Big John and the Yahoos

Exploring Kentucky Bigfoot reports

By Jeremy D. Wells

We’ve previously discussed some possible local mystery primate sightings and the Ohio Grassman, but our neighbors across the river have had their fair share of Bigfoot sightings too. These tales stretch all the way back to the early exploration and founding of the state, when Daniel Boone reported shooting one of the large, hair covered man-like critters in 1782, along the modern Montgomery and Powell County borders. Boone called the creature he encountered a “Yahoo”, after the uncivilized man-like creatures featured in “Gulliver’s Travels”, one of the explorer’s favorite books. Sightings have continued since, including several reports from the Daniel Boone National Forest, a modern hotspot for Bigfoot sightings in the state. Parts of the forest are, in fact, located within Powell County, near where Boone’s historic sighting took place.

Moving closer to home, Carter County has been the location of several reported sightings. Although the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO) records only one sighting, from the early 1980s, where the witness came forward after nearly 20 years of silence, other organizations have received multiple reports from both locals and visitors. These include the legends of “Big John”, a white Bigfoot often seen in the area around Carter Caves State Park, especially the dumpster where he has been spotted on a few occasions, presumably rummaging for food. The BFRO’s report from Carter County, a Class B incident, took place near Grayson in the small unincorporated community of Rush on the Carter/Boyd County border. According to the report the witness never actually saw anything other than eyes shining at him from the underbrush, but his wife did report someone peeking in a window at her, the bottom of which was over six feet off the ground. He also reported hearing strange noises, having items thrown at his home, and spotting odd structures in the woods around his house that he believed may have been nests or territorial markings.

Two other reports in the BFRO database, from directly across the river in Greenup County, include a Class A sighting on the old Addington’s landfill property from January of 2001 and a class B report from January of 1996 that took place near Flatwoods. Though other researchers, such as the Lexington based Ron Coffey, have stated that the majority of sightings occur in the warmer months of May to October, taken together these BFRO reports seem to indicate that the cold winter months aren’t necessarily an impediment to experiencing activity. At the very least, it would seem to rule out the possibility of misidentified black bears, which should be hibernating at the time period. But whether these sightings are really a result of cold weather Bigfoot activity, or just winter boredom and cabin fever fueling the imaginations of witnesses, remains for others to determine.

In the first Greenup County incident the witnesses were riding four-wheelers on the Addington property when one stayed at the bottom of the hill to work on the four-wheeler while the other witness walked to the top of the hill to relieve himself. Though it was too dark for him to make out fine detail, he could tell the creature was large. He estimated it at nearly 8 feet tall and around 450 pounds. Though he wanted to run, he stated that he was petrified with fear and stood watching as it walked away while making a strange grunting noise. He did have the presence of mind to photograph the footprints that it left behind in the wet and muddy conditions, but reported he was keeping those private until he could share them with the BFRO investigator in person.

The 1996 incident took place in Flatwoods, near Turley Avenue. As the witness and his friend walked down a gravel road at around 11 in the evening, they spotted a large object in the middle of the road, about 200 yards ahead of them. The witnesses first thoughts were that a tree stump or large rock had rolled out into the road. As they approached to within 100 yards, wondering to themselves how it had gotten there, they observed the mass rise up onto it’s hind legs from a crouched position and turn towards them. Though they could not make out any distinguishing features, due to the low light, they could tell that it was dark in color and very large, “at least 8 feet tall.” Like the previous witness they were so scared they reportedly froze in their tracks and observed it for about 20 seconds as it turned walked off into the woods. This witness also reported periodic high pitched howls heard by themselves and other residents of the neighborhood and stated that another neighbor reported to him that he saw something level with his head through his kitchen window. This neighbor was reportedly 6’2” and the house had a foundation that was “three cinder blocks above the ground”.

The investigators at Kentucky Bigfoot Research Organization (KBRO) have several other sighting reports from Greenup County in their database, including a 1989 sighting near campsites on the Little Sandy River outside of the city of Greenup and a 2008 report of grunts and vocalizations near Russell. Another report, from 2006 near Lloyd, reported a creature that ran for a long distance on two legs before dropping to all fours, behavior that has also been reported in sightings in other states.

There are many other reports from our neighbor to the south, including the Erickson Project and their supposed photos and video of a sleeping Bigfoot and another grainy video of a supposed juvenile sasquatch eating pancakes left out for him, which require an enormous suspension of disbelief to accept. But suspect reports aside, something has shaken people up in the Bluegrass State and left many of them afraid to explore the woods and wild places around their homes. Whether it’s a physical animal currently unknown to science, a misidentification or misinterpretation of more mundane phenomenon or critters, or something completely psychological in nature, there is no doubt in the minds of sincere witnesses that they have seen something. And as long as they believe they’ve seen it, the stories will continue and the legends will persevere.

  Have you seen a Bigfoot, a devil monkey, or anything else odd in the woods around Scioto County or other nearby locations? Share your stories with us! You can reach us at jeremy@latetothegames.com.

Originally published in the Scioto Voice Newspaper (Wheelersburg, Ohio), as part of my River Valley Myths and Legends series. 

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