Author’s note: After the recent “From the Shadows” detailing Kansan Randy Harrington’s Bigfoot encounter in southern Oklahoma, others have come forward with their sightings. Here is one such encounter.
Tall, straight pine trees cover portions of southern Oklahoma and northeast Texas. These woods are home to mountain lions, bobcats, coyotes and an animal that is still in the realm of legend – except to those who have seen it.
Retired autoworker Ray E. Irwin, Sr., 63, of Blue Springs, saw something in the woods of southern Oklahoma in September 1961. He saw Bigfoot.
“Oh yeah,” he said. “I saw it.”
Randy was on leave from the Navy and went home to Hugo, Okla. He and his girlfriend went on a date.
“We went to Spencerville Crossing about 15 miles northeast of Hugo,” he said. “We went there to swim and picnic and we stayed there pretty late.”
Spencerville Crossing is now under the waters of the man-made Hugo Lake, but in 1961 it was a popular swimming hole.
“We were coming back from that area, going south on Highway 93,” he said. “It was about 2 to 2:30 in the morning about 8 miles from Hugo, that’s when I saw this Bigfoot.”
Ray was driving his girlfriend home when the headlights of his car struck a creature standing in the highway.
“He was standing upright in the middle of the highway on the yellow strip,” Ray said. “He was standing upright on two legs. And, as I got closer to him, his head was turned toward my car – I didn’t stop.” Ray paused to laugh. “I was probably doing 30 to 40 (mph). When I got next to him he looked right at me.”
The creature didn’t move as Ray passed.
“I passed right by it on the driver’s side,” Ray said. “It stood there. It didn’t run. When it saw me coming it looked at me. It did not run off the highway, like he might have seen cars before. He wasn’t scared of the vehicle.”
The Bigfoot was smaller than the usually reported 7- to 8-feet tall, 450-pound creatures. Ray said it was about the height of his car, about five feet.
“It might not have been full grown. It could have been a smaller one,” Ray said. “The hair was brown, but its facial features didn’t have hair.”
The one part of its face Ray could make out as he drove past was its nose.
“It had a nose, but it seemed like it wasn’t like a gorilla,” he said. “It seemed like it wasn’t as wide.”
He turned around to make another pass by the creature, but it was gone. He took his girlfriend home, then went to tell his family.
“Nobody believed me,” he said. “They were saying you probably saw a monkey.”
The winter quarters of a local circus nearby, but Ray’s positive he didn’t see a monkey.
“When you see something you’ve never seen before it really scares you,” Ray said. “The closer I got the more scared I became. I had goose bumps come up on my arms. It wasn’t a monkey.”
The term Bigfoot wasn’t used in Oklahoma in 1961, but that doesn’t mean people hadn’t seen one. It was called things like Hairy Man, Big Ed, the Green Hill Monster, and Chicken Man.
“They called it the Chicken Man. It was stealing chickens,” Ray said. “They didn’t call it Bigfoot.”
Recent Bigfoot sightings in this area include a fall 1995 sighting in Choctaw County near Soper, Okla., an Oct. 30, 2002 sighting in Choctaw County near Sawyer, Okla., a Aug. 5, 2004 encounter near a hunting cabin in the Arbuckle Mountains and occasional sightings in nearby Lamar County, Texas.
Ray, however, has kept his encounter quiet, until now.
“I’ve told my family about it and bored my wife with it,” Ray said. “But I’ve never told anyone else. This is the first time I’ve really told anyone my story.”
Copyright 2007 by Jason Offutt
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