Where are the pictures?
This is a common question asked of bigfoot researchers and those who claim to have caught a glimpse of these elusive animals. It is often pointed out that there are thousands of trail cameras out in the woods and, surely, if bigfoot were real, one of them would have captured an image by now. In addition, every phone is now a camera so, basically, there is no one in the woods without the means to capture a photo or shoot video if they are fortunate enough to encounter a sasquatch. This, it is said, has not happened; therefore, bigfoot must not be real.
The questioning of the dearth of photographic evidence is a legitimate one. I understand it. I could take some time here to refute some of the more common assumptions about game cameras and how wildlife reacts to their presence as well as the phone/camera argument but will save that for another time. What I would like to refute is the notion that there is no convincing photographic/video evidence that supports the hypothesis that the sasquatch is a real animal.
I believe there is compelling photographic/video evidence to support the position these animals do exist. Admittedly, there are only a few examples that I believe are likely legitimate. What makes me believe these photos/videos might just be the real deal? Simply, the subjects featured in them share physical characteristics and mannerisms that are far more subtle than what we see in the typical “guy in an ape suit” hoax video on YouTube. The subjects match descriptions given by witnesses for decades but also are very similar to one another. The way they move, head position, reaction to being seen, physical stature and build all are very similar. The subjects in these photos/videos look convincing but also look like they could be brothers (or sisters). The four pieces of evidence that are most convincing to me are the Patterson-Gimlin footage, the Harlan Ford Honey Island Swamp footage, the Freeman footage and two photographs taken in central Oklahoma in 2000.
Anyone with even a passing interest in the sasquatch phenomenon is familiar with the Patterson-Gimlin footage. Shot in October of 1967, the footage shows a large, upright, hair-covered figure walking across a debris-strewn sandbar along Bluff Creek in northern California. The backstory of this footage is well known and I will not spend a lot of time rehashing things that have been stated by others hundreds of times. Instead, I will just point out a few things present in this footage that I have also noticed in the photos/videos I will mention shortly. The creature is clearly large. I am not really talking about the height of the figure (this is one of those details that has been debated ad nauseum); rather, it is the sheer thickness of the creature that impresses me. The creature in the footage is clearly female and many who have attempted to analyze its physical characteristics have become infatuated by the large breasts that are clearly visible (Freud would have a field day with that, I am sure), however, I tend to focus more on the depth of the chest and torso in general. The figure is amazingly robust with very little, if any, taper from the chest to the waist. This thickness and lack of tapering is something that all of the images in this post have in common.
Another characteristic of the Patterson-Gimlin subject that seems to be present in the other photos/videos is the position of the head while walking. The most famous image of the subject is, of course, the infamous frame 352. This is the moment when the creature turns its upper body to face Patterson. The image captures the long swinging arms and odd bent knee gait of the creature perfectly. I am less interested in this image, however, than I am in the rest of the footage where the creature is walking away and not looking back at its pursuers. The head of the subject seems to be looking down at a spot just in front of its feet. It is almost as if it is watching where it will be placing its next step. This downward tilt of the head is something I have noticed in the other photos/videos I find compelling.
The final characteristic that these pieces of evidence share is the way the alleged apes move away once they have been seen by the photographers/witnesses. There seems to be no panic at all, they just stride off into the forest. I will admit this is the one characteristic that I leave some space on as I know that these creatures will, at times, bolt at an incredible rate of speed when they realize they have been seen by humans. People I know and respect have seen these animals do just that and have marveled at how fast they can traverse steep and heavily wooded terrain. My experience, though, is more like what is observed in the Patterson-Gimlin footage and the other photos/videos to be disussed. A friend and I came up on what I believe was a sasquatch while driving on a forest service road in the Sam Houston National Forest in May of 2005. My friend brought the vehicle to a stop and the subject simply turned and walked off the road and into the woods. It moved quickly but calmly in a manner that in no way could be described as running. I believe I was very close to one of these animals again later that summer. My brother and I were hiking the same general area where my visual had taken place about three months earlier when something of interest occurred. We had stopped to rest and were just visiting when I caught a glimpse of movement over his shoulder. I raised my 35mm film camera and took a photo. Whatever I had seen did not run and crash away through the brush. It made hardly a sound at all as it just sort of melted into the forest. The resulting photo is as close to compelling photographic evidence as I have personally captured. I admit the fact that I have directly observed this calm but quick moving away behavior has affected the prism through which I view any photographic/video evidence. Still, it is something these pieces of evidence all have in common and when seen in conjunction with the other factors previously mentioned gives me pause.
