. The figure had now gone into the trees and he felt no need to claim to have seen something that no one else could have witnessed.

The  sighting lasted for about 10 seconds and his thoughts raced through his head. "What's that??!! -- it's gotta be bigfoot, but look at its color, unbelievable, but it's not an animal, and that definitely is not a person, someone in a suit? no way!".

What he saw was a 6 to 7 foot tall figure, with shaggy brown to light brown hair covering it's entire body. The hair looked to be 2 to 3 inches long. There may have been a sagittal crest. He could not make out any facial features. What was strangest to him was the color, believing that all bigfoot had dark or black hair.

Ten minutes later he and Unabia were dropped off at the bridge guard post. Youngdahl told his fellow guard about what he had seen. Unabia became very frightened, being a superstitious man. The two spent the night keeping close to each other so as not to become spooked and end up shooting each other.

Youngdahl stated the sighting took place in the late afternoon. There were clear skies with filtered light through the trees. He further affirmed that he was familiar with woodland creatures, large and small, and was totally comfortable in the woods. He was not sleepy at the time of the sighting and that he was not one prone to a wild imagination. He did not think at that time that the area was "Bigfoot Country" and it was not the color he expected one to be.

Although not  a soldier's sighting, a family driving just north of Waynesville, had an encounter in the Winter of 1988-89.

Artist interpretation of event.
Original artwork by
Nancy Marietta

They were traveling on Hwy 17 close to the city limits at about 7 pm. It was dark. They had just rounded a turn, with a car coming from the other way. In the middle of the road, standing on the yellow line, was a 7 to 8 foot tall being, covered in hair, "frozen"  still.

Both cars slammed on their brakes and both came to a stop just past this being standing frozen in the middle of the road. Now the red taillights illuminated the figure instead of the headlights. The  figure stood there for about 30 seconds then "loped" off the roadway and into the Roubidoux Creek/Gasconade River.

The wife of the driver urged her husband to just "Go!". As they took off, the other car did the same. No one from either vehicle got out to investigate further.

One side of this road is bordered by steep bluffs. On the other is the creek. Beyond the creek runs farm land. Going beyond that around a quarter to half a mile is another bluff. The topography for the surrounding area is bluffs, valleys, woods and caves.

September 4, 2012 had another reported experience about a half mile from the Gasconade River.

Gasconade River

An adult daughter was visiting her mother. As she was getting ready to leave they decided to have a last look at the garden near the house. Suddenly they heard a screaming sound.

Startled, the daughter asked her mother if that was a coyote. Her mother said no and took her daughter back into the house. The call had come from less than 150 feet away. She described it as being "loud" and "remarkable". The dog who usually barked and challenged intruders, ran for the house.

The mother did not tell her daughter what she thought had made the sound. Instead, they logged onto the internet and began listening to typical animal sounds but found none to match. When her daughter, still very puzzled, asked what could have made the sound, her mother turned to bigfoot recordings, finally realizing definitely what they had heard.

The mother had lived in the country for most of her life growing up and was familiar with the sounds of nature : coyote, panther, bobcat, owl, feral dog, deer . . . One thing she had never thought to hear in this area was this type of sound. When she had lived in the river bottoms, she had heard these same sounds over 30 years ago.

As they got ready to go outside again, they realized that the indoor cat and the dog were acting strangely, pacing and panting. When the two women emerged outside, they could hear no night time sounds. There were no crickets, no frogs. Just silence.

The mother walked her daughter to her car, pretending that everything was fine, that there was nothing unusual. She could hear snaps and cracks in the woods, but did not mention them to her daughter. She watched the car drive off, then quickly got back indoors.

The witness said that it was dark out, with only a security light. There was no moonlight. They heard only the vocalization [and the sounds in the woods that she did not bring to her daughter's attention].  There was no visual sighting. The area was made up of hills and creek beds with mostly cedar and oak trees.

She described the scream : "It was two parts consecutively. There was a short whoop, like the woman's scream that lasted about a second and a half then a pause then it cut loose with a really long deep howl. That was the gut wrenching howl that sent me, my daughter and the dog in the house. It was up close and personal in the wood line about 250 feet away."

More recently on the border of Phelps and Pulaski Counties, a Corporal Police Officer had several encounters.

