On the trail with Bigfoot-hunters

 

Trackers in Kentucky show the BBC the various methods they are using in the hopes of catching Bigfoot. Video by the BBC's Matt Danzico

Not since footage emerged of a giant, ape-like figure in the California woods in the late 1960s has there been so much interest in proving the existence of Bigfoot. So how do you go about finding a creature most people believe to be a myth?

It could be a human footprint. Let's not rule that out.

Kentucky Bigfoot investigators pride themselves on their scientific rigour.

They compile detailed reports, take copious notes, and rely on high-tech recording equipment to set their traps and document their work.

Every twisted branch or broken twig is carefully examined for clues. Every distant sound in the trees seized on as a possible sign of "activity".

Footprint

Which is how I came to be standing on the bank of a stream on a warm spring day staring at an indentation in the shingle.

Bart Nunnelly Big Foot drawing Bigfoot is notoriously camera shy - but there are plenty of artists' impressions

Someone had pointed it out as a potential footprint. It was certainly big enough. Maybe even too big.

But as Charlie, our team leader, got to work with a tape measure, I assured myself that it was probably human.

And that's when I knew they had got me. Probably is not a word I would have used a few hours ago, when we set out.

Back then I would have said it was definitely human. But back then my scepticism was impregnable. Now it was starting to fray at the edges.

Maybe this is how it starts.

Yahoo-hunting

People have reported seeing strange, ape-like creatures in the forests of North America for centuries.

Big Foot investigators It's big and it was apparently made by a foot - but is it Bigfoot?

Frontiersman Daniel Boone is meant to have shot and killed one of them. He dubbed the 2.5-m (8.2-ft) tall beast a Yahoo, after the creatures in Jonathan Swift's classic novel Gulliver's Travels.

The Yahoo's descendants have come to be known as Bigfoot in some circles, Sasquatch in others. Whatever you call it, it is currently big news. YouTube is awash with "sightings". Most of them are obvious fakes.

But what has really given new life to a very old legend is reality TV and its remorseless appetite for eccentric characters.

It seems like every Sasquatch-spotter, from Canada to the Florida Keys, is in talks with a production company or has already been featured in a reality show of his own.

Life-changing encounter

When a TV crew arrives with a list of pre-planned shots and outlandish things for them to say, the Bigfoot-hunters generally play along.

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They know they are being held up to mockery, on some level, but they seem to be in little doubt about Bigfoot's existence.

Joy, a middle-aged healthcare consultant, is the lead investigator with the Kentucky Bigfoot Research Organization.

She says she saw Bigfoot for the first time last autumn. Or, rather, it saw her.

As she was changing out of some wet clothes on a camping trip, she became aware of a hairy male face peeping at her under the tent flap, she told me.

According to Joy, there was an overpowering odour. And she heard a low, guttural grunt. Whatever the creature staring at her was, it was not human.

Joy's boyfriend, Ben, smiled as she told her tale. He is a Bigfoot sceptic - but it's a good excuse for a hike in the woods.

Bigfoot sightings in the US

Bigfoot image
  • In 1967, two men captured film of what they said was a Bigfoot on film. The footage, taken in the California woods, becomes famous
  • The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization lists more than 4,000 Bigfoot sightings in the US and Canada, with the most coming from Washington and California.
  • Sometimes dubbed the Southern Sasquatch, sightings of the so-called Fouke Monster were reported in the 1970s in Arkansas, inspiring cult film The Legend of Boggy Creek.

Some native American tribes in the north-west of America believe the Sasquatch is real. Most think of him as a spiritual being, whose appearance before man is meant to convey some kind of message.

One member of the Kentucky group told me he also thinks Bigfoot could be a spiritual manifestation.

Bart Nunnelly has written several books on the mythical creatures that he believes live in the Kentucky forests.

When he was nine, his family told a local newspaper they were being terrorised by giant ape-like creatures.

He has been the subject of ridicule ever since.

After all, there is little conclusive proof that Bigfoot is anything but a myth. Despite their emphasis on scientific fact, the majority of the group's evidence comes in the form of anecdotal bigfoot sightings collected on their website.

The footprint we found, they decided, was most likely human.

But Mr Nunnelly, like all the Bigfoot devotees I met in Kentucky, is not worried about the mockery of sceptics and non-believers.

He seems certain about what he has seen, and that it wasn't human.

