The next stop on our expedition brought us to Kiamichi, a small town close enough to Honobia Oklahoma to allow us to travel back and forth to the remote wilderness areas. The general area is saturated with hardwoods and pine, blue-smoke mountains, clear lakes, outlaw caves, and waterfalls. It is an exciting place to be. It is very reminiscent of my expectations of a real "Old West" town. A place where you can get out to meet the most fascinating people you ever saw. In this high country, winters can suddenly bring heavy snow, and we were very aware of the hazards we might face. Off the beaten paths things haven't changed much since the time Jesse James chose the caves in this area to hide out in. The Daltons, Belle Starr and others, also found this area a "convenient retreat". We settled in to our Hotel and began making arrangements to drive out to Honobia, (pronounced - Hoe Nubby) to meet our Hostess and Hosts. Katie Cogburn, her brother Ronny Hammer, Rick Branson, and Billie Ludlow, all of Honobia, Oklahoma. These wonderful people opened their lives to us and shared their experiences openly and honestly with us.
The stories of the creature go back many years in this area. Ronnie Hammer was able to share a story from his early childhood. He spoke of the time his Grandfather came upon a creature while out hunting for food. He was so frightened that he shoot and killed the creature. Not knowing exactly what he had shoot, an animal or man, he made the decision to bury it in the hills and not to mention it outsiders. The creature he had killed was so large, he had to drag it to the burial site with the help of a horse. It simply was too heavy for a couple of men to drag. Ronnie said he remembered the story very vividly, but was never told where the burial site was, nor was he supposed to talk about the incident with "outsiders". Now in his 70's, Ronnie was willing to share his story with the Searching for Bigfoot Inc., team. We were also able to talk to local people like Billie Ludlow, a Choctaw Indian who remembers having encounters with this creature while a young boy growing up in the area. Billie told us about seeing the creature while he was walking home one day after a church function. He said it scarred him and made him run. Billie said as he ran home, the creature actually threw stones at him. A memory he will never forget.
The team was very impressed with the openness of our hosts and decided to go out in the area and investigate on our own. We did some checking around and found another local who claimed to have more recent experiences.
We met with Rick Branson, a retired U.S. Forest Service employee who now lives in Honobia. Rick shared his experience with hearing unfamiliar sounds from the heavily forested ridge and valleys behind his home. Rick had worked in the woods most of his adult life and is very familiar with most of the animal sounds heard in the woods. The sounds he spoke of were totally different and unlike any others he can remember. He told us he hears these unusual calls in the evenings about 10 -11 pm almost every night at his home, a cabin Rick had built himself. We made the decision to set up our equipment in his yard and wait to see what could be found.
Early in the afternoon, our trackers climbed down into the valley behind Rick's house. They described the area as an "animal super highway". They reported that there was a very high traffic area of all types of small and large game and the local predators that hunt them.
Still being so excited by our recent experience in Ohio, we contacted the local news media and invited them to come along. Once again, we wanted them to see what we saw, as we saw it. Gwen Smith, a reporter for the Antler News Paper was available to come along with us on our quest.
We got our equipment set up around 9pm and began our wait. It was very cold and windy. Listening and looking for any living creatures in a windy forest is difficult at best. The creature we are looking for may not want us in his territory and could be dangerous. Our only chance is to be aware of him before he is aware of us. However, in these conditions the trees make their own sounds as they bend and sway in the breeze. Even the smells of the forest are harder to identify. The smells tend to stay close the ground in the cold air and are blown about by wind. In most of the chance encounters with this creature, the people who had the encounter were made aware of the creature because they first smelled it, then heard it moving through the brush -- finally, they saw it as it moved away. Our team of trackers was aware that these conditions were not in our favor, but they were so excited about the prospect of making our goal of finding Bigfoot, that they ignored the dangers of the poor conditions and went about their job anyway. They went out in the bush and set up trip cameras, baited with glow sticks. The glow sticks have been useful in the past by being a curiosity to the creatures. They positioned themselves around the rim of the valley and settled down to see what might develop.
Around 10:30 pm, one of the trackers, Pat Heaton, picked up the heat signature of a large animal across the valley, high up on the ridge. The image was moving down the hillside towards us, but was still about 1/4 mile away. We brought Gwen over to see the image. She was as excited as we were. Tom Biscardi then decided it was time to play the recording of the creature and see if we could call it in closer. Tim McMillen had set up the bionic ear and was positioned to listen and record any replies. Tom began playing the calls. We kept watching the image we had picked up on the thermal imager. It seemed to hunker down were it was. It no longer moved up or down the ridge and stopped moving altogether. We keep watching and listening for about an hour. There was no answer to our call and no additional movement from our thermal image.
Perplexed, we asked Gwen if she wanted to go out with the trackers and see what we could find. Gwen, found herself under some time restraints and it being after 11pm declined the offer and headed back to her home. The trackers did head back into the bush and tried to make sense of what we had seen. As they approached the area of the large animal we had picked up on the thermal imager, they began finding signs of cattle.
Disappointed, we realized that the image we had picked up, could have been as mundane as couple of cows walking closely together on the other side of the valley from us. We could not rule out a creature, but it seemed far less likely now. After some time, we made the decision to make the long trip back to our hotel and discuss our finds. Due to our time and budget restraints, we made the decision to head west and check some of our next "hot spots". We will need to save Honobia, Oklahoma for a later time and a more intense investigation.
Here is Pat Heaton in one of the many caves found in the area. These caves may provide shelter for the creature.