It’s not an IF – but a WHERE?

On October 20th, 1967, Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin were on horseback, in the mountains of Bluff Creek, California. What the two men witnessed, and caught on a shaky 53 second film – has become one of the most iconic and well known views of the mystery we know as Bigfoot. That fall day in California marks the resounding beginning of a lasting cryptid craze. Accounts of the creatures date back to 1832. From then on, the creatures have been said to have kidnapped hikers, killed and attacked people, been killed themselves – and hundreds upon thousands of people have claimed to have photographs of them. Bigfoot have been said to be responsible for footprints in the Himalayas, on Everest, and across forests, plains, and about anywhere any creature can be in America – and the world. The word Sasquatch comes from what the Native Americans knew him as – Soss-q’tal. They already feared the creatures by the time new Americans got to the frontier to settle. Settler’s accounts­­ told of the fear Native Americans had for the monsters. They depicted the creature on clothing, rock drawings, and wood sculptures. Indian Tribes each had their own name for the beast. Some simple, like the Yokutus Indians’ name that meant “Hairy Man” , and the Athabasken Indians’ that literally meant “The Woodsman.”­ Alaskan tribes in the late 17th century called the creature they saw the “Kushtaka” or the “Bush Indian” – a name telling its “bushy” appearance – and they knew of the tribes south of them, and considered it a more-hairy person from the lower continent. They have captured the attention of most everyone at one point or another – some people unwilling to accept their reality. The Animal Planet is home to a show that is currently captivating the Bigfoot community, and maybe even the skeptics with its analysis of new, old, and debated films. The cryptic hunters on the show lead expedition after expedition looking for the creature. The Squatchers often go to extreme lengths – they make individual eight-day one-man trips into deep woods where Bigfoot are believed to be, geared with necessities – food and camera – hoping for contact. The dedicated enthusiast will, according to the norms of odds, eventually meet one. If they don’t, I don’t know who will. Unlike what many people think – Bigfoot is a title given to a species. It isn’t one lone creature that lurks the forests of the US, walking from state to state. They are elusive, and by region, their description varies. We are lucky to live in the 3rd hottest state for Sasquatch sightings – well, depending on how you look at it. Not only is our whole state a hot spot, but one of the most concentrated areas for sighting in the whole nation is just a few hours away. In the Northeast/Central Ohio region, exists one of the most concentrated regions of sightings in the Continent. Due to the fact that reports and descriptions of the creature vary, the beast is given different names across the world. Here, he is known as the Ohio Grassman. Hunters and locals report that The Grassman is spotted in the forests and plains of the largely rural eastern part of Ohio, including in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains. So much that History Channels’ MonsterQuest, a show that leads expeditions and eye witness accounts to find mysterious Cryptids, chose The Ohio Grassman as the subject for one of their searches . His inhabitance here isn’t new news – European settlers to the area now known as Ohio in the 18th century, wrote accounts of their encounters with a large man-like creature roaming the grassy plains of the region – where his name originates. In 2012 alone, there were around 230 official reports of sightings in Ohio. Ohio is the third in the United States in official reports per year – behind the two biggest Bigfoot states in the history of the creature. Washington and California and the western coast of the US has been the epicenter of Bigfoot sightings since the beginning – Bluff Creek, in California, is where the Patterson film – the most recognizable images of The Beast – were shot. We all have heard of Bigfoot, but have we heard Bigfoot? In the last few months, the latest news in the world of the Sasquatch made headlines. In Oregon, a state of 65% woodlands, noises unknown to residents of the Umatilla Indian Reservation are occurring frequently, keeping them up at night. Calls were made to authorities when in recent months the people in Pendleton, Oregon, heard screams and calls of what has been assumed to be those of Sasquatch. They report hearing loud, long, high yells ripping across the forest covered, swampy lands, most nights after night fall. Researchers rushed to the area and took recordings – which came to match those of many other known Bigfoot calls. Elder Junior Andrew Holiday is a known outdoorsman, and experienced hunter. I asked him what he thought about bigfoot in general. He told me he spends a good majority of his free time hiking, hunting, and shooting. “I know all of the sounds of animals in the woods whether it’s the yelping of a coyote, the sound of raccoons fighting, the grunt of a buck during the rut, or a turkey calling,” he said, “I always know what I hear, but there’s always that one noise I’ve heard that I don’t know, and it makes the hair on my, and