By Chuck Carpenter
It seems like when folks find out that you spend a lot of time in the backcountry somebody always wants to know if you have ever come across a Sasquatch. Well sorry folks, I’ve never seen one, never found tracks, I’ve never even found any kind of sign that I thought could have been left by Ole Big Foot.
Over the years I have meet a few fellers that think they may have seen one or heard one. I think with all the good trappers and hunters in the country somebody would have got one somehow? I have seen a few fellers that have had a hind foot that I think was probably close to the size of a Sasquatch’s. I worked with a guy like that named Eric. Now if this ole boy were wearing a hat with a little fur on it and some horns on the side, he would have looked really close to a Viking. If you would follow his bloodline back, he could have been related to those ole boys. Eric was a healthy-sized guy, probably about 6’5” or 6’6” tall and about one and a half axe handles across the breadbasket. He probably weighed about 325. Eric was one of those fellers with a good-sized hind foot. You would be pushin’ your luck to get two pair of shoes for this guy out of one cowhide.
Ole Eric liked to hunt and wanted to get a bear. One of the guys he worked with found quite a bit of sign in an area and let Eric know there was a fair chance he could find a bear in that drainage.
Eric headed to the area early one morning. It was about a four-mile hike from the trailhead up a pack trail to where he was going to hunt.
Eric left well before daylight and headed up the trail packing his rifle and wearing a ghillie suit for camouflage. Eric’s ghillie suit was like a long coat that hung to his ankles with strips of camouflage material hanging on it that blended in perfectly with the surroundings. Eric was also sporting a big red beard and mustache under the hood of his ghillie suit.
By daylight Eric was a couple of miles up the trail. The sun finally eased over the ridge and it looked like it was going to be one of those beautiful, crisp, September mornings in Idaho.
After easing up the trail a while, Eric heard a noise up ahead of him. After further inspection, Eric noticed a man on a saddle horse leading a packhorse coming down the trail toward him. A lady, apparently his wife, was riding another saddle horse behind the packhorse. They had been to one of the high mountain lakes fishing for a couple of days and were heading home.
Being a friendly courteous type, Eric decided to give way to the horses and riders and moved off the trail 10 feet or so, then waited for them to pass by. They came on down the trail not even noticing Eric in his ghillie suit. He just looked like a bush or something that was supposed to be there. When the first horse was about even with him, Eric raised his arm, waved, and said, “Howdy!”
All three horses decided it was time to go back up the trail. They went straight in the air as high as they could go and swapped ends just like they had been practicing this maneuver. Now the lady was in the lead, the packhorse was still in the middle, and the guy that was in the lead was now in the back hanging on the side of his horse with everything he had and trying to get back in the saddle while the horses were charging back up the trail. In a few jumps and a few seconds they went back up the trail over a small ridge and out of sight.
Eric told me he had never seen anything like it. He said he couldn’t believe how fast everybody disappeared in a cloud of dust. It was almost 20 minutes before Eric noticed a horse peeking over the ridge. The horse’s eyes were stuck out so far you could have knocked them off with a stick. His ears were stuck up as far as they would go and he was snorting like a bronc! There was no way he wanted to go back down the trail toward whatever that great big hairy-looking thing was waiting in ambush. After lots of encouragement from the riders, the horses all eased down the trail with their legs shaking and eyes bugged out.
The man leading the packhorse told Eric that he really appreciated him moving over and letting them go by, but maybe next time he could move over a little farther and hold really still so the horses might get by before they spot him.
Eric, not spending much time with horses, didn’t know why he had spooked them so bad. I laughed and explained to Eric to try and think like a horse. They are all coming down the trail headed to the horse trailer probably thinking of getting a pan of oats when they get back and all of a sudden there’s some great big hairy-looking thing standing by the trail waving his arm and making noise. The riders and horses all probably figured they had found the first Sasquatch in Idaho!
Eric didn’t get a bear on this trip or even see one. Maybe the bears noticed him slipping up the trail earlier in the day and decided not to mess with Ole Sasquatch either.
Chuck Carpenter, originally of Montana but now of Idaho, likes to hunt, fish and trap. He worked on a farm as a boy; then, as an adult, he took a job with the Department of Interior’s Animal Damage Control, now called USDA Wildlife Services. He ultimately became a district supervisor. He retired in 2011.