The Sandy Point Bigfoot
It is not likely you have seen Bigfoot. Now, many of you will not admit to ever having seen the show Finding Bigfoot. A lot of us have our secrets and don’t readily admit to indulging in certain activities or vices. The hidden M&M’s, the magazine hidden in the book case, or the Jack Daniels stuck behind the tool box in the workshop are secrets and they will remain so. When you are scrolling through the TV listings and someone says, “What are you looking for?” you have your response ready: “Nothing special. Just seeing what is on”.
This particular show has been on TV since 2011 and has recently started its new 2016 season. Information on the number of episodes is a little confusing as one place list over 100 episodes and Wikipedia says they have done 83. For this writing it is not critical how many they have done, only that they have done a lot!
Matt Moneymaker is the star of the show and has been looking for Bigfoot for 25 years. His name might be enough to tell you something!
Wikipedia has the following statement about the show.
“The team consists of Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) founder and President Matt Moneymaker, researchers James “Bobo” Fay and Cliff Barackman and skeptical scientist Ranae Holland. The series never questions the existence of bigfoot, but rather documents the team’s futile search efforts and study of potential evidence in an attempt to prove the existence of the elusive creature.
Over the course of the series, the team has introduced many new bigfoot related terms into the American vernacular. For example, the term “bigfoot” is rarely used in favor of “squatch” (short for sasquatch). Their nighttime investigations are referred to as “squatchin”. The areas they investigate are often described as “Squatchy”, with Washington having been described as “the squatchiest state.”
Watching and listening to the show can be hilarious as they hit on a tree with a stick in the middle of the night and make strange “sqautch” calls and then hear the other cast members critiquing the squatch call that they have never heard in their life. At least, not such that they could prove it. But, hey, these folks are making a good living and have a show on Animal Planet!
Does a Bigfoot exist? I surly don’t know. I have never seen any evidence of one but I could not rule it out any more than I can the Loch Ness Monster. They may both be hiding out someplace together for all I know. The program certainly shows how we can let our imagination run wild and have fun doing it!
Now, about that Bigfoot in Sandy Point, or, Sasquatch of Sandy Point, if you prefer. No, I never heard of one. So far as I know, no one has ever claimed to have seen one there.
But. Sandy Point had its panther! We will call it, The Panther of Sandy Point. How about that?
Now, my mother’s cousins JW and Wallace have long since been gone but they lived their lives in Sandy Point. They had several sisters and brothers and a number of children of their own. I guess I spent more time around Billy than any of them as he was about my same age. The extended family was huge as there were twelve kids in that family. My mother had five sisters and brothers but most had moved out from my grandparents when I was small.
The main highway was about a mile away. All the roads were dirt in the area except for US 80. You could go from Coast to Coast in those days on Highway 80. Part of it is now not called Hwy 80 but is part of the Interstate System starting somewhere in Texas but in the old days it was a cross country route. The Greyhounds and the Trailways and the fortune seekers could go to Santa Monica and never get off of Hwy 80 if they wanted to!
But, at night, there was little traffic. There was little noise down in Sandy Point. You could hear the sound of voices carrying across the creek. A radio playing on someone’s porch. Someone yelling at the dog. A car door slam. An old owl over on Sweetwater Creek.
You could hear the train whistle at the Roberta crossing. And, when tractors came on the scene, you could hear the distinctive sound of the only John Deere for miles around when Walter Stembridge ran it into the night over near Running Deer road. “The pop-pop-pop of those two cylinder machines earned them the nickname, “Johnny Poppers”.
It happened about once a year or so in the fall or spring of the year. It was a rare but special occasion. It caused excitement and a call to arms in Sandy Point! Get the guns, get the hounds, get in the trucks and go! Get the kids in the house! Check on the cows!
Go where? Go find that panther! The panther had been heard making it screaming sound and was on the prowl! The Panther of Sandy Point!
I never heard the panther, myself, although I was told some sounds we heard were possibly the panther. There were reports of tracks and sounds. I don’t know if anyone actually ever saw the animals or if there actually were panthers. But, you know, people certainly thought there were!
And, the sounds I can get of a black panther are varied. Some are a hissing sound, some a chirping sound, and some I would describe as a snarling growl. You can hear some of these on YouTube. Maybe what the people were hearing was a bobcat.
Florida has had a population of black panthers (some are not black) and those have dwindled to about 100-160 according to some wildlife experts. These are endangered animals and protected now in Florida. Panthers have been spotted in and around New York in recent years although they were supposedly eradicated in the 1920’s. They exist in Mexico. A hunter killed a panther in Troup County, Georgia (they are not on the protected list in Georgia, but should be) in 2009. Originally thought to be a cougar it was determined that it was a panther although they are pretty much the same animal. The animal weighed 140 pounds. They like to eat deer and there are a lot of deer around LaGrange and in Sandy Point, now. Not many back in the day. But, it makes sense if they roamed up out of Florida that would be a great place for them. I remember when we had no armadillos and coyotes but those rascals have made their way to I-285 in Atlanta! So, a panther in Sandy Point seems real possible!
So, it is possible there was a big panther in the woods in Sandy Point back in the day. Possible. Just like it may be possible there is a Sasquatch….somewhere.
Mr. Becham had some hounds and some of the others had dogs and they would load them up and drive around the area on the dirt roads and put them out to track the elusive cat. My grandfather would join in the search but the kids had to stay at home. The danger of being eaten alive was just too great!
They had shotguns and flashlights and there may have been a small bottle of whiskey in an overall pocket here and there. They formed a posse and went panther hunting to protect the area from the scourge. This monster was on the loose and there was no telling what it would do!
If the story was told just right, the men could stay out all night and have a great time tromping around and listening to the dogs hunt. They could park the trucks, lean back against the cab and tell about that time a long time ago when something happened that they will “always remember”. They would be the envy of the neighborhood garnering the respect of everyone for their bravery. The panther did not have a chance against such odds, it would seem.
But, they never did get the Panther of Sandy Point to my knowledge. And, I would guess he is still there to be found for those that seek him. Just like the Sasquatch or Bigfoot. If they keep hitting the stick on the trees and believing, no doubt they will find one…or something ..someday. It may only be in their mind’s eye, but that will be good enough! It’s just possible. And it’s possible the Panther of Sandy Point is lurking under someone’s house or barn or chicken coop. If there are any left; chicken coops, that is. And, I would not mind doing an Animal Planet series entitled “Finding the Sandy Point Panther”.