Hunting Bigfoot: Does the creature exist in Indiana?

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 9, 2015)-- Do you believe in Bigfoot? Tales and sightings of the hairy creature have been around for years, and despite major scientific evidence, some claim Bigfoot exists right here in Indiana.

Bigfoot is the source of decades of bewilderment – a hairy creature, 600 or more pounds, and walking on two feet.

“Still, I get funny feelings when I come down here,” said Tyra Cataline.

Cataline returned to the place where she said she faced an Indiana Bigfoot.

“We thought we were going to die. All three of us thought we were going to die,” she said.

It was 41 years ago, this November, at Mill Race Park in Columbus, when Cataline said she and two other girls were inside a car. They saw movement from afar, and then the creature ran up fast.

“That thing was throwing itself at the car. It was the most horrible thing you ever looked at. Its face was all slimy and everything,” she said.

Cataline and the girls drove away, terrified and hysterical. The days that followed brought a search for the “Mill Race Monster,” later believed to be someone in a costume.

“It was something. I don’t know what it was, but it wasn’t somebody wearing a costume,” she said.

“Here in Indiana, people do claim to see a creature known as Bigfoot,” said Chris McDaniel, a self-proclaimed paranormal investigator.

McDaniel runs a website called Indiana Bigfoot Reports. It tracks Bigfoot sightings by Hoosiers. Most he said come from across the state, with many near Terre Haute and Brown County. Spring and fall are a hot time for the reports, according to McDaniel.

He often goes out to investigate for himself.

“We get three to four reports a year,” he said, “I’ve had people come right out and say I’ve seen this eight foot hairy creature, and I know it was Bigfoot.”

He said many people are afraid of ridicule and don’t know who to call.

“We had a local law enforcement officer come to us sometime and claim to have seen the creature, but he needed to stay anonymous because of his position,” McDaniel said.

The most recent report came just a few weeks ago, on October 10. A man said he was hunting with two other people in Morgan-Monroe State Forest in Martinsville. He was separated from the group but then heard a howl that terrified him.

"I heard a sound that still haunts me to this day. It was the loudest howl I have ever heard. And I have grown up in the woods, I've heard numerous animal noises including the crazy coyotes, and this was not a coyote. It was almost as if I spooked what I believe was indeed a Bigfoot, and he was letting me know that was his territory. "

The man took off running.

“One of the interesting things with stories like this or experiences like this is that they challenge our sense of what’s possible. They challenge our sense of what the world’s really about,” said Dr. Donald Braid, Director of the Center for Citizenship and Community at Butler University.

Braid has a PhD in Folklore.

"We tend to interpret things from our perspective of that’s how the world works,” he said.

He’s tracked the legends of Bigfoot or Sasquatch, stories that likely originated in the Pacific Northwest, with Native Americans. Braid likens Bigfoot to the idea of the Asian Yeti or Abominable Snowman.

“They’re probably connected to other stories in other parts of the world,” said Braid.

So is Bigfoot real?

“We may come up with evidence of something like this, or we may not,” he said.

Braid studied Physics as an undergraduate. He is a scientist at heart and still said he doesn’t know.

“Truth is a very difficult thing here,” he said, “I don’t want to say I believe, or I don’t believe. That possibility, that mystery is intriguing to me as well.”

“A lot of times, I’m on the fence about it myself and try to look out for the logical explanation, but I’m not going to be closed-minded, and I’m going to leave that possibility out there that people might be seeing something,” said McDaniel.

Cataline says that Indiana Bigfoot changed her.

“I believe there’s things out there now,” she said.

Skeptics of Bigfoot point to the lack of fossil evidence or real scientific proof that the creature exists.

Braid said people gravitate to legends like this because the human mind is inquisitive, and we always want to know that something exists that we can't explain.