The following excerpt is from the book, "The Search for Bigfoot: Monster, Myth or Man?" by Peter Byrne.
"The only kind of conclusion that a man should indulge in is the oral conclusion. You see, it's so easy to deny it later. Now to indulge in a written conclusion is something else. In fact it can be fatal, especially if you are wrong."
in conversation at Davy Byrne's Tavern, Dublin, Ireland
And so we come to the last chapter and, as its title says something about conclusions, it looks as though the author is going to have to make a few. He will try and wriggle out of it of course. He will beat around the bush, make excuses and generally try to confuse the reader with literary parallelograms and other deviousness. But in the end the title of the chapter will pin him down and he will be forced to put in writing, for all to see and for the skeptics to play merry hell with—for a time at least—his own conclusions on the reality of the Bigfeet and on what should be done about them. The skeptics apart, he is going to have to do this out of respect for the reading public, the—no doubt very many—members of which have paid good money for his book. (If they have got as far as this last chapter then they must have bought the thing, he thinks. Let's avoid irritating them any further by at least bringing it to a decent ending.)
So, let us summarize and conclude and let us start by looking back at the four areas of evidence that seemingly support the existence of the ubiquitous Bigfeet. They are: the history, the footprints, the sightings, and the 1967 Bigfoot footage.
To start with, in the history, I think that we might be stretching a point if we allow the Norsemen's encounter with creatures they described as "horribly ugly, hairy, swarthy and with great black eyes" to be put forward as evidence. But Leif Erikson's story has a colorful ring to it and so we shall leave it with the ages and comment on it no further. The remainder of the history, the accounts of the various incidents that took place through the 1800s, the Yale, British Columbia, capture of what might well have been a young Bigfoot, the 1924 Ape Canyon incident, and the many other stories that my associates and I have examined and checked for authenticity, all seem strongly to support the actuality of a group of large, hairy primates. Where authentication is concerned there is, of course, a problem with many of the older stories. The people concerned with them have passed on and in many cases there is only the briefest of records. With the Yale, British Columbia, story for instance, there is just the one newspaper article. After that there is nothing, and to this day no one knows what became of "poor Jacko," whether he was shipped to England, as the owner talked of doing, or whether he succumbed in his cage to the no doubt unmerciful attentions of a gang of north woods railwaymen. Thus, all that we can say of these early stories is that most of them—and certainly the ones that have been described in detail here—do seem actually to refer to the creatures that we know in the present day as Bigfoot.
The second area of evidence is the footprints. Before this examination, let us take a look for a moment at what is meant by the word "footprints," where we refer to it as evidence. It means, in this context, large, five-toed, humanoid prints of unknown origin, usually found on mountain roads in the coast ranges, in isolated areas, on surfaces that include sand, mud, dust, shingle, snow, or grass. The prints usually contain a heavy impression suggesting great weight and they are separated by a stride that is longer than a normal human stride.
Prints seem to average from fourteen to seventeen inches. I have heard of larger prints, but I have never seen one. I have heard of twenty-four-inch prints, but I personally do not believe in prints of that size being real. The stride seems to average from forty to sixty inches. For the guidance of the reader, the author is six feet in height and has a normal stride of thirty-three inches. The prints, when found, seem to indicate a huge weight, and although it is nearly impossible to determine this weight with any degree of exactness, some of the prints that I have personally seen were impacted in mud and in snow with a great weight behind them, a weight that I believe was in excess of 400 pounds.
I have seen sixteen sets of large unidentified foot-prints in the course of my own searching. Bigfoot prints? Possibly. I have also seen a half-dozen or so sets of footprints made by Piltdowners,f several large, bare, human footprints that people would have me believe were Bigfoot tracks, and several sets of bear paw prints that were given to me in honest ignorance as being Bigfoot tracks.
There is no doubt that many of the footprints that people find in the wilderness and that are taken to be Bigfoot prints are made by bear. Because of this, I think that we should have a look at the bears for a moment. There are a lot of bears in the Pacific North-west, thousands in fact, and every time a bear moves more than a yard or two he lays down at least four paw prints. Euarctos, the common American Black Bear, comes in different colors and different sizes.
