This week (November 10, 2013 to be exact) the new season of “Finding Bigfoot” begins on Animal Planet. This will be the fourth season of the show, which follows a team of researchers who are on the trail of Bigfoot – or “Squatch,” as they like to refer to it – a large, hairy ape-like creature which walks upright and roams around various parts of the world.
I have to admit I am fascinated by these types of shows, whether it is a team looking for Big Foot, the Moss Man or the red-eyed Devil Dog in New Jersey. Let me start by saying I don’t either believe or disbelieve in any of these phenomena; I am of the school which says, “I don’t believe in them and I want to keep it that way, so don’t prove to me otherwise.” In other words, they could exist; but I would rather not have one standing in front of me so I can be really sure.
The shows all follow the same general format. The team of experts gets a call from someone who has seen or heard their prey, usually accompanied by a video , and they head out to investigate. The team first meets with the eyewitness, who takes them to the scene of the encounter, and they proceed to investigate whether or not the video is real. They do this by calculating where the videographer was standing and where the Squatch was. They send the largest member of the team, James “Bo Bo” Fay, to the spot where the creature was and recreate the video. They then analyze the video and the one skeptic in the group, Ranae Holland, always says she isn’t convinced. Then, off to the local Fire Hall or Community Center for all the local residents to share their Squatch stories. The team then goes to the “Squatchiest” places to further hunt. Got it?
In three seasons, they have yet to find conclusive evidence proving that Big Foot exists; but – and this is a big butt (yes, pun intended) – they have yet to disprove it exists either, unlike my other favorite unexplained phenomenon show, “Ghost Hunters” where they actually do prove, at least to my satisfaction, whether a place is haunted or not. The “Finding Bigfoot” team will come across evidence – such as the previously mentioned videos, tracks and even purported “Squatch nests” – which could be real or could be faked. Unlike when it comes to ghosts, there is no easy way to prove whether this evidence is real or not. Footprints can and have been faked, as have videos and even, I am sure, the nests. Unless the team was going to go to the elaborate, and I imagine expensive, process of doing some kind of DNA testing checking for non-human traces, there probably is no way to determine the authenticity.
According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), it is impossible to chronicle how many bigfoot sightings there have been. They estimate in North America alone there have been anywhere from 2,000 – 6,000 sightings, with no time period given for this estimate. The organization does say there have been reports for over 400 years from people of “unimpeachable character.” The four team members on “Finding Bigfoot” are all members of this organization, which has a quite extensive database of Bigfoot sightings and reports. Since there have been three sightings not far from where I live, I will be keeping my eyes and ears open. The founder of the FBRO is Matt Moneymaker. Yup, that is his name; take from it what you would like.
Back to the show, after hearing the reports from the locals, the team picks three or four of the ones they consider to be the most reliable and they go to the scenes of these encounters. They then pick one area to search further. This first includes a daytime search for evidence, using locals for “boots on the ground.” There is the usual dissension in the ranks when they find some kind of evidence, with Ranae saying the evidence is inconclusive and Cliff Barackman saying it is proof. This follows with a return to the area at night.
During the night expedition, there is the obligatory sound of a Squatch howling off in the distance, the sound of something crashing through the woods and a rock or stick which is thrown at the team. But, no Squatch has been found yet; and, I can only assume, since the show is taped, that none will be found this season.
Is Bigfoot real? I can’t say for sure. I am pretty certain the people on “Finding Bigfoot” believe it is, and they do present some convincing evidence; but, until the one living over on the other side of that hill from me knocks on my door, I’ll remain a skeptic and be satisfied to watch the show and wait for definitive proof.
By Paul Roy