BLUEFIELD, West Virginia — Southern West Virginia’s mountains are seldom silent when the sun sets. Birds call, coyotes howl and insects drone when night arrives, but for the past few months, a Bluefield area family that knows nature’s soundtrack has been hearing something new. It’s a strange howl that sounds almost human at times, and it’s not alone.
When the howl comes from far off in the woods, another seems to reply from the other direction. Puzzled, one woman shared a cellphone recording with organizations including the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) and the Rocky Mountain Sasquatch Organization. The howl was familiar to one man who heard it, and he determined that its most likely source was a Bigfoot, also known as a Sasquatch.
The woman who reported the howling asked that her name and address not be used. She spoke Monday with the Bluefield Daily Telegraph as night fell outside her home and the air grew cool. Sometimes the howling can be heard between 8:45 to 9:15 p.m., and sometimes between 11 p.m. and midnight, she said. Like many of the rural homes in Mercer County, it is near the woods.
No howls were heard that night, but they have been heard off and on for months.
“We started hearing these sounds the first of May. As the weather warmed up, we started going outside and working in the garden,” she recalled. “I happened to be in the back yard, just sitting on the porch and enjoying the evening, when I heard something strange.”
She called for her husband, asked him to listen and see if he recognized the noise. It seemed to be coming from the general direction of Bluewell Reservoir Number 1. A Google Maps satellite image of that area show that it’s hilly and heavily forested.
“We couldn’t figure it out. We knew it wasn’t a dog, because we hear them barking,” she said. “This was more of a mournful howl, and it’s not a coyote because we’ve heard coyotes before. We hunt and we’ve actually had coyotes come up to the corner of the property as we’ve dragged deer out and had to gut the deer here, actually in this driveway, just to keep the coyotes away. So I’m familiar with what a coyote sounds like, but this is different.”
The family also noticed other things in the woods near their home.
“We heard that and then we walked out into the woods. The weather had broken and it was nice, and we checked our deer stand and our deer feeder, and we happened to notice some unusual tree structures, also. There were tree branches that had been placed, oddly shaped, like an X,” she said.
The structures were similar to what she had seen on television shows like “Expedition Bigfoot.”
“Having been a hunter, hunting and everything, I hadn’t seen anything like that. A lot of this actually started last year with seeing unusual tree structures,” she said. “The howls started this year, but there’s a tree out this path where a tree has been bent over and it’s tucked under another tree, and this is 3 or 4 foot above my head, and I’m 5 foot 4 (inches) and that’s about 9 feet.”
In another case, there was a sapling about 3 inches in diameter that had been broken and twisted into a right angle, and then tucked behind another tree, she said.
“It defies explanation,” she stated. “It’s just odd. We didn’t think much about it but then we heard the howls. You know, it’s just like simple math. You just start adding one and one and one, and this is not adding up to what is the explanation for it.”
She decided to report the howls to Bigfoot researchers. The goal was not to gain notoriety, but to satisfy curiously.
“I contacted in BFRO. It was in June sometime. The howls took place on June 22: I have that date on my phone,” she said. “And it was about 8:55 at night. I contacted them and told them the things I had seen and then what I had recorded, and I never heard back from them. So I decided to contact the Rocky Mountain Sasquatch organization and they took the recording, they amplified it and it’s actually on their YouTube channel. Well, it just so happened Mr. (Matt) Moneymaker had seen the video on their YouTube channel. He contacted the Rocky Mountain organization, he saw those howls. He said they sounded very familiar to him as the Ohio recordings he had. He went back and searched for my report, and then decided to contact me (Sunday).”
At first, the California number on her phone made her think the calls were coming from telemarketers. Then Moneymaker sent her a text.
“I was blown away,” she said.
Matt Moneymaker, who has been researching the Bigfoot phenomena since the 1980s, said he listened to the Mercer County recording. Moneymaker is known as one of the hosts of “Finding Bigfoot,” a series that now appears in reruns on the Animal Planet channel.
“The recording she obtained sounds very much like real Sasquatch, so it’s either a person doing an extraordinarily good impression of one, or it’s the real deal,” he told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph. “The best clue that it’s the real deal is that the couple hears another one answering the howl with a very similar howl from a distance in the opposite direction from her property. Thus it would need to be two people doing it from different properties, which is much less likely.”
The BFRO website, started in the 1990s, has the biggest number of Sasquatch sighting reports, Moneymaker said. Many sightings have been reported in the Appalachia region, and Sasquatch reports appear more often in areas with large deer populations; and Mercer County and other parts of southern West Virginia fit that criteria. Some researchers believe Sasquatchs prey on deer.
“They’re definitely not just vegetarian,” Moneymaker said. “We think they’re omnivores. That they’re omnivores is very clear, and they’re in places with lots of deer.”
Hundreds of Appalachia reports are sent to the BFRO database. The majority are not posted, Moneymaker said. Some are fake, and some reports are only sounds. What makes the Mercer County howling unique is that a witness collected evidence of it.
“This one is different because she got a recording of it, so you can tell it was not a coyote,” Moneymaker said.
Male Sasquatch can make howls that sound “like a huge man,” but its inflection and other characteristics distinguish it from human, Moneymaker added. If the howls were being make by a large man, the people hearing him would know that a human was making the noise. And the howls are very similar to howls known as the “Ohio Howl.”
The Mercer County howls are likely being made by a Sasquatch “as opposed to a very large man sounding like a Sasquatch,” Moneymaker said. And Sasquatch do communicate with each other.
“The key thing is they’re hearing another one responding from a distance,” Moneymaker said about the Mercer County recording. “That’s just a signature thing.”
Moneymaker said he hoped that a student or somebody else could visit the property for several evenings and try to obtain better recordings. People who are interested can contact the BFRO at the email@example.com web address.
The Bluefield-area woman said Monday evening that she had lived on the property much of her life, but had never heard anything like the howls until they started last May; however, there have been some other odd instances over the years. She recalled one time when the family detected “a musty odor like mildew” near their house. Sasquatch are known for their musty smell.
Another odd occurrence happened back in 2011 or 2012, she said. Her brother was taking her sons to his home for an overnight visit when a “man in a gorilla suit” suddenly crossed the road. Her oldest son confirmed what his uncle had seen, and it happened around midnight.
The howls, again, that started this year are something new, she said.
“It’s like they’re communicating with each other,” she speculated. “It’s almost like mama calling you home.”
— Contact Greg Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org