It is my opinion that twenty-four-inch supposed Bigfoot prints that have been reported in snow are the result of melting. Footprints in snow will melt out from two inches <e.g., deer) to ten inches or more within a few days. Again, odd conditions of air movement and temperature may cause the opposite effect and ten-inch. prints will shrink to four inches or less. It is important to remember, however, that there is never, ever, perfect and continuing uniformity of size and shape to prints that are the result of melting. The term Piltdowner—meaning a charlatan or faker—has its origin in the famous Piltdown Hoax of fifty years ago. (See the Bigfoot News, July 1975.)Some are brown, some are cinnamon, some are black. Regardless of color, however, the one bear common to the United States and parts of southern Canada is the Black Bear. There is no other species of bear as numerous, as prolific and, with his different colors, as confusing to the public as the Black Bear. When cinnamon he is often confused with the grizzly and when brown with the Brown. The Black stands about two to three feet at the shoulder, weighs in at 200 to 450 pounds and has rear paws—the ones with which we are concerned here—that seldom exceed six inches in length. (The grizzly, on the other hand, is a very much larger bear, stands three-and-a-half feet at the shoulder and weighs up to 1100 pounds. The Brown, the largest bear in the world and the largest meat-eating animal on the face of the earth, can be four to four-and-a-half feet in height and can weigh up to 1600 pounds.)
The front feet and the rear feet (of all bears) are quite different in shape. The front is shorter, has a rounded pad. and its imprint is a pear-shaped mark outlined with the pad prints of five toes. Its rear foot is almost twice as long and is very human in shape. There is a narrow heel and an instep, and when the print is capped oft with five toe marks, the result is often mistaken for a human footprint. And, when the person who finds it has the Bigfoot "bug" and is far out in the mountains, with the wind moaning in the pines and the nearest human habitation far away and a Bigfoot lurking behind every other tree, the print is invariably taken to be that of a Bigfoot.
Reports of sightings and footprints come in regularly to the Information Center in The Dalles. About 75% of the prints that are found and that are reported to the Center as genuine Bigfoot footprints are Black Bear paw prints. They are usually found by people who honestly believe them to be Bigfoot prints and who call the Information Center in good faith. People calling or writing the Information Center with information on the phenomenon are always thanked, and as far as is possible the information is always acted on by the Center. For the public is the main source of information from which the Center draws its investigative material. An experienced woodsman would not confuse a bear paw print for a Bigfoot print, or, for that matter, with a human footprint. But the average person may well do so, and in the excitement of a find the inexperienced finder is apt to forget that 95% of all the Bigfoot prints ever found have been more than ten inches in length, while the Black Bear seldom has a rear foot that exceeds six inches. Thus, while the Black Bear does make a Bigfoot-like print, I do not think that the American species can be blamed for what are normally believed to be real Bigfoot prints. (At the same time I do think that they can be blamed for making what have been mistakenly called Bigfoot beds. The female Black, when about to have cubs, often makes a most elaborate "nest." This can be up to six feet in diameter and will be constructed of carefully laid, almost woven, sticks, moss, leaves and grass. The result looks for all the world like a huge bird's nest and several of these have been found by Bigfoot hunters who believed them to be Bigfoot beds, or lairs.)
The grizzly bear has a hind foot that is similar in shape to that of the Black Bear of the United States, but of course his paw print is very much larger. Could the grizzly be blamed for some of the huge humanoid footprints that have been found in the United States and that have been believed to be Bigfoot prints? Yes, if there were grizzly in the United States and in the places where the prints have been found. There are still grizzly in some parts of the United States, in Wyoming, possibly in northern Idaho, and just possibly, occasionally, in northern Washington. But there are none, any more, in Oregon or in northern California. The grizzly, a big, short-tempered, easily provoked bruin, is, like the American Indian, a creature that barely survived the white invasions of the nineteenth century. Hunted and shot, harried out of existence, he dis-appeared from nine-tenths of his former United States range and is today, in this country, an endangered species. Again, the grizzly has a set of thick and power-ful nails set in the toes of each foot. It is possible for the animal to walk without showing any nail impres-sion, for the nails are raised above the level of the foot pads. But this is only when its walking surface is very hard soil or rock. In mud, sand, snow, or heavy dust, the claw mark will always show and no claw marks have ever been found in what have been regarded as genuine Bigfoot footprints. The grizzly, like the Black, is thus ruled out as the villain behind the scenes where Bigfoot footprints are concerned. Which leaves us with the question, who or what makes the footprints?
