My First Bigfoot Sighting

In the fall of 2002, Matt Knapp was a greenhorn in the world of Bigfoot. Granted, I had been in the "community" for awhile, I even had a couple outings under my belt, but as far as any real Bigfoot experience, I had nothing. I knew by this time that something seemed to be out there. I had seen tracks, heard sounds, met people I considered credible, even experienced rocks thrown by phantom strangers lurking within the darkened treeline. So yeah, I knew something was out there. I even thought at that point in time I knew Bigfoot was real. On the night of September 21, 2002 I would have my little world come crashing down around me. Due to the events of that night, I would realize that previously I didn't actually know anything, I just thought I did.

I had joined up with a small group of researchers known as The Monkey Chasers. There's no grand story about why I ended up with that group. They had members in Oklahoma, where I'm from, and they would all hangout on the Internet at night and talk to one another. I started posting on their forum, and eventually got invited to the chats. This is where I got to know them, and started learning real information about the subject. Not the crap I had read in books or seen on television, but real in the field, life long knowledge that some of these individuals had. I guess I got along with most of them because I could relate. Most of them were from the south, rural areas, and were an older crowd. They reminded me of the people in my family who had raised me. They were genuine, and I liked that. Listening to them tell their stories and experiences was like learning from your grandpa how to fish, instead of listening to a biologist tell you how fish are supposed to behave based on their studies. I would eventually become friends, and even extended family with those redneck, ragtag, bunch of idiots, but at the time to my friends and family they were just known as "those crazy bastards Matt hunts Bigfoot with".

Nature Center
The Monkey Chasers (and yes, most in the community hated the fact that we called them monkeys) were having an annual BBQ outside of Sulphur, Oklahoma, a hotbed of Bigfoot sightings and activity. This area would eventually become my main research location, but at the time I had no idea what was going on, and was at the mercy of the local researchers to put us in some prime areas of activity. One of these areas was a parking lot. Yes, a parking lot. The lot was for a nature center ran by the park rangers, and was located within the confines of a national park. So don't imagine a grocery store parking lot. This parking lot was "U" shaped on a one way road, with the base of the "U" running in front of the nature center, which also served as a centralized location for the myriad of hiking trails that ran through the park. In the middle of the lot was a grassy median with some trees, and on the outside of the lot was nothing but pine and hardwood forest. A lot of people have had sightings in this parking area over the years, and later I would learn that it was in the middle of a main travel route the Bigfoot would use almost nightly. However, at the time, in my mind it was a parking lot. I have to admit I was apprehensive to say the least, and kind of disappointed we were hanging out in a parking lot. As I said, I really didn't know anything about Bigfoot, I just thought I did.

Creek by Nature Center
It was a fairly clear night, the moon was bright, and there wasn't much cloud cover at all. Some individuals in our group had done some calls to try and draw them in, and we were mostly walking around waiting for something to happen. A few of us had congregated over by the treeline on our side of the lot. We had heard some brush movement, and there was a very foul odor drifting in the air from an unseen source. Yes, the famous smell. It seemed to come and go, and smelled musky along with rotten at the same time. I've heard it described as farm animal, wet dog, soured, all very good descriptions, but it's something you have to experience for yourself to really understand. It smells like a lot of things, but smells like nothing you've smelled before. One of the researchers had a night vision scope (Gen 3) and was peering into the treeline from about 10 feet away. I saw him fixated on something. He'd look through the scope, then lower it, then lift it again, always staring at the same area. I walked over to him, and as I approached he handed the scope to me and asked me to look through this gap in the treeline that was at an angle from where we were standing. I inquired as to what I was looking for, and he said look for the eyes. I took the scope and started panning around in the gap area looking for these supposed eyes. At first I couldn't see anything, so I took the scope down to get my bearings. I realized I was actually looking towards the side of a small hill and had been looking way too low. I pulled the scope back up, this time looking higher, and then I saw it. Two bright eyes reflecting back in the scope. I remember focusing on the eyes trying to make out what kind of animal it was. They were very clear in the scope, not far away at all. Then like one of those "magic pictures" I realized what I was looking at. In the night vision scope I wasn't looking at an animal at all, I was looking at a face.

