On the evening of May 7, 2016, BFRO members Marvin Jones and John Hart were patrolling the back roads of a Hernando County, to test Jones’s recently purchased dash camera. Both men are faculty members at SPC ; Jones is an English professor and Hart teaches biology. As the evening wore on, Jones headed to the vicinity and an area where, approximately 20 years earlier, Hart and a friend experienced a highly strange encounter that involved possible wood ape chatter.
The men arrived at the location of Hart’s previous encounter around midnight and proceeded to let the woods “settle” while scanning the area using infrared, thermal, and acoustic instrumentation. The men did not observe nor hear anything other than familiar animal activity. Thirty minutes later the duo decided to take a short walk down to a nearby creek to check for signs of wood ape activity. Approximately 25 yards from the truck, Hart spotted a human-like footprint in the mud and immediately called attention to it. Jones closely examined the print and determined that it was likely made by a wood ape. Both men then noticed multiple footprints forming a track way in a single file pattern coming from the creek going toward a nearby fence.
The track way consisted of nine prints and was 28 feet in length. Seven of the prints were well defined, with four exhibiting clear toe definition. The toe to heel distance between prints was 36 inches. The footprints were 12 inches long, 4.5 inches wide at the ball of the foot, and 3.5 inches wide at the heel. The impressions did not appear to exhibit evidence of an arch, but the men believed they did show indications of a mid-tarsal break. The tracks had variable depths, based on soil softness, ranging from approximately 0.25 inches to 3 inches. The men estimated that the tracks were probably less than 24 hours old, based on the appearance of minor cracks in the mud along the edges of the prints.
Both men returned to the track site later in the day and made a plaster cast of one of the better defined tracks (left foot). The recovery of the cast was complicated by impending rain and the appearance of some people who were fishing the nearby creek. The men feared that the setting cast could possibly be ruined by the teenagers, but to their credit the cast was left undisturbed. The cast was later recovered and allowed to cure. The cured and cleaned cast appears to present dermal ridges and a mid-tarsal break, but the three lesser toes are not clearly visible. The cast is in the possession of Jones.
In conclusion, what appears to be a significant track way was discovered in an area known for wood ape activity. Preliminary analysis of the tracks suggest that the tracks were possibly made by a juvenile wood ape, based on length and depth. Hernando County is rich with reported and unreported sightings of wood apes, and it will be the destination of future investigations by BFRO members.
A track way of a number of prints.
Time and Conditions
12:00 am – 78º F, partly cloudy, humid, light S.E. wind.