Mysteries lurk deep in the cypress and pines of the South Carolina Lowcountry, and every so often, those mysteries step right out into the daylight.
Around noon on August 2, Robert Frady was traveling with his sister and brother along the narrow roads of Hunting Island. Located near Beaufort about halfway between Hilton Head and Kiawah islands, Hunting Island is one of the last undeveloped stretches of South Carolina coastline, a state park with forest so thick you’d vanish from sight three steps in.
As Frady and his siblings rounded a bend, they spotted…something. Just a few feet from their front bumper, he says, was a beast standing between five and six feet tall, with long brownish-red fur. Frady, who’s spent years hiking the Appalachian Trail, knew he wasn’t looking at a bear but something much closer to human. As soon as the creature heard their engine, it darted into the woods, disappearing in an instant.
“I was astounded,” Frady tells Garden & Gun, “but at the same time, being a scientist, I thought, collect the data.”
Yes, Frady is a scientist—a retired clinical forensic psychologist, in fact, who’s worked with Georgia’s Department of Corrections for nearly fifty years—with extensive experience in observation and data collection. After a few fruitless minutes peering into the woods, Frady took his story to state park officials, who pledged to look into the matter more deeply. And then, as one does in these situations, he went on the internet and filed a report with the Bigfoot Field Research Organization.
Founded in 1995, with a website that looks like it hasn’t been upgraded since then, the BFRO bills itself as “the only scientific research organization exploring the Bigfoot/Sasquatch mystery.” The organization tracks all reported encounters with Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Skunk Ape/et cetera—now in every state except Hawaii—ranking each on a scale. Class C is rumor or secondhand information, Class B involves a low-light or distant view, and Class A entails a clear daylight sighting.
BFRO’s president, Matt Moneymaker, dismisses skepticism as easily as a Bigfoot would swat away mosquitos. “It’s natural and normal for people to be puzzled how something like these things could exist,” Moneymaker says. “These are things that can live like animals but are as intelligent as people.”
Look, the jokes about Lowcountry Bigfoot pretty much write themselves. Hey, if Beaufort County is good enough for authors, movie stars, and billionaires, why not Bigfoot? But Frady isn’t some movie-cliche loon squawking about an alien abduction. Something about his delivery—not to mention his professional background, along with those of his siblings, a teacher and a counselor—makes you consider the matter in a different light.
“These three witnesses…they’re very reliable,” Moneymaker says. “This was in daylight, twenty feet in front of the car. This is not just a Class A, but an A-plus.”
A month after the sighting, Frady hasn’t heard back from the state yet on its Bigfoot investigation, and he honestly doesn’t expect to. “Working in government, I know how, as things go up the chain of command, things tend to be squashed,” he laughs. “If it had been up to me, I’d have had half a dozen biologists out there.”
Still, sometime soon, Frady would love to see an expedition formed to investigate the mysterious Bigfoot and bring back some video…and he’d be more than happy to join that expedition.
“I’m a scientist, and I would give anything to find some more data on it,” he says. “I know it was there.”