My name is Dennis, and while I never got close enough to shake hands with Bigfoot, I was feeding him dinner every night for a few weeks. Here’s how that came about.
My wife is one of those women that thinks she needs to feed every animal she comes across. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a cat, a dog or some wildlife roaming the forest. She has always been this way but it really ramped up into high gear once we both retired.
When she wasn’t outside gardening, she was outside watching the animals that came around for their free meal. She even put dry cat food out for the possums and raccoons. It didn’t matter to my Annie what kind of animal she was feeding – as far as she was concerned, everybody was welcome to eat in our yard.
I have to admit - It was a little expensive to feed all of Mother Nature every week, but I really didn’t mind. In the 46 plus years I’d been married to Annie, she had mostly maintained the frugal ways she had grown up with and had rarely spent much money in all those years on anything that was not necessary or a solid investment. So, if she spent a little more out of our monthly retirement income to feed the wildlife than most people would? Well, I figured she could be spending that money on worse things, right?
Truth be told, I enjoyed it, too. It was peaceful to watch the deer come for their feeding at dusk just inside the tree line. But the thing I enjoyed the most was seeing Annie get excited and smile as she watched them. After all these years, Annie smiling still makes ME happy. So, yes – I enjoyed feeding the animals, too.
We had been filling all the feeders regularly that summer – deer, bird, and the critter bowl we left out for the other animals – when we noticed a significant drop in the numbers of deer we were seeing in the evenings. It didn’t make sense to us as the feed was regularly disappearing. We discussed all the usual suspects; bear, coyotes, summer poachers, stray dogs and more. But every idea we had explained either the deer missing or the feed missing; nothing explained both the missing deer and the missing feed.
My first glimpse at what was raiding the deer feeder came one night just after dinner.
I was sitting in the breakfast nook, looking out the window toward the tree line and the deer feeder about 100 feet from the house. Annie had just cleared the table and was loading the dishwasher and wiping down counters when I saw something moving just beyond the trees.
I almost called Annie over, thinking it would make her happy that there were some deer out there, but I stopped when I realized that what I was seeing was not deer. While at that distance I couldn’t see detail, I could see moving shapes pretty well, and the shape I was seeing was walking on two legs and had freakishly long arms.
I was very familiar with how high the tree limbs above and around the feeder were because over the years I had trimmed and cut back many of the limbs overhanging the feeder and I had kept the brush cut back to keep the feeder area very clear precisely so that we could have an unobstructed view of the deer from the house.
I had built that trough style feeder myself. The roof covering the trough was exactly 7 feet from the ground. I built it that high as we often had bucks with large racks, and I wanted to give them good clearance. I also wanted Annie to have a clear view of the deer. This meant the roof had a deep overhang, but I had built and anchored it well.
It also meant I had an infallible gauge to measure the creature’s height. If I wasn’t already sure the creature was over eight fall tall in relation to the trees I had trimmed back, I was positive when it stood next to the feeder itself, its head standing a good foot higher than the roof on the trough feeder.
The width of the creature took up three quarters of the width of the feeder, which I knew to be four feet wide. The body was dark and stood out clearly even in the falling dusky light as it stood between the weathered lumber of the feeder and the green leaves at the other side of the clearing behind it. I watched as it squatted down behind the feeder and began to scoop large handfuls of the feed into its mouth, and while it wasn’t invisible behind the feeder, it blended into the forest and the falling light, its dark color making it seem to be a void rather than a solid object. If I had just glanced out the window at that moment, I probably wouldn’t have noticed it sitting behind the feeder if I hadn’t first seen it standing.
I can’t say I believed in the Bigfoot before that night, but I didn’t not believe, either, if you understand. But I had heard enough stories and had casually come across enough documentaries and reports to be certain of what I was looking at.
Thinking back on it now, I’m surprised that I was more intrigued than scared. The only fear I had was for Annie, who had been born with a rabbit’s fearful heart. I could not let her see this.
Annie had been talking while I was watching this, and it became apparent I wasn’t listening when she said my name loudly. I looked over at her leaning on the peninsula counter.
“I asked if you saw deer out there?” she said, looking at me like there was something wrong with me. Well, there was, but I wasn’t going to let her know that.
“No” I said. “Nothing out there.” I got up from the table as nonchalantly as I could, closed the curtains over the table, turned out the light over the eating area, then picked up a magazine off the counter that had come in the mail earlier that day. I kissed Annie’s cheek as I walked by, told her I’d be downstairs in the family room and that the kitchen was clean enough and she should come join me.