There is no doubt in my mind that some of the foot-prints that I have seen, which others regarded as real Bigfoot footprints, were faked. This includes some of the footprints that we found in California in 1960. The falsity of some of those latter findings was con-firmed by Steve Matthes, an expert with tracks—and expert is a word that I use with care—who declared them fake and showed how and why he thought so. There is equally little doubt that some of the footprints that others, less-expert, have found in more domesti-cated areas, have also been faked. Some are made with a care and attention to detail that convinced many people that they are real. Others, made with crude wooden feet, or with thick, rubbersoled shoes, the soles of which have been cut to the shape of large human feet, would not fool a five-year-old child. But not everyone realizes this. At a recent meeting with the Anthropological Department of Portland University, where I spoke on the subject of the phenomenon, a medical doctor, supposedly an associate of mine for a while, produced a pair of stiff-soled, crudely carved wooden feet and proffered these as evidence to prove that all Bigfoot prints were faked! Prints, made from the set that he so proudly_popped out of his little bag, would have been quite ludicrous in appearance and good for nothing but a laugh or two.
But a few sets of footprints have been found in what I will call "credible" areas. These few sets, that looked real, that had deep impression and long stride, were found in places where a hoaxer would hardly have placed them and expected them to be found. The particular areas were isolated, far from human habitation and, more important, seldom visited by people. One such set was found by my brother and me in northern California. One day in the winter of 1960 we drove the Scout some twenty-five miles into the mountains. We used an old logging road and when this came to an end, left it and drove on hard snow up an access road to an old logged area. The snow was hard but the the crust kept breaking and only the Scout's four-wheel-drive and low-ratio gears got us through. At the end of this second road we left the Scout and walked up onto a ridge, a distance of about one mile. On top of the ridge was a trail of fifteen-inch, five-toed, humanoid footprints, fresh, imprinted half an inch into the snow crust and running in a north-to-south direction.. They looked very real to us and their location, on top of this isolated ridge, some twenty-six miles back in the mountains, added to their authenticity. For not only had we told no one where we were going that day—we never did, if only to try and keep one jump ahead of the Piltdowners—but when we set out that morning we had not had any particular destination in mind. We arrived on that ridge merely by chance and it was then, as it is now, extremely doubtful to me that a hoaxer would have made prints out there in the winter cold, so far from human habitation, in an area so isolated, just in the hope that someone would find them. We judged the footprints to be genuine and to have been made by a Bigfoot. The prints showed great weight impression and the stride was an average of fifty-two to fifty-six inches.
We used bloodhounds to follow those Prints for several miles until heavy brush stopped the dogs and their handler would take them no further. We then followed them on foot until we lost them in the valley floor, on hard ground where there was no snow, some seven miles further on.Today, many years later, I feel much the same about many of the footprints that have been found in the mountains in the last ten years. A few have been faked, but for others there is no other explanation than that they were made by a long-striding, bigfooted biped of great weight, something with a humanoid foot that was not a man.
Next, the sightings. Now many of them are real? How many faked? How many of them imagination? How many of them are concocted stories created to boost the sorry egos of Piltdowners and pseudo-woodsmen? Let us first examine the probability of fakery in this area. Briefly, there has been "sighting fakery" where films are concerned. The I.W.C.S. teams conclusively proved that the 1970 "Bigfoot" film made in northern Washington was faked, and the scientific examiners at Yerkes Primate Institute, Emory University, Atlanta, say that a second one, made by the same person, was also probably faked. (This latter film showed a stumbling white figure in a baggy fur suit that at one time, I was told, waved at the cameraman!) This means that there are, to use the term, "gorilla suits" being made and being used by at least two hoaxers. The suits have been used in films and will in all probability be used again. But to use a fur suit in a fake film where one is being photographed by one's wife, or one's partner, under reasonably secure circumstances and surroundings, is one thing. To put on the same suit and go capering up and down some lonely road in the middle of the night, or across someone's meadow or farmland, or up on a high, open ridge, is another kettle of fish altogether, because the Pacific Northwest, whatever else it is, is gun country. I do not know how many guns there are in the hands of private owners in the northwest, but the number probably runs into several millions.