His first was July 16, 2013 along the Spring Creek branch of the Big Piney River near the town of Edgar Springs. He was night fishing with his uncle when they heard a ruckus of something or someone coming down the steep bluff. He turned his spotlight onto the opposite bank. At first they didn't see it.

Sample of bluffs along the
Big Piney River
"It blended perfectly with vegetation/stump". The being was crouched down on the bank next to a stump, rocking from side to side. He could not make out any facial features. He turned off the spotlight and said to his uncle : "What was that?" He made no reply.  Then they heard another one coming down the bluff, crashing and banging it's way. The witness turned the spotlight back on.

At first they did not see the first creature as it had jumped into the water with a splash. The water reached to about the bottom of its rib cage. He turned to his uncle to find out that he was running for the car. The witness quickly followed him.

The bigfoot were dark brown and stood about 7 1/2 to 8 1/2 feet tall.

His second encounter was in May, 2014 while hiking with his wife. It was a sunny day; around 10:15 in the morning. They were walking down the road when they heard a cow [bull] growl from across the road past three fences. It appeared to come from along the bluff bottom. As they continued to walk, they heard two or 3 more. Then they heard another growl come from over 200 yards from where they had heard the first one. This distance was covered in about two minutes time. This one came from about 50 yards away. They could "feel" this last one.

This growl was so close to them that it made his hair stand on end. He told his wife to get behind him after hearing that.  He pulled out his gun and waited. The witness was shaking with fear of what they had heard and from not being able to see what had made that sound. They stood there over 10 minutes but never saw nor heard another thing.

"Cow growls" are not something often heard nor understood by most people. Check out the links below to hear some samples.


The witness after listening to the recordings, increase that 5 fold. And that is what they heard.

By now, he knew it was not a cow. He also knew what a bear and wild pig sound like and also knew it was not either of those. After the ten minutes went by with no further sound, they turned and left the area going back the way they had come. They never did see anything, but "felt its presence and knew they were being watched."

A further description of the area : the part near the road public property. Beyond first fence was private property. The third area the witness will not venture into, even fully armed. It is about 2000 acres of land. He further stated that he was not a push over or a scaredy cat, but he will not go into the area.

That statement most likely ties into his experiences in Ash Spring Holler when younger. "It is a terrifying place in the middle of no where [sic] there are things in those woods that don't sleep. Me my brother both have had encounters as teen age boys there that I do not talk about. I don't want to have nightmares anymore of what I seen in those woods."

His first reported sighting with his uncle was near the East Gate of Fort Leonard Wood. He had heard of other  incidents near the South Gate of a "smelly, hairy beast scaring bow hunters". He had only smelled anything when a teenager. All three locations the witness discussed are within a mile of Spring Creek.

Another incident in October 2014 took place along the Engineer Trail at Fort Leonard Wood. These witnesses were all soldiers completing their scheduled morning physical exercise with a 3.8 mile run around the Engineer Trail oval track [road]. This track is in an oval shape with about 10 acres of land in the center that is used for land navigation exercises. The back of the track opens out to a forest that goes all the way back to Misty Mountain. This area is 100+ acres of forest and wilderness.

The group of soldiers [about 15] headed out around 6:00 a.m. They were running as individuals, not as a unit, and were somewhat spread out along the track. The reporting witness, being a  little faster than the others, was alone in the lead. At about midway, he came upon a tree laid across the track. It was about 3-4 feet in diameter and appeared to be a healthy tree, not rotten. There had been no recent wind storms. After puzzling about it for a second, he continued on his run.

Part of the running trails
at Fort Leonard Wood

As he advanced along the trail, he came upon another tree knocked over. However, this one looked as if someone [he assumed soldiers] had dragged it off the road. This tree was about the same size as the first one. He began to feel that it seemed someone did not want them on the track.

When he reached the back part of the track [about 1 1/2 miles mark], he started to hear some yells. This was the part of the oval that bordered the 100+ acres of forest. It sounded somewhat like a "whoop" from about 200 feet away. He stopped running to listen.

In all, he heard around 5 different whoops. Three came from inside the track [the oval] and 2 to 4 from the woods. The calls seemed to alternate back and forth.

Alone, in the lead, he decided he didn't want to encounter what he was hearing without someone else with him and so started running quickly the rest of the way around the oval. He knew what he was hearing, having seen things on the internet, YouTube and watching documentaries on bigfoot.

