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Geographical Index > United States > Illinois > Montgomery County > Article # 649

Media Article # 649
Article submitted by Stan Courtney
Article prepared and posted by Stan Courtney


Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Bigfoot, Mystery or Myth?

By Tara I. Cale
The Prairie Land Buzz


"...what happened next paralyzed me with fear. I believe it was a Bigfoot that ran out about 10 feet in front of me and stopped for about 15 seconds. It let out a very loud scream right at me then turned around and ran straight through the pond. It had dark brown hair mixed with some grey, and it smelled awful. I have never really been a believer and as a matter of fact I am the kind of person more likely to make fun of a believer. That being said, I am having a hard time coming up with an explanation for this."

That is a partial recounting of an actual report about a possible Bigfoot (a.k.a. Sasquatch) sighting in Kendall County, Illinois, published on the website of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO).

Does this creature exist? Ist it truly a mystery, or just a hyped up myth?

I am not professing belief, or denying, this phenomenon. I am merely writing about what has been brought to my attention, and responding to a request of coverage. Many publications will not discuss the subject, at least not in detail, and certainly not seriously. My job is not to prove or disprove that Bigfoot exists, but to bring to attention the fact that professional organizations exist that do believer, that track, and indeed investigate that possibility.

If you believe that bipeal homanoids exists, this story will be intriguing and informative for you. If you are like the majority of the population and think it's all a joke, or hoax..perhaps the story will be for you, at minimum, entertaining.

I recently talked to Harold Benny, a local investigator for BFRO. Benny hold two degrees in Zoology and was a Biology teacher for several years. He has participated in BFRO expeditions in Michigan, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Oklahoma and Illinois.

"Sometimes when we are called out to investigate a strange occurence, there ends up being a logical and natuural explanation for what happened," he said. "Anytime a simple explanation is possible, that's the BEST explanation. But many times the explanation purely isn't simple.

Bigfoot is often described as a large, hairy, ape-like creture, ranging between 6-10 feet tall, weighing in excess of 500 lbs, and covered with hair (often reddish brown, but sometimes dark gray or black). Alleged witnesses have described large eyes, and say that the creature has a very foul smell, often said to be similar to that of a rotting carcass. Although some reported sightings have occurred in the daytime, most frequently, they are at night.

These large alleged ape-like creatures are spotted mostly in forested regions with abundant protein sources - deer in particular. They are said to maintain low population levels in those areas, even where the protein sources could support dramatically larger numbers. They have never become an ongoing nuisance to human communities, or to human livestock.

Unlike gorillas and chimps, their family groupings are small and mobile, making it very difficult for modern humans to hunt them.

Their impact on the land is so subtle that it takes a trained eye to even notice it.

The general concensus is that they normally operate nocturnally, sometimes close to rural communities of humans, and are only occasionally seen, heard, or detected.

Many people think the Bigfoot "hysteria" began in the late 50s, when Jerry Crew took a cast of an enormous footprint to his local newspaper office, reporting they had discovered the print at an isolated work site in California. It was later determined that the footprints had been faked by someone using fabricated wooden formas of a large animal-type foot.

In 1967 Roger Patterson and cohort Robert Gimlin released a film of a purported Sasquatch on film at Bluff Creek, California - probably the most "famous" footage of Bigfoot on film. Years later an acquaintance of the pair said that he had worn an ape costume for the making of the film...but there are many rebuttals of that possibility, backed by scientific evidence, that the man's admitted involvement was fabricated.

These reports may be the best known Bigfoot news, but it is certainly not the earliest reports of such a creature.

Native Americans have been talking about Bigfoot, or the "Big Man," as they call him, for centuries. They regard Bigfoot with great respect. He is seen as a special kind of being. Some elders regard him as standing on the "border" between animal-style consiousness and human-style consiousness, which gives him a special kind of power.

Elder Indian people say that Bigfoot knows when humans are searching for him and that he chooses when and to whom to make an appearance, and that his psychic powers account for his ability to elude man's efforts to capture him or hunt him down. In Indina culture, the entire natural workd - the animals, the plants, the rivers, the stars - is seen as a family. And Bigfoot is seen as a close relatives, the "great elder brother".

Many believers think the Sasquatch is an "other worldly being," presenting itself in viewable form to us only when absolutely necessary, and usually as a sign or warning, and that they can also take the shape and form of other mammals, such as coyotes and wolves. This is not a belief support by BFRO however.

