Does the legendary Bigfoot creature frequent the dark woods around the perimeter of Camp Oyo, circling down from the thousands of acres of Shawnee State Forest to observe from the shadows any human activity going on there?
A group of more than 150 Cub Scouts and their leaders gathered there on a cold early November day three years ago with hopes that Sasquatch would reveal himself.
“The event was set up as part of our membership drive,” said Chris Wiseman, director for the Tecumseh District, part of the Scioto 10 Council of the Boy Scouts of America. “This is what the kids, both older members and incoming, were interested in, so we decided on the theme of Scouting for Sasquatch and labeled it a Sasquatch Festival.”
Activities started at 1 p.m. and ran until 11 p.m.
The Cub Scouts partnered with the Southeastern Ohio Society for Bigfoot Investigations, a group of serious-minded Bigfoot hunters from across Ohio.
“Chris contacted us to come down here and do a little educational program for the kids,” said Doug Waller of Norwich. He set up in one of the picnic shelters and displayed photographs of footprints allegedly left in the snow by Bigfoot. He had a plaster of Paris cast of a two-foot-long footprint he said was left in the soft earth outside Mt. Vernon in Knox County.
The excited scouters gathered around the picnic table where he had spread his wares.
“I hope to get to see a Bigfoot,” said 10-year-old Aaron Cooke of Wheelersburg. “I’ve seen shows about him on TV. I believe in him.”
In 2013, Waller published a 106-page book titled “Standing in the Shadows. Bigfoot Stories from Southeastern Ohio.” He was working on a second book detailing actual sightings of the creature.
He works in a library in his hometown and said he saw so many publications about Sasquatch come across his desk that about 10 years ago he began ranging the woods searching for his own evidence.
That was after he and coworker Shawna Parks talked with a local couple they both knew who said they saw Bigfoot in Salt Fork State Park. Waller said his Avon lady also reported seeing one there.
He said he had never sighted Bigfoot, but he’s found tracks and heard what he believes was its scream.
April Tate, a member of the group, loaned the Cub Scouts her special equipment, including walkie-talkies, hand-held motion cameras, listening devices, recorders, infrared cameras and night vision goggles.
“I was glad to come and help,” Tate said. “After all, these young folks are our future Bigfoot hunters.”
Tonya Cordial said her two sons, Caleb, 9, and Tyler, 6, were more excited about the outing than any they had attended yet.
The two were members of Mark Hardy’s Pack 165 of Russell-Flatwoods. Hardy has spent 49 years in scouting, the last four with the Cub Scouts.
He said he brought 28 cubs with him. “And they all came looking forward to getting a glimpse of Sasquatch.”
After a spaghetti dinner in the lodge, observation posts were set up around the perimeter of the camp.
Caden Sosby, 8, with Pack 21 of Wheelersburg, said he believed Bigfoot was out there, watching.
What to do
What would he do if he saw one?
“If he comes at you, you run,” he told others in his group.
David Pack, 10, of Pack 106 of Ironton, seemed to enjoy the night vision goggles more than anything.
It was pitch dark by the time he got to try them in a strip of woods along the banks of Turkey Creek.
“I thought I saw something tall moving from one tree to another,” he whispered. “But I couldn’t be sure.”
A crackling wood fire in the big stone center fireplace in the lodge had driven back the chill, but it did nothing for the lengthening shadows among the trees surrounding the observation outposts.
There came a weird sound, “Who cooks, who cooks, who cooks for you-u-u-u.”
“That was just an old hoot owl,” said one knowledgeable boy.
Then, from farther back, up along a ridge, came an eerie, drawn-out howl.
That had to be a coyote.
Or was it?
Reach G. Sam Piatt at email@example.com or 606-932-3619.