Weird Wednesdays: The Bigfoot files

People have been looking for Bigfoot all over the world, but it seems he's been busy crossing this road the whole time. (Allen Watkin/Flickr, Creative Commons)

When it boils down to it, Bigfoot (or the skunk ape, yeti, sasquatch, Hairy Yow, Yowie, Abominable Snowman, The Notorious B.I.G.F.O.O.T., Gigantopithecus or whatever name, depending on your region, you choose to call it) is really just misunderstood.

Think about it. He’s a rare beastie who lives in the woods, and all he probably wants to do is mind his own business. Is that too much to ask for a possible genetic offshoot of the ancient Neanderthal? So, what if he’s camera shy? When you have all that fur on ya, every day is a bad hair day.

In any case, Bigfoot is a cultural phenomenon, particularly in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Tourist traps with names like ‘The Oddity House’ or ‘The Mystery Shack’ purport to have hair, plaster casts, toenails, used tissues, etc. procured from the elusive creature. Memorabilia of Bigfoot is available, as well-- for a price, of course.

While the wonders of capitalism (as well as certain shows on the formerly scientific hub ‘The Discovery Channel’) have made our hairy friend famous, there remains dedicated researchers, experts and even hunters who devote their time to studying the rare beastie. Multiple “Bigfoot research societies” exist throughout the U.S., and all claim to have real evidence of a sasquatch.

Whether you believe in the so called “skunk ape” is up to you and your scientific standpoints. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in bigfoot hunting (or just want some sasquatch-themed stuff), check out these Bigfoot research organizations scattered across the States.

Skunk Ape Research Headquarters - Ochopee, Florida

Bigfoot apparently needs a shower in the South, because he’s famous for his stink in the Everglades. This cryptid HQ is located within the Trail Lakes Campground, near the Big Cypress National Preserve. Campgrounds owner Dave Shealy is the chief researcher and author of the ‘Everglades Skunk Ape Research Field Guide’ (which recommends luring in your sasquatch with deer liver). Visitors can go on an Everglade safari, arrange for an exclusive Bigfoot hunt or simply purchase a skunk ape beer koozy - you can’t take blurry photos properly with numb hands and warm beer, after all!

Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization - Various Locations

Famous for their TV show ‘Finding Bigfoot’, the BFRO (as they call themselves) is one of the largest and oldest Bigfoot societies out there. Founded in 1995, it’s a network of “experts and scientists”, as well as bigfoot enthusiasts, who all contribute to a database of bigfoot videos, voice recordings, photos and personal accounts. The organization makes appearances all over the U.S. and Canada, holding “town halls” everywhere from Maine to California. There, researchers hold panels, give lectures and run workshops on how best to document the elusive sasquatch.

Greater Boston Bigfoot Research Institute - Roxbury, Massachusetts

Run by 826 Boston, a non-profit organization that offers free tutoring for underprivileged students, the GBBRI sells expedition kits, field guides, posters, stationery and other oddities that a starting bigfoot hunter would need.

The International Bigfoot Conference - Kennewick, Washington

Sasquatch enthusiasts from all around gather for this yearly gala, which focuses on the latest research and sightings of the hairy man himself. Held over Labor Day weekend, for only $25 a day ($45 for a three-day pass) visitors can attend panels and get autographs from Bigfoot bigs such as cryptozoologist Lyle Blackburn, or explorer Adam Davies, who was featured as a guest in ‘Finding Bigfoot.’ You can also stock up on genuine plaster sasquatch-print casts, infrared cameras (for night hunting, of course) and other Bigfoot-related goodies at the vendor alley.  

North America Bigfoot Search - Littleton, Colorado

Another database-oriented research society, the NABS is more of a conspiracy-based group, working to expose the government cover-ups of missing persons cases in several national parks (you could only guess who the main culprit is for this one). They also offer information and research papers on Bigfoot DNA, Bigfoot habituation and even Bigfoot language-- known as the Sasquatch Phonetic Alphabet (SPA). If your French major is looking a bit dull to you, then you know where to go!

Whether you’re taking a road trip around the west coast, or need a unique gift for your cousin, all of these sites are your one-stop shop for weird. Like I said, whether or not you think Bigfoot is truly out there is entirely up to you. I’ll just end with a quote from the late and great Sir Terry Pratchett:

“The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.”


Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.