Similar hair growth pattern. Hair was much longer.
Immediately I felt a chill run up my spine and a lump form in my throat. I felt like I had stopped breathing, but nothing short of death could have gotten me to stop looking. I didn't notice the body, how tall it was, or anything like that. All I could do was stare back at it, as it seemingly stared at me in return. Its head and face were clearly visible, except for the lower half of the chin which was obscured by a branch. The eyes were almond shaped and reflected brightly in the scope. The hair wasn't all ratty looking at all, and seemed to grow backwards from the top of the head. I remember thinking it almost had an old-school wolfman afro appearance to it, but seemed to continue on. Hair covered the majority of the face, except for just below the eyes, the nose, and the mustache area was very thin compared tot he rest of the hair. The head wasn't pointed like a sagital crest, but seemed more rounded. There was no forehead, only a brow ridge, and the ridge was thicker, or more prominent in the middle and seemed to gradually disappear as it got to the edges of the head. The nose was scooped down from the brow ridge, and the bridge of the nose was actually narrow compared to the rest of the nose, which was flat and squat looking. The nostrils were turned more forward than ours, and there was no prominent bulb or tip like our noses have. The only way I could describe it would be a cross between a human nose, and the nose of an ape. The mouth was very wide, and the lips were thin, with the bottom lip being larger than the top. The cheek bones sat high and were very prominent, giving the area around the eyes an appearance of being sunken in. The jaw was very strong looking, squared off, and was wider than the top of the head. The thing had the appearance of having an under bite, although I never saw any teeth. I also could not see any ears at the time, perhaps they were visible and I just wasn't looking for them. As I stated, at the time all I could do was stare back at it, and let my mind record as much as it could about what I was seeing. I had no idea that the image would be ingrained into my mind permanently.

After what seemed like half an hour, but what was most likely a minute or so, I took the scope down to acknowledge to the other researcher that I saw "it" too. I couldn't have had the scope down longer than a few seconds before I put it back up to my eye and peered through the opening in the brush once again, but of course the face was no longer there. No glowing eyes, no hulking, shadowy form walking away, nothing. Just stillness. I was able to locate the branch that had previously blocked its lower chin from view, but the space above it which the face once occupied, was now another tree branch. I'm not sure if the tree branch had been behind its head, or if it had been holding it down to get a clearer view of us, but the branch was now the only thing visible, and I had certainly not mistaken it previously for the face. That much I was certain of.

One of the many spring fed creeks.
That brief moment changed everything. I was now part of a very rare group. A group of people who know Bigfoot is real. The folklore, the myths, the stories, they were more now. They were all speaking of something that was real and alive. Hidden from man, from the public, from science, but there none the less. In one pivotal instance my entire line of thinking went from researching Bigfoot to find out if the phenomenon was true or not, to trying to understand what I had seen. What are they? How have they remained hidden? How do they live? What are their behaviors? I felt, in a sense, betrayed by my own thoughts. How could something like this be out there, yet nobody knows anything about it?

Having a sighting changes you. Once you have broken through that invisible barrier, there is no going back. As a researcher I felt it was extremely important that I remain as skeptical as possible. I know that might sound odd to most, but I knew that all I had was another story. I had no evidence. I had one other witness to back me up, but how did that prove anything? Regardless if I had seen one or not, people would still fabricate stories, hoax, lie, release mistaken evidence, etc. It was important for me to remain skeptical. Not of Bigfoot's existence, but of people and evidence. Psychologically, it was extremely difficult to wrap my head around. It felt like a state of shock, or a walking dream. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Bigfoot put me in some sort of hypnotic state. It was just a very extreme event to witness. No different than witnessing something incredible, other than the fact that your logical mind is trying to tell you this thing isn't supposed to be there. It certainly wouldn't prepare me for my second sighting, which took place that same night just a few yards away from the first one. But I'll save that story for a different time.


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