It is not unusual for a Pacific Northwest rancher to have a dozen guns in his house. It is also not unusual to see people carrying guns, both pistols and rifles, in their cars when they are out on the roads. The "easy rider" type pickup, with the rear-window gun rack, is a commop sight in the back country of the northwest and when the rifles are not visible on the gun rack, they are usually behind the seat or underneath it. If there is no rifle there is generally a pistol lurking somewhere, either on the seat, or under the seat, or in the dashboard compartment. The given reason for all of this armament is usually protection. But in actual fact it is something else. It is a carryover of the great Western-gun cult that sprang to life in the roaring clays of the first miners and settlers and that today has developed into a syndrome that is an accepted part of life in the northwest.
When I first came to the Pacific Northwest, to commence my investigation of the Bigfoot phenomenon, many people asked me if I intended to shoot one. I said no. That was, and still is, my intention, and part of my work here and the work of my associates has been strenuously to oppose the "shoot it to prove it" gunmen who would kill one to serve their own ends. There is undoubtedly a protective feeling among many people in the northwest concerning the Bigfeet. We have encountered it again and again in the concern of people that harm or injury might come to one of the creatures, creatures that in their knowledge have never harmed anyone. At the same time there is an unfortunate movement among a few of the gun-toting community to have one shot, if this is possible. The movement is propagated by the promise of some vague reward from some equally vague institution and among some people this ethereal promise has now become fact. There are no details of the amount of the reward. The institution that will buy a Bigfoot carcass and then happily hand over a million dollars or so is not named. It is not named because it does not exist. But this promise of huge monetary reward, strengthened by a recent newspaper article about a Texas millionaire who would pay half a million dollars for the body of one of the creatures—there is no such person—has in some uneducated quarters grown to the point where it is firmly believed. The result is several gun-carrying Bigfoot hunters who have openly stated their intention of shooting one should they get the chance. (Their excuse is that it would not be fair to expect them to turn down the chance of half a million dollars.)
The hoaxers that we have encountered in our Bigfoot research have been people who were generally aware of what activity was taking place in the Bigfoot field. They knew of the stated intention of the few gunmen who hunt the Bigfoot with rifles and they were well aware of the number of guns carried by people in the northwest, the ability of those people to use them, and the risks involved in walking around in the woods in a fur "gorilla" suit. They knew that the hoaxer who is going to do this, pretending that he is a Bigfoot, is not only asking to be shot but very probably is going to be shot, particularly if he persists. Any man who does this and who is aware of the risks involved is either a fool or a madman. There are, no doubt, hoaxers living in the northwest or in Canada today who will do almost anything to satisfy their peculiar cravings for notice. But I know of none who will knowingly and continuously face the probably fatal risks involved in fakery at this level. How many of the sightings are imagination?
How many people see things on lonely roads at night, in the flashing lights of a car, or far ahead where their car lights barely reach, that they think are Bigfoot? Tree stumps, clumps of bushes, telephone poles? The answer: quite a few. One man called up to say that he had very definitely seen a Bigfoot, standing with its back to him, streaked grey and black, huge, bent over, broad-shouldered, head down, unmoving. He had stopped his car, backed up, and it was gone. Investigation revealed a big roadside stump. The man, who honestly thought that he had seen a Bigfoot, was quite astounded when we showed him the stump and his tire marks, where he backed almost, but not quite, up to its base. One woman called us late last summer. Her son had seen a Bigfoot crossing a road near The Dalles.
Come back tomorrow for part 2.
You can read more buy purchasing the book, "The Search for Bigfoot: Monster, Myth or Man?" by Peter Byrne here.