While the rest of the students enrolled in Summer I classes were thinking about their next assignment, SFA student Brandi Hamilton was thinking about finding and killing Bigfoot.
By Joanna Armstrong, Editor-in-Chief of The Pine Log
The daughter of one of the founders of the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization, Bobby Hamilton, Brandi grew up hearing about Bigfoot and her father’s efforts to kill one of the creatures.
“He had this for years before I was born,” Brandi said, “so growing up I was always around it and always involved in it.”
In 2014, the organization was approached with an offer to do a television show for Destination America and filmed a pilot in Goldonna, Louisiana, that spring. The show had a simple premise: to find and kill a Bigfoot.
“The show is called ‘Killing Bigfoot,’ and that’s what we’re trying to do,” she said.
After airing that October, Brandi said the popularity of the show prompted the network to order a full season.
“At the time it was one of those trial type things. They didn’t promote the show,” she said. “They wanted just to put it out there to see how the audience would react, and with just what we did alone for advertisement, each time that show aired there was over 250,000 views, which is insane. Nothing [advertising] was done. It was just all on our part. That was enough to get them to say you know what? Y’all can go ahead and do a full season.“
Filming started in summer 2015, taking place in various parts of Texas, including Brandi’s hometown of Warren, as well as Louisiana and Mississippi.
According to Brandi, even the name of the show is controversial among those in the Bigfoot community. “As soon as they hear the name, they just freak out,” Brandi said. “There’s a huge kill-versus-no-kill controversy, and that’s definitely something they bring up on the pilot.”
For members of the GCBRO, aggression from the creature plays a role in their desire to kill it. She said that some who have reached out to the organization have reported animals and livestock being killed or injured.
“These people are scared to death. They’re having things go on,” Brandi said. “Animals are getting killed, and their pets and kids can’t go outside alone. They don’t want to stay outside after it gets dark. They’re not feeling safe in their own home, and that’s a problem if you can’t feel safe in your own home.”
Brandi said their research has led the group’s members to certain conclusions.
“It’s not just anyone [Bigfoot] that stumbles up,” she said. “[We’re] not shooting a female and not shooting a baby. We’ve had the chance to, but that’s not what we want. We want the alpha male. The big ones are the ones that are the aggressors. That’s the whole thing about it. It’s not just a kill to kill type thing. It’s definitely we’ve planned out what we’re going to do, and that’s the reason why we want to do it.”
Their desire to kill a Bigfoot also stems from the organization’s wish to prove the creature’s existence and put protective measures in place, Bobby said.
“Mainstream science doesn’t accept that these creatures even exist because they have never had a body on a slab to examine,” he said. “Unless one is proven to exist and the proper habitat set aside and protection put into place, it is only a matter of time before one of these aggressive encounters turns deadly, and someone is seriously injured or killed. As of this time, there is basically no other group that does what we do. There are a lot of enthusiasts who go out and listen for sounds and look for tracks. We are beyond that phase and are in it for the discovery.”
Created in the 1997, the GCBRO’s team organizes hunts for Bigfoot. Hunters wearing camouflage or black clothing are placed in a specific location and wait for a shot at the creature. Extraction crews are on location for emergencies or if the hunt “is a bust,” Brandi said.
While the organization has between 30 and 40 members, according to Brandi, the desire for membership spiked after the show’s pilot aired.
“We’re not a fan club,” she said. “I’m sure plenty of people have wanted to get membership, and after the pilot aired, people were sending in reports like crazy. You can tell which ones are what. We know what is bogus and what isn’t.”
Brandi said the hunters on the show are dedicated members of the organization who have been involved for years.
“I’m glad that people support us and think that’s awesome, and they want to be a part of something like that, but membership is not for the purpose of just entertaining people,” Brandi said.
Bobby said his daughter’s participation in GCBRO has been an asset to the organization.
“Brandi has brought a fresh set of eyes and thoughts to the team, and with her sense of humor, a lot of laughs, as well,” he said. “She grew up around the GCBRO team, and it is only fitting that she be included with her adopted ‘uncles’ in our quest.”
Including her in the hunts is his way of grooming her to take over the organization after he is gone, Bobby said.
“I am passing the mantle down to my children, as some of the other guys are, because someone will have to carry the torch when we are long gone and/or no longer able to do this,” he said. “There is no other group out there that has had the findings and experience that we have had. So we are grooming them from our experience to be able to carry the torch if, by chance, we don’t succeed in our quest for discovery before then.”
For Brandi, one of the hardest parts of participating in hunts for the show was filming while taking classes.
“I was in Summer I classes in A&P [anatomy and physiology] I,” she said. “That morning I would be in class with lecture and lab, and then at 12 something, I would leave, and I drove to the film site.”
While filming in fall 2015, Brandi had to make the eight- hour drive to Mississippi multiple times while keeping up with her responsibilities as a full-time student.
“I’m very into time management,” she said. “That’s the only thing that saved me.”
A health science major with a nutrition minor, she hopes to pursue a master’s degree in public health.
“I really want to work in a hospital,” Brandi said. “That’s my main goal. I just like being interactive with people. I like health, and want to be involved in that. As far as the definite role, I’m not sure.”
In the future, she plans to continue Bigfoot hunting.
“I grew up with it. I’m a part of it,” Brandi said. “It’s been in my family. My kids will be a part of it, too; I already know that. That’s still the plan, regardless of how the show turns out and whether we get future seasons or we don’t. I’m always going to be a part of it and continue it on until we finally get one.“