Whatever your beliefs on Bigfoot, the tales on the website of BFRO.net - which researches bigfoot encounters nationally by state and county - make for some good reading.

A father and daughter say they saw a Bigfoot near the Garden of the Gods Wilderness. They believe it ran its fingers through the dust on their Ford Explorer. A boy out deer hunting says he spotted the beast lumbering through the woods. A couple camping heard an unearthly scream in the woods. A group says a creature hurled big rocks at them, putting their $10,000 telescope in peril. A man looking for cougars says he heard Bigfoot knocking logs together...

The term "sasquatch" is an anglicized derivative of the word "Sesquac", meaning "wild man". "Bigfoot" was a journalistic term generated in the middle of the last century during a rash of sightings in Northern California.

According to Benny and the BFRO, the asserion that there is absolutely no physical evidence concerning the existence of Bigfoot is just not ture.

"There is more physical evidence than most people realize," Benny said, "Physical evidence is found consistently in various areas across the country. Distinct tracks that do not match other tracks, hairs that match each other but no know wild animals, and large scats that could not be made by any known species - this is all physical evidence."

The presence or absence of physical remains - or body parts - is a totally different matter. Mammals leave tracks, scats and hair behind, but they rarely leave body parts. Body parts of mammals are only available when they die. Availability of physical remains is determined by population size and lifespan of a species. So, a rare species with a long lifespan will leave very little physical remains for humans to find. The probability of humans actually finding, collecting and identifying those remain before they are completely reabsorbed into the environment complicated the "physical remains as evidence" equation dramatically.

To complicate the answer to this questions, little serious work has ever been done to look for remains of surviving wood apes in areas where they are rumored to reside. How could remains of such an elusive species expect to be found, collected and identified without concentrated effort? Add to that the fact that fossils of any land animal are very rare.

Fossils of this creature could exist, but they will be exceedingly rare, because the animals itself is rare to begin with. Only a tiny fraction of the population will die in locations where soils will somehow preserve bones. Odds are slim at best that any bones (which are normally fragmentary) would be found, collected and identified, unless a focused effort is made to look for them.

Until such efforts are made, in many places, over a long period of time, no one should be scratching their head wondering why there are not physical remains.

What about the "road kill" theory?

Only a very small fraction of the thousands of credible sightings describe near-misses with vehicles. No substantiated reports describe a collision with a Bigfoot. Those who have gotten closest to Bigfoots say an analogy of the "intelligent ape" is not as accurate as "hair-covered aboriginal man." Around humans their typical behavior is to flee or hide. They try to stay out of view or at least in the shadows when near people or moving vehicles. Most sightings are purely accidental. Roadside sightings describe them hanging back in the shadows of a tree line and waiting for a vehicle to pass before crossing the road. In almost all of those sightings a passenger spotted the figure first. Because of that, it's reasonable to assume the majority of drivers never notice when this behavior occurs, because a driver's attention is usually on the road ahead. Waiting for a vehicle to pass before stepping out of the shadows to cross, demonstrates the exact, consistent pattern of cautious behavior these so called "Bigfoots" exhibit in other encounters with humans.

Why hasn't a Bigfoot been shot or captured by a hunter?

According to alleged reports of a Bigfoot, the creature looks a lot like a primitive man. Without even considering the influence of hunter safety courses (which everyone must take before getting a hunting license), it is simply not realistic to expect that a hunter's natural reaction will be to shoot a primitive manlike figure in the back as it runs awa.

In most states a hunter can be arrested and prosecuted for poaching merely fro being equipped to hunt animals not specifically permitted in that season. They can't always carry the largest caliber rifles with them.

A hunter will pass on shooting a large dangerous looking animal if the hunter feels inadequately armed. The few who hunt bear or mountain lion want to feel safe themselves, and adequately armed when shooting an animal that could turn and attack. In most areas high caliber rifles are restricted to shooting ranges at all other times of year. In states like Ohio, hunting with high caliber rifles is completely forbidden. Hunters may only use short range firearms such as shotguns to hunt deer.

