Feb 28, 2023 I Brent Swancer

Bizarre Accounts of Firefights and Shoot-Outs With Bigfoot and Bigfoot-like Creatures

Bigfoot and other hairy hominids of its kind have certainly taken the world of cryptozoology by storm. There is perhaps no other type of unknown creature more well-known, and for the most part they have been described as furtive, shy beats that lurk out on the periphery of our understanding, mostly leaving us alone and minding their own business. Yet, throughout the years there have been some more rather more spectacular accounts, that have devolved into full-on firefights between humans and these enigmatic creatures. 

In a very intriguing and controversial historical oddity there have been reports of an actual war between humans and Bigfoot, which seems to have been mostly forgotten, yet in some circles much talked about. If it sounds truly insane it is because it is. The very bizarre account begins in 1855, in the region of the present U.S. states of Oklahoma and Arkansas, where the once mighty Choctaw Nation of Native Americans once ruled over all they saw. In this year there was an apparent scourge of unseen bandits venturing forth from the wilderness to steal vegetables and even livestock. This might have been the end of it if it were not for the claim that the trespassers are said to have soon graduated to kidnapping people, mostly children, which provoked a fierce reaction in the tribe.

A search party was allegedly formed, composed of a group of uncommonly large cavalry warriors called the “Lighthorsemen,” the largest of whom was the towering Hamas Tubbee and his six sons, who were widely reported as standing at around 7 feet or more in height. These real giants, along with a contingent of 30 other very large and fierce horseback riding warriors, headed out led by a part French, part Choctaw general by the name of Joshua LeFlore, and their mission was to find the culprits and put an end to their reign. As they headed out into the wilderness in the early morning hours from the tribal capital in Tuskaloma, fully armed with high powered rifles and pistols and thirsty for vengeance, these menacing, proud warriors no doubt thought that this would be a simple matter of routing some ragtag group of bandits, yet they were in for quite a bizarre surprise, to say the least.

The group of warriors penetrated deep into the region which is now known as the "McCurtain County Wilderness Area” of present-day Oklahoma, and after 8 hours of riding nonstop through the blazing June sun they stopped at a spot near the Clover River to rest and eat, before remounting and continuing on the last leg of their tiring journey. It was after nearly 14 hours of almost nonstop riding that the men reached the area where the bandits were said to be most active, and it was here that LeFlore suddenly gave the order to halt, as if he has seen something that had caught his attention. Using a crude telescope, LeFlore peered off into the distance as the men rumbled amongst themselves and the horses huffed and chuffed. The general claimed that he could see something moving about ahead, and voiced his confidence that it was the enemy before putting the telescope aside and giving the warriors the order to charge. The massive, bloodthirsty warriors must have been quite a sight as they howled and rushed their horses through the trees in a mad dash into battle, weapons drawn and ready to fight. Yet their powerful drive forward was soon brought to a halt when the unbearably stench of decay hit them like a wall and their steeds began to inexplicably buck and rear in an abrupt, profound panic, knocking several of them to the mossy ground to writhe around hacking and coughing, such was the intensity of the supposed olfactory assault.

Some of the warriors, including the Tubbees and LeFlore himself, were allegedly able to control their animals and advance past this nauseating wave of rotting stink to rush towards the bandits, and as they exploded out into a forest clearing the source of the stygian stench was clear. There in the center of the clearing they found what was described as some sort of earthen mound that had embedded within it and strewn about it numerous corpses in varying levels of decomposition, drawing a fog of flies that droned all about the startled warriors. Of human bandits there was no sign, but looming nearby were three enormous, ape-like creatures covered with hair, so tall as to dwarf even the most statuesque of the Tubbees themselves. These beast-men purportedly stood there glaring in their direction, completely unafraid of the tribal warriors.

