Ken Mattheis had a flat tire. He and his cousin Jim had ridden their bicycles into Leasburg, a rural Southeast Missouri town, and now couldn’t get home – so they called Grandpa.

Author’s note: This is the second of a two-part story of Bigfoot encounters in Southeast Missouri.

Ken Mattheis had a flat tire. He and his cousin Jim had ridden their bicycles into Leasburg, a rural Southeast Missouri town, and now couldn’t get home – so they called Grandpa.

“My grandpa was in his 90s, and he drove really slow,” Mattheis said.

As his grandfather puttered down Route H, Mattheis and his cousin, sitting in the bed of the pickup, saw a man walking in a field.

“I saw what looked like a large man in a light brown winter coat in coveralls with a hood up walking in a field,” he said. “It was all light brown, the hair, face and hands was like the color of hay.”

The man was large and swung his arms like a cross-country skier.

“We got closer, and I realized it was a Bigfoot,” Mattheis said. “The hair on top of the head was long, and it went straight up and looked really strange like a Conehead.”

The boys sat in the truck, staring at the Bigfoot as their grandfather motored by. The thing never looked at the truck. It just kept walking until it reached the woods.

The boys didn’t say anything to their grandfather, who didn’t see the brown man walking in the field. Mattheis had a more personal experience a few years later.

“I had a truck and was with several of my cousins and his friends, and we had nothing to do so I decided to go drive them into the woods that night and go listen for the panther screams,” he said. “We drove into the woods and parked, and I think four or five kids were in back of this truck.”

After a few minutes of silence, the teens heard something large walking toward them through the woods.

“We could hear something large in the woods coming towards us, breaking limbs and breathing really loud in and out as if it had breathing problems,” he said. “The kids freaked and wanted to leave, but I said, ‘no, let’s see what’s coming.’ I’d like to know what the hell is making all that noise.”

The breathing thing circled the truck, breaking tree limbs and throwing branches toward the boys.

“A kid laying down in back of this truck started punching my back window screaming at me if I didn’t get us out of here right now he was going to drag my ass out of the truck and leave me here with it,” Mattheis said. “I started the truck and turned on the lights and left in a hurry as I was more scared of this kid kicking my ass than whatever was in the woods.”

Mattheis is convinced the thing circling the truck was a Bigfoot. He later bought a camera to take a picture of the beast that’s life kept intersecting his own, but has yet to photograph one.

In the 1990s, Mattheis began using the Internet to communicate with Bigfoot researchers and met a researcher named Coonbo.

“Coonbo was the first person that I know (who) claimed to be able to call them to show up,” Mattheis said. “He would hoot like an owl and then we’d hear owl hoots back and we’d hear it coming through the woods and we’d smell the nastiest smelling musk and then we’d leave.”

A heavy musk scent has long been associated with Bigfoot.

“So I started doing this in Missouri, and it didn’t take long for me to call them to show up,” he said. “My wife has a degree in anthropology, and she thought I was just nuts for even thinking Bigfoot existed, so I took her into the woods.”

They walked to the creek – the same creek Mattheis’ grandmother warned him away from – and did an owl call.

A call came back.

“I said, it’s going to circle us and come down this hill behind us and do another call,’” he said.

“A few minutes later we heard a really loud ‘who.’ She said, ‘that’s not an owl,’ and started crying and got into the car and said, ‘can we go home now?’”

Mattheis waited, telling his wife the thing that made the sound would go to the top of the hill and knock with a tree branch.

It did.

“She said, ‘OK, I believe they exist. Now take me home,’” Mattheis said.

“She started crying and to this day she will not go into the woods at night.”