When he got back to the starting point, he decided not to mention what he had heard as he didn't want to be made fun of. But when the rest of the group came in, they all began immediately talking about the sounds. A few of the runners called them "bigfoot calls". They were serious, not saying it as a joke. The entire group of runners agreed it was a "family of them" out there talking to each other. Added note was that during the entire run, they could smell a "musky/sewage" odor. The usual scent was of the trees and grasses and weeds. This one was almost "a gagging kind" of scent.

All of the soldiers agreed that not only did they hear the calls, but that they could also hear knocks and snaps. They felt "surrounded" and as if they were being "tracked and passed off" to "sentries" who were monitoring their progress around the track.

Aerial view of Fort Leonard Wood in 2014

The reporting witness also talked of when he and his wife had also had an encounter. They take 4-wheeler rides on trails in the area and had often encountered a "musky odor" along them. One time while out riding they saw a large figure about 100 meters [around 320 feet] away from them. It was going through brush down a slope. The witness stands about 6'5" and estimated the height of the figure at 9 to 10 foot tall. They never had a clear, unobstructed view but both he and his wife stated it was an upright, bipedal creature.

One of the more recent encounters happened in July 2017 on the Big Piney River, which flows through Fort Leonard Wood. This one was reported by a man [Steven] who was taking his annual float trip with four other friends. They were using two canoes and a kayak to make the journey.

The thing to understand is that access to the river is limited. The government owns most of the land along the banks of the river. There are places here and there that have public access. The public is free to use the river but they may not set foot on military land. The area is regularly patrolled and guarded. The only access to where the encounter happened was by water.

The men started on the afternoon of July 7th and made their way along the river. Finding a sand bar, they stopped and camped for the night. Steven woke around 5:30 a.m. for a "call of nature". It was a clear morning, with good light. He set out for a log jam that was butted up to the river bank and the sandbar near where they had made camp. The log jam was about 10 to 15 foot high, so he headed around it where he would be out of sight of the camp.

The witness was squatted down when he heard "branches breaking and [then] a louder snap." When he stood up he saw a "huge creature" standing there. It took off running, heading across the river.

Big Piney River
"It was at least 8 foot tall, dark brown with some black in there. [It was] huge and all muscled up from the waist up" -- which was all that he saw of it. It never looked back at him as it ran. The witness felt that the bigfoot saw him and the snap the witness heard was as it was turning to run away. He stood there "in awe". It was "very clear" to him that he had just seen a bigfoot.

As he stood there he could hear it take a step then "it hit the river, and cleared the river in a couple of steps" and then was gone. The river at that point was around 18 to 20 feet wide. There was one giant splash about mid-river and then another one not as loud.

As Steven returned to camp, he realized that where the creature was on the log jam offered the perfect observation point. You could see the entire camp -- the boats, the campfire, tents, and food storage from it. He figured that the bigfoot had been watching the camp and was maybe hoping for leftovers when they left.

Upon return to the camp, he elected not to mention his encounter with the bigfoot to the rest of the campers. The others awoke and breakfast was made. Then they got in their canoes and kayak and continued their trip on the river. After about another mile and a half, they reached a sharp bend. They were in the habit of stopping and checking these locations for deep fishing holes.

One of his friends gained the shore and called Steven's  attention to a large footprint measuring around 14 inches. Lying nearby was a half eaten fish, the head and half the body consumed. "Who in the world has been out here barefoot?" asked the friend.

Steven responded : "Well it must have been the Bigfoot I saw this morning."

Friend : "Well, looks he crossed by here didn't he?" He did not seem at all surprised by Steven's response.


Thanks for reading,

Nancy

"I'll spark the thought; what you do with it is up to you."

Note : The encounter related by Youngdahl was originally known as the "Agent Kid" encounter when first shared on Facebook blogs.

Some sources:bigfootencounters.com,BFRO,mid-Americabigfoot.com, squatchable.com, cryptozoologynews.com, Bing images and photos, Fort Leonard Facebook page and a defunct blog or two.


This Post By TCC Team Member Nancy Marietta. Nancy has had a lifelong interest in the paranormal and cryptids. Nancy is also a published author and her book, The Price of war, has been met with great reviews.



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