Growing up exploring and hunting in the backwoods of Northwest Florida, 26-year-old Omar Helms is at home in the forest.
From deer to bear, he is familiar with every track and marking an animal makes — until he encountered an unfamiliar print earlier this week.
"It was 17 inches across and one inch deep," said Helms. "It appeared to have four or five toes, with a distinct heel and arch." Helms said he knew immediately what he was looking at — "it was obviously a Bigfoot footprint."
On Tuesday, Omar and his father, Joel Helms, were exploring an area of woods a few miles southwest of their home in DeFuniak Springs. They’ve been to dozens of times when they stumbled upon what they say is the massive mammal’s marking.
Although the father-son team told The Log they didn't see the actual Bigfoot responsible for leaving the impression, they estimate he was a strikingly strapping Sasquatch.
"Looking at the footprint, I think he probably weighs between 500 and 900 pounds, and he's at least eight or nine feet tall," Omar said. "The entire print was pressed about one inch into the ground — hard."
Breaking through the heavy layer of pine straw and leaving such a clear, deep print, he had to be of a substantial size. The Helms' say they are certain of that.
"The footprint was left in relatively hard, dark soil — not mud," said Joel. Unfortunately, the animal appeared to be moving off of the path, into an extremely dense patch of woods, so only one print could be obtained.
The two decided to document their findings with pictures and a plaster mold.
After pouring the thick plaster mixture into the print and allowing it enough time to dry, they had what they say is a genuine Bigfoot mold.
But, "the integrity of the print had been compromised by the plaster," said Joel, and the rest of it was washed away in the rain that came later in the day. So all they have now are their memories, pictures and that mold.
While Florida tends to be better known for its El Chupacabra sightings, sasquatch sightings are not without precedent.
There have been numerous reported Bigfoot incidents — some dating back to the 1970s and some as recently as last month in the same general location where the Helms' discovered their print.
According to a report that was posted on bigfootfinder.com in 2012, a group came upon a "large, nine-foot-tall animal feeding on a fish in a creek." Obviously started by the group, the animal took off at a high rate of speed into the woods. There were no prints found in connection with this incident, but the partially eaten fish was recovered.
The Helms' said the area their print came from would be an ideal location for a Sasquatch to live for numerous reasons. The area provides plenty of thick brush, allowing for the coverage that's so coveted by the notoriously shy skunk ape. Furthermore, the woods are centrally located to a source of water and there are plenty of wild hogs and deer in the woods for snacking on.
"I'm a true local; I've lived in this area my entire life, since the ancient times," the elder of the Helms, Joel, said while laughing, "and I know it was a Bigfoot print. There's absolutely nothing else it could be."
OTHER RECENT SIGHTINGS
This was posted Jan. 3, 2013, to bigfootfinder.com.
“Last week we received two different sightings from the same area near Eglin Air Force Base in northwest Florida. Here is what was reported to Bigfoot Finder.”
Location of Sighting: Eglin Air Force Base
While on a field training exercise in the woods of northwest FL, myself along with other members of my team came across a large 9 foot
tall haircovered bipedal animal feeding on a fish in a creek. Quickly after being sited, the animal ran into the bushes at a tremendous
speed. No footprints were found but we did recover the partially eaten fish. –Nathan
Location of Sighting: Northwest Florida
On a field training exercise me and a few other team members were on a night navigation when we heard russeling in the trees about a hundred
meters out from our positin when we looked up we saw a large about 9ft tall creature standing there when it saw that it was speed it took of
at a tremendous speed. –Chuck
“The reports appear to coincide, as the first Bigfoot was seen feeding on fish at a creek, while the second one was standing and the running through the trees. Considering both reported sightings are in the same proximity, same timeframe, similar description, and appear to be from military personnel, we can probably assume that this was the same creature, merely seen at different times. Could this be the elusive “Skunk Ape” that has been harassing locals in Florida for centuries?