register-herald - Two brothers hunting for turkeys in the Monongahela National Forest split up and head out in different directions, one of them venturing into a small opening that leads within a few feet inside the woods to a massive ravine.
Suddenly comes the sound of something huge thrashing at the bottom of that deep ravine, too loud for a bear or a fellow hunter, but unmistakably walking on two feet, snapping limbs and crushing branches underfoot.
What follows next almost defies description — a blood-curdling scream that seems to reverberate off the sides of the ravine.
The hunter looks up at his brother, who inquires, “Did you get a shot at Bigfoot?”
To them, it’s a big joke, another hunting story that survives well beyond that season.
But to rock musician Kris Allen, the idea of Bigfoot running around in West Virginia’s rugged terrain is no laughing matter. Rather, it is a serious issue that has thrust him into a major investigation that entails two films.
Once the lead singer for the Marshall Tucker Band, and now the head of his new group, Southern Thunder, the veteran musician says he has seen three of the creatures in the Monongahela National Forest alone.
Actually, his first sighting came at age 8 when Allen, his parents, a sister and some neighbors spotted the curious creature in a tree in Chelyan, not far from his Marmet home, and watched it until darkness set in.
“It was almost as if you went to a zoo and had seen a spider monkey sitting in top of a tree,” he recalled.
“It just stood there. It was a young one, a juvenile, about 6 feet tall. My father suggested someone call a newspaper, but Mom said by the time the newspaper got there, it would be dark. Back then, few people had video cameras. It acted like a monkey would do. I never even thought of it being a Bigfoot at the time.”
To the uninitiated, Bigfoot, or Sasquatch, as he sometimes is known, is an ape-like creature and the object of serious research by man, and of scorn by some in the scientific community.
Years later, Allen would run into another one, this time with a girlfriend in tow at Kanawha State Forest.
“It was just sitting on the ground, on his butt, behind a big tree,” Allen said.
“It was leaning around, looking at me eye to eye. Apparently, it had heard a noise walking up the hollow.”
As soon as he made a move to get a closer look, Bigfoot had vanished.
By his own count, Allen says he has spied half a dozen of the mystical creatures, all of them in West Virginia.
“They have been seen in every state and every foreign country,” he said.
Allen is hooking up with Animal Planet for some filming in Flagstaff, Ariz., and also plays an integral role in a 3-D documentary produced by Goldenleaf and Pixar, this one due for release next spring.
“We’re going across the United States and getting the best of the best in there, the very best footage,” Allen said.
While many in the world of science scoff at the concept of such a creature surviving all these years, Allen is convinced Bigfoot is real.
“I know exactly what it is,” he said. “I have seen two species. The one in the Monongahela National Forest is called ‘gigantopithicus blacky.’ It was the largest of the large primates. Scientists at one point thought they became extinct 10,000 years ago.
“Anyone knows that it is impossible to predict the future of something becoming extinct without actually knowing this, and how can you absolutely know of something that is a nocturnal animal is extinct?”
Bolstering his personal research, Allen has engaged in a number of talks with anthropologist and animal welfare activist Jane Goodall.
Allen conducted more research this fall at Sherwood Lake in the Monongahela National Forest during what some scientists believe was the migration route.
“Some say they try to go down to warmer weather,” Allen said.
“I disagree with that. I have camped up there in two blizzards since 1993. I camped there once when it was 20 below, the other time at 30 below. I won’t ever go through that again.
“That was too much torture on the human body.”
If Bigfoot is real, is he human or animal?
“From all the DNA samples we get back, every time we send something in, it comes back 98 to 99 percent human and 1 to 2 percent unknown primate,” Allen says.
“It’s very human. It’s very intelligent. I’ve heard them speaking. It’s very hard to do. I’m a vocalist and it’s hard for me to do. If you can imagine, it’s like breathing in, then making tunnel sounds. It’s a communications noise.”
Allen recalled a camping trip when he and his family, inside a tent, heard a peculiar noise in the forest.
“We heard something that almost was like it was one talking to another outside my tent,” he said.
“It stood there for a good 10 to 15 minutes.”
Even his loyal Rottweiler and pit bull, which had never displayed a fear of anything, were “totally freaking out.”
“And the time we were up there camping in a blizzard, we heard the beating sound at the trees around us,” he said.
