Something’s Afoot–Is It Bigfoot?

Imagine my surprise when I picked up the local paper recently and read that there have been a number of Bigfoot sightings here in our neck of the woods in Northwest Florida. The Emerald Coast is known more for its beautiful white sand beaches than what might be lurking in the woods the roads run through to get tons of tourists to said beaches. But, it appears that I need to be concerned about creatures in the woods (i.e., Bigfoot) and not just creatures in the sea (i.e., sharks).

But, wait, how can this be? Isn’t Bigfoot supposed to inhabit the Pacific Northwest? Florida is a long way from there.  Even though about 1/3 of all Bigfoot sightings have occurred in the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot has been sighted in every single U.S. state except for Hawaii. This information means that Bigfoot could be anywhere and everywhere in this country.  Hawaiians shouldn’t feel too safe; I’m sure that Bigfoot is saving up for an exotic Hawaiian vacation in the near future.

So what exactly is a Bigfoot? I can’t spout a dictionary definition off of the top of my head, but I am pretty sure I’d know one if I saw it. For those of you academics who need concrete information, a Bigfoot (also known as a Sasquatch) is a hairy, upright walking ape-like being who lives in the wilderness and who leaves behind large footprints.  Wonder how long it took them to come up with that clever name of Bigfoot for the creature?

Bigfoot has been around for quite awhile. Many Native American tribes across the U.S. and Canada have stories about the hairy creature. The name Sasquatch is from Halkomelem, a native language of the Pacific Northwest.  The stories about Sasquatch in Native American folklore and physical representations of the beast on totem poles are similar to eyewitness accounts from Bigfoot encounters. That must be a BIG totem pole to get a carved Bigfoot on it!

“Bigfoot” is the more modern name for the elusive hairy creature. This term was coined back in 1958 when a bulldozer operator came across and then cast large tracks at Bluff Creek, California. The terms Sasquatch and Bigfoot are used interchangeably, but Bigfoot is likely the preferred term because it is easier to spell and to pronounce for John Q. Public.

Certainly, Bigfoot is merely a mythical figure, right? Not according to Animal Planet; its website notes that that there have been way too many witnesses for this creature to be imaginary. In fact, the site points out, in some instances there have been multiple witnesses to a sighting.  I can just imagine a group of campers in the woods saying (or perhaps singing) to each other, “Do you see what I see?”

Of course, modern man demands evidence to believe anything. And evidence exists supporting the proposition that the creature is real. Pictures, videos and audio recordings of Bigfoot have been taken. Audio recordings contain Bigfoot sounds which are distinct from the sounds made by known animals. Footage of a Bigfoot walking was taken back in 1967 and is boringly referred to as the Patterson-Gimlin film. Personally, I think “Bigfoot Walking” would’ve been a catchier name for the video.

Skeptics, unsurprisingly, discount photographic evidence of Bigfoot by claiming it is a human dressed to look like a Bigfoot.  Anyone who proffers that explanation for a Bigfoot sighting in Florida likely has not set foot in this hot and humid state. What idiot is going to don a gorilla suit and trudge through the woods when he could be imbibing a cool adult beverage in a swanky air-conditioned club in Destin?  Stupid question! No one would, that’s who.

Even if someone were crazy enough to try and dress like a Bigfoot, the prankster could not survive close scrutiny. Bigfoot pictures show creatures with shorter legs and larger arms proportionately than a human. So a figure might be hairy and ape-like, but that doesn’t make it Bigfoot/ShortLegs/LargeArms.

Some Bigfoot investigations are quite scientific.  A Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) exists and undertakes to document sightings and information obtained on Bigfoot.  According to this organization’s records, there have been over 300 confirmed Bigfoot sightings in Florida, over 400 in California and over 650 in Washington State. Either there is more than one Bigfoot or this creature really gets around.

Make sure you are seated before I enlighten you further about Bigfoot. Per BFRO, the estimated number for this species in North American ranges from a few thousand to 10,000, with the highest concentration in Washington, Oregon and Northern California. Man! That’s a lot of big feet out there in them woods!

What do we know about Bigfoots? They are described as an omnivorous, nocturnal species. The creatures avoid confrontation. Their reported behavior is typically actions to discourage a witness’ continued presence in their area. A Bigfoot may throw small objects, stomp and shake trees in a physical representation of the command “Go away!” Hey, he wouldn’t have to tell me twice. I’d be heading for the hills as soon as I saw him.

Bigfoot encounters have similar fact situations.  Typically they occur at night in the woods or in a swampy rural area. The creature is smelled before he is seen. No, that extremely rank odor is not a small skunk; it is a BIGFOOT! Well, duh, this information tells me exactly what I need to know. I am never going to encounter a Bigfoot because I do not hang out in the woods or swamp at night. If you don’t want to encounter Bigfoot, I advise you to do likewise.

Whether or not Bigfoot is real, the creature is a pretty cool topic of conversation. It beats the divisive political rhetoric in the news. I guess what I’m saying is I’d rather hear/read about Bigfoot than about big mouths. Who’s with me?

Just WONDER-ing: Do you believe Bigfoot exists? If you don’t, what proof would you need to convince you of the creature’s existence? What would you do if you saw a Bigfoot?