“This is the first time I’ve ever recorded crying,” said Suzanne Ferencak.
The two-minute recording – which she shared with the Mansfield News Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network – captures the sound of an unidentified creature howling in the distance. Ferencak, who says she’s encountered Bigfoot in her environment before, says it’s a Bigfoot creature.
But other wildlife experts aren’t so sure. A group of workers at nearby Mohican State Park suggested the sound could simply be an alpha male coyote calling his pack.
She plans to discuss her meetings during “Bigfoot Basecamp Weekend” Sept. 9-11 at Pleasant Hill Lake Park in Ohio.
‘I always have a recorder on’
Ferencak said she first glimpsed Bigfoot when it was reportedly jumped over a side road southeast of Loudonville, Ohio, in May 2013.
Her description of the 7½ foot tall, furry beast matches those commonly used to depict creatures known as Sasquatch, Yeti, and Grassman. She calls it Bigfoot.
Her rural home, just over an hour’s drive from Columbus, Ohio, is also a most important habitat for Bigfoot, she concluded. Her research culminated in a movie, “The Back 80”, which was released in 2017.
For years Ferencak said: there was knocking and howling around her house and sightings in the woods behind her property.
“Then all activity stopped,” Ferencak said. “It was like, ‘Wow, where did it go?'”
To make sure she didn’t miss any potential encounters, she bought an audio recorder for her backyard.
“It’s not a very expensive recorder,” Ferencak said. “When I’m gone, I always have a recorder on hand. I’ve been doing this for nine years.”
Her audio catalog now contains over 20,000 hours of sounds from her backyard.
“In all that time I hadn’t recorded anything decent,” Ferencak said.
That changed something then finally the silence broke on 3 July.
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Bigfoot howl had a responder
Most evenings, Ferencak will hang out at a campground she maintains near the woods behind her home. She takes friends and will only make a campfire if no one else can save it.
She was at that campground the first weekend of July, the Saturday night before Independence Day.
“Earlier that night there had been a lot of fireworks – local people were shooting fireworks in the valley,” Ferencak said. “There were big blows.”
She kept stoking the campfire. Saturday became Sunday. Then there was a howl.
“It was 3 July at 3:42 a.m.,” Ferencak said.
Suddenly she heard a howl, then another.
“You hear some howling,” Ferencak said. “Then you hear a chorus of coyotes and then you hear howling again.”
She immediately thought it was Bigfoot, she said.
Kyle Casey, a naturalist at nearby Mohican State Park, said he and other colleagues listened to the audio recording published by the Mansfield News Journal and compared it with recordings of other animals.
“We think it’s the closest thing to the call of an alpha male coyote,” Casey told USA TODAY. “A coyote calling in his pack.”
But Casey said the match wasn’t quite accurate.
Anyway, now that Ferencak believes Bigfoot has returned to her valley and plans to purchase a more expensive audio recorder.
Doing scientific research on Bigfoot
Ferencak is part of the Bigfoot Field Investigators Organization, a group that collects reports of possible sightings of the creature.
A report that caught her attention came in August 2020. A family was camping in Pleasant Hill Lake Park when they heard objects thrown at their camp in the middle of the night.
The kids went into the tent, the man grabbed his pocket knife, and the woman called the sheriff.
“They saw something running into the woods,” the report said. “The witness described what he saw as a tall, dark and furry figure running into the woods and disappearing. The witness said the first thing he thought of when he saw it was a Bigfoot.”
Reports of mysterious creatures in the region led administrators with the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District to ask Ferencak if she would attend a “Bigfoot Basecamp Weekend” event at a local park next month.
“It’s one of the first times a government agency has ever come out and supported a Bigfoot event,” Ferencak said.
The main speaker of the weekend will be Matt Moneymaker, founder and president of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization and host of the TV series “Finding Bigfoot” on Animal Planet.
The event will even include a town hall meeting.
“We just hope a lot of people come forward with their stories,” Ferencak said. “There may be people who are afraid to come forward for fear of being ridiculed, and I certainly understand that.”
She knows at least three people from the area who are planning to tell their story for the first time.
“They’re really recent,” Ferencak said. “Like the past six months.”
The hope is that researchers can add more dates, times and locations to their database of encounters.
“If we can connect some dots along the way, we can develop a pattern,” Ferencak said. “It’s fascinating.”
Follow reporter Zach Tuggle on Twitter: @softuggle
Contributing: Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY