An Interview with Don Keating
by Brent Raynes
An exclusive interview with Newcomerstown, Ohio’s noted Bigfoot hunter Don Keating. Mr. Keating, the director of the Eastern Ohio Bigfoot Investigation Center, is the author of The History of Bigfoot at Salt Fork State Park. His latest findings and updates are posted at his website: http://www.eobic.net
Brent Raynes: Bret and Gina Oldham down here in Tennessee speak very, very highly of you. They just attended your conference a few weeks ago up in Ohio, and they tell me that you live in an area that has had a lot of activity over the years. And that you’ve put together quite a few conferences now.
Don Keating: This year was number twenty-two.
Brent Raynes: They’re annual events and they draw in a lot of the top names. Could you tell us a little about yourself and how you got started in this?
Don Keating: Well, I started back in 1984 when I read John Green’s book, Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us. I just happened to pick it up at the local library as I was in search of a book on UFOs, but they looked kind of boring to me. They didn’t stir my interest, so I decided to pick up the book on Sasquatch. I read it and called John Green up and talked with him for probably what was an hour and a half, and then when the conversation was over with I took the book back to the library and put it back on the shelf and never thought anything else about it.
That was in July 1984, and then I believe that it was in August 1984 there was an article in the local newspaper, The Newcomerstown News, that had talked about strange animals being sighted in the Newcomerstown, Ohio area. One of those animals fit the description of a Sasquatch type creature, so I decided to take the ball and run with it, so to speak, and interviewed the three boys who claimed to have seen it in April 1984 outside of Newcomerstown. I interviewed them individually at first and then as a group and I was pretty convinced that they believed that they had seen what they claimed to have seen.
As the old saying goes, one thing led to another and so that’s how my investigations and involvement in the Sasquatch or Bigfoot phenomenon began.
Brent Raynes: So how old were in you 1984 when this all began.
Don Keating: In 1984, I would have been 22 years old.
Brent Raynes: Okay. Now you’ve been involved in this for awhile and obviously you have become very passionate about it. What sort of cases or evidence and experiences maybe have you had that have kind of perhaps increased your conviction and the intensity of your work?
Don Keating: Well, I’ve interviewed probably well over 100 alleged eyewitnesses in different parts of Ohio, as well as West Virginia and Pennsylvania. I’ve seen dozens of footprints on the ground that I’m not sure who or what made them but they were interesting. I’ve had a lot of audio encounters while I’ve been in the woods, recorded a lot of noises that can’t be explained. Just a number of different anomalies that have taken place in the woods that have led me to believe that there is something out there. The sincerity of a lot of the eyewitnesses stands out quite a bit. A lot of them are professionals and they have nothing to gain by making up a story. Some of them had never even heard of Bigfoot or had never thought about Bigfoot before they had their alleged encounter. A lot of different angles have been covered and been approached over the past years which leads me to believe that there is something out there.
Brent Raynes: Have you had any encounters yourself with the creature?
Don Keating: I saw something in the woods, at a location about four miles outside of Newcomerstown, in 1985. What it was I’m not quite sure. I just know that it was very large and walked upright on two legs and it was there one minute and gone the next. The other three guys that were with me on the investigation at that time were all present and accounted for and this thing towered above the golden rod weed that it had walked in, which were four to five feet high and it was a good bit taller than they were.
Even if I hadn’t had that encounter in 1985, I would still be saying that there is probably something out there because of all of the sounds that I’ve heard and the tracks that I’ve discovered, or that have been discovered in Ohio, and all of the alleged eyewitnesses that I’ve talked to.
Brent Raynes: Okay, the tracks that you found. Were they the traditional five toed Bigfoot type tracks or were some of those like what Stan Gordon had found in Pennsylvania, with three toes?
Don Keating: No, I would say that 99 % of them were five toed. We did see a couple of prints that looked like they might have been three toed, but they could have been five toed easily. It just might have been the terrain that the foot registered in that two toes didn’t make an impact all the way and that might be why they looked like three toes instead of five.
