by Bob Tadlock

It was near the middle of summer. My friend Bill and I were once again planning our summer vacation. Every other year, we'd take a month off work and away from the families to seek some kind of adventure. But this year, we wanted to do something different. We both liked to hunt and fish, but the same old woods just wouldn't do.

We were sitting at our favorite bar, chugging down some beers, when he walked in. He was known only as John. He was an older gentleman, with long gray hair and a scraggly beard. He looked and smelled like a true mountain man, which is why he caught our attention. He'd show up once every third month or so to tell story's and wet his whistle on cheap whiskey. So. I did what any thrill seeker would do. I asked him over.

After a couple of drinks, and a few moments to get used to his smell, we were soon listening to his famous stories. Although most of them were nothing out of the ordinary, one particular story caught our attention.

He told us about a group of trappers that went out into the woods, never to be heard of again. As he told his story, I noticed how once in a while he would stop and just sip his whiskey. He would stare into his glass, almost as if he was scared to go on. He spoke of a legendary creature that lived alone, deep in the woods. At first, I thought it had to be a large bear. California bears were notorious for raiding camps and even killing people when they got hungry enough. But, as he filled his glass and continued, I soon realized that this was no bear.

He said sounds could be heard at night. Sounds that would make your hair stand up. Some of these sounds appeared to be grunts, while others were more like blood-curling screams. He also spoke of a large shape seen around unsuspecting campers. He told how the Indians called it Sasquatch, while others referred to it as bigfoot. As he went on, we were more and more captivated. Soon, his story was nothing more than filtered out words, as Bill and I looked at one another. I could tell Bill was thinking the same thing I was. This year, we were going to hunt the mystery known as Bigfoot.

The next day we were both filled with mixed feelings. Although we were excited about our trip, we had to wonder if this thing actually existed. Nevertheless, we were packed and on our way to what would be one of our most frightening adventure's yet.

Our destination' was the thick and high mountain region known as Bluff Creak in California. After a two day drive and a long hike through heavy woods, we finally made camp in a small clearing. The mountains were quite beautiful this time of year. A short walk from camp was a river over-looking a spectacular mountain-view. Nothing but woods as far as the eye could see and these woods were full of all types of wild game.

With camp set up, we talked about our first plan of action. Neither one of us knew how to even begin to track a creature such as a Bigfoot and for that matter, what to do with it if we did find it. So, we set out to do what we did best, hunt.

We were around a mile from camp, when we decided to take a short rest. We already had enough meat for a couple of days and the sun was fading fast. Before heading back, I took a moment to clean my crossbow. Suddenly, a strange feeling came over me. The hair stood up on my neck, as I got that feeling of being watched. A quick look around and I figured it must be the woods playing tricks on me. Strange, Bill was only five feet away but I somehow felt alone.

Then I heard it.

The woods behind us came alive with the breaking of small branches. Bill and I spun around to the source of the noise, but saw nothing. Just as fear started setting in, we spotting a large Kodiak bear about a hundred feet away. We both almost sighed in relief, before heading back for camp. That was one big bear and we intended to give him all the room he needed.

After a hot meal by the campfire, we started planning our next days outing. We talked of following the river, when the woods once again came alive. At first we heard the sound of breaking branches, but then a faint moan, or cry, filled our ears. Neither one of us could recognize the strange sound. Then, the sound turned to a roar. We couldn't tell in which direction it was, but something was scared. The sounds got very busy with, what appeared to be, two animals fighting. There was crashing sounds in the woods like small trees were being knocked down. Bill and I listened for what seemed like half an hour before the sound subsided. Then a strange fear overcame us both.

As we continued to look around, Bill suddenly froze at the sighting of a large shape around 200 ft. ahead. At first, I thought it was the bear from earlier. But, I quickly realized we were staring at no bear. Whatever it was, it was much bigger than a bear. It appeared to be looking our way, but it was too dark to tell. After a few moments, it just disappeared.

The next morning, we awoke after a night of restless sleep. Through the night, Bill and I took turns staying up and keeping plenty of logs on the fire. When it was light enough, we made our way over to where we saw the strange shape. As we got closer, we could smell a foul odor. Small trees were knocked over and there were signs of a struggle. A few steps further and we saw the remains of a large black grizzly bear. One of its arms was pulled off and its neck was gashed open. It was apparent to us, that whatever did this was large and very strong. As we continued looking around, we spotted large footprints that disappeared deep into the woods. We soon found ourselves second-guessing our adventure.