The Patterson-Gimlin footage is by far the clearest video evidence out there but it is not the only video I think may very well be the real deal. Another piece of footage I think may very well be the real thing is that shot by Harlan Ford in the Honey Island Swamp of southeast Louisiana in 1963. The footage, shot on 8mm film, shows a bipedal figure moving smoothly beyond the tree line from Ford’s right to left. Admittedly, the footage is a bit grainy, but I believe many of the characteristics exhibited by the Patterson-Gimlin subject are also exhibited by the figure in the Ford footage. The figure is clearly upright and large. It is, at minimum, “man-sized,” if not larger, and appears quite robust and thick through the chest. The creature exhibits a slightly hunched posture and the downward head tilt previously mentioned as if paying particular attention to its foot placement. The Ford subject is clearly moving out of the area quickly but, in my opinion, is not running. I have heard others describe the locomotion shown in the footage as running but I just do not see it that way. A purposeful, quick striding is evident but certainly nothing that would lead me to describe what I am watching as a creature on the run is present. Also, of great interest to me, though not one of the criteria previously mentioned, is that fact that this footage was shot almost four years prior to the Patterson-Gimlin footage. That being the case, it cannot be said that Harlan Ford was in any way trying to capitalize on the “bigfoot fever” that spread across the country after the Patterson-Gimlin footage hit the mainstream. As a matter of fact, the Honey Island Swamp footage was not even known to exist until after Harlan Ford’s death in 1980 (this would also counter any argument that Roger Patterson was attempting to copy Ford’s footage). Ford’s daughter found the reel of 8mm film in a box in the attic of her father’s home while going through his things. Many want to dismiss the footage these days due to Ford’s belief that reptilian tracks he had found belonged to the creature. Most, including myself, belief the tracks cast were nothing more than those of a bull alligator while others believe the tracks were an outright hoax on the part of Ford and his friends. Whatever the truth is regarding the track castings, dismissing the 8mm footage is a mistake, in my mind. Ford never publicized the footage or attempted to capitalize on it as a hoaxer likely would have done. Why? I think it is because he believed he had captured legitimate footage of a bigfoot-like creature and wanted to bring it in himself without any competition. His ultimate goal might have been fame and fortune but, even if true, that does not make the footage any less convincing in my mind.
Next up on my list is the footage shot by Paul Freeman in the Blue Mountains of Washington in 1994. The Blue Mountains footage may very well be the most compelling since that shot by Roger Patterson in 1967. Freeman was running his video camera while following what appears to be a track way when he spotted a large, hair-covered, bipedal figure up ahead. Again, I will not speculate on the height of the subject but the impression one gets watching the video is that the creature is enormous. The depth of the chest and torso of the creature are very impressive and seem to dwarf the chest and torso dimensions of even the hardiest human. The figure moves from Freeman’s right to left and does glance briefly at his pursuer. The video quality is too poor to tell much from that glance but one thing that is perfectly clear is how the subject drops its head and seems to be looking at the ground as it moves away. It is almost as if it is pressing its chin against its upper chest. While the locomotion exhibited by the creature in the Freeman footage is a bit “choppier” than that seen in the Patterson-Gimlin or Harlan Ford footage (some feel it is due to debris and/or the terrain), it does mimic the behavior seen in the other videos as it does not run but quickly strides away. Freeman made no secret of his belief that the sasquatch was real and claimed to have found hundreds of tracks, impressions and other trace evidence during his search for the creature. He also claimed to have seen a reddish-brown wood ape near Walla Walla in 1982. Some feel he simply had too much luck in finding evidence and doubt his findings. All I know is that the huge chest/torso, downward head tilt and quick striding, but not running, retreat is visible in his 1994 video.
The final piece of photographic evidence that I believe is likely authentic is a pair of photographs taken in November of 2000 by an Arapaho tribesman named Russell Lumpmouth. Lumpmouth and a crew were cleaning up an area in Canadian County after a tribal function when he spotted a large, dark figure in the tree line nearby. He managed to snap two photos of the figure before it turned and walked away. The photos might be the clearest ever taken of an alleged wood ape. The first photo shows the subject facing the camera with the body at about a three-quarter angle. The face is partially obscured by a leaf in the foreground but a deep-set right eye and a possible protruding brow ridge are visible. The second photo, taken after the subject has turned away from the camera, shows a low-set head tilted down in the manner already discussed with the chin almost resting on the upper chest. The face appears quite flat but specific features are hard to discern. The figure exhibits a massive barrel-shaped torso and thick buttocks that would be characteristic of a habitually bipedal hominin. According to Lumpmouth, the subject did not run but walked away once it realized it had been seen. NAWAC Chairman Alton Higgins wrote an article on the photos that was submitted to The Relic Hominoid Inquiry that broke down the photos and described the on site investigation. You can view an abridged copy of that article on the NAWAC website. The backstory, location, analysis of the creature’s physical characteristics, etc. are discussed and I highly recommend you visit the site and read it for yourself. I just want to stress that, once again, the presence of a downward tilting head, massively deep chest/torso and a calm manner of retreat are all seen in the photos or described by the witness. I would add, also, that the photographer did not seek to gain notoriety or profit financially from the photos. This would not be the behavior expected of a person attempting to perpetrate a hoax.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding these photgraphs/videos and the men who attained them. What cannot be denied, however, is that these images leave zero room for middle ground. They either show what they are purported to show, a wood ape, or they are hoaxes. Each of the pieces of film, video and the photographs discussed has been dissected and analyzed and the results of those investigations are easily available to anyone willing to spend a little time online. Right now, that is not what I am interested in when it comes to these images, though much of the information gleaned from these investigations only strengthens their case. I am going more by the “eye test,” if you will. The physical similarities between the subjects discussed simply cannot be ignored. They look like the same animal. Certainly, there are other photos and videos that may be genuine but I believe those discussed here are the best evidence supporting the hypothesis that an unrecognized species of great ape exists in North America.
Moneymaker, M. (2010, January 31). Was the Patterson-Gimlin Film Ever Proven to b a Hoax? Retrieved from http://www.bfro.net/news/korff_scam.asp
Tom, C. (2013, May 13). Honey Island Swamp Monster 1963. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtXzA3oeypo
Strickler, L. (2015, May 19). Paul Freeman's Bigfoot Video. Retrieved from http://www.phantomsandmonsters.com/2015/05/paul-freemans-bigfoot-video.html
Higgins, A. (2012, May 6). Possible Wood Ape Photos From Central Oklahoma. Retrieved from http://woodape.org/index.php/about-bigfoot/articles/220-oklahoma-prairie-photos