Bigfoot sightings are quite widespread nowadays, and people feel more and more comfortable talking about the elusive cryptid. With Missouri’s vast wilderness and rural areas with small populations, it is no surprise that this would be a perfect place for a bigfoot to hide. I have learned quite a lot about bigfoot over the course of my research for this episode. For instance, northern bigfoot have shorter stubby fingers, where those in the south are much more elongated and slender. Interesting? Sure. Anyway, reports of bigfoot like creatures are actually quite common in rural Missouri. We are going to discuss one in particular that I had never heard of until just a few months ago, and I’m quite surprised it never came up until now. I am talking about the Blue Man of the Ozarks. He is also called the Blue Man of the Mountains, The Blue Man of Spring Creek, or simply Blue Man. I was most surprised that I had never heard of it because Spring Creek is where my parents always went to deer hunt. I, myself, sat on a ridge with my rifle gifted from my Papa waiting for my prize buck to walk up on me. I never got one, but I will share a story about that experience closer to the end.
The legend of the Blue Man is just a few decades shy of being as old as Missouri itself. The first sighting was all the way back in 1865. A man name Blue Sol Collins was tracking deer between Big North Fork and Spring Creek when he came upon some strange tracks. He could only assume them to be bear tracks, bus his curiosity got the best of him and he followed them. As he followed them, he came to a steep slope and began walking up the hillside. He heard something up the hill from him and ducked behind a tree just in time to dodge a large boulder that was rolling in his path. Several more large boulders came rolling down the hill and some crashed into the tree in front of him. He finally peered out around the tree and he saw a very large man standing at the top of the hill. The man was had to be nine feet tall. He was completely naked except for a bit of hide around his middle and tied around his feet. He was covered in black curly hair, except for his face and palms. He carried a large club, which he had been using as a lever to wrench out the large boulders. The creature looked at Blue and let out a terrible scream that Blue said was the more terrifying than any sound he had ever heard. Blue turned and ran from the woods. He then gathered several men to go search for the creature. For the next couple weeks, folks in the area reported losing sheep and pigs and the men continued to search without any luck. There were other people that spotted the Blue Man, but no one got close enough to catch or shoot him. The excitement surrounding the Blue Man faded away and the animal disappearances stopped.
In the fall of 1974, he resurfaced. Again, many farmers began noticing missing sheep and hogs and he was spotted by a few people. Search parties were formed and trackers took to the woods to find the Blue Man, but after a couple weeks, he disappeared and things went back to normal.
Over the next sixteen years, the Blue man was spotted handful of times, and it is said that trackers got pretty close to catching him around 1890. Perhaps that is the reason he was not spotted in the area again until 1911. In 1911, another search party actually wielded some interesting evidence. They found, what they believe to be the den of the Blue Man. It was littered with bones and feathers and had a terrible odor. A bed was made of dry leaves. There was no sign of the creature anywhere around though. In 1915, a farmer name O.C. Collins noticed that two of his sheep did not return with the rest of the herd and went out looking for them. He saw the creature attempting to catch a hog, before it spotted him and ran away. A couple days late another man came across him on Spring Creek. The Blue Man was catching fish with his bare hands, and he chased the man away swinging a club. A few days later, a posse chased the Blue man into a cave. The creature had been known to disappear into the caves in the area before and in this area, he had been seen catching crawfish and eating their tales. The men ventured into the cave and found pelts and bones of several animals as well as a nest like bed made out. Blue Man had eluded them again, though.
I don’t know about the validity of the report, but I saw one that talked about 1924. It said, ”From Tater Hill to Collins Ford and from Blue Buck to the Ava Crossing people were searching for the Blue Man. Cattle weren't allowed to graze, sheep were watched by herders with rifles, and livestock was locked up at night. nobody left their home, and churches and schools were closed. People armed with rifles and shotguns searched every nook and cranny of the area in search of the Blue Man of Spring Creek.”
There were many people that claimed to have seen the creature during the early 1900’s. some of them even claim that he became thinner and his black hair turn a steel gray. Many assumed he would die and be lost to folklore forever. But the sightings of the Blue Man did not really stop that long ago.
David Prater is a resident of Salem, MO. He was interviewed for an article back in 2016. He is pretty much Dent County’s Bigfoot trackers and has been doing it for a very long time. He claims to have come across the creature once in the 1970s. Prater says that horseback is the best way to find them, and that if you ride long enough through the woods you will eventually see one. He was riding on the day he saw one by a creek. It was squeezing a hedge apple and letting the juices run down its face. They are very strong. He gave chase but the creature managed to get away. He described the creature much the same as ol’ Blue did right down to the short curly black hair that shined blue in the sunlight. He also believed that the bigfoot of the area travel with the wild horses in Shannon County. They take their cues from them. If the horses are upset my something or act scared, the bigfoot know there could be danger near and they leave out as well.
