Stylized conceptual drawings
Six years ago in late October, a man, his wife and a friend were hiking on the lookout trail in Chadron State Park.
They came to a place where the trail takes a sharp turn, and as they rounded the turn, one of them looked north and noticed a two-legged man, or not quite a man, standing atop a limestone ridge 300-400 yards away.
Physical evidence is fuzzy, but there are plenty of reports like this of Sasquatch, also known as Bigfoot -- the name given to an ape-like creature that some people believe inhabits forests all over North America, including Nebraska.
There are so many sightings and reports that the Animal Planet television station has launched a series of programs on the subject, Finding Bigfoot. As time goes by, more people are taking the possibility seriously that Sasquatch exist.
There have been more than half a dozen reported sightings of a Sasquatch in Nebraska since the mid-1970s, according to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.
The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization was founded in 1995. It is a scientific group exploring the bigfoot/sasquatch mystery, according to the website.
The scientists, journalists and specialists from diverse backgrounds who comprise the BFRO are engaged in projects, including field and laboratory investigations, to address various aspects of the bigfoot phenomenon, the website says.
“As a result of the education and experience of its members and the quality of their efforts, the BFRO is widely considered as the most credible and respected investigative network involved in the study of this subject,” the website says.
The information on the BFRO website is lengthy and well considered, detailing hundreds of sightings, including those in Nebraska, which was reported by a college professor, who heard about it first-hand from his father-in-law and his father-in-law’s friend.
“The figure was unusually tall and covered from head to toe in black fur,” the report said. “At first, they thought it may have been a very large person in a heavy jacket but quickly decided that was unlikely given the very warm temperature of about 70 degrees,” the report says. “It was uniformly black in coloration from head to toe and a glossy sheen reflection was occasionally visible. The figure was only on two legs the entire time they observed it as they watched for three to five minutes as it stood on the ridge and swayed back and forth before it casually walked behind a limestone outcrop and disappeared into the pine forest.”
Several subsequent sightings have been reported in the Pine Ridge Reservation area, the BFRO says.
A similar website, the Gulf Coast BigFoot Research Organization (gcfro), has this report from August 2002 in Cherry County:
"My son and I were cat fishing with a small boat and ores. We both saw a large upright slghtly bent forward ape looking creature, it was walking around the east edge of Big Alkali Lake."
"Our boat motor was broke, otherwise we would have gone over there for a closer look," the report says. "It was about 8 to 9 foot tall and the cows were running when it approached them. We had Nebraska Game&Parks come and investigate it. After interviewing us, we went with Officer Frank Miller and he got a picture of a 13-inch footprint in the mud along the bank. The creek from this lake ends up in the Niobrara River and that was the direction he was headed."
Sasquatch, which is a British Columbian tribal name for the creatures, are thought to be rarely seen because they keep to themselves and they don’t need much company from one another.
According to the BFRO, Sasquatch consistently maintain low population levels in heavily forested areas, even where the protein sources, such as deer, could support dramatically larger numbers of them.
Consequently, they have never become an ongoing nuisance to human communities, or to human livestock, BFRO said.
“Unlike gorillas and chimps, their family/groupings are small and mobile, making it very difficult for modern humans to hunt them,” the BFRO says. “Their impact on the land is so subtle that it takes a trained eye to even notice it. They can operate nocturnally, sometimes close to rural communities of humans, and be only occasionally seen, heard, or detected.”
Among other notable Sasquatch sightings in Nebraska, consider the statement of mass murder Charlie Starkweather, who was put to death in 1959.
In a journal Starkweather kept in prison, awaiting death in the electric chair, he told of seeing, as a boy, a strange creature outside his window in the mornings.
Starkweather described it as a female whose hairy body "tapered off from a big chest to a small pointed head."
The visitations were accompanied by strange whistling sounds, he said. He thought it was Death itself visiting him, and wrote of the sounds:
"It was close and loud at first, but it got further and further away and the sound became mournful and sad until I couldn't hear it no more."
Death did not make him afraid, however: "The world on the other side couldn't be as bad as this one,” he wrote.
One analyst, Robert Damon Schneck, said it would be easy to ignore Starkweather’s story, if it weren't a classic Sasquatch sighting from before the name 'Bigfoot' was ever applied. Starkweather apparently had no idea what he was seeing. He didn’t have a name for it. Since he was the kind of person inclined to mass murder, he decided it must be death come to howl at his window, Schneck said.
Other sightings have been reported near the Missouri River, including an outlying area of Omaha, where a wooded gully runs through a residential area.
A daughter reported that her mother and her mother’s sister were swinging on a double tire swing in the backyard. The next thing my mother knew, her sister jumped off the swing and was running and screaming.
“My mom didn't know what to do, so she ran after her sister into the house. Her sister was hysterical saying she saw something in the back wooded area of their yard. I guess my grandpa did find some sort of large footprints. This was the first incident,” the report says.
“The next incident was when my mom was outside her house when she was young. She saw a large thing covered in hair walking across her driveway. My mom told me that the "thing" walked almost as if it was bow-legged. She also said its shoulders moved from side to side as it walked.”
In April 2002, her mom let the dogs out in the backyard and they both went barreling towards the fence, barking.
“My mom walked out, thinking dogs were just being dogs, and waited for them to use the bathroom. Then she noticed something moving in the next yard, about seven feet tall, standing behind a tree. She said the dogs ran back to the house yelping. My mom said she froze. She said the creature leaped from behind one tree to another. She started running, ran in the house and locked the doors."
The episode gave her nightmares. She dreams that something is pounding on the walls of the house.
For a look at possibilities from the Animal Planet program, click HERE.