anyone’s neck stand up.” Andrew knows he’s heard unknown noises, and he truly thinks they could belong to the creature under discussion. He concluded, “I reckon I do believe in Bigfoot but have never seen any evidence. I have heard some strange noises that I can’t explain but I have never encountered one or gotten any proof.” The film Roger Patterson shot in 1967 has been studied meticulously, and scrutinized time and time again. Attention seekers have come forth with fake “confessions” of being the Man in the Costume. Many theories and all claims have been dismissed with some research. The fact is the creature filmed is said to be 8’ -1”. Over the years, the location of the encounter has been tracked down, and thorough studying has been done on landmarks and terrain, therefore producing a viable estimate on his height. ­­The bottom line is – the most famous and historical piece of evidence of the elusive beast has never been proven a hoax. Neither has it been definitively confirmed, but – there is a lack of evidence against its validity, and the presence of enough evidence for its authenticity that science cannot say Bigfoot doesn’t exist. ­­­ Patterson himself took casts of the prints that that his female subject left . The feet “Patty” had would fit about a size 20 shoe. Molds of footprints left by the creature are probably the most common evidence provided. In many cases, various casts are examined and deemed very real. In one case a forensic scientist examined prints left in Washington and the print so distinct that the flat sole and the toes of the creature had epidermal ridges, or, the tiny lines we see in our own hands and feet. The print so detailed it even had scar tissue in the foot. The print was deemed so intricate, it was not a fake. If you want a glimpse of what a Bigfoot’s shoe would look like, look at Elder student Brandon Allen’s feet – he wears a modest size 18. To many this seems just dreamlike fiction produced in the folklore of history, and built on the intrigue human minds see in such cryptids. What most people think is a land that is vast with cities, and thick population, that we know every square inch of our nation. With new satellite mapping techniques and advanced methods of transportation combined with billions of people living on the planet, it is hard to imagine any place that is yet to be explored. However, California, one of the US’s largest states, and the second hottest Bigfoot state has 39.7 million acres of forest – just over 40% of the state’s total land. Blinded by our dominant notions that places like California are hopping with coast line cities, and a complete social metropolis, most of us don’t realize that the land we call our own is vast, and many areas of it, although explored, and charted, are not inhabited by humans – leaving space so plentiful for creatures to roam undisturbed – it’s hard to put it all into perspective. If I gave you a map of the dispersion of the white tailed deer population in the US, you would take it as fact – because it is because people see the deer every day, the stats have been counted, and the placement occurs accordingly in regions, accurately based on the weather, terrain, and dominance of human population. You wouldn’t think the said presence of deer in these large parts of the US is because the people in those regions decided to all say they saw a brown, slim, fast, skittish, and sometimes horned creatures in their area and woods. The consistency on the map is simply because the deer really inhabit the area and the people that live there see them and obviously accept the fact without question. The same goes for the Sasquatch. They live and breathe in the vast forests of our nation, and in our world. People live in areas that are more inhabited by the creature, they see it, and officially report their encounter. The people of mid to northern California, Oregon, Washington and into contiguous south-western parts of Canada, did not convene and decide to make up stories. The creatures live there. And it makes sense as the north-western part of the country is the heaviest populated. Did our fellow Ohioans just a few hours north of us conspire to formulate a myth of a creature? No. The – although not concrete – evidence, is in the fact that when tens of thousands of people say they saw something – they’re not all dreaming. Maybe deer are calculated by the US Wildlife Service, but over 1,200 accounts in a year are not any collaboration or hoax. They are real people like you and I, who were lucky (or unlucky, depending on your point of view) enough to have crossed paths with the intangible being. Polls and studies have revealed that about 30% of the US population fully believes Bigfoot is alive and well. The remaining portion of Americans is a majority who are skeptical, and the bottom roughly 20% is personally certain the creature does not exist. Scientifically speaking, less than 20% of planet Earths’ inhabiting species have been discovered, and are known. The planet surges with life, and we are one in 8,700,000 species. Take from all this what you will – but I believe in the tall, mysterious, hidden creatures everyone calls Bigfoot. So we will go out, boots against the ground, beating ceaselessly into these undiscovered lands. With our endless human drive and unwillingness to doubt – we will find him.