What purportedly followed next is just as dramatic and over-the-top as any action movie. LeFlore is said to have charged the strange beasts without hesitation, pistol and saber in hand and howling the whole time. One of the creatures stepped forward and lashed out with a massive hand to swat the general’s horse to the side of its head with a thunderous blow that sent it sprawling to the ground dead. LeFlore was ejected to the ground but was soon on his feet with pistol blazing, managing to hit the wildman several times but barely slowing it down at all. Even after sustaining several gunshot wounds it barely bled at all, seemed to have not even felt it, and lunged forward to grab the man by the head and rip it clean off. All of this had happened before the others had even had any time to react, nor indeed even process the situation at all, and they had witnessed it in a wide-eyed stupor. Upon seeing their general slump to the ground without a head as this vicious ape-creature loomed over his carcass, they produced their rifles and launched a withering volley of bullets at the monsters, which managed to drop all but one of them. The grievously injured creature purportedly limped off in a bid to escape, but was set upon by one of the Tubbee brothers, who pounced and apparently cut its head off with his hunting knife.

In the aftermath it was just a few scattered Native warriors, poised and ready for the next attack that would never come, the smell of gun smoke and that fetid stench of dead bodies, feces, and urine lingering all around them, in the background that Tubbee brother crouched over the hulking beast with blood on his knife and hands. The Natives then went about the grim work of burying the dead, finding the bodies of at least 19 children among them, and the bodies of the hulking beasts were burned on a bonfire. It is without a doubt a harrowing, terrifying tale, filled with mysteries, monsters, and sheer, otherworldly bizarreness. The tale has been passed around the Internet quite a lot, it seems, and if it seems too good to be true then it may be because it perhaps is. The tales does indeed incorporate various historical facts, as LeFlore seems to have indeed been a real person who did die in 1855, and the Tubbees are apparently real as well, but this means little in the larger picture, as any historical figure can be inserted into any wild story you like, sort of like a fan fiction.

Not helping matters is that, while the story has made the rounds on the Internet, the best source I can truly link it back to is a book with the rather unwieldy title of True Bigfoot Horror: The Apex Predator - Monster in the Woods: Cryptozoology: Terrifying, Violent, and True Encounters of Sasquatch Hunting People (Cryptozoology, Sasquatch, Paranormal) (Volume 1), by Jeremy Kelley, which seems to have just a collection of unconfirmed Bigfoot anecdotes, as well as reviews that are, well, shall we say, not kind. This is not to say it is all bunk, but there is debate on how believable it is, further cementing its power in the world of the weird. Is this a case of an urban legend in the making and a twisting of history, or is there something more to it? The case keeps making the rounds and has been equally debunked and embraced, and whatever the case may be, it is a damn strange account to be sure.

Another of the strangest, and indeed one of the earliest reports of Bigfoot at all, comes from the 1920s, when a miner and his party out in the remote wilderness were purportedly held under siege by a band of savage Sasquatch that seemed to want them dead. Perhaps the best version of our tale here comes directly from the mouth of the witness, a man named Fred Beck himself, and it begins in July of 1924. At the time, Beck was a prospector out in the wilds of the Mt. St. Helens and Lewis River area in Southwest Washington, in the United States, and on this occasion, he was out with a party of four other miners working on a gold claim they had made, which they called the Vander White. They had been prospecting in the area for 6 years, and Beck would claim that during these excursions they would occasionally come across huge, human-like tracks measuring up to 19 inches in length by creek beds and springs near a nearby deep canyon, and this trip was no different. However, on this occasion they also began hearing strange noises each evening from the woods around the log cabin they had made themselves, which were unlike any normal sounds of the forest that they were familiar with, and which sounded like a “shrill, peculiar whistling.” These whistles seemed to come from more than one source, with at least two unseen creatures whistling back and forth from one ridge to another, and every once and a while they would hear a “booming, thumping sound” that made it all even spookier. One day, a miner called by the pseudonym “Hank” accompanied Beck to a nearby spring to get some water, the two men taking their rifles just in case, and the first of an odd series of events would play out. Beck would say:

We walked to the spring, and then, Hank yelled and raised his rifle, and at that instant, I saw it. It was a hairy creature, and he was about a hundred yards away, on the other side of a little canyon, standing by a pine tree. It dodged behind the tree, and poked its head out from the side of the tree. And at the same time, Hank shot. I could see the bark fly out from the tree from each of his three shots. Someone may say that that was quite a distance to see the bark fly, but I saw it. The creature I judged to have been about seven feet tall with blackish-brown hair. It disappeared from our view for a short time, but then we saw it, running fast and upright, about two hundred yards down the little canyon. I shot three times before it disappeared from view.

