MS. REBECCA SHEIR
But first, we turn to a puzzle that's mystified people everywhere for ages. So much so, in fact, there have been movies made about it, from 1972's "The Legend of Boggy Creek."
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1
Here in this primitive river bottom wilderness in southern Arkansas lurks a creature that walks upright.
To 1987's "Harry and the Hendersons."
MR. JOSHUA RUDOY AS ERNIE HENDERSON
MR. JOHN LITHGOW AS GEORGE HENDERSON
...what if it's him?
Nowadays, there's even a reality TV show on Animal Planet.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 2
So we set a base camp and Bobo and Rene had just started their sweep into the woods when something caught our attention in the distance.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 3
Who's that up there?
UNIDENTIFIED MAN 4
There's something on the hill.
Did I just see a Sasquatch?
Obviously, we're talking about Sasquatch from a Native American word meaning wild man, also known as Bigfoot. And that last clip you heard was from "Finding Bigfoot," where four enthusiasts zigzag across the country in hot pursuit of the legendary creature. But here in the D.C. region...
MR. BILLY WILLARD
All right, we'll just cut right through here.
...we have people dedicated to tracking down Sasquatch right in our own backyard.
A lot of nice wildlife sales.
Billy Willard lives in Manassas, Va. where he directs Sasquatch Watch of Virginia, a group that investigates reported Sasquatch sightings in the Commonwealth.
We've done a lot of research out in this area. I come down here at night.
Here is a wooded area in Fauquier County. Willard prefers we don't disclose the name because that research he mentions has led him and his fellow Sasquatch watchers to believe the elusive creature has been here.
There have been sightings by one lady in particular who was driving her car and she had one cross in front of her car and on the road. We found a track of footprints out here that was like seven tracks in a row. You could see someone faking one footprint, but to go out in the middle of somewhere where there's no trail and fake seven footprints is a little harder to believe.
And that's the thing Willard knows there have been plenty of Sasquatch hoaxes over the years. Like in 2008, when a so-called carcass in Georgia turned out to be a gorilla suit stuffed with pig guts.
You know, when that kind of thing happens, that's kind of what sets this research back because it's all looked at as a joke.
But in spite of any potential ridicule...
A lot of people don’t like to admit that they've seen something because they don't want their family members and their friends making fun of them.
Willard and his group take their research very seriously. When they head out into the field, they bring all sorts of high-tech gear, like audio-recording devices.
Similar to what you have with you today, but we like to use the parabolic microphone systems. That way we can hear from whatever direction we're trying to pay attention to.
And night vision equipment.
Most of the activity seems to be at night so we believe they're more of a nocturnal type creature.
Even thermal imaging tools.
So now if we hear something, we can turn on a thermal imager and we're going to be able to tell right away if it's a deer, if it's a squirrel, if it's something standing on two feet.
Then there are the trail cameras, which Willard and his team install where someone's reported a sighting, whether through the Sasquatch Watch of Virginia telephone hotline or its website.
We just want to get enough of them deployed out there just to see if we can catch anything.
Have you caught anything?
Ah, yeah, deer, fox, raccoons, everything but what we're looking for.
And Willard and his crew aren't the only ones looking. There are Bigfoot and Sasquatch groups all over the country, just as there have been Bigfoot and Sasquatch sightings all over the country, from the south...
Those are the ones they call the Swamp-apes. They seem to be a little bit skinnier, lankier.
...to the Pacific Northwest.
Most of them average around seven to eight feet in height, described as a black-colored creature or a brown.
And they are in the Northeast, too, then there's the Southwest...
We joke around all the time about everything in Texas is bigger, well, there have been reports of them from ten to twelve feet in height.
And the Midwest.
Ohio, believe it or not, there have been reports of a white-colored creature so it really depends. And then, in Ohio, they have a different name for it. They call it the Grassman.
Here in Virginia, Willard says it's actually been a slow year. He's received just one report so far, but since starting Sasquatch Watch with his sons in 2005, he says he's heard from all sorts of people, some obviously yanking his chain, others misidentifying a large animal like, say, a bear. But plenty of folks he says sound legit, like a teenager in Petersburg who claims she spotted Sasquatch while walking down a trail with her brother.
She said the hands were very large like a dinner plate and as she was describing all that, you could see the hair on her arms standing up. And to me, if someone's going to have a physical reaction like that telling you a story, they saw something.
As for concrete evidence of Bigfoot's existence, Willard says it's sorely lacking. Sure, there's the famous 1967 film footage shot by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin in Bluff Creek, Ca. and, of course, there are plaster casts of supposed footprints. In fact, when Willard and I met up, he had one in his pickup truck.
But personally, I don't believe that any of this is going to be enough for the field of science. I believe that we're going to have to have an elderly lady in her station wagon hit one on the road.
And at last, the scientific community will have what it needs to prove Bigfoot exists. Until then, though, Willard doesn't plan on giving up his search. He's seen and heard too much to stop believing he says. And the Sasquatch he believes in isn't some menacing monster. So I have to ask you, you know, a movie like, say, "Harry and the Hendersons," how do you feel about something like that?
I love it.
I love it. I wish they'd make more movies like that, you know. I don’t think we've heard as many reports as somebody being killed by Bigfoot. They're just as well off away from us.
And yet, if Billy Willard has his druthers, Bigfoot won't stay away too long and we'll finally discover the secret of this mysterious creature once and for all. To see a photograph of Billy Willard and his plaster cast foot print and to watch that Bluff Creek footage of what may or may not be Bigfoot, visit our website, metroconnection.org
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