“When you hear hoof beats, think of horses not zebras.”
That saying was coined by Dr. Theodore Woodward in the late 1940s to impress upon his medical interns that the most obvious and common diagnosis is the most likely. Being in Maryland, horses far outnumber any zebras and, short of any Monty Python re-enactors, any hoof beats are likely to be caused by the beast of burden.
But that sage advice allegedly didn’t stop one Montana man from making wild inferences when seeing a bipedal mammal out in the wilderness. According to the Idaho Statesman, a man was fired upon by a passerby that mistook him for Bigfoot. Yeah, the mythical ape-like creature that some believe inhabits the more densely wooded portions of our country. That Bigfoot.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton told the Idaho Statesman that the 27-year-old was putting up targets outside Helena on Sunday when bullets started flying toward him, with one round coming within three feet of him and another whizzing by even closer. The man ducked behind trees for cover and eventually confronted the shooter, who was driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck.
“I thought you were Bigfoot,” the victim says the shooter told him, according to Dutton’s statement in the Idaho Statesman. “I don’t target practice—but if I see something that looks like Bigfoot, I just shoot at it.”
After the shooter was certain the man wasn’t Bigfoot, he suggested that blaze orange might be a good idea to prevent such interactions in the future.
The Sheriff had his doubts about the encounter, noting that “there was some question about the veracity of the report” because the victim of the shooting couldn’t provide a description of his would-be assailant. The police couldn’t find the F-150 in question either, ABC Fox Montana reported.
But after the news hit the airwaves, a woman came forward with a similar tale, having been shot at by shot at by a man in an F-150 as well.
“We’re working to find this person,” Dutton told the Idaho Statesman. “It is of great concern that this individual might think it’s OK to shoot at anything he thinks is Bigfoot.”
The Sheriff doesn’t think there’s any cause for alarm, as the shooting “seems to be a localized event to one geographic area,” adding that the shooter could face charges if caught.
If you’re out shooting or hunting, be sure of your target and beyond. If there’s any doubt, don’t shoot. And if you are positive you see the potential missing link between humans and apes still don’t shoot at them—invite them over for a beer and a couple selfies, because he’s probably out of season.