Classic Mysteries

Three-Toed Sasquatches: A Physiological Perplexity Wrapped Within An Enigma

by Stan Morrison

James Lynn Crabtree, age 14, was hunting squirrels in the canebrakes of southwestern Arkansas, near the Sulphur River in 1965, when he had an encounter with an animal that has yet to be catalogued. This wooded location is approximately 40 miles from Texarkana, Texas, and is not only extreme wilderness, but is an ecosystem that can have a truly errie nature to it. As with many other regions, one has to experience such bottomlands to know what I mean.

What James Crabtree sighted only yards away was a creature that stood upright at a height of at least seven feet. It was shaggy, covered with 4-1/2 inch reddish brown hair. As it focused on James, all he could see was a large flat nose. Automatically, he shot the “thing” in the face, three times. Oddly, it seemed to be unphased by his shotgun, which was nonetheless loaded with light 20 gauge loads. It would seem even such light shells would have had some kind of reaction from the animal. James was so frightened he dropped his gun and ran full speed back home.

For those readers who are as old as I am, or those who have researched encounters with such creatures, they will recognize the aforementioned incident as the first recognized experience with the “Fouke Monster.” Others might remember the incident as the inceptive encounter of the early seventies movie, The Legend of Boggy Creek.

The only true physical evidence proving the reality of the Fouke Monster came after several sightings and frightening noises and encounters, and six years.

In June 1971, in a bean field in Fouke, a farmer was amazed to find hundreds of tracks made by something…something sort of human and something definitely not human. James Lynn’s father, Smokey Crabtree, was one of the first to see the unblemished tracks. Everyone in Fouke knew Smokey. He was probably the best hunter and tracker around. The tracks seemed to meander in the bean field and really made no immediate sense. They were 13-1/2 inches in length, 4-1/2 at the ball, ad 3-1/4 at the heel. Though they ambled out into the bean field in an odd circular manner, obviously the oddest and perhaps the most important fact was that they possessed only three toes.

Three-toed Bigfoot in Southern California seem almost preposterous. Since I’m from L.A., via every other state (veteran), I have to state that from the Anzo Borrego Desert to Los Angeles, odd phenomena and strange creatures are a phenomenon that can’t be denied. I, personally, had a close encounter in Riverside in 1974.

Barbara Ann Slate was the Linda Moulton Howe of her time. She ventured beyond the norm. That included Bigfoot type creatures that didn’t play the role of what was expected in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, she passed away before her research was nearly complete. Nonetheless, we have data that is a valuable addition to the overall Bigfoot information.

Throughout the 1970s, there was a storm of weird phenomena that the “regular” UFO researchers had to investigate, since it was being reported by credible witnesses.

I truly think Guttilla and Slate sort of flipped things over ufology-wise with their investigations. What was once considered “crackpotology” was now being published in Saga UFO Report and even some of the MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) journals.

The focus of the phenomena, tracks made by big hairy monsters, were beyond our average data. There were three-toed tracks even being recovered and documented near Andrews Air Force Base. None of them could be explained. They were very peculiar, in that even though they were tracks, their soles were irregular. It seems these creatures must have been walking on baseballs or rocks. Still, they were similar to those at Fouke. The Legend of Boggy Creek was in Hollywood! Barbara Ann Slate and Peter Guttilla continued their efforts throughout the 1970s to find an answer to the Bigfoot creatures that haunted L.A. during that period.

“Stan Morrison’s recent article concerning The Reptilian People, the possibility of demonic possession, or transformation of human personality, brought to mind several cases which I was involved with during the 1970s.”

The above was noted by the late researcher Ramona Hibner, concerning the hairy monsters being sighted in Florida and surrounding areas. She and her husband Duane were perhaps the most successful observers of the so-called “skunk apes” ever. The “skunk ape” is the southeastern equivalent of Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest, except the former “often” made tracks with only three toes.

When I first moved to Phoenix, about twenty years ago, I really was the ultimate tourist. I went everywhere downtown to see the memorials, etc. Of course, having been an outdoor writer (Oklahoma Today Magazine, The Daily Oklahoman), I wanted to get out and see the Sonoran Desert and all it had as an ecosystem.

In a past life, so to speak, I wanted nothing to do with the paranormal or anything similar.

On one of my week-long jaunts into the Sonoran, at an altitude of about 5,000 feet, I examined on a dusty trail, on a flat rock, a small three-toed track that was clearly an anomaly (FATE Magazine, June 2003). It was real. And I couldn’t ignore it.

In John Green’s classic 1978 book, Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us, he wisely points out that the states with the most annual rainfall tend to also have more Bigfoot reports. There is little doubt that Green’s observation is correct.

However, when it comes to sightings in dry or desert regions he is definitely not saying such creature activity doesn’t occur, just that most reports issue from wetter climates.

Moreover, as one ventures into areas of the Sonoran Desert, it is very clear that Arizona’s desert is not Death Valley, California, but can be quite lush. Of course, not a tropical rainforest, but lush and diverse nevertheless. Animals adapt to an environment; and I would think that it would be presumptuous and illogical to, let’s say, travel many thousands of miles to the Congo to establish the existence of such creatures, especially when very good reports exist in several southwestern states such as Arizona.

So, I do not think the problem so much is “why” are sightings of Bigfoot-types a coast-to-coast phenomenon, but why are there numerous varieties of such creatures and why, as we understand evolution and natural selection, there are illogical physical contradictions within creatures that must be closely related.

The whole problem, therefore, is that a hominid (derived from evolution), couldn’t flatly make two toes vanish from the record, and “create a species” with the weird and mysterious three toes.