May 21, 2020 I Nick Redfern

Bigfoot, Mysterious Apes and Wild Men: When They Use Weapons

In a 2016 article titled "The Mysterious Rock Apes of the Vietnam War," Brent Swancer wrote in part: "...American G.I.s began to come back with tales of something weirder than their enemy lurking in the forests of Vietnam, and it seemed that the Viet Cong were not the only thing to watch out for in the dense underbrush. Here, the foreign soldiers would come face to face with a creature that was well known by the locals, yet new to them; a humanoid, hairy biped the likes of which none of them had ever seen, which would lurch forth from the deepest jungles to startle or even attack, and which would come to be known as the 'Rock Apes.'" As Brent's article demonstrates, there are more than a few reports of the Rock Apes attacking military personnel. I mention this because today's article is on the matter of Bigfoot-like animals, "wild men," and anomalous apes using weapons. And specifically clubs.

January 8, 1894 was the date upon which the Dover, New Jersey press reported on the presence of a beast that doesn’t exactly sound like a Bigfoot, but, equally, does not sound like a normal man living wild, either. In many respects, it seems to curiously straddle both camps, as you will now see: “There is a wild man in the woods near Mine Hill, and though the parties that have been hunting for him for several days have often felt cold in their heavy coats the object of the search seems to get along comfortably with no more protection from the winter chill than an abundant set of whiskers." A number of people saw the creature, including a group of girls - Lizzie Guscott, Bertha Heatig and Katie Griffin and two woodsmen, Mike and Bill Dean. The media reported: "The Deans endeavored to seize him, but he picked up a club and brandished it [italics mine]. One of the dogs sprang at him and received a blow that nearly killed it. The woodchoppers then fled and telephoned from the company store to this city for help." As in so many such cases, the monster was soon gone.

It was while traveling across South America in the 1960s that Count Pino Turolla -  an Italian explorer - first heard of a marauding monster in the continent. The information came from Turolla’s personal guide, Antonio, who told a shocking story. Some years earlier, Antonio and his two sons traveled to a particular range in Venezuela where they were confronted on the sprawling Savannah by a trio of enormous, gorilla-like animals that were around eight feet in height, had long and hanging arms, and tiny heads. Not only that, they were armed with large and crudely fashioned wooden clubs [italics mine]. A violent altercation occurred.

A massive range that covers parts of China, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, the Pamir Mountains are home to a number of accounts of Bigfoot-like animal of both a short and large stature. A particularly credible case that falls into the former category occurred in the latter part of 1925. A General Mikhail Stepanovich Topilski was leading a unit in search of a pocket of anti-Soviet guerrillas who were hiding out somewhere in the western segment of the Pamir range.  While hunting down the guerillas, Topilski and is party heard a number of stories from local villagers of creatures that dwelled in the more isolated regions of the mountains and which displayed both human- and ape-like qualities. They were somewhat doubtful of the tales – at least, until they came across human-like footprints negotiating decidedly treacherous snow-covered cliffs and slopes.

Things really came to a head when Topilski and his men finally caught up with the guerillas, who were hiding out in a large cave. A firefight quickly, and almost inevitably, began, something which resulted in multiple deaths among the guerillas, some by bullets and others by falling ice provoked by the firing. Among the survivors, however, was a man who told a strange tale to Topilski and his team. It was a story filled with descriptions of weird, ape-man-like creatures that had attacked the guerillas with clubs, one of which, the man said, was killed in the ice fall italics mine].

In 1933, a writer named Elliott Merrick told of a Bigfoot-style monster roaming around Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador, Canada, around two decades earlier. The specific location was the small town of Traverspine. Merrick said: "Ghost stories are very real in this land of scattered lonely homes and primitive fears. The Traverspine 'Gorilla' is one of the creepiest. About twenty years ago one of the little girls was playing in an open grassy clearing one autumn afternoon when she saw coming out of the woods a huge hairy thing with low-hanging arms. It was about seven feet tall when it stood erect, but sometimes it dropped to all fours. Across the top of its head was a white mane." Merrick continued: "The dogs knew it was there too, for the family would hear them growl and snarl when it approached. Often it must have driven them into the river for they would be soaking wet in the morning. One night the dogs faced the thing, and it lashed at them with a stick or club [italics mine], which hit a corner of the house with such force it made the beams tremble. The old man and boys carried guns wherever they went, but never got a shot at it. For the two winters it was there.”

The word, "Woodwose," is one that has its origins in ancient England. It’s also a word steeped in mystery and legend. Although there is no solid consensus on its origins, the likelihood is that it’s derived from "wudu," an old word meaning "forest" and "wasa," or, in today’s terminology, "being." In that sense, the Woodwose is a being of the forest, a hairy, wild humanoid of the woods – a thing not at all unlike Bigfoot.  Tabitca Cope - the author of a number of books, including the Loch Ness Monster-themed Dark Ness – is someone who has carefully and extensively studied the mystery of the Woodwose. Her research has shown that the Woodwose was predominantly reported across England from the 14th to the 16th century. It was most often described as a large, man-like beast, but one that was covered in a coat of tight, curly hair, that was heavily bearded, and that almost invariably carried a large, wooden club. At times, the wild Woodwose would cover its body in ivy, moss, and leaves – possibly as a form of camouflage.

On this same topic, English author and researcher Elizabeth Randall says of the Woodwose that it is "usually shown as a complete, part human, figure carrying a club with the limbs being leafy [italics mine]. It also often shows a thick beard and wears a cap. The Woodwose may also be shown holding the club in different positions. Sometimes this is on its side and sometimes it is raised. There is a theory that a raised club depicts the figure before it was converted to Christianity, but it’s probably more correct to believe that it was raised to ward off evil spirits."

A final few words: should you encounter a Bigfoot brandishing a club, it might be wise to exit the area - and quickly!

Nick Redfern

Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.

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