There are a few factors actually making it less likely for a hunter, as opposed to a hiker or a camper, to see or encounter a Bigfoot. A Bigfoot is more likely to see the person first when the person is wearing a bright fluorescent orange hat and jacket. These extremely consipicuous garments are worn by hunters to make them more visible. They are invisible to deer because of the eyesight physiology of a Bigfoot would be closer to primates than deer. One could assume that they eyesight physiology of a Bigfoot would be closer to primates than deer, so Bigfoots would probably see hunter orange as distictly as humans can. Also, for safety reasons, hunters cannot legally hunt deer at night (except by special permission for crop damage control purposes, and then only in open fields). Coon hunters can hunt in forests at night (when Bigfoots are believed to be most active) but they are required to carry lit lamps with them, for the same reason deer/elk hunters must wear hunter orange - to prevent hunting accidents. With or without lit lamps, coon hunters are even more noticeable than other hunters because of the loud hounds they employ to sniff out their intended prey. Even in the thickest forests coon hunters and their dogs can be heard, literally, a mile away. This gives other animals - Bigfoots - plenty of warning to leave the area before a confrontation can occur.

There are some people who say they have specifically gone out to hunt Bigfoots, with the intent kill one, and turn the body over to scientists. In the 70's there where [sic] car loads of rural hunters would patrol a vicinity following a rash of sightings, but those were always localized situations and they never lasted more than a week or two. The occasional solo commando Bigfoot hunter usually doesn't get very far on his own. Those who are lured by the fantasy of slaying the great monster for the sake of science tend to get frustrated after a while and give up. The few weekend profiteers who stick with it eventually switch from rifles to camcorders. Anyone who actually carries a high caliber rifle while looking for a bigfoot gradually realizes how unlawful it is to merely carry a rifle in most forests during most seasons of the year. Even patrolling backcountry roads with a rifle in a vehicle can lead to some stiff fines and/or jail time. The fantasies of an aspiring bigfoot assassin will eventually mature from visions of scientific glory to visions of big money. Once that transition is made the fantasizer gradually comes to realize that a quantity of stunning, clear, close-range video footage could be worth as much, if not more, than a carcass.

The odds are not very good to start with that a hunter will ever see a bigfoot, especially in daylight hours. If the opportunity arises a surprised hunter must then 1) overcome his immediate shock, fear and awe in order to have the presence of mind to quickly deliberate and assure himself with absolute certainty that this hairy manlike figure is not a man in a costume, 2) be absolutely certain that his unprecedented decision to kill this non-human, seemingly intelligent, powerfully built whatever-it-is will have no negative legal, moral, or supernatural consequences for him and his family either now or in the future, 3) have enough time to get a clear shot before the figure dashes back into the treeline, and 4) hit the figure in a vital organ so it falls down and cannot counter attack.

Real footage of a bigfoot up close in daylight would be extraordinarily powerful and captivating to most people, and therein lies its power and commercial value. The owner of the footage does not have to convince every last stubborn skeptic before he can market his tape for public consumption or create media interest. A good tape would create a lot of public interest, even if it did not provide immediate "scientific proof."

According to Benny, there are hundreds of credible eyewitnesses of Sasquatch sightings and thousands of footprint findings. Some extend back several centuries.

In many accounts, Sasquatches have had many opportunites to attack humans. Yet, in only two reports are there descriptions of violent attacks on humans. It is the story told by President Teddy Roosevel in his book, "The Wilderness Hunter" (1890).

A chapter in Roosevelt's book recounts the story of two trappers who were stalked by a Sasquatch-like animal in a remote region. The trappers' camp was twice found ransacked, this occurring during the day while the trappers were out checking the beaver traps they had set. After the second night, the trappers decided to vacate the area. While collecting their traps, the men split up. One was delayed as he prepared beaver caught in the last of traps, the other headed straight back to camp. The first found the body of the latter later near the campfire. The dead man had a broken neck.

There are no modern reports of humans being injured or killed by a Sasquatch.

In fact, retreating appears to be the typical reaction of a Sasquatch when in the presence of humans. Any harassment of humans seems to be limited to screams, crashing and snapping of tree limbs and brush, and occasionally the throwing of rocks. There is not way of knowing the purpose of this, except that as you know, frightened people usually vacate the area.

Sasquatches are assumed by researches [sic] to be omnivores, feeding on both meaat and plants, but seem to only prey on animals such as deer, duck, beavers, etc. They are reported to only kill dogs that chase or threaten them. Dogs often flee or cower in the presence of a Bigfoot, which probably saves their lives. Dogs that have been more aggressive recieve brutal retaliation as a result - they have been found torn apart, with what is assumed to be Sasquatch tracks around the remain.

