By WES HELBLING
A Morehouse Parish woman claims to have had a chance encounter with the elusive creature known as Bigfoot -- and she has the photo to prove it.
The witness, who asked that her name be withheld to avoid public ridicule, said she was going to see her husband, working in a field off Merton Bowe Road east of Mer Rouge when something moving along the banks of Bayou Bonne Idee caught her eye.
"I noticed this figure splashing around on the banks of the Bonne Idee. I couldn't tell what it was, but what struck me as odd was it seemed to be bathing."
She said the animal was somewhat bigger than a man and seemed to be standing upright in the water. This description matches other sightings of the legendary Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, that is said to roam the North American wilderness.
"Luckily, I had my disposable camera with me from when my husband and I took the kids to Poverty Point, so I pulled over and got out of my car."
The Bigfoot was just starting to get out of the water as she approached the bank. Although frightened, the witness says she snapped the accompanying photo. The creature turned around as though startled, then ran along the bank of the bayou.
The witness's husband, an avid hunter, said he has never seen Bigfoot but believes his wife's story.
"I've been seeing footprints that were 12- and 14-inches from heel to toe around Bonne Idee for years," he said. "I showed them to some of my buddies, but they were just as clueless as I was."
Bigfoot sightings in this part of Louisiana are nothing new, according to Cpt. Alan Bankston with the state Department of Wildlife and Fisheries.
"We hear stories like this from time to time," said Bankston. "We have bear move through here some time, and people tell us they've seen monkeys up off Vaughn Road and leopards all through the woods," Bankston said. "We had one fella tell us he thought it was a really big deer that learned to walk on its hind legs."
Asked why deer might be walking around upright, Bankston said he had no comment.
The earliest Bigfoot sightings in Morehouse Parish can be traced to the journal entries of Mer Rouge hunter Ben Lilly, who writes in April 1901 that while everyone thinks he is out stalking bears and panthers, he is actually hunting for Bigfoot.
"Anybody can kill a deer. It takes a man to kill a varmint," Lilly writes.
"And it takes an even bigger man to bag a Sasquatch."
Morehouse Sheriff-elect Mike Tubbs confirmed his office receives calls about Bigfoot eating out of garbage cans and peering through the windows of homes in the Bonne Idee area. Curiously, the reports always seem to come in at the same time each year.
"We tell people not to worry, that Bigfoot is just as scared of you as you are of him," said Tubbs. "We don't really follow up on those calls because you can't always believe what people tell you when April Fool's Day rolls around."
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