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Man shot after hunter ‘mistook’ him for animal

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A Montana man was out target shooting when he became a target himself — and it was because a man “mistook him for Bigfoot,” he told authorities.

The 27-year-old from Helena told dispatchers on Monday that a day earlier he had been putting up targets on public lands outside the city when bullets started flying toward him, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said in a phone interview with McClatchy.

The man said one bullet hit three feet to his left on Sunday and another whizzed past him on the right. He explained that he ran into the trees for cover as more gunfire came his way. Eventually he came out to confront the man in a black Ford F-150 who shot at him, he said.

“I thought you were Bigfoot,” the shooter told the victim in the victim’s telling of the story, according to Dutton. “I don’t target practice — but if I see something that looks like Bigfoot, I just shoot at it.”

The man said he responded that he’s not Bigfoot. The shooter advised the man to wear orange in the future, and the man said he told the shooter that was a good point, according to Dutton.

Local law enforcement are now looking for leads on who the person in the black F-150 might be, though Dutton said “there was some question about the veracity of the report” because it was called in the day after the alleged near-death incident, and because the man couldn’t describe the alleged shooter. The man also said he didn’t want to pursue charges and didn’t want to talk to deputies, Dutton said.

Police checked the area where the shooting was reported, but didn’t find the pickup, ABC Fox Montana reports.

But after reports of the alleged shooting appeared in the Helena Independent Record, another woman came forward with a similar experience, potentially bolstering the man’s story, Dutton said.

The woman told law enforcement that she had been shot at by a man in a black F-150 as well. Bigfoot didn’t come up in that woman’s report, according to Dutton, but the woman did give a better description of the man, who she said she also confronted about shooting at her.

“We’re working to find this person,” Dutton said. “It is of great concern that this individual might think it’s okay to shoot at anything he thinks is Bigfoot.”

If the reports are true, the shooter could face attempted negligent homicide charges, Dutton said.

However, Dutton said he doesn’t think the public is in danger.

“It seems to be a localized event to one geographic area,” Dutton said, referring to the North Hills near Helena.

A study in 2017 found that — despite sightings reported across the country each year — only 16 percent of Americans believe Bigfoot is real, McClatchy reported. Compare that with 50 percent of people who believe in ghosts and 35 percent who believe ancient aliens visited the planet.

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