Before we can have a constructive conversation about Bigfoot, or any other unsubstantiated creature, we first must understand cryptozoology—the study of animals not yet recognized by science. There is a lot of baggage that comes with this particular branch of science, and this baggage misconstrues cryptozoology’s true intent.
Whenever the word cryptozoology is mentioned, most people automatically think of “monsters.” Monsters that lurk in the bottom of some cursed lake like the creature that is said to inhabit Utah’s own Bear Lake, or the “giant serpent” or “water babies” of Utah Lake.
In truth, cryptozoology is the search for unknown animals, not monsters. It is the unfortunate actions of certain self-proclaimed cryptozoologists that have created this misconception. (I want to make something very clear. Although I have been called a cryptozoologist, by no means do I consider myself to be one. I am something else entirely.)
It seems that the intention of most cryptozoologists is to discover the most marvelous and incredible; surviving dinosaurs and the like. What people don’t realize is that a good number of today’s commonly known animals were, once upon a time, considered monsters. The okapi, komodo dragon, mountain gorilla, giant panda, and even the aardvark were once thought to be legendary monsters.
The Sasquatch or Bigfoot (both terms are plural and singular) is one of North America’s largest cryptozoological mysteries. The word Bigfoot has come to denote any mysterious relic hominid-like creature reported throughout the world, even though these other ape-man creatures often have their own names.
A few examples are the diminutive “Orang Pendek” of Sumatra, the ferocious “Yowies” of Australia, and Florida’s “Myakka Skunk Ape,” which I believe to be an escaped orangutan. Nevertheless, our focus is on Bigfoot, which according to some people, definitely resides in Utah.
There have been many Bigfoot-like creatures sighted throughout Utah over the years, many coming to us via Native American and Pioneer lore. I have collected several piecemeal stories from the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. One of them refers to a “huge hairy man” that stopped a runaway stagecoach and spared the lives of a woman and her two children.
After stopping the stagecoach, the creature tore the door off the hinge, looked in at the terrified family, then turned around and disappeared in the nearby brush. I have been unable to find outlearn the geography of this event beyond its supposed occurrence somewhere in northern Utah.
In October 2012, a group of BYU students claimed to have filmed a “dark figure” rustling around in the bushes. I have seen the footage and remain unconvinced.
I once interviewed a man who was driving at dusk on the Provo Canyon road. He was traveling east, and just before reaching Bridal Veil Falls, he saw a “large hairy man” standing at the left side of the road. He claimed “It was at least nine-feet-tall!” and completely covered in dark black hair. The alleged creature startled him so much that he inadvertently slammed into the rocks at the side of the road. The witness remains a devout skeptic and refuses to believe he saw Bigfoot or any other unknown creature. To this day, he is still convinced that all he saw was a “very tall and very hairy man.”
One of the most interesting stories I have collected involved an eight-year-old boy. The year was 1986, in Vineyard, Utah. It was irrigation season. The boy’s dad had been watering the fields all week long, and the young boy was splashing his way through the soggy furrows of the farm. The fields were full of unkempt overgrowth with large stands of Russian olive trees.
At one point, the boy was running along the edge of a temporary ditch lined with olive trees with his dogs, Long-Nose, Cow, Fastie, and Pee-Wee, when he stopped dead in his tracks. He looked up to find himself staring at a large, dark-green and brown thing less than fifteen-feet away. It was covered in matted fur. It stood there with its arm raised and hung over the limb of a large tree. Its face was expressionless, but was definitely the face of a man.
The boy stared at the creature in awe. His dogs were long gone, scared off by the being, but the boy had no fear. Somehow he knew that whatever is was, it meant him no harm. This enchanted moment went on for what may have seemed an eternity, but eventually the boy began to retreat from the creature.
Slowly, step by step, never taking his eyes off it, the boy backed away. The creature, ever-watching, only moving its head to maintain its view of the boy, kept going until they were about fifty yards from one another. The boy finally turned around and continued on to the house.
Stories like these are common, and I believe we have come to a point where the question is not whether Bigfoot or other creatures exist, but what or who is the culprit behind these tales? How many thousands of tales like this have been reported over the centuries? Too many to count, for sure.
To mock and disrespect these stories as nothing but nonsense is a slap in the face to our ancestors, who shared stories much like these. Something is out there. People are seeing it, and even if only one of these Bigfoot sighting are legitimate, we are onto something.
I believe in at least one of four possible explanations: 1. Everyone who claims to bear witness to something as miraculous as a Bigfoot, strange lake creature, or ghost, is lying. 2. Everyone is crazy and every uncanny event ever witnessed is nothing more than the drivel of a mad person. 3. Everyone is mistaken, or 4. There really is something wondrous going on.
There are strange and wonderful animals and miraculous and legendary beings waiting to be discovered, and you have to decide what kind of world you want to live in.
Danny B. Stewart is an “anomalogist”—a scientist of anomalies, a performance artist, lecturer, and professional storyteller. He’s also pretty sure he once dated a Bigfoot… but he’d never say that to her face.
To see more work by Chris Bodily visit his website.