Witnesses often ask the BFRO if Sasquatches are a threat to themselves, their families, or their property. Consistent assumed behvaioral patterns indicate the following.

Sasquatches may stalk or harass humans, usually in a forested area, and possibly the reult of a territorial conflict, but they do not attack humans. Confrontations may trigger intimidating displays, growling, etc., but not a physical attack.

Reports have described easy opportunites to attack or grab children who were not closely attended but in all such situations the Sasquatches merely observed the children until they were noticed by someone. Then they simply walked or ran away.

Sasquatches are know to raid chicked coops, rabbit hutches, hog pens, and fruit orchards from time to time. There are few reports of horses or cows being attacked or bothered.

A bright flashlight or spotlight seems to be the most effective way to make a Sasquatch back off and leave. Warning shots even are apparently not as effective as bright spotlights. This response by humans tends to quickly and permanently halt any recurring harassing behavior.

Some people think Bigfoot is a big joke - that the people reporting sightings are uneducated, have perceptions altered by chemicals, or have encountered something just too strange to be explained in any other way.

Do Bigfoots exist? Is it a big hoax, a true mystery, or just a myth? Can anyone answer that conclusively?

The scientific community discounts the existence of Bigfoot, saying there is no evidence to support the survival of such a large, prehistoric ape-like creature. Evidence that does exist points more towards a hoax or delusion than to sightings of a genuine creature. In a 1996 USA Today article titled "Bigfoot Merely Amuses Most Scientists", Washington State zoologist John Crane says, "There is no such thing as Bigfoot. No data other than mateiral that's clarly been fabricated has ever been presented."

Researchers believe that scientists are afraid of damaging their professional reputation by saying otherwise. Backing this viewpoint, scientist Jeffrey Meldrum characterizes the search for Sasquach as "a valid scientific endeavor."

What is a fact is that there are several orgainzations decicated to the research and investigation of Bigfoot sightings in the United States. The oldest and largest is the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization - BFRO - providing a free database to individuals and other organizations. Founded in 1995 it is a virtual community of scientists, journalist, and specialist from diverse backgrounds. The researchers who compose the BFRO are engaged in projects, including field and laboratory investigations, designed to address various aspects of the Bigfoot phenomenon. As a result of the education and experience of its members and the quality of their efforts, the BFRO is widely considered as the most credible and respected investigative network involved in the study of this subject. The organization seeks to resolve the mystery surrounding the Bigfoot phenomenon - to derive conclusive documentation of the species' existence.

So I ask again, do Bigfoots exist? Is it a big hoax, a true mystery, or just a myth? So far, no one has provided a conclusive answer. What is known however is that the Bigfoot phenomena is so prevalent that the highly acclaimed television station Animal Planet has devoted a time slot specifically for the effort of promoting the research to prove the existence of the elusive Sasquatch. "Finding Bigfoot." now the stations most watched show according to Benny, airs on Sunday evenings.

Closer to home, Bigfoot investigators from across the county assemble in Montgomery County, IL recently to investigate the reports of daytime sightings of a Bigfoot in Hillsboro. Investigators from Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska and Missouri were involved. Two locations within a 10 mile radius of Hillsboro were investigated.

"During the investigation, three of us saw a bipedal animal move through the trees," Benny reported. "We also saw several instances of non-reflective eyeglow and found large footprints, but they were not distinct enough to cast."

After further investigation, the team decided to discount many reported sounds that were previously attributed to a possible Sasquatch, but the entire team did agree that the area was worth returning to. being from the area, Benny will continue independent research in the area until the tearn [sic] gathers hear again in a few months.

An interesting fact...Illinois ranks 7th out of the 50 states for the most number of Bigfoot sightings. Washingto has the most reported sightings, followed by California, Oregon, Ohio, Florida and Texas.

One last time, I ask the question, do Bigfoots exist? Is it a mystery yet to be explained, or just a myth?

For many, the proof of the existence of Bigfoot is as provable as the existence of the wind. Even though there is nothing to "see," you can hear it, you can feel it, you can see its effects ... and that is the only proof that you need to have faith that it does, indeed, exist.

If you live in Illinois and suspect bigfoot activity or presesence, contact the BFRO at www.bfro.net.




 
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