“It was so loud that if you took a drummer in dead silent woods and amplify that drummer with huge amplifiers, it would be the loudest noise you could imagine. An hour before this happened, the dogs jumped in a tool box in the back of the pickup truck. They would not come out. It was the weirdest thing. I’ve never in my life seen a dog do this. I was trying to get them out of the tool box. But they wouldn’t come out.”
An hour later, the beating sound returned, and this time it sounded as if it were originating inside the tent.
“A few minutes later, we heard the same beating signal from across the lake,” Allen said. “We felt like we were being hunted. They are tremendous hunters.”
Allen says he has taken numerous photographs of nests that Bigfoot fashions from twisting sapling trees together, not unlike the way birds do, except on a bigger scale.
“They’re almost like a bird nest, but upside down with a bunch of leaves inside for bedding,” he said.
“And most of these nesting areas are right off a trail. I’ve encountered dozens of them. They’re usually closer to you than what you think they are. There’s a reason for this. Deer will follow a trail. It’s quiet. They’re not going to walk through the woods and make as much noise when they’re on a trail. Usually, those trails follow creeks or river beds. Those are prime drinking and hunting areas for the Bigfoots.”
Another tell-tale sign of Bigfoots are stacks of rocks in bizarre places inside a forest, he says, affording the creatures a good vantage point from which to stage an ambush.
Bigfoot is known to have attacked humans, Allen says.
“I’ve personally had rocks thrown at me. I’ve got a lot of witnesses on this. All of a sudden, a rock will be hurled at you. You’re out in the middle of nowhere in the dead of winter, and when they go by your head, it sounds almost like the same velocity as someone slinging a rock with a slingshot right past your head.”
Once, in the company of his son, Allen says, he spotted two of them ripping trees apart, either for the bark or the grubs.
“We stopped behind a rock, stood there for 20 minutes,” he recalled. “We couldn’t move. We just stood there in awe. As soon as they stepped into the darkness of a tree line, they were gone. They had vanished into the darkness of it. You could be looking into the woods directly at one and it almost looks like a shadow standing in the woods. You would never know it until it moves. This large one stepped out, about 12 to 13 feet tall, and as soon as that one came out, I told my son we had better run back to the camper as fast as we could about three quarters of a mile. We ran nonstop.”
Explaining Bigfoot is another matter.
And in this realm, Allen has been given some ideas from Bible readers, citing the passage in Genesis 6:4, “there were giants in the earth in those days ...”
“There are several locations in the Bible where there were large men that once existed that became extinct,” Allen said.
“They were considered to be giants on the earth. I’m not saying David fought one of these Bigfoots or whatever. There are a lot of humans out there that have a gene problem where their face is covered with hair. I’m not saying they’re Bigfoots or descendants of Bigfoot at all. But I’m saying that thousands of DNA samples came back and they were 98 to 99 percent human and 1 percent unknown primate. You’d think that’s too close, but it’s not. That 1 percent makes a huge difference, especially if you look at the genes scale. But they’re close enough to be human. They have a lot of human traits. They walk upright.”
One major distinction is the foot.
“How you can bend your hand is how their feet are,” he explained. “Their feet actually bend in the center. You can tell a fake footprint when you see one.
“People have actually come out and tried to fake people with hoaxes,” he added. “If it doesn’t have the midtarsal break in the foot, it’s a fake.”
Perhaps, he theorized, Bigfoot’s descendants have learned over generations to avoid human contact, explaining his shy ways in the forests until he feels threatened.
A hunter in 1785 captured one with help from Native American friends and promptly named it the “hideous creature,” wrapping it in binds and parading it through the streets of a town.
If he ever catches up with another Bigfoot, the musician says, he would attempt to communicate, but, taking Goodall’s advice, won’t look him directly in the eyes. He tested her on this at a zoo and found that a baboon was perfectly calm as long as he was watched from an angle, but the moment eye contact was made, the animal went ballistic.
“It’s a form of territorial gesture,” he said of eye contact.
“You could be some sort of a threat. I looked at that baboon eye to eye. He was behind a cage. I wiggled my eyes as he looked at me. He stretched his arm as far as he could and flashed his incisors at me.”
And Bigfoot, so all the accounts go, is much, much bigger than a baboon.
NOTE: this is an interesting theory. The reports of large hominid sightings in West Virginia have increased over the years. The state itself is still a very wild wilderness in many areas and offers excellent habitat and cover for Bigfoot during the less severe seasons...Lon