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Local Feature

BIG FOOT IS
GOING MAINSTREAM

words by Jolene Polyack
images by Frankie Leal

As popularity for the creature grows, so does media coverage. It’s the strangest thing. A few years back, if I told someone I was going Bigfoot hunting, they would have scoffed. But now, as I told just about everyone I came into contact with, the standard reply was, “Oh, I want to go!” or “My (family member) would LOVE to do that!”

What has happened recently to change public opinion about Bigfoot? Perhaps it’s the internet, where more and more people turn for information. It used to be that the major networks controlled information. Not so much anymore. Now there are websites dedicated to Bigfoot such as bigfootencounters.com

Shows like radio’s Coast to Coast AM (originally with Art Bell and now with host George Noory) have enjoyed great success with paranormal topics that include Bigfoot on a regular basis. Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot follows a team that includes a scientist on Bigfoot hunts based on reported sightings. There are even apps for Bigfoot. Download Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy to keep updated on Bigfoot news. The History Channel’s show Greatest History’s Mysteries goes into detail about the sightings reported all through history along with theories on their existence. Giving traction to the Bigfoot phenomenon is England’s Oxford University where scientists there have called for people to send in any DNA believed to be from Bigfoot so they can test it and learn more about the beast. There is a Bigfoot Museum in Felton, California, a Bigfoot Symposium was recently held in Visalia and even an unofficial Cryptozoology Boy Scout Merit Badge (which includes Bigfoot).

I attended a Finding Bigfoot Town Hall Meeting at the Shaver Lake Community Center earlier this year. Stunningly, it was standing room only in the large hall with several local people getting up and telling their Bigfoot stories. Being a paranormal fan since the days of Fright Night, Night Gallery and Twilight Zone, I found the experience to be fascinating, if not bone chilling, as some of the stories were startlingly detailed and terrifying. The people giving their accounts were residents from Shaver, Fresno, Oakhurst, Kingsburg, etc.

Moving backwards in time, Native American Indians from a variety of tribes in several U.S. regions have told tales of Bigfoot sightings and interactions. The local Tule River Tribe has pictographs actually showing what resembles Bigfoot on large boulders in their Reservation. National media has shown the drawings which have been dated back to approximately 500 to 1,000 years ago.

How does one go about hunting for Bigfoot? First, you find out where there have been sightings. Jeffrey Gonzalez, founder of the Sanger Paranormal Society, says there have been sightings all over the Sierra Nevada. There are even reported sightings as close as Zediker and Ashlan Avenues in Sanger, the Kings River south of Reedley, and at Herndon & Highway 99 in Fresno on the San Joaquin River. Gonzalez has taken my family along with the Valderrama family of Kingsburg on two Bigfoot hunts. We’ve been in two areas where there have been frequent sightings and have stayed overnight. Part of me thinks it would be amazing (to say the least) to see a Bigfoot. Another part of me hopes to never see this creature. I guess that’s the fun. It’s especially unnerving when it gets dark and everyone turns in for the night. Every little sound is magnified and sets your heart pounding.

Here is the anatomy of a Bigfoot hunt. Once you’ve established where you’re going, and who is going with you, two very important factors, then you should pack up. Include apples, as Bigfoot apparently likes them; some sort of protection, in case someone or some thing in the wilderness wants to be aggressive. Also include motion sensors so you’ll know if Bigfoot is around your campsite. Use a motion sensor camera/recorder or video camera, which is capable of night vision recording, so if you see him, at least you’ll have proof. You should have binoculars to look for him in the daylight and night vision binoculars for the evenings.

Bring a parabolic sound amplifier to let you hear sounds far away, so that perhaps if you can’t see him, you’ll at least be able to hear him. Bring women and children as Bigfoot seems to be lured by the sounds of their voices. Once you’re at your destination and have set up camp, start looking in the woods where there are shadows. Bigfoot often observes people in the forests, while going unnoticed himself. Stay together as you explore your surroundings, as a single person is much easier to bother, and more susceptible to abduction than a group of people; but that’s another story. Next, take the apples and throw them on the outskirts of your campsite. Go to YouTube and search for Bigfoot Tree Knocking to listen to how Bigfoots talk to each other. Bigfoot hits a stick on a tree in a specific way. Bigfoot hunters use this tactic, along with calling (also available on YouTube) to catch his attention and perhaps head your way. Set up your night time equipment. Have a nice dinner (in case it’s your last), enjoy some story time around the campfire to enhance your sensitivity, and turn in. Then hope that your motion sensors go off or that your cameras catch something. Gonzalez occasionally sets out food, away from camp, and positions a motion sensitive camera facing the food in hopes of capturing a hungry Bigfoot on film.

But be careful for what you wish for. One local seasoned Bigfoot hunter came face to face with a Bigfoot when he ventured away from his group. He came back and told them what he had seen and then determined that he had seen enough, never returning to hunt again. Another, who is a high school principal in the area, has collected photos, videos and other proof that Bigfoot exists. He is keeping it until he writes a book regarding his encounters. Gonzalez even has DNA that he believes is from Bigfoot. One of the reasons people with Bigfoot proof tend to be careful with their evidence is that in the past when they’ve given it over to be analyzed, the specimens have become lost. These stories have added fuel to the government conspiracy theory that they’re suppressing Bigfoot information. Hunters tend to be very guarded with their findings.

Gonzalez says people sometimes see things they don’t understand and they want to talk about it and receive explanations for what they saw. His 24 hour hot line is designed to be the local support to any paranormal sighting, from Bigfoot, to UFO’s, ghosts, and anything else that is unexplained by traditional means.

Whether Bigfoot is a missing link, an alien, a figment of people’s imagination, or something else, the fascination continues to grow and the topic has entered the mainstream culture. Naysayers are fast becoming the minority. Who would have thought…

To report sightings of any kind, call Jeffrey Gonzalez at
559-287-8367.

Oh, and by the way…..happy hunting

 

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