The Adopted Legend
by Greg May
Greg and The Legend
Troy thought I was crazy.
The experienced hunter had neither seen nor heard of the legend of the Florida Swamp Ape.
"But they do exist!" I told him repeatedly. "They're the Florida version of Bigfoot!"
My fascination with the Florida Legend began when I read about the "monster" that terrorized the tiny community of Holopaw in the 1960's. My cousin, Billy Ray swore he saw one one night off the Military Trail near Delray Beach. Even a prominent Central Florida radio broadcaster would occasionally talk about "The Cabbage Man" that was sighted sporadically in the backwoods of Florida near Yeehaw Junction.
So I was thrilled when Troy took me hunting with him. Maybe I would catch a glimpse of a swamp ape! As we trudged through the palmetto scrub and hammocks near his camp at Bull Creek, I kept a sharp eye out for my Legend. Even the other hunters guffawed at my stories of the "apes" that were sighted by people deep in the Ocala forests.
Nightfall came and I gazed upward at the starry sky. "Maybe I'll see a UFO!" I thought to myself as I read the latest issue of Fortean Times by flashlight.
The next day it was business as usual as Troy outlined his hunting plans. The tree stand . . . the motion sensors... I thought it was "cheating" that hunters relied on electronics to locate game. "But they use sonar to find fish!" the hunter reminded this fisherman.
The hot Florida sun bore down on us as we hiked through the scrub. I was beginning to appreciate the coolness of the hammocks. I could hear the all-too-familiar sound of a rattlesnake. Troy was well aware of my fear of snakes. I had stuck my head in a killer whales' mouth and swam with sharks, but when it came to snakes - I was a yellow-belly!
Suddenly, the hunter stopped dead in his tracks. "What's that?" he whispered as he raised his crossbow. I was expecting his arrow to find its mark on a deer or wild hog. He lowered his bow as we both stared in disbelief at the dark form emerging from the woods.
"I don't believe it!" I cried as the creature ambled in our direction. "I'll be a monkey's uncle!" Troy muttered as I scooped the chimp-child up in my arms. You can imagine the reaction of the other hunters when we returned to camp with our find.
How my new baby found himself in the middle of Florida woodlands is still a mystery. In my readings of strange phenomena I learned of "displaced animals" like the kangaroos that had been sighted - and photographed - in Wisconsin and Illinois. During the short-lived adoption I named him "Jimmy Sam" after my dad and his brother. But was I prepared to raise and care for him? And how would I explain him to PETA, the Humane Society and the SPCA? After much soul-searching, I decided that the right thing to do would be to donate "Jimmy Sam" to a zoological park that could take better care of him than I could.
Could this discovery have been connected to the Legend of the Florida Swamp Ape? I don't know. In my readings of cryptozoology, stranger things have happened.
But I do know one thing: Troy never took me hunting again after "making a monkey out of him!"