Origins of the Bigfoot Hunter
When I was a kid in the late 1970s/early 80s, the paranormal was all the rage. Magazines such as The Unexplained and television programmes like Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World and Leonard Nimoy’s In Search Of developed my fascination with UFOs and things that go bump in the night. Many happy hours walking in the countryside with my granddad also contributed to my love of spooky mysteries.
My favourite phenomenon was Bigfoot. The concept of a huge hairy monster hiding in the woods was entirely plausible to the imagination of a child. Even though I’ve grown up and realised that it’s probably a load of bullshit, I can’t shake off the tiny possibility that Bigfoot is real or at least concede that the myth has some grounding in reality. Join me on a journey.
Wolfson on Location
A few years ago, I went on holiday to the west coast of Canada and the north-western corner of the USA. I had several reasons to visit this magnificent part of the world but one of them was to see Bigfoot country for myself. My trip included 3 nights sleeping in a trailer in the backyard of my friend Paula’s home on Vancouver Island. This gave me an opportunity to get up at the crack of dawn and explore the woods where the enigmatic beast has been sighted. This was a dream come true. Imagining the dark forested realm of Bigfoot was a childhood preoccupation and now I wandered there alone.
A characteristically large species hiding away from mankind in the wilderness is a hard concept to swallow, especially in this enlightened age of technology and communication. However, it gets a little easier to believe when you’re there. The woods aren’t like the cultivated versions in the UK. They are wild and thick and stretch for hundreds of miles. You can barely see ten feet in any direction and they are the domain of big predators that are seldom glimpsed, such as bears and cougars. I explored the shadowy forest trails with a lump in my throat. What would happen if I suddenly came face-to-face with an actual Bigfoot? Would anyone believe me if I did? At one point, I heard a twig snap from nearby and the realistic possibility of bumping into something big and hairy with fangs and claws overwhelmed me with bowel-loosening realisation. Needless to say, I initiated a hasty retreat, looking back over my shoulder; half in fear, half in hope.
Unsurprisingly, I didn’t spot the big guy but I found it easier to believe people that had. In Canada, they call him Sasquatch because that’s what the Native American people have always called him. To the Canadians I spoke to, Sasquatch was real. Some of them had seen him and accepted his existence. English people tend to be cynical and they take the piss out of everything. It was a sobering change to be among folk who talk about monsters with a straight face.
It seems too much of a coincidence to me that no one has ever found an actual Bigfoot or the corpse of one, or even just a body part. I accept that the creature has a vast territory in which to hide but even so, surely a specimen would have turned up by now? Consider that he has cousins all over the world; the Yeti in Nepal, the Almasty in Russia and the Yowie in Australia to name but a few of the most famous. No physical evidence anywhere? Hmm.
It is also significant that in most places where a man-beast dwells, there’s also a bear population. A few bears have been recently caught on camera walking on their hind legs. In the dark of the woods, could a glimpse of a bear moving a bit like a man appear to be something more sinister and ape like?
Saying that, people still see Bigfoot and I’m sure that dismissing their encounters as misidentified bears would do little to comfort them. Perhaps it’s better if the puzzle is never solved. After all, life would be dull without a little bit of mystery.
Wolfson does Bigfoot
I once made my own ropey horror film about a hairy creature that lives in the wilds of the Peak District entitled … wait for it … The Horror of the Legend of the Night of the Beast. This cinematic masterpiece featured some amazing actors including Anthony Rothwell, Matt Ryan Rick Rushe and Ben Jones.
My collection of horror tales Hidden Places on Earth (available from Amazon) features a more serious take on the Bigfoot enigma called The Steve McQueen Story and I shall finish by treating you to an excerpt. By way of explanation, Steve McQueen is an American sheriff on the trail of a missing girl in Oregon. Betsy is his beloved rifle. Tammy is his naive deputy. Leoty is his extraordinary Native American tracker.
A scream awoke me. My eyes snapped open. I must have dropped off. I looked to my left and Tammy was gone. I turned to the right and Leoty was gone too. I shook the slumber from my head, grabbed Betsy and staggered to my feet. There was another scream but I couldn’t tell who it was. My heart was hammering.
‘Tammy!? Leoty!?’ I hollered and peered out into the darkness. I could see jack shit except for the fire and the tethered horses nearby and they too were in a state of panic. I called out again but there was just silence now. For the first time in my life I genuinely didn’t know what to do. I have always enjoyed sharp instincts and like my daddy before me, and his daddy before him, my decisiveness in an emergency got me my Sheriff’s badge. I stomped around for a while and shouted into the night. Before I could summon the sense to do anything useful, the ladies came out of the gloom, holding onto each other like goddam lesbians.
‘What the hell!?’ I yelled. ‘You nearly gave me a heart attack!’
‘Oh, Steve!’ sobbed Tammy. She ran over and threw her arms around me. She was shocked and I was shocked too but I held her lithe body close to me while she soaked my shoulder. I peered over at Leoty for an explanation but her perfect Indian features yielded nothing. I had to wait for my deputy to calm down.
‘I had to go pee,’ Tammy finally said.
‘Jesus, Tammy!’ I growled. ‘You should know better than to go wandering off into the woods by yourself at this hour.’
‘I’m sorry.’ She wiped the tears from her eyes. ‘A girl’s gotta have her privacy.’
‘Did you get a fright?’ I queried.
She nodded and all she could manage to say was ‘eyes …’
‘Eyes?’ I urged.
‘There were eyes watching me,’ she clarified.
Tammy shook her head.
Tammy shook her head again.
‘Not an animal? Not a man? Then what in the holy kingdom?’
‘I don’t know … just eyes … horrible …’ Tammy started crying and wrapped her arms around me again.
‘This isn’t right, Tammy,’ I said firmly and sat her down by the fire. I grabbed a flask of bourbon from my coat and offered this as an alternative means of comfort. She took it and sipped, then screwed up her face and handed it back to me. I took an almighty swig myself and allowed the firewater to dull me down. I turned to Leoty.
‘I found her,’ stated the tracker.
‘Did you see anything?’ I asked.
‘I saw nothing,’ she replied.
Tammy glared at her, resentfully.
I crouched down and put my hand on her shoulder. ‘The imagination can do funny things out here, deputy.’
‘I saw nothing tonight,’ added Leoty; ‘but we are being watched.’
‘What?’ I scowled at her.
‘We’ve been watched ever since we started.’
I stood up and looked into the tracker’s strange yellow eyes. She was a tall woman and we were at equal height. ‘Why didn’t you say anything?’
‘I wasn’t sure,’ she explained. ‘I’ve caught glances of something through the trees; a stench on the wind, footprints here and there. I think your deputy has confirmed what I feared.’
‘Then what in the shit and shinola is it?’
Leoty shook her head. ‘I wish I knew, McQueen.’
That was pretty much the end of the discussion. Both women were spooked and, I have to admit, I was too. We stuck close to the fire till dawn and said little more. Twasimotokai’s warning bounced around my mind: ‘Some things are not meant to be found, McQueen.’
If you have any comments or experiences you would like to share, big-footed or otherwise, please get in touch. If you are a film company seeking original ideas, I’m your man!