Then there is Dr. Emmett Reary, a chiropractor in Salem, MO who unintentionally became the bigfoot expert of the region. He made the decision to document mountain lion sightings in the region to disprove the Missouri Conservationist who said they did not live in Missouri. He put an article in the paper asking people who had seen them or had game cam evidence showing them to please contact him. Surprising to him, he got many more claims of bigfoot sightings than mountain lions. He said he is a sceptic by nature, but he couldn’t deny the incredible amount of people with claims of seeing the creature. And the claims were not outlandish, but more seemed very credible. Since then, he has documented over 100 cases. He says the Mark Twain National forest is very active, and that the area around Bunker seems to be most active.
During his many investigations, he has found many bigfoot tracks. He has also found what appeared to be hunting blinds and shelters built with limbs and grass. At a property just outside of Bunker, a man discovered a newly killed deer with its head wedged between the fork of a tree. So what, right? The deer was suspended 15 feet off the ground. The man turned his 4-wheeler around and rushed back to his home to grab a camera and his wife. When they returned the deer was gone. Soon after the ATV trails became blocked by large trees that had to be removed by tractors. They heard weird noises coming from the woods, and at night rocks could be heard hitting the metal roof of the home. Two of the property owner’s grandchildren sped home one evening terrified, swearing they had just seen a bigfoot. A man that was weed-eating for them also claimed to have seen the creature while he was working. He said the creature he saw was at least 7 foot tall.
In another case around Salem, a man claimed to hear knocks on his house at night. Then he found wooden 4x4 posts that were cemented in the ground broken in half at the middle. Metal pipe clotheslines were bent out of shape. There were also large handprints found on the garage door. I have a photo of that to post. Reary sent the photos off to bigfoot experts to get their opinion. They noted that the photo showed more elongated fingers of southern bigfoot, rather than shorter fingered northern bigfoot. Reary did say he doesn’t think anyone has anything to worry about. He has never received a report from anyone that believed they were in any real danger from the creature. He feels they are just as curious about us as we are them.
Since the story really isn’t too long, I thought I would look up some stories from the area to add to it. One was by a man probably in his 40-50s. His experience happened in the 1970s when he was deer hunting in Mark Twain National Forest. He was in a deer stand early in the morning when a doe came running past him at top speed as if running from something. He looked behind it, and saw what he initially thought was a naked black man. Like his mind just saw something that looked human and was dark in color, so to him, it was a man. But he quickly realized it was not a man. Its skin was not dark, it was covered in dark black hair. The creature flew past him and he heard as it apparently caught the deer as there was a lot of trashing around in that area. He then noticed there was a second creature just 20-30 yards from him. It was standing straight up, staring right at him. It was covered in the same black hair that had a sheen in the sunlight. When he locked eyes with the creature, it let out a terrible growl before turning and running back into the woods. The man jumped from his tree stand and ran toward the house across the property. He could hear both creatures running parallel to him as he made his way through the woods. He fired his 30-30 over his should and yelled for them to leave him alone. This man said he had never been so scared, and as a former police officer that had had gun pointed at him many times, that was saying something. He pretty much kept the story to himself for years because he ran straight to his dad and was told he was pretty much making it up.
Another interesting story I found from Dent county involve a man that never saw anything, but hear a lot. This man was approximately 60 years old and worked for the US Government. He had spent at least 30 years in the woods camping and hunting. He was a Boys Scouts Leader and Trainer for more than 20. He owns more than 80 acres in Mark Twain National Forest. He knows Missouri Wilderness! In the spring of 2005, he was spending the weekend in a hunting cabin on his property to scout for the upcoming turkey season. The nights were cool around 48-52 degrees and he slept with the windows cracked because he liked falling asleep to the night sounds. Awe. Anyway, on the first night, he turned about 10:30PM. Just after climbing in to bed the nights sounds completely stopped suddenly. A few minutes later, he heard a loud scream from what he guessed to be about 200-300 yards from the cabin. The a few minutes after that a scream from further off like in an answer to the first. This back and forth happened about 4 times. With each scream the one far away seemed to draw closer as the one close to the cabin moved away from the cabin. Between the 3-4 vocalizations, he heard three loud bangs like a board hitting against a tree. This was close to him and was also answered by banging coming from the distance as well. The last screams sounded further from him and much closer to one another. About 5 minutes after that last scream, there was silence and then the night sounds started back up again. On the second night, he again witnessed the night sounds cease suddenly. Then a few minutes later something past by the window next to him. This window is four feet of the ground at the bottom on the outside and is 2’ tall and 3’ wide. This figure completely blocked out the moonlight streaming through the window as it passed by. The man was so terrified he pulled his pistol to prepare to shoot if needed. He stayed as still and quiet as possible. I was a little confused as he said he did not smell anything weird like most people report, but he did smell a scent like wet dog. He went to the door and flipped on the porch light but saw nothing. That would not have been my next move, but okay. He did search for footprints by the window and around the cabin, but the dirt was covered in dry leaves and did not yield any footprints.