The Echo Incident

Statements made or reported as being made by Honobia, OK, resident Charles Branson at the Honobia Bigfoot Festival on 1 October 2011, concerning incidents that took place the previous July, contain inaccuracies. The basic facts are as follows.

The NAWAC was on Mr. Branson’s property with his permission as part of Operation Endurance (OE). The group in place at the beginning of July, designated as the “Echo” team, was the fifth of ten teams to participate in OE. Subsequent events experienced by that team are referred to as the “Echo Incident” within the NAWAC.

On 3 July 2011, at approximately 7:15 PM and under clear daylight conditions, Daryl Colyer, Board Member and Field Operations Director of the NAWAC, encountered a sasquatch on the Branson property. The observation occurred as he, along with fellow NAWAC members Alex Diaz and Travis Lawrence, were investigating a loud banging sound originating from the direction of one of the hunting cabins (referred to by the NAWAC as the "West Cabin"), not far from where they and one other member of Echo team were based. The sound was consistent with others heard over the duration of OE and suspected of having been made by sasquatches.

Colyer moved down the path toward the West Cabin with Diaz following at fifty or sixty feet. Lawrence was out of their sight as he followed a nearby parallel creek bed. When Colyer rounded a bend in the road and entered a clearing in front of the West Cabin, he witnessed a large, brown, upright, hair-covered figure walking in front of him at a distance of roughly 25-30 yards. Colyer noted it had long hair on its shoulders and the back of its head, which was distinctly conical in shape. He saw it from the left side and slightly to the back; its front was not visible to him at any point. Upon later comparison with a 6'3" tall NAWAC member, the creature was estimated to have been both more massive and somewhat taller.

Walking to the south, the creature was momentarily obscured by vegetation and was then visible through an eight to ten foot opening in the dense foliage, still approximately 25-30 yards from Colyer’s position. Using his Remington 1100 Tac-4 12 gauge auto-loading shotgun, loaded with 000 buckshot followed by slugs, he attempted to collect the animal for scientific analysis, firing all the rounds in rapid succession. Colyer then approached the spot where the animal had been, reloading as he walked, but found no body. Within a few seconds he heard the faint sound of an automobile engine starting. When Diaz arrived at the location of the encounter, Colyer directed him to investigate the automobile sound. Diaz found a container of iced tea on the ground approximately 50 yards down the path, but he could not determine a source for the engine noise.

All four members of the Echo team attempted to track and locate the animal until it was too dark to see. Although the ground in the area was covered with leaves and other debris, the trail left by the animal was evident until it reached the nearby rocky creek bed. There were clear signs of its travel through the forest, including where it stepped on and crushed a fallen branch that was left unharmed when stepped on by the NAWAC investigators. The slugs Colyer fired were all found embedded in trees near where he saw the animal. The team was unable to find any other evidence of the animal or its fate before losing daylight.

The team departed for home the next morning. Shortly after reestablishing cell phone coverage, Mr. Branson contacted the team and informed them that his nephew and his nephew's girlfriend had driven to the site the previous day. The nephew left his truck parked at the property gate and had begun to walk up the path toward the cabins when he heard what he mistook to be machine gun fire. He ran back to his truck and fled the area, apparently damaging his truck in the process. Colyer never saw or heard the truck prior to its departure, nor did he see or hear the two people. Their position, relative to Colyer's, was to the west through the dense forest, while the animal Colyer was attempting to collect was to his southwest. Neither they nor their vehicle was ever in the line of fire.

Following the conversation with Mr. Branson, team members made contact with Branson's son, a deputy sheriff in the area, and related the events to him. He advised contacting the County Sheriff's Office, since the nephew had reported that he had been shot at with a machine gun by "druggies." After communicating with the sheriff's office twice, the matter was dropped. Upon learning of the damage to his truck, said to amount to $1200, the NAWAC offered the nephew $2,000 to help offset the cost of repairs. The check was cashed a few days after it was sent. Following a break of approximately one week, the NAWAC resumed Operation Endurance to its planned completion.

In December of 2010, NAWAC Chairman Alton Higgins clearly stated on the NAWAC web site that the organization would "not stand in opposition to individuals—within or outside the NAWAC—or groups supporting and/or actively pursuing efforts to obtain a specimen." He went on to add, "As a field biologist I have always indicated that I supported collecting a specimen for documentation and study." He went on to explain, "Biologists are trained to think in terms of, and to care about, populations. Collection of a voucher specimen is a way of protecting the population, from my perspective. It is not immoral, even if there are those who disagree for various emotional reasons." Those interested can read the position statement in its entirety here.

The NAWAC plans on publishing a more complete account of Operation Endurance at a later date. 


Updates:

  • For a short period, the time of Colyer's sighting was incorrectly identified. The error has been fixed.

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