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  • Writer's pictureDennis McCaslin

Crawford County woodsman has close encounter in Ozark National Forest

By: Dennis McCaslin - Today in Fort Smith

Jake Pixley is a life-long resident of Crawford County, an avid hiker and woodsman, and a published author.

This week he experienced what he says has completely changed his perception of what he knows--and doesn't know -- about the forest in general and the Ozark National Forest in particular.

Pixley had what seems to be a Bigfoot sighting, and he doesn't care who believes him or if people think he's a crackpot.

He says that before this week, he probably would have been among the first to ridicule the notion of an undiscovered. bi-pedal species of something roaming around in the wilderness.

"Four days ago, I would have said there was no such thing as a Sasquatch or Bigfoot," said the 39-year-old Pixley. "On the backside of this thing, I have nothing to gain and probably a lot more to lose by going public with this deal. But I know what I saw."

Pixley has written three three published books, including two which he has sold the rights to and one that is in pre-production to become a film. He has worked as a security specialist and is an expert in behavioral analysis.

In other words, he isn't some attention, seeking hillbilly that had one too many beers and mistook a bear for a Bigfoot.

On Monday, Pixley was hiking between White Rock and the Highland Trail at about 10 a.m. when he heard "something" in the woods. There was the sounds of "walking" in the woods and what Pixley describes as "someone hitting the hard core of a log with a hard wood stick and someone moving rocks. There were also guttural growls. The sounds came from a small hill adjacent to the trail he was on.

"My first thought went to it being a bear, because there are a lot of bears in the area," Pixley said. "But I know bear behavior, and I have even had bear encounters close up, and you are not going to hear them walking in the woods the way this thing was."

"I thought about a buck deer rubbing it's antlers against a tree to remove it's velvet, but what I was hearing didn't sound like that at all," said Pixley. "I then thought maybe it was someone else, another human, in the woods just messing with me."

Pixley said he fired one shot from his .22 into the air as a warning...and whatever it was lurking in the brush and trails didn't run away.

"You know how you can sense things?", Pixley said. "Well, I had the distinct feeling that whatever this was wanted to cross the trail I was on but it was avoiding me. But I really didn't think much more about it."

When Pixley got home he posted the experience on social media with the responses and comments lending themselves to it being a possible Bigfoot. He also spoke with a biologist and other people he respects for their knowledge of the outdoors. And he decided to go back out to he same area on Tuesday.

"I had noticed a lot of young bear tracks in the area on Monday and in one place you could see where thirteen of them had crossed the highway, like they were trying to get away from something, " said Pixley "Some animals will do that as a flight reactions to predators, like mountain lions for example."

"But you usually see one or two bears together, or maybe a mommy bear and her cubs," said Pixley. "You could tell this was an exodus to get away from something, and the woods were just empty of wildlife in the immediate area. It's usually teeming with rabbits, squirrels and all kinds of birds. The forest was eerily quiet."

Pixley was still certain there was a logical explanation for the situation and decided to go fishing on Wednesday. Rain spoiled those plans so he decided to drive around in the area close to where he had his experience and see off he could spot anymore tracks coming out of the forest.

"I'm that guy you don't want to get behind driving through the woods, because I drive 5-10 mile per hour at times with the window down looking for wildlife," said Pixley. "That's just the old trapper and outdoors enthusiast coming out in me."

Pixley was slow driving a road approximately 3/4ths of a mile from where he first heard the unexplained sounds on Monday. He saw movement on a little ridge on the driver's side and grabbed his cell phone."

"I wanted to get a picture of this thing, and in the rush I put the camera on video," said Pixley. "My adrenaline was pumping, I was trying to get the camera up and ready and drive at the same time, so I'm lucky I got anything at all."

The resulting photo is blurry, since it was taken from a single frame of the video. Other than the circle added by Today in Fort Smith, the photo has not been enhanced.

"Once again, I don't care what anyone thinks or says, I saw something out there," said Pixley. "I was as skeptical as the next guy, and I have always taken sightings like this with a grain of salt. But I know what I saw."

Pixley will not disclose the exact location of the sighting and elements of the video would probably tip someone off who was familiar with the area. He narrowed it down to "extreme northeast Crawford County near the Washington County line".

"That's all we need is a bunch of Bigfoot bounty hunters out here with rifles shooting anything that moved," said Pixley, who refused to even say what he saw was a 'bigfoot' or 'Sasquatch'. "Plus, I respect the forest and all wildlife and would hate to see someone go in there and kill whatever that was."

Pixley said he was not going back to the area alone but would be more than willing to take a 'reputable' research team out in the area. But he is not looking to become famous--or infamous--because of this experience.

"Mainly the reason I even said anything in the first place is there are a lot of people that enjoy the outdoors who hike the area," said Pixley. "I just want them to be aware that there is something out there."

"I'm not saying it's a Bigfoot, but in all my years in the woods and in all my experiences, I have never encountered anything like it."

"From the sounds on Monday, to the animals fleeing the area, to what I saw yesterday...there is definitely something out there," said Pixley. "I'm just putting out that information and people can do what they want with it."

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