Posted by: George | December 13, 2012

Finding Bigfoot (NOT)

I love faux science. And Finding Bigfoot, which airs on Animal Planet, is about as good as it gets.

The episodes follow a basic pattern. Why would they not? This is one of the keys to good science—have a method and stick to it.

Matt, Cliff, Bobo, and Ranae, the four Big Footologists (aka, Squatchers), go into a rural area where there have been sightings. As they are driving into the area, one of the four, usually Bobo, says something like, “This area is real Squatchey.” Some areas are Squatchey, and some are not. Experts know the difference.

Then, the hunt for Bigfoot begins through three basic research methods: (1) town hall meetings to collect stories from locals, which is followed by recreations, (2) solo camping, where one member of the team camps in a wilderness area alone (with a camera crew, of course), which increases the likelihood of a sighting, and (3) night hikes, where the team splits up into twos, then walks around in the dark with thermal and night vision cameras and two camera crews (maybe a catering truck as well) trading off tree knocks and Bigfoot wails, hoping a Bigfoot will respond.


About forty to fifty townies usually show up at the town meeting. The Squatchers ask, “How many of you have seen a Big Foot?” Typically, about twenty percent of the locals in the room raise their hands.

(Let me here confess my envy. It seems that everyone has either seen a Bigfoot or knows someone who has seen a Bigfoot. Except for me. I’ve never seen one. I don’t know anyone who claims to have seen one. I’ve camped in wilderness areas before. I’ve done night hikes. What in the hell is wrong with me?)

Then, the townies tell their stories as their neighbors listen, faces filled with horror. Finally, the team asks the townies to mark a topological map with the location of their sighting. If there is a cluster of sightings, and there always is, that is where the Squatchers will go to hunt the local Bigfoot on their night hike.

Also, a couple of the stories are chosen for recreation. Bobo, who is a large man, usually plays the role of Bigfoot, standing where the Bigfoot stood in the sighting or walking where the Bigfoot walked in an amateur video. The basic assumption behind this method is that anything (in memory or on video) that looks like Bobo was probably a human but anything that doesn’t looks like Bobo was probably a Squatch.

Now, we have to shift the narrative line to the Squatcher who is solo camping. During one episode, Ranae, the only woman on the team, said, “I am going to solo camp here tonight to see if I get lucky.” She walked around her tent in the dark, yelling, “I’m here alone. Come on down here.”  Maybe the local Bigfoot didn’t speak English, or maybe Ranae was not the type of woman a Squatch would want to get Squatchy with. The basic point is that the solo camping on this episode was non-conclusive. Bigfoot didn’t show up. We don’t know why. This is all part of science.

On the night hikes, the team goes to the area where Bigfoot sightings are common and walk around with a night vision cameras (one of them on a rod focused on the Squatcher’s face), trading off Bigfoot calls (your basic monster howl, which sounds a lot like a cayote) or whacking tree trunks with tree branches (this is how Bigfoots—or, is it Bigfeet?—call each other). They often think that they hear a response to their howl or a tree knock to answer their tree knock. At these moments, the camera trained on the Squatcher’s face registers astonishment and fear, which is its own kind of evidence.

Bobo is my favorite Squatcher because he has the most creative ideas for drawing in the creatures. On one episode, he talked about how Bigfoots—maybe the plural of Bigfoot is Bigfoot, like the plural of deer is deer?—really like donuts and bacon. So, he went to a remote campsite with a dozen donuts, a camp stove, and a pound of bacon. He put a few donuts and a few pieces of bacon on a low tree limb and then waited patiently. While waiting, Bobo finished off the rest of the donuts and bacon, just to make sure the food tasted the way Bigfooties—I think this is really the most appropriate plural form—like ‘em. I was half expecting Elvis to show up. Elvis likes (present tense, because he is still alive) bacon and donuts. However, the more I thought about it, Elvis would be unlikely to show up. He could eat three pounds of bacon in a sitting, so one pound (minus the strips that Bobo ate) would hardly be enough to lure Elvis to a remote campsite.

Some of Bobo’s other techniques for luring out Bigfooties are setting off fireworks (roman candles) or shining disco lights in the forest around midnight. Bigfooties are, you see, very curious, and they often come out of their hiding places to see the fireworks or disco lights.

Bobo also likes to leave a baby doll in the woods near a boombox that is looping the sound of a baby crying. This appeals to the Bigfooties’ desire to protect lost children. Or, eat them. This is not made very clear. It also doesn’t seem to work. I would suggest putting lots of powder on the baby doll to make it smell more like a real baby. That might work.

(It is interesting that Bigfootologists seem to know more about the psychology of Bigfooties than the average farmer knows about the psychology of domestic hogs.)

I should mention something about Bigfoot tracks. The team often analyzes the plaster cast of the footprint of a Bigfoot, cast by a local. Sometimes, they even find imprints that might just be the tracks of a Bigfoot. If you want to help out the cause, you might buy yourself a pair of Bigfoot shoes and do some walking around in wilderness areas, especially shortly after a heavy rainfall.


  1. I offer praise for choosing the lovely confusion of RE*creation and REC*reation since both version apply.


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