CLEVELAND - It measures 7 inches wide from toe to toe. And its bigger than a normal man's foot. What's more: this footprint was left behind by someone, or something, in northern Ohio.
Wendy was doing yard work in her Ashtabula County backyard on Aug. 11 when she noticed the very large footprint.
"It was in a low spot in our backyard. The ground was wet," she said. She called her husband over and then ran for a tape measure and cell phone camera. The footprint, complete with five recognizable toes, is a full 7 1/2 inches wide. "Its much larger than anything me or my husband has ever seen."
The footprint tapers back several inches before disappearing onto firmer ground. "It's hard to tell how long it is. Wendy added, "But, it's not a footprint anyone around here recognizes."
Indeed, Wendy has shown the print to several local hunters. The location of the find is right off State Route 167 in Jefferson, right near Mill Creek. There is abundant wildlife around.
"We have deer and turkey here all the time. Even a rare black bear sighting," she said. "The hunters agree, it's not a bear. These are definitely toes. They are not claws."
So, is this the footprint of a Sasquatch, otherwise know as Bigfoot? For Wendy, this is not her first encounter with strange happenings in her neighborhood.
"It started about five years ago." she remembered. "My husband took the dog outside during the night. That's when he heard it."
He described the sound as a loud, booming growl "like no other animal you've ever heard."
"It made his skin crawl." said Wendy. "Whatever it was, it was large."
About three years ago, Wendy had the same experience. She was walking her dog out in the backyard watching the stars. It was pitch black. "All of the sudden my dog stopped. That's when I heard what sounded like a truck shifting gears driving on the next street. It was a loud growl, not from the street over. It was coming right from the back of my house just a few feet away! It was nothing like you've ever heard before!"
Then, last year, Wendy saw something strange. "Just down the road, at dusk, we were driving across the railroad tracks. I caught a quick glimpse of a large dark figure. It appeared to be dressed in all black running across the tracks. I thought to myself, why would a hunter be dressed in all black at sunset?"
She describes what she saw as an extremely large figure, dark in color, which moved quickly into the woods.
Wendy says these strange happenings, which include loud late-night knocking from the woods nearby, always occur in late summer and fall. "Whatever it is," she said, "seems like its just passing through each year."
The latest unexplained event happened just a few weeks ago, over Labor Day weekend, 2013.
"My husband was in the bedroom at the back of the house." recalled Wendy. "I was in the kitchen. It was about 9:30 at night. Something pounded on the outside wall of the house. We both heard it and came running. Since it was dark we couldn't see anything outside."
Wendy said she often leaves scraps of food outside off the patio for the animals to munch on. "Maybe whatever it was was letting us know he was hungry."
Experiences like these are not uncommon in Ohio. According to the group Bigfoot Field Research Organization, Ohio has logged more than 200 sightings since the 1970s.
Many call it the "Ohio Grassman."
The latest, aside from Wendy, occurred on the Ashtabula/Lake County line on March 14, 2013. Here's what that witness describes:
I was simply driving east on Route 90, I had just passed the Lake County/Ashtabula County border and I was looking around as I usually do and I look over at this woodline hoping to see some deer or turkey and to my surprise there was what looked to be a Bigfoot walking through the woods about 100 yards from the roadway. At first I thought I was imagining things but other drivers slowed to look as well. It was about 3:10 p.m. and the weather was partly cloudy, the temp was about 33 degrees and there was a dusting of snow on the ground. The Bigfoot was tall about 9-11 feet if I had to guess and it had broad shoulders and it was brownish grey in color. It was walking east then turned south toward the Grand River. I told others about this and some think I'm crazy and others believe me. I do hope to see it again, I was amazed yet unsettled at the same time.
The Bigfoot Research group has logged many incidents from Michigan and northern Ohio.
According to the research group, Portage County is the Ohio hotbed for Sasquatch sightings, having logged 20 since 1962. One farmer near Ravenna claims a family of Bigfoot live somewhere on his vast property. Here's his description from a sighting in 2003:
I myself have had many different occasions with the creature I have dubbed "Fang." I have come to understand through self experiences that there is more than one creature in our area. I go hiking quite often in the same area and know exactly where they usually are,
as they tend to follow me most of the times I am there. I fear people coming to our area and trying to find Fang and his clan. I feel somewhat of an understanding and a protective closeness, and I feel they should be left alone. Anyone who has had the wonderful experience of seeing one with their own eyes knows the truth. The world would only want to capture and destroy them if given the chance I fear. I would be willing to talk to someone about my experiences, but I do not really want to tell everyone, due to my beliefs. My children have heard their cries out in the woods, and we have gotten rather close enough for their smell many times. Just last week my younger son and I found footprints in the woods by a thicket too dense for us to walk into.