San Antonio is one of the largest cities in the United States. It has a history as rich and diverse as its contemporary population and is painted proudly in the legacy of its Latin American roots and the wild, wild South West.
It is the home of the Alamo, in addition to the well loved River Walk downtown (the feature from which San Antonio derives the nickname “The River City.”) The food, music and general vibe of the metropolis are of a nature all their own, and both visitors and residents will attest to this fact.
It is saturated with hauntings and is even home to a few cryptids which are not found anywhere else (The Donkey Lady of Applewhite Road and the Dancing Devil of El Cameron Cito, both worthy of their own dedicated study). There are possible entrances to the Hollow Earth if one prescribes to the idea, and the San Antonio Zoo once featured a Chupacabra exhibit, showcasing the history of the goat sucker in a family friendly venue. Noted writer and experiencer Whitley Strieber calls San Antonio home, as well as modern day scribe of the strange Ken Gerhard. The late patron of Cryptozoology Thomas Baker Slick Jr. lived much of his life here. Slick would finance Peter Byrne’s expeditions into the Pacific Northwest, helping to lay a foundation in the early days of Bigfoot research.
Speaking of Bigfoot, this most famous of cryptids has also called San Antonio home for several decades. It may be of interest to students of Cryptozoology that there is in fact a town known as Bigfoot, Texas only a few miles south of San Antonio. The town has no known connection to any ape-like bipeds, but is rather named for a Civil War veteran who went by Bigfoot Wallace.
In the 70s a rash of sightings occurred around Kelly Air Force Base, one of several military installations in San Antonio (“Military City” is another nickname.) The case was covered in detail by Ken Gerhard in the 2010 book Monsters of Texas. Mr. Gerhard was able to locate the clearing in which the beast’s appearances occurred, and spoke with locals who remembered the stories from when they first circulated.
One seemingly sound theory to answer these particular sightings is that of a known primate, perhaps a particularly large specimen, which may have escaped from a local primate research facility. This explanation seems almost as exotic as the Sasquatch itself, until one learns that Tom Slick Jr. founded the Southwest Research Institute which, to this day, operates a primate research facility. San Antonio is also home to a sizable zoo, though whether any primates have ever escaped from either of these facilities is unknown.
As interesting of an explanation as this is, it is difficult for one to imagine an orangutan being mistaken as exceeding seven feet in height, as the Kelly Air Force Base Sasquatch was said to have done. Mr. Gerhard made this very point in a 2022 interview on the Bigfoot Society Podcast, hosted by Jeremiah Byron.
(I personally enjoy the idea that Slick’s facility houses one or more live Bigfoot specimens, and that this was the creature that escaped and frightened residents of San Antonio in the 70s. This idea is purely my own wild imagining and not based on any documented fact.)
More recently there is a story from the mid-2000s of a sighting which occurred near the city’s outer limits, reported by a houseless couple who were camping near the junction of highways 1604 and 151. The report of this sighting led to an infamous hoax, in which a perpetrator who will not be named here claimed to have shot the creature in question and began toting about a supposed Bigfoot “corpse.” The hoax was soon exposed for what it was, and is remembered by many within the cryptozoology community with derision.
But what about today? What about the years leading up to and including the 2020s?
Rod Nichols lives on the edge of one of San Antonio’s many greenbelts. It is a sprawling, snaking stretch of wild scrubland which connects metropolitan San Antonio to the untamed Hill Country beyond. Rod has been studying this area for almost five years, and has observed a variety of interesting phenomena. He has noted an abundance of wood structures, some extremely elaborate, and often built far away from the beaten path. These structures are sometimes made up of extremely large, heavy tree limbs and even trunks, which would require several grown adults to move with any sort of efficiency or safety.
A structure Rod somewhat jokingly refers to as The Belly of The Beast
In addition, Rod has recorded strange howls coming from the woods at night, and even preserved castings of oversized footprints as recently as August of 2022.
“I’ve heard a couple of screams that didn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard. And then I’ve heard some long winded whoops, coming from near the area I’m at, at two or three in the morning.”
“The tracks that I have seen, and that I’ve witnessed and documented are all five toed tracks, ranging from fourteen to sixteen inches long, and about six to seven inches wide at the toe box.”
A print photographed by Rod Nichols in the San Antonio area in 2020
Rod recently discovered a track he postulates may belong to a juvenile. The track was seven inches in length and roughly four inches wide, and the impression seems to show toes and a pronounced arch.
A print which Rod believes may belong to a juvenile specimen
If these creatures are active in a city of 2.2 million, why aren’t they noticed more often? I did not posit this question, but Rod answered it anyway, perhaps without realizing it.
“That area is an Edwards Aquifer recharge zone. It stretches all the way up to Austin. What we know is that we get our water from it, and they know a lot about that underground cavern. But do we truly know every piece of it? Do we truly know how deep it is? I don’t think we do – I really don’t think we do. I think we have a good idea, but I don’t think we know exactly how deep and how vast it is.”
Rod’s theory is that the sasquatch population in this area use the Edwards Aquifer caverns as a sort of underground main street. By exploiting the concealment of the caverns, the access to food sources and nigh-unlimited fresh water, they might remain undetected while literally walking under our feet. Rod readily admits that this idea is only a theory, but it is a theory with several interesting, provable elements. The Edwards Aquifer is in fact a vast underground cavern system, and San Antonio is riddled with caves and limestone ridges despite urbanization and continual development. The Natural Bridge Caverns may be visited by any person wishing for a glimpse at this underground world, and several sprawling nature parks offer an accessible look at the untamed ground above it.
The presence of Whitetail Deer in San Antonio also cannot be overstated. Many suburban areas on the city’s outskirts which are home, in some cases, to thousands of human residents still sport signs such as “Deer Crossing” and “Watch for Fawns.”
A group of deer in a North San Antonio neighborhood in 2022
If the Sasquatch is a predatory creature – which Rod theorizes that it is – then it has game in abundance along the shadowed groves of San Antonio, in addition to a convenient water source and plenty of concealment.
“The reason I say they hunt is that I once found a deer carcass – a doe – that had been ripped apart. And it was decomposing – things had eaten off of it. The head was pulled off of the neck, and the head itself was pulled apart at the jaws. One half was on the other side, one half over here. And in the middle of the back, the spine was broken. So I brought a wildlife biologist with me who took an interest in what I was doing, and he took the carcass and tried to piece it together. And in the middle of the back, it’s really bowed back. And he said, ‘something with force broke its back right in half. I couldn’t tell you what it is.’
We don’t have bears here. We don’t have big cats. So what is it? A person? And he said,
‘that would be one strong person.’”
Debate continues amongst Cryptozoologists as to what exactly Sasquatch eats, but if it is indeed a form of primate with some relation to human beings, one must at least allow for an omnivorous predilection, if not a preference for meat.
This small sampling provides only a passing glance at the Sasquatch Phenomena in Texas, and indeed, San Antonio itself. As time goes on and the city continues to develop, perhaps more sightings will occur and more evidence can be documented.
A print casting captured by Rod Nichols in 2022
Or, perhaps these creatures will, as Rod speculates, retreat into the hidden warrens of the Edwards Aquifer, setting off for the more isolated reaches of the Texas Hill Country.
Only time and additional observation will tell. But Rod’s research proves that there is something moving unseen in the wild corridors of storied San Antonio, and studies of Sasquatch and strange phenomena, in general, would do well to keep an eye on this part of the United States.
You can keep an eye on Rod’s research and see pictures and videos of his findings on Instagram and Youtube – @bexarcountybigfoot