Nothing about any of that was unusual for our evening routine, but even though I doubted Annie would see anything if she looked out there, I was hoping to remove that possibility. I knew my wife well enough to know that it wasn’t a good idea for her to know what might be out there.
I did my best to be nonchalant with checking the lower level security of our split-level home before we headed up to bed for the night. I wasn’t scared, exactly, but I was a bit on guard.
The next day, as Annie headed out to dig around in her garden, I went out to check around the feeder, but found exactly what I had been finding for the past couple weeks; nothing. The ground around the feeder was heavily compacted from all the deer visiting over the years, meaning I couldn’t see any visible prints. The only clue might have been the same clue I had been seeing for a while but had taken no notice of; and that was that all the feed scatter was concentrated in one area on the back side.
I did not replenish the feed that day, although I did fill the hanging bird feeders since they were close to the house and we could see them all day. And while I told Annie I filled the general critter bowl as we called it, for the possums and raccoons, I did not. I did not want an open food source to attract whatever it was out there closer to the house.
Nothing happened that night or the next night. All was quiet and calm, and I began to feel a little more at ease, thinking perhaps the creature had moved on. I have since read of the different sounds Bigfoot is said to make; the howls, screams, whistles and chattering, but I never heard any of it.
It was on the third night that the creature let me know it was unhappy that we were no longer providing a free meal service for it.
Late that evening we were in the family room downstairs watching television as was our nightly habit when a loud, splintering, smashing sound jolted us both out of our chairs.
My first thought was that something had been thrown onto or fallen off of a truck onto the county road out in front of the house. But instantly I rejected that idea as the sound had come from behind the house. My second instantaneous thought was that perhaps a tree had been knocked down and hit either the house or the shed out back, but that, too, was instantly rejected as I knew there were no trees close enough to either to cause damage. And there was no storm or wind to knock a tree down.
We went upstairs and looked out first from the dining room window that overlooked the back yard but couldn’t see anything. Going through the kitchen and nook area, I flipped on the two bright corner lights that lit up most of the yard and stepped out on the deck.
I stood there and looked over what I could see of the yard from the lights on the house. With what I had seen a few days previously, I wasn’t too keen to grab a flashlight and head into the darkness. With my primary concern being that there was no visible damage to the house or the shed, I went back in and told Annie that I didn’t know what it was. And I didn’t. But I would find out in the morning.
I didn’t slept well that night, and laid awake listening for other noises, but heard nothing.
Our rule since we retired was that unless something was planned or something urgent came up, we did not set an alarm clock, and whoever got up first tried not to wake the other person up, so when I felt Annie shake my shoulder, I came to wakefulness pretty fast, afraid something had happened.
“What? What is it?” I asked her.
“I think what we heard last night was something destroying the deer feeder.” She said.
Destroy the deer feeder, I thought as I sat up. No way. That thing was built from heavy lumber and the posts had been cemented into the ground to prevent it being tipped over. But then I thought about how large and powerfully built the creature I had seen was.
I stood on the deck in my pajamas, looking at the mangled mess that had once been our deer feeder lying on the grass about halfway between the house and the tree line. I stood there in disbelief. I would discover as I cleaned up the debris that the four posts that had been cemented into the ground had been snapped off. I tried not to envision too much what had done it or the strength needed to do it.
Of course, Annie was full of questions, and I didn’t have any solid answers – well, none that I was willing to give her. I told her it was probably a destructive bear, and then I gave her a half version of the truth about what I had seen the previous night and the full truth about not putting more feed out.
I convinced her that we needed to stop feeding the animals and she reluctantly agreed. The thought of a bear was enough to convince her.
For the rest of that summer I never let Annie go out to work in the garden alone and I kept a watchful eye on the trees behind the house. But I never saw or heard anything again.
By that fall the deer were back and were clearly expecting to find their free dinner, but I did not replace the feeder and I never will. We still see the deer from time to time, but not as we once did. Today Annie contents herself with hummingbird feeders attached to the deck outside. It’s not the same, but it helps.
Annie still doesn’t know what I saw that summer, and my plan is to never tell her. She has once or twice broached the subject of maybe putting out another feeder for deer. I always put a stop to that immediately. I love that woman, but I am not about to set up a Bigfoot’s All You Can Eat Buffet again.