The two made their way back to the cabin and excitedly told the others what had happened, prompting them all to make the decision to cut their expedition short. As it was already getting dark and the road was treacherous at night, they decided to wait until the following day and hole up in the cabin for one last night. After a while they managed to find sleep, but this would not last long, as when midnight approached they were woken by a resounding thud against the cabin wall that caused the whole structure to shake and knocked loose pieces of wood and dust. The men were immediately on alert, grabbing their rifles tight and listening intently to the silence that had followed that immense, reverberating sound. Since the cabin had no windows, they were wary of going to the door to look outside, and so for what seemed like an eternity they just stayed still with weapons at the ready, locked up in that dark space with unknown menacing things lurking about unseen around them.

When no further disturbance came, they breathed a sigh of relief, but just as they began to relax and hope that whatever had been outside was gone, there was reportedly a “great commotion” outside, which to Beck sounded like many feet trampling about. Hank found a part of the wall from which the chinking had been knocked away and was able to peer outside to discern three large dark shapes ambling about, but from the sheer intensity of the sound they were sure there were more. At this point the cabin was then besieged by rocks pelting off the walls and sometimes falling through the chimney of the fireplace, as well as loud booms against the walls as the creatures struck the logs, and the air was filled with what sounded like the resounding footsteps of the beasts on the roof. The men sprung into action, firing their rifles directly through the door and ceiling, and Beck says of the attack:

The only time we shot our guns that night was when the creatures were attacking our cabin. When they would quiet down for a few minutes, we would quit shooting. I told the rest of the party, that maybe if they saw we were only shooting when they attacked, they might realize we were only defending ourselves. We could have had clear shots at them through the opening left by the chinking had we chosen to shoot. We did shoot, however, when they climbed up on our roof. We shot round after round through the roof. We had to brace the hewed-logged door with a long pole taken from the bunk bed. The creatures were pushing against it and the whole door vibrated from the impact. We responded by firing many more rounds through the door. They pushed against the walls of the cabin as if trying to push the cabin over, but this was pretty much an impossibility, as previously stated the cabin was a sturdy made building. Hank and I did most of the shooting — the rest of the party crowded to the far end of the cabin, guns in their hands. One had a pistol, which still is in my family's possession, the others clutched their rifles. They seemed stunned and incredulous. The attack continued the remainder of the night, with only short intervals between. A most profound and frightening experience occurred when one of the creatures, being close to the cabin, reached an arm through the chinking space and seized one of our axes by the handle (a much written about incident and a true one). Before the thing could pull the axe out, I swiftly turned the head of the axe upright, so that it caught on the logs; and at the same time Hank shot, barely missing my hand. The creature let go, and I pulled the handle back in, and put the axe in a safe place.

It was not until daylight began to creep through the gloom that the attack stopped and the forest returned to silence. It seemed as if the creatures, not yet known as Bigfoot and which they called “Mountain Devils,” were gone. They warily exited the cabin to survey the area, and Beck would claim that he saw one of the beasts standing on a ledge of the canyon about 80 yards away, and that he aimed his rifle to shoot it and send it hurtling 400 feet down to the rocks below. The men then left with haste, leaving all of their equipment behind in the process. He would describe in more detail what the creatures looked like thusly:

They are about seven feet tall, but there are larger ones. They had large ears and a head that was in proportion with their large muscular body. Their shoulders were tremendous but they had slim hips. They were hairy but not shaggy. In general, they possess a very stout physical frame, but looked more like a giant human than an ape.