 

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  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 193.

    i was going to say this is the biggest waist of licensee money i have seen yet but no, its educated me that there are still idiots out there, who waist money and resources on finding make believe animals due to having nothing better to do. chances are these people are funded through some grant for research through the government. idiots. "this shelter was clearly made by big foot" ... idiot

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 192.

    Any one know a vet that will look at a Mongolian Death Worm?

    Mine's looking a bit insubstantial.

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 191.

    Most people will accept "evidence" that agrees with their cherished beliefs. Anything to the contrary is automatically rejected by their bullshit filter as absurd or unreliable.

    It can take professional training and real willpower to go beyond ones preconceptions and analyse evidence objectively.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 190.

    Further to my comment @180

    I find the idea of Bigfoot delightful because it puts mystery/wonder into our lives. Seems we are/have been inundated with world news to a point of disconnect.

    Some comments are serious, some an attempt at humor but all are a break from world problems.

  • rate this
    +10

    Comment number 189.

    He's been living in our house for the past 16 years. He leaves his clothes all over the floor, gets up at noon and can only grunt.

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 188.

    I hope they do exist but also they are left alone in peace and not become some hunters trophy on the wall..

    Humans are too fast to marvel at something before proceeding to destroy it with our self righteous arrogant ways. Theres a plethora of species who will be like bigfoot soon, just tales and legends down the ages of big cats and whales and birds and fish and so on and on.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 187.

    A few years ago a bigfoot visited my garden, ripped up my plants, soiled on the lawn, and did the same to several other gardens in the area. They are OK in their natural habitats but are becoming a bit of a problem in some areas, so beware!

  • Comment number 186.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 185.

    You know it's not a particularly riveting Have Your Say discussion when most of the posts don't even address the subject matter and instead attack a fatuous comment on the Big Bang theory. Maybe BBC should pull the plug on this one and let us discuss the "Osbourne 'shock' at rich tax ploys" story, which is probably being avoided in order to spare Osbourne's blushes.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 184.

    176 Jon T.
    That's a fabrication. It's like looking at big foot's foot prints.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 183.

    @Jon T

    Either its a crypto species, or a subspecies of the "Turra Loon", often found in rural Aberdeenshire, trying to steal the wheels of their car...

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 182.

    If your reporter had been on the search for an intelligent American, he would have come back equally empty handed from that excursion... Dear me....

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 181.

    179. "a sighting in the early 1990s ... in a forest near Aberdeen. Several weeks later, whilst driving through the area at night, the creature appeared again and ran alongside their car even at speeds of 45 miles per hour, seemingly trying to enter the vehicle." - I dunno why, but I find this hilarious. Almost like an old comedy scetch. I'll assume they were sober while driving.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 180.

    The idea that 'Bigfoot' exists and avoids us is....well, delightful, I don't know why, it just is!

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 179.

    Why is everyone looking for these things in America?

    We, in Scotland have our very own - the Old Grey Man of Ben MacDui.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fear_liath

    He's even on wikipedia, so it must be true.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 178.

    BIGFOOT! sasquatch, what is this all about?we should be posting on the big mouth with his team of big heads smoozing japan for buisness? i don't mind discussing the possibilty of a unkown crypto as long as it's a footnote to the serious stuff. pull your finger out HYS, your extracting the urine.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 177.

    8 foot-tall mammal that doesn't breed, doesn't compete with any other animal for food or territory and lives in Kentucky? Have you ever been to Kentucky? The Alaska tundra, perhaps, but Kentucky? or California? or anywhere with a dense human population makes these claims simply ... depressingly amateurish. Perhaps the devotees saw a hippie with overpowering odor in the woods? That I could believe.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 176.

    168.MGary

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Laser_Ranging_Experiment - The retroreflectors were placed during the moon landings (Apollo program) so that super-geeks on earth could shoot the moon with a big laser and use the time it took to return to measure it's distance...to the neared millimetre (lasers are super accurate). Without the moon landing those reflectors wouldn't be there.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 175.

    152. Armleywhite

    "For 60 million years the coelacanth was thought not to exist."?

    We haven't been around that long to not believe in something. The first fossil was only found in 1839, and the first specimen in 1938, so that's only 99 years from awareness to discovery.

    Bigfoot stories have been around for centuries, and still no real evidence has shown up: clearly a myth.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 174.

    Leave big foot alone. If he has avoided humans all this time he deserves his privacy.

 

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