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Media Article # 352

Sunday, March 10, 2002

Investigators Track Local Reports of Bigfoot

By Jeff Parish
The Paris News

Bigfoot is reportedly alive and well right here in Northeast Texas, those who track such beasts say.And Bigfoot investigators, who some say are a breed almost as unusual, also roam the area.

“You’ve got to have a little something different about you to want to stay out in the woods, rain or snow or sleet or 100-degree weather, looking for these things,” Clarksville resident David Holley, founder of Texoma Bigfoot Research and Investigations, said.

Judy Esterer of Paris is considering joining Dallas-based Texas Bigfoot Research Center. The New Mexico native said she grew up with tales of Sasquatch and Yeti — other names for Bigfoot-type creatures — from Indians. Esterer has lived in the Far East and has traveled extensively through the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Europe.

“It seems like everybody in the world knows of Bigfoot or knows a story about a Bigfoot-type character,” she said. “It’s one of those elusive critters that fascinates you.”

Reports of sightings in Texas date back to the 1960s and earlier, and the Internet is replete with recent reports.

In January, a Lamar Point resident reported chickens missing. The resident said his other animals were spooked and his dogs wouldn’t follow the trail, which led through thick woods to a recently mowed clearing strewn with chicken feathers but no skin or bones. The trail led on to a creek where the resident said large footprints were visible in the sand.

In Clarksville in May 1999, two women said they saw something crossing U.S. 82 about three miles from the Clarksville Country Club. The creature was hunched over and crossed the highway in about four steps, they said.

“I don’t know how widespread these things are,” Craig Woolheater, assistant director and co-founder of the Texas Bigfoot Research Center, said. “I couldn’t give you a population.”

Researchers have developed some very definite ideas about the appearance and behavior of Bigfoot — an apelike creature about 8 feet tall with reddish-brown hair that lives primarily in wooded areas with a large source of water, such as a lake.

Signs of Bigfoot activity include broken trees and limbs and twisted limbs, which researchers consider territorial markers.

Ken Marvel has conducted several investigations in Lamar