They all agreed not to tell of what had happened to anyone, but according to Beck, Hank soon started talking to people and before long the story was hitting the news. This would begin what Beck calls “Great Hairy Ape Hunt of 1924." According to Beck, they were all relentlessly harassed by reporters, and he said that people began flocking to the area armed to the teeth with guns in order to hunt down the creatures, including a big game hunter from England. There were so many trigger-happy people out in the woods that law enforcement officers and rangers were sent in to disperse them before someone got hurt. In the meantime, Beck went back to the cabin to find it in shambles as if it had been ransacked, and was able to find large prints left behind, but no sign of blood or the body that he claimed should have been at the bottom of the canyon. The bizarre account earned the area the name Ape Canyon, and over the years Beck’s story has been told and retold, with many flourishes and embellishments, of which he would say years later:

So much has been written in Washington and Oregon papers throughout the years. Most accounts tell of giant boulders being hurled against the cabin, and say some even fell through the roof, but this was not quite the case. There were very few large rocks around in that area. It is true that many smaller ones were hurled at the cabin, but they did not break through the roof, but hit with a bang, and rolled off. Some did fall through the chimney of the fireplace. Some accounts state I was hit in the head by a rock and knocked unconscious. This is not true.

At the same time, Beck would also add some curious elements of his own, such as that they had been led to the mine by a spiritual being described as a “large Indian dressed in buckskin,” and would say that he believed that the Bigfoot creatures they had encountered were actually psychic and had a close association with the spiritual realm. He believed the creatures were interdimensional in nature, and had observed the group for some time before manifesting in physical form. He would point out that the fact that they would sometimes find just a single set of footprint on a sand bar with none others around and that there was never any other physical trace was evidence that they could phase in and out of this reality. He says of this:

There is no doubt in my mind that these beings were present and observing us, but they had not yet appeared in physical form. There we were standing in the middle of the sand bar, and not one of us could conceive any earthly thing taking steps 160 feet long. "No human being could have made these tracks," Hank said, "and there's only one way they could be made, something dropped from the sky and went back up. There was no third step. This is certainly another indication of what I'm saying about manifestation. I have heard it said that many ages ago the Rocky Mountain and Cascade Mountain Ranges were a center of a great civilization. I do think the mountain areas are extra sensitive to spiritual vibration, usually of a higher order, but sometimes lower. We ourselves being extra sensitive to spiritual vibration, probably had come into contact with the manifestation of these being easier than, perhaps, the average person would have.

In the true sense everything in the material world is a manifestation. Ever since the time the first essence of consciousness formed from the Great Void we cannot describe, different planes or dimensions of being were created or manifested. Occasionally we of this dimension of space can be conscious of other beings of a different vibration and consciousness. The Abominable Snowmen are from a lower plane. When the condition and vibration is at a certain frequency, they can easily, for a time, appear in a very solid body. They are not animal spirits, but also lack the intelligence of a human consciousness When reading of evolution we have read many times conjecture about the missing link between man and the Anthropoid Ape. The Snowmen are a missing link in consciousness, neither animal nor human. They are very close to our dimension, and yet are a part of one lower. Could they be the missing link man has been so long searching for?

The answer to these questions cannot be answered by expeditions. It can only come by man knowing more about his true self and more about the universe in which he dwells. Science has reached near perfection in material knowledge, but has reached the borderland through which no finite intellect can pass. All life can be studied, but man will have to look into himself to tap a spiritual power and realize the spiritual laws and reason with a spiritual mind. Man will have to break the little material shell he has around himself, which says this far you can only go and there is nothing more. What is outside that shell is pure life and it is even above and of an higher order than material life, though material and spiritual life would work in harmony if we would let it work.

Indeed, Beck was long quite the advocate of the idea that Bigfoot is not a flesh and blood creature, but rather something more interdimensional, psychic, and spiritual in nature. It all adds an extra sheen of weirdness to the whole tale. Here we have not only a sensational story of a Bigfoot attack, but talk of new realms beyond these just being undiscovered animals lurking in the remote wilds. Is any of this true at all? For his part, Beck would insist that everything he said was true and never waver from his story, and we are left with quite the tale and historical oddity. What happened to these men out there and what exactly did they see? If they were real why were these creatures so aggressive towards them? Were they flesh and blood animals, or something more mysterious? We can only speculate, and the story of Ape Canyon continues to be a classic case of Bigfoot lore.

