Quest for BigfootThere is something in mankind’s nature that responds to the mystery and allure of the unknown. The figure of a mysterious “Wildman” appears in virtually every culture. The legend of a North American ape species known as Sasquatch or Bigfoot has been around before recorded history. Even today, sightings and physical evidence are gathered on a regular basis.

Fact or fiction? Publisher Dan Case and I set out one summer on a quixotic quest to answer that question. For the next few weeks, beginning in western Arkansas, home of Smoky Crabtree about whom The Boggy Creek Monster was filmed, and which frightened the pants off movie goers across the nation, Dan and I traveled the nation interviewing and investigating.

Some 100 organizations in the U.S. are devoted to the study of and the search for Bigfoot. A number of TV documentaries have been aired on Discovery, History, and Travel channels. Renowned scientists and primate experts like Dr. Jane Goodall and George Schaller have lent their support for Bigfoot research projects. More than 30 books have been published on the subject.

“You’ll be amazed when I tell you that I am sure they (Bigfoot) exist,” Goodall conceded on NPR’s Talk of The Nation.

“Large, unrecognized creatures may still roam remote forests,” declared Schaller.

One of the highest rates of sightings in the U.S., second only to the Pacific Northwest, occurs in the Kiamichi Mountains of southeastern Oklahoma.

Peggy near Lost City in eastern Oklahoma revealed that she and her sister grew up seeing Sasquatch. “I’ve heard them holler and scream… seen them in our back yard 20 feet away.”

She describes them as tall, with long brownish-red hair, no hair on their faces and standing upright with long arms reaching almost to their knees.

“These woods have been full of stories about Bigfoot probably as long as people have lived here,” asserted Broken Bow Ranger Mike Virgin.

Doctor Jeff Meldrum, tenured professor of anatomical sciences at Idaho State University, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on Bigfoot. He showed Dan and me around his laboratory in the Life-Sciences Building that houses more than 200 plaster casts of what he contends are Bigfoot prints. When not in his lab or teaching, he explores the forests of Washington and northern California collecting footprints, hair, and feces from the mysterious monster.

“I’m not out to proselytize that Bigfoot exists,” he asserts. “I place legend under scrutiny and my conclusion is, absolutely, Bigfoot exists.”

In Willow Creek, California, Dan and I visited the Bigfoot Museum. The curator explained that it was the largest of its kind in the world and contained irrefutable evidence—footprints, hair, photos, possibly an actual corpse—that proves Bigfoot’s existence.

Near Bluff Creek, California, where Al Hodgson runs a General Store, he was working that memorable evening in 1967 when Bigfoot hunter Roger Patterson rushed to town exclaining that he had captured an elusive Bigfoot on movie film. The much-debated footage shows a shaggy ape-creature walking upright. The Patterson-Gimlin video is the most famous footage ever taken of the elusive man-ape of the wilds.

Dan and I backpacked into the area for several days.

So what did we conclude after we completed our travels and investigation? Our evidence included Bigfoot Burgers, Bigfoot Crossing, Bigfoot Brew, Bigfoot Camping… Perhaps Bigfoot should start a franchise.

Charles W. Sasser is adventure author of over 60 books and thousands of magazine articles. Read more about him, his adventures, and his work by Binging or Googling him on the Internet.