“There’s a lot of bullshittin’ around here. But there’s a lot of fact-finding too. When most people say something, it’s true.”
I’m walking through the dark woods with three strangers. They’re all carrying knives. A sliver of white moon hangs between the black, bare tree limbs. My dim headlamp barely illuminates the mossy trail. The man in front of me walks without a light, finding the path with his feet. The only noise is the sound of our feet shuffling through the dead leaves.
Behind us, the woman in our party stops. We pause and look back at her.
“Wait a sec,” she says. “I’m gonna call."
She catches her breath for a moment. Then she leans back, cups her hand around her mouth, and releases a high-pitched wail that makes my toes curl inside my hiking boots. It echoes through the empty forest, over the lake and through the valley. The woods are silent for a moment. We listen.
“Not much activity tonight,” she sighs. “Let’s keep going.”
Tonight I’m on a hike with three members of the Southeastern Ohio Bigfoot Investigation Society (that’s SOSBI for short). With a whopping 228 sightings listed on an Internet database, Ohio has the third most Bigfoot sightings in the nation. According to some, the Ohio Bigfoot has been living in the area for centuries. He just doesn’t want to be found.
In 2008, a small-but-eager group of “Bigfooters” founded SOSBI. For the past four years, the club has hosted monthly meetings at a public library in the small town of Cambridge. According to its Facebook page, SOSBI is an open forum created “to give everyone and anyone the chance to talk about Bigfoot without the fear of being made fun of or taunted.”
When Animal Planet featured the group in a reality show called Hunting Bigfoot, the club saw a spike in popularity. Now the meetings draw up to 80 people from across the Midwest. This summer SOSBI started hosting group campouts in Salt Fork State Park. The 17,000 acres of dense forest in Salt Fork are perfect for concealing dreadlocked gorilla-men.