After a few minutes to discuss what might have taken place, we decided to grab our weapons and take a better look around. We were about a mile away from camp, when we ran into more large footprints. They looked more human than anything, about twenty-one inches in length and seven inches across. We guessed by the size, that it must have been around nine feet tall. We followed the prints a short while and soon found ourselves by the river. Strangely enough, the prints seemed to lead right into the raging water. Whatever this was, it had to be a very strong swimmer.

We arrived back at camp around 4:30 that evening. We set snare traps all around the outer perimeter and tied the rest of our meat high in a nearby tree. As we were collecting wood for our fire, I got this strange feeling we were again being watched. As I looked around, I caught wind of a horrible smell. I grabbed one last piece of wood when I saw it. Just on the other side of a large tree was a large hairy looking creature. Just as we thought, it was around nine feet tall. Its upper torso was very large and its legs were like tree trunks. Short brown hair covered most of its body and it had small, coal black eyes. I turned to Bill, but he was already heading back to camp. When I turned back toward the tree, the creature was gone. My body was trembling in fear, but I managed to get back to camp.

When I told Bill what I saw, we agreed it was time to go. We had been lucky thus far and there was no use pushing it. It would be dark soon, so we decided to leave in the morning. Whatever it was, we would be at its mercy for one more night.

With nightfall closing in, we decided to build a shelter for safety. We stacked several large logs on top of one another and covered them with branches. We built the fire up as big as we could and grabbed enough supplies to last the night. After a quick weapons check, we settled in for the night.`

A light fog rolled in about 1:00 a.m. It was a musty night and the moon was almost full. Bill and I kept our silence in fear of being heard. The woods were an eerie quiet, but that would soon change. At first, we could here small branches cracking around a hundred feet in front of us. When the sound got closer, panic set in.

It must of got by our snares, because we now heard heavy breathing just ahead. Soon our camping supplies were tossed this way and that. Things were violently crashing all around us. When he couldn't take it any more, Bill leaned forward for a closer look. He quickly jumped back and by the look on his face I knew we were in trouble. A 900 lb. Kodiak bear was soon trying to break through our small shelter. The terrifying sound of its claws hacking at the logs around us froze us in fear. We had no where to go, as the bear became more and more outraged. Soon a large log was pulled free and the roof came crashing down on our heads. In a split second, Bill was pulled out and tossed twenty feet away. I could hear him moan in pain, as the bear now searched for me.

Seconds turned to minutes, minutes seemed like hours, as I fought the bear off best I could. Just as the bear's head made it through, its body was jerked out. Too petrified to move, I just sat there and listened.

When I smelt that strange odor again, I knew the bear wasn't alone. Soon the sound of two roaring animals could be heard outside. They slammed through the remains of our shelter narrowly missing me. I quickly jumped to my feet and looked for Bill.

Much to my surprise, Bill was already on his feet. My attention was then turned toward the battle. The bear was angrily growling and swatting at something very large. At first I couldn't make out what it was, but as the bear was slung to the side I could see that the Bigfoot creature was back.

Although the large bear fought hard, it was no match for the nine-foot giant. The two crashed through the woods clawing and growling at one another. They disappeared momentarily and after a short struggle, I heard the bear's neck snap. After a second of silence, the Bigfoot walked out to face us.

With the weapons buried in the shelter, Bill and I had no way of defense. The giant towered over us. Breathing heavily from the fight, it stared at us with those spooky black eyes. Neither one of us moved, for we knew if we did it would surely kill us. The creature stared at the bear, then stared back at us. Just then I realized this thing just saved our life. I knew it could easily take us out, but yet it just stood there. Then to our surprise, it started making grunting noises and was pointing toward the way we came in days before. It was almost like it was trying to tell us something. Neither one of us had a clue what it was trying to say until one word come out crystal clear. As it continued to point it clearly said the word " LEAVE".

Its voice was spooky and very firm. Then it all made sense. The whole time we thought this thing was preying on us, it was actually keeping us safe. Not until we nodded our understanding to leave, did it turn back to the woods and disappeared. That was the scariest moment of my life. Bill and I wasted no time gathering what we could, then we too would leave. We would leave our camp. We would leave the ravaged bears dead carcass. But more importantly, we would leave the legend known as Bigfoot.

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