In another set of encounters from the 1960s, we come to the battlefields of the Vietnam War, when soldiers began speaking of a new type of mysterious hairy creature they called the "Rock Apes," and some of these are harrowing, indeed. In one incident, a patrol was caught off guard by enemy fire, after which everyone took cover. It was then that something strange made its presence known to one of the group. As the witness was laying there avoiding getting shot, there was a figure that broke out of the thick vegetation which at first seemed to be a large man, but as it ran past it was clear this was something else altogether. The figure was described as being around 7 feet in height, impressively built, and mostly covered with reddish hair. Whatever it was moved extremely quickly, but was then caught by some bullets in the crossfire, after which it stumbled but didn’t go down. It was then that the enemy began yelling something to each other excitedly that the witness could not understand before running off, with one of the enemy even leaving his weapon behind in a panicked haste. The American patrol regrouped and headed to a more secure area, and that night they were assailed by a barrage of strange, animalistic noises from the night, sounding like whines, barks, howls, and grunts. The next day, some of the patrol requested permission to go investigate what had been seen and heard the previous day, and as a search was under way they came across an enemy soldier that seemed to have been viciously torn apart. The patrol was so disturbed by the gruesome sight that they ran back to their base by the hill, and one of the witnesses would later say:

The rest of the time we were in Vietnam, I never heard the sounds or saw anything like it again. The talk of what we had seen spread very quickly, and some of the locals called it a name that I can neither pronounce or remember, but the translation if I recall was 'Stench Monkey' or 'Foul Monkey', something like that. I can’t remember for sure. What I do know is that it bothered me so much that I transferred from there, to a job on a helicopter so that I wouldn’t have to be in the jungle anymore.

Some of the rock ape accounts are truly dramatic and frightening. One such account given by a Michael Kelley, of D Co 1st/502d Infantry of the 101st Airborne Division describes not one Rock Ape, but hundreds of them. In the account, in 1969, 8 of the strange creatures came casually walking up a trail on a ridge of Nui Mo Tau and surprised a platoon that was in the middle of having lunch when they turned a ridge about 10 meters from where the men were situated. According to Kelley, the platoon at first immediately thought they were Viet Cong and “all hell broke loose.” The squad of men opened up with M-16s, M-79s, and grenade launchers, lighting up the forest in a vicious display of booming firepower and flying pieces of vegetation. Kelley himself was at the far end of a clearing, about 50 meters from where the barrage of continuous shooting had started, and he grabbed a weapon to run to join them along with the platoon Sgt., taking cover under a toppled tree.

For a few moments, Kelley and the platoon Sgt. stayed hidden as the cacophony of gunfire erupted everywhere. When they finally gave each other the nod to engage, they popped out from behind the tree, ready to see a sizable enemy force descending upon them judging by the nonstop barrage of relentless gunfire. What they saw instead was the platoon firing away at “ghostly images” that were swooshing through bushes and trees all around them. The mysterious intruders were described as being around 5 and a half feet tall, and all but one was light brown to reddish brown in color. The other was almost black and was a particularly aggressive large male, which reportedly madly rushed at men through the thick underbrush, snarling and with teeth bared. Throughout the frightening encounter, the ape-like beasts reportedly made sounds that sounded exactly like dogs barking. Then, the creatures, whatever they were, abruptly melted away into the forest, disappearing as if they had never been there. When the surprised platoon regained their composure, they searched the bullet riddled, gun smoke permeated area and found no sign of any dead bodies of the animals, and oddly not even any fur or blood. Kelley would remark on the surreal scene:

This may sound very strange to you, but although I had no or little concern about killing the enemy, the killing of innocent animals turned my stomach and could enrage me if done without being a necessity. But I searched the site and but found not a drop of blood, which totally amazed me given the amount of firing that had gone on. I wonder to this day if the men were shooting just to scare the Rock Apes away or whether they were really just poor marksman! The men who'd suffered the surprise looked a bit worse for wear, and I'm sure a few had to wash their shorts out as a result of the unwelcome visit. It really scared the crap out of them, I kid you not!

