Report # 59858 (Class A)
Submitted by witness Matthew Center on Thursday, August 16, 2018.
Multiple witnesses, daylight sighting, Hopkins Prairie, Ocala NF, next to Florida Trail
COUNTY: Marion County
LOCATION DETAILS: Location was Hopkins Prairie in Ocala National Forest.
NEAREST TOWN: Fort McCoy
NEAREST ROAD: FR 86
OBSERVED: We were driving two jeeps through the forest, driving along the inner perimeter road of Hopkins Prairie. We saw a structure in the distance and wanted to know what it was. Found what appeared to be a concrete boat ramp in the middle of the Prairie. We didn’t know the name of where we were until till we started to leave. Looking across the prairie towards the campground (which we also didn’t know was there) when appeared this large creature at about 100 to 150 yards away. We just stood there not saying a word at first.
I remember saying to myself “look at those shoulders”. It was moving around the edge of the campground right where the grass for the prairie starts. I wear glasses and I had them on so I could see but not as well as the others. I do remember it was just kind of walking in a small area like it was trying to decide what it was going to do and I remember its arms were long just down by its side and swaying.
I don’t think it saw us. It turned and walked up into the campground and disappeared. We drove over to the campground still not knowing it was a campground to look around. The campground was closed so we went around the fence. We went to where we saw it and noticed a footprint in the wet ground. We also noticed spots where it walked through the tall grass. My nephew tried to step out the places it appeared to step but the stride was to wide for him.
We didn’t see anyone at the campground, and it appeared that no one had been to the campground. On the way in to the prairie and before the sighting we saw an abundance of wildlife which I thought was odd. We saw turkey, deer, panther tracks (which we have a picture of) and on the way out after the sighting we saw a black bear that we took video of. All of these animals except for the bear we saw within a matter of minutes of each other. When we saw the creature we just stood there, didn’t reach for cameras. I never even thought to take of picture but we did take pictures of the other animals. Mt sister in law said it was reddish brown in color.
ALSO NOTICED: Found what appears to be a large footprint at location where we saw large creature, have picture of foot print.
OTHER WITNESSES: there were 4 witnesses myself, my son, nephew and sister in law
OTHER STORIES: None
TIME AND CONDITIONS: It was Afternoon
ENVIRONMENT: it was a sunny day with white clouds in the sky. visibility was excellent.
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Matthew Moneymaker:
I spoke with the witness Matt Center. He’s a credible witness. He and his family are willing to appear on camera for local media or documentary projects.
The campground he mentions is the one noted on Google Maps when you search for “Hopkins Prairie.” It is in the southwest corner of the prairie. The campground is only open in winter months. After big rain events the “prairie” becomes a lake.
There were four witnesses total. The bigfoot was 100 yards away. They observed it for roughly 30 seconds.
The Florida Trail runs alongside the campground.
There is a correlation between many sightings and major hiking trails like the Florida Trail, the Buckeye Trail, the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail, especially where these trails are close to isolated lakes.
This spring fed pond near the campground is the only clean water for miles around. This is where you should look for tracks if you decide to check out the area.