Southeastern Oklahoma is Bigfoot Country. More than 150 sightings have been thoroughly investigated since 1960 in the dense woodlands that dot the area. From Tishomingo through Atoka and on into Talihina, Bigfoot encounters have spurred many a scientific research team to spend more than a few nights in the bush waiting for that elusive photo that would finally prove the existence of the hairy biped.
My brother-in-law Steve and I once decided to recruit a few local boys and create our own bigfoot research group. The first recruit was Snake, a tall skinny full-blood chickasaw teenager from the outlaw town of Mill Creek, Oklahoma. He had earned his name by killing copperheads and making belts out of their skin. The belt he always wore was a snakeskin with a clear plexiglass buckle. Contained in the buckle was the fangs of the dispatched copperhead and two dice, set permanently on double ones.
The second recruit was a local boy from Tishomingo nicknamed Beebus. Beebus always wore overalls. In the summer he went shirtless. In the winter, he added a long sleeved undershirt to his wardrobe. Beebus had never been a strong student in school and struggled communicating with people. He was a big fan of the Hee Haw Country show and usually communicated his needs by quoting jokes or songs from the stars on the show.
Steve and I appointed ourselves as co-scientific leaders of the expedition as we were the only ones who had actually had a science class in college. We picked up our team members, loaded the truck with camping supplies, flashlights, camera's and headed for The Three Son's Grocery to stock up on provisions needed for the two night expedition.
There were no son's working at Three Son's Grocery. As a matter of fact, I don't believe the old gentleman who owned the store had any sons. But, he had all the goods we needed and was willing to sell them to us, even if we were not of legal age. Soon, we were fully stocked with Coor's pop tops, bags of cheetos, bread, potted meat and moon pies.
I looked at the group and said, "It's time to head for the deep woods in search of the elusive Yeti."
Beebus's eyes crossed as he strained for the right words, "Letti ain't going out with us, I guarantee .."
"No," Steve said, "Yeti is another name for Bigfoot. Yeti, not Letti"
Driving eastward, we soon come upon prime bigfoot country. We slowly pulled off the road onto a country path leading into the deep woods. Crossing a cattle guard and pulling out of sight from the main road, we stopped. We retrived our supplies and headed south into the thick bush. Soon we found a small clearing and set up camp. Snake built a fire and Beebus broke out the beer and food. Darkness was upon us, but we were ready for anything.
As with anyone scientific group in search of knowledge, we drank most of the beer, ate all the food and told some great stories through the night. Around midnight, Snake suggested we smoke some grape vines. He thought the smell might attract the bigfoot community and demonstrate to them that we were peaceful researchers.
Sounded like a great idea to all of us. The legend of Bigfoot was one of a huge smelly beast that was very nervous about people. So, he lurked undetected in the bushes and observed human activity. The dense smokey scent of grapevines might flush him out for a quick look.
Steve loaded the camera, Beebus stoked the fire, I got some more beers and Snake went to search for good grape vine. A scientific expedition requires an orderly, structured sharing of responsibilities. We were performing as a well drilled team. Snake soon returned with some thick dry vine, perfect to set our trap.
He cut the vine in equal lengths and distributed them to the entire team. One by one we picked a small blazing stick from the fire and lit our vines. Lying on our backs we began to take draw after draw of musky smoke into our lungs. The strong scent of smoldering grape vine hung in the air as we each began to feel the swaying of the leaves over head. The mood grew somber as the night wore on. With each vine smoked another beer was opened to help sooth the raw dry throats we were experiencing.
Suddenly, a strong pungent odor begin to fill the air. It moved slowly across the campfire and unto the entire clearing. We rose slowly from our prone positions, silently looking into the brush for the source of the odor. Shadows moved in the background as the odor strengthened. Our hearts began to pound.
Sticks began to break under the pressure of moving feet deep in the bush. The sounds grew closer as the odor became overwhelming. Our eyes widened as we silently moved our feet. Steve clutched the camera tightly as he pointed it into the direction of the anticipated beast. His hands shook nervously as he moved toward the beast. Snake, grape vine still hanging from his lips, motioned for us to stop.
He slowly fell to his knees and began to crawl toward the bush he thought contained the bigfoot. Steve bent down and rested on one knee with his camera poised for a Yeti picture. Snake reached the bush, the smell was now overwhelming. This was our moment. We were on the verge of a scientific breakthrough.
Snake looked back at our group one last time. His hands slowly settled on the bush. Suddenly, he spread the bush wide and let out a spine chilling yell. Steve snapped the picture as the black and white stripped four legged polecat lifted his tail in the direction of Snake. Snake now knew that he needed to retreat, but, his legs froze. His mouth was wide open as he struggled to get out the words of warning that, by now, were unnecessary. We turned and fled into the opposite woods.
Snake was not so lucky. His moment of hesitation had cost him dearly. The skunk sprayed him. It was a direct hit. Snake screamed and tried to retreat. He stumbled across the fire and into the woods, toward our new position. His long black hair flew behind his fleeing body. Arms and legs flung from side to side as he scurried through the brush. He emerged from the bush smelly, wide eyed and screaming like a mad man.
Beebus looked at his scientific leaders and yelled, "It's Bigfoot, Let's get outta here."