This sort of mass congregation of Rock Apes was apparently not an isolated incident. In another shocking account, another platoon was also overrun by large numbers of the creatures. In 1966, a highly strategic location known as Hill 868, in Quang Nam Province, had allegedly been the site of a battle between the Marines and a large group of Rock Apes. In the account, Marines operating in the area called their Captain to report movement in the brush which they believed to be a large force of Viet Cong headed their way. The Captain then radioed back saying that they should stay in place and that no one was to fire in order not to give away their position. The patrol soon radioed back to say that it had turned out that it was not Viet Cong after all, but rather a large group of hairy, bipedal humanoids all around them. The Marine patrol was commanded again not to open fire, but instead to throw rocks at the creatures to scare them away. This would prove to be unwise, as the Rock Apes then began hurling the rocks back with great force, all the while screeching and growling all around them in the jungle; an estimated hundreds of them.

Despite the assault of rocks and numerous requests for permission to open fire, the Marines were nevertheless told not to shoot, but rather to use bayonets instead. Shortly after, the Captain could hear screeching and screams of pain from both Marine and ape alike over the radio, as well as the frantic message “We’re going hand to hand!". Shortly after that, the hill erupted in a roar of gunfire, screams, and screeching. When the Captain sent men to go investigate, the war-torn area was found to be littered with injured men, as well as allegedly the bloodied bodies of several of the mysterious Rock Apes. No Marines had died, but several were seriously injured and had to be evacuated by helicopter. The alleged battle became so infamous that it was called the “Battle of Dong Den.”

Hill 868 became known among the men as being allegedly so infested with the Rock Apes that it was called “Monkey Mountain.” In 1968, members of Mike Company of the 3rd Battalion of the 5th Marines operating on Hill 868 apparently often came across plentiful physical evidence of the creatures there, such as droppings, tufts of hair, or footprints, as well as hearing their eerie barks and cries at night, and the Rock Apes even occasionally assaulted them with rocks lobbed from the jungle. The apes were described as “throwing like girls, but with velocity,” and men were reported as being often seriously injured by the hurled stone projectiles. In one account given by a veteran named Steve Canyon, a unit of Marines was out in the jungle of Hill 868 at night testing out a new muzzle flash and noise suppresser for their weapons. As they were setting up, they suddenly noticed a Rock Ape glaring at them from the thick vegetation, reportedly completely unafraid. After a few moments of staring at the soldiers, the creature was said to then let out a sound like the bark of a dog. One of the men threw a rock at it to scare it away, and hit it dead on, after which the ape picked up a rock of its own and hurled it at them. It was then noticed that there were more of the Rock Apes gathering around in the jungle, around 20 of them, which all began screeching, howling, and throwing rocks at the frightened men in unison. Despite the threatening situation, the unit did not open fire, instead making a hasty retreat. When asked later why they had not shot at the creatures, Canyon would say:

I dunno. Didn't seem right. But those Apes started to come at us and we ran as fast as we could and we didn't stop until we were out of the jungle.

Encounters with Rock Apes became so numerous and alarming that the North Vietnamese even mounted expeditions to go out and find evidence of them. According to Kregg P. J. Jorgenson’s book Very Crazy G.I.- Strange but True Stories of the Vietnam War, in 1974 the North Vietnamese party secretariat ordered a scientific expedition to find definitive, solid evidence of the Rock Apes. Professor Vo Quy of the Vietnam National University was chosen to conduct the investigation, and while they did not see any of the beasts, they did find some curious tracks out in the remote jungle. A cast was made of one of the footprints, which was sent to be analyzed and was found to be wider than a human print but too large to be that of an ape. Other expeditions followed up on the find, including one led by the Noth Vietnamese general Hoang Minh Thau, but were unsuccessful.

What was going on in cases such as these? Is there anything behind the pure sensationalist feel of it all? The idea of humans actively engaging and violently fighting against mysterious hairy hominids seems absurd, as though it all belongs in the pages of some trashy tabloid. Yet, the stories have remained pervasive and lodged firmly within the lore. Whether there is anything to it all or not, it certainly seems that such tales have managed to find a place within the history of strange incidents involving Bigfoot and its ilk, and it is all pretty damn bizarre, indeed. 

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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