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Oconee County Bigfoot Encounter in South Carolina

Updated: Feb 3

South Carolina could be the home to a bigfoot- or at least could have been. Oconee County borders Georgia, and, in the early history of European settlement was the scene of a dramatic bigfoot encounter if the headlines are to be believed. The story retells the events that occurred to the Native American hunting part as they camped in what is now Oconee County, South Carolina.

The Tugalo Bigfoot Incident

To the South of the Tugalo River, a hunting party met, established a camp, and settled in. After a night of hunting, they had claimed a deer carcass which lay in their campsite awaiting preparation. The following morning, they all went out to hunt again. Hours passed, the sun retreated, giving way to night. The party returned, another deer as payment for their efforts, but something was different. The deer from the previous night had gone. Again the following night, they left the site to go hunting, and again on return, they found their deer gone.

It was decided that an elderly member of the party would stay behind to see what was happening to their kills. It was a long daytime when the old man witnessed a huge, hairy bipedal creature approaching the camp. He was too afraid to attempt to attack the beast, even though he was armed. He did, however, get a good look at it. It was 7ft tall, covered in hair and walked upright. Its fingers bore long claws, and its mouth was low on its face.

When the party returned with another deer, the old man explained what he had seen. The party decided to all stay to slay the beast the following day. As expected, the creature returned, grabbed the deer, and started to walk off. The hunters took the opportunity. A shot was fired into the creature’s back. Pained, it dropped the deer and turned to face the hunters, before charging. Many other shots were fired into the creature, and it was brought down.

Three hours later, the hunters heard a strange howling in the distance, described as a ‘yaho, yaho, yaho!’. A local posse was summoned to pursue the sound. Following the noise with horses and dogs, a creature similar to the one that had been killed was found. The dogs attempted the bite the creature but were brushed aside like flies. In two leaps, the creature crossed the river but was gunned down on the other side.

The Media Analysis

There are a few things to address when it comes to the story. First and foremost, this is a very old account. Whilst it gives no date for the original event, it’s evident that it was a historical account even in 1889. As such, we have to apply a significant amount of caution, given the ‘Chinese whispers’ effect that can happen over time.

Secondly, we don’t know exactly who the story came from. Was it the Native American hunters? The posse who came to hunt the second creature? Without the provenance, it’s difficult to say at what stage the storyteller became involved in the story and determine the amount of external influences that may have affected the story before it’s publication.

Finally, did the story happen at all? Historical accounts can often cross into the mythical. Stories, even if there is a grain of truth, can be exaggerated and stretched beyond their original scale, or even fabricated entirely.

To the actual context of the story, the details that are provided don’t necessarily ring any alarm bells, but the brevity of the story could account for this. Whilst there may exist other details, they may have been removed for the sake of fitting this quirky story into a publication who didn’t necessarily believe that the extra details may add to the credibility of the story - if indeed those detail existed in the first place.

The Bigfoot Analysis

From a Bigfoot perspective, there are some very interesting details in the story. First and foremost, there are very few stories, including Justin Smeja’s contested story and a smattering of others, in which a sasquatch is killed. If this story were true, are we to assume that the hunters would not have maintained something from the creatures to prove their existence?

There are three possibilities:

  1. It didn’t happen, so there were no remains to harvest.

  2. It did happen, but they didn’t take any evidence, possibly due to being scared of the creature, or viewing it as a religious being and not wishing to disturb it.

  3. It did happen, they did take something, but it was lost.

Whichever of these situations is the actual truth, the story does not build on this, and we are left wondering these questions with no hope of conclusions.

Whilst this may be difficult to swallow, there are some interesting ideas in the story that should encourage the modern-day sasquatch enthusiast.

The description of the creature is an obvious and safe starting point. The appearance of bigfoot has been largely agreed for a long time, and this is no exception, outside of the apparent long claw-like appendages on the creature’s hands. Whilst there certainly are other accounts that may suggest some sasquatch may have long claws, these may well be a minority.

The second important point is the sound the second creature seemed to make. The article specifically refers to a ‘yaho’ noise, which is not dissimilar from what is commonly accepted to be a sasquatch noise, or at least a very basic attempt to form that noise into words.

The third point is the strength of the second creature. Being able to easily swat away large dogs is a big deal, and is consistent with the kind of strength that is attributed to sasquatch, and one would expect from great apes in general.


Whilst there is not necessarily a lot we can draw from this article, given the word-of-mouth transmission of it, the parallels we can see between the account and modern bigfoot theory is interesting - although obviously not conclusive. Whilst it may be unlikely that we ever get the full account of the story, particularly what happened to the bodies, it should be of great interest to the people of Oconee County, South Carolina, that something such as this may have happened right on their doorstep.

The encounter in the article was adapted from the Morning News, 7th of June 1889.

What do you think of this historical sasquatch encounter? Are there any other further conclusions we can draw? I’d love to hear from you!

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