BECKLEY, W.Va. — While recent bigfoot sightings in southern West Virginia have gained national attention, one investigator says it's no surprise, given the number of sightings he's cataloged in the southern mountains.
Investigator Les O'Dell says he'll attest to the trustworthiness of a recent report of an encounter in October 2019 near the New River Gorge National Park and Preserve, though it isn't the first time he's chronicled sightings in the New River Gorge region in southern West Virginia.
Encounters have been reported with greater frequency in southern West Virginia, he says, possibly because of its mountain landscape — part of one of the most densely forested regions in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern U.S.
"There seems to be a couple of hot spots across the state," O'Dell says, "but the southern third of the state may be the largest."
"Terrain may be the reason. I’m not certain why. Eventually, I may receive enough data to build a model that will enable me or someone else to answer that."
O'Dell has shared transcripts of several encounters he's documented from the area, in which the 2019 encounters were alleged. He recently drove south from his home in northern West Virginia to interview Billy and Sheena Humphrey, who have been adjusting to life after reporting an encounter with a bigfoot.
The Humphreys have been experiencing some amount of celebrity since late February when they first announced the sightings through West Virginia Explorer Magazine.
Read the original story: Couple claims to photograph bigfoot near New River Gorge
O'Dell says that on the heels of a much-publicized encounter in adjacent Ohio that was swiftly debunked, the encounter the Humphreys alleged is extremely exciting.
In the first place, the Humphrey encounter was corroborated by two people as opposed to one, and, secondly, their stories appear to be stable and in agreement.
O'Dell says he had Billy Humphreys accompany him to a meeting of investigators last week and many in the group were likewise impressed by his narrative.
"His story is consistent over time," O'Dell says. "It hasn't changed. Even this weekend, when he had a crowd around him, the story didn't change."
Following are three reports from southern West Virginia cataloged by O'Dell.
November 2007: Fayette County
To keep it short, l was deer hunting in the New River Gorge in Fayetteville, West Virginia, in 2007, the week of Thanksgiving. It was evening, with about two hours of daylight left, and I noticed movement about 60 yards toward the gorge from my position. I raised my gun to view the movement through the scope.
After holding it in position for 10 seconds or so, I saw a very large hand appear from the side of a large poplar tree. Its palm was against the tree, and I saw fingers mostly. Then, to my surprise, I saw a head peek from around the large tree and two large eyes affixed on the head of a creature I've never seen before, and I'm a hunter—have been since I was eight. I'm now 38.
The bigfoot blinked twice while looking at me and stepped back behind the tree. I viewed it for about 20 seconds while it was looking at me. My mind couldn't figure out what it was, and I knew what it wasn't. I had no desire to shoot it and very well could have, but my mind and body almost seemed to be in a state of shock while viewing it. I had to cross near the location on the trail out of the woods, and I was terrified, even with a loaded deer rifle.
My hair stood on end when I realized I would have to go toward the location to get out of the woods. I called my uncle as soon as I got to my jeep and told him. He believed me. I am a very honest man and would never lie about this. The thing is, though, I never heard it run away or move through the leaves, and you can hear movement from 200 or more yards off in these woods. It's like it just disappeared. I came home very shaken from the experience.
November 1995: Fayette County
Temperature: Cold, low 40s
Nearest town: Kanawha Falls
Nearest Water Source: Kanawha River
Area: Cotton Hill
I didn't have a sighting, but I heard what I believe to be vocalizations of a bigfoot. If you repost my story, I wish my identity to remain unknown. The place was Fayette County on Cotton Hill. Across the Kanawha River, the nearest community is Kanawha Falls. It was November of '95—the first week of rifle season for antlered deer. I was 21 years old and had been hunting this area from the young age of eight years old, so I knew what was in these woods.
Anyway, a few weeks before the camp was set up, the area was plentiful with deer and signs of deer. I set up camp on the riverfront, went out the morning of the opening day, and hunted. I was in my spot about 30 minutes before daylight and waited as the day went on. No sign of anything. Not even a chipmunk! It was about 45 minutes before dark, so I made my way back to camp. I get to camp and build a fire; by now, it's dusk. On a ridge above me came the most horrifying sound I've ever heard.
It started out like a woman's scream and continued into a deep guttural growl. It lasted maybe 45 seconds; then, it seemed to fade away. I was raised in those woods on Cotton Hill. My dad would take me there to help cut firewood to heat our home, and we hunted that mountain and rode ATVs in the summer. I'm 44 years old, about to turn 45 next month. I have lived in this area for 42 years, other than my deployment to Iraq from 2003-2005.
Time of year: It was fall, the week of Thanksgiving.
County: Fayette County
Nearest Road: U.S. 60
Nearest town: Lookout
It was close to 6-1/2 to 7 feet tall, with dark brown to red hair. It had a smooshed face, almost a flat nose, very dark, and the arms stretched past its waistline. It appeared to be eating the remains of a deer.
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