Brent Raynes: And the vocalizations or sounds that you’ve heard were they some of the screeches and maybe what might have sounded like some sort of words or something?
Don Keating: I’ve never heard anything that sounded like verbage. I have heard noises that sounded like mournful cries. I recorded one that was played on a Monster Quest episode about the Ohio Grass Man back in 2008. I was involved in that filming and Dr. Esteban Sarmiento listened and he wasn’t able to identify it positively, but I think that his opinion was that it sounded like it came from some type of primate. That was recorded here in eastern Ohio, near Salt Lake State Park.
We’ve heard a lot of different noises in the forest that can’t be positively identified.
Brent Raynes: And that case that they called the grass something?
Don Keating: The Ohio Grass Man.
Brent Raynes: Why did they call it that?
Don Keating: Well basically back in the ‘40s and ‘50s people were seeing this thing in northeast Ohio and in that region the topography is relatively flat, but there were large open fields of high grass and kids would tell their parents that they had seen this big man walking through the field, and I guess that’s how they came up with the term of the Ohio Grass Man.
Brent Raynes: Okay. Well, what is your best theory as to what is going on? What this is? You hear everything from a missing link to other dimensions to UFOs.
Don Keating: I think that we’re just dealing with an animal that has yet to be discovered by the scientific community. I don’t think that we’re dealing with anything sensational, although I would not rule anything out and I would not ridicule or criticize anybody for their opinions that might differ from mine. I just think that we’re dealing with a physical flesh and blood creature at this point in time.
Brent Raynes: Does it seem to you to have maybe a migratory pattern where perhaps it comes through the area, going elsewhere part of the year? Have you noticed any kind of cycles or patterns to the activity?
Don Keating: I haven’t really noticed anything like that. I’ve noticed more patterns with the weather. For instance, in 1988 we had an extreme drought and extremely hot weather and as a result of that the sightings increased substantially. I think the reason that they did was due to the fact that animals need food, water, and shelter to exist and so as a result of that any animal came out to get into the open, no matter where it was at, to find the water that they needed. But they come out into the open to find whatever they need to exist and that water is essential and I feel that’s one of the reasons that the sightings increased so much.
Brent Raynes: What would you like to see happen in the field as it evolves along?
Don Keating: Well I think that a lot of the various groups that work against each other need to start working with each other. I think that they’re all in it for the same reason, which is to discover whether or not this creature exists or not, or to prove it. I think they need to start working on common ground and comparing notes and see if we can come to a conclusion a little faster and prove its existence.
Brent Raynes: Is there anything about this subject that you would like people to be aware of, maybe the public in general or other researchers, that may be key to all of this?
Don Keating: I don’t think that we’re dealing with an animal that is dangerous towards humans. I think that it’s curious, it’s shy, it’s elusive, and I think that many of the encounters are just chance encounters. I’m pretty sure that it’s out there. You’ve just got to be at the right place at the right time to come across it. I don’t think that there are any real good methods that you could use to draw one out. Out of curiosity I just think you see them when they want you to and I think that the vast majority, if not all of the encounters, are just chance encounters. But I don’t think that they’re aggressive towards people.
Brent Raynes: And you feel that they’re a fairly intelligent creature as well.
Don Keating: Oh yes. I think that they’re very intelligent. I think that they have to be to have survived and existed for this long without being discovered.
Brent Raynes: Do you have a website that you would like people to come check out?
Don Keating. Yes. It’s www.eobic.net.
Brent Raynes: Have you got a magazine or any books that you’ve produced that people might want to read?
Don Keating: I’ve got a monthly newsletter. There’s a link on there regarding that, on how to subscribe to it. I’ve also written some self-published booklets. Most recently I put one out called The History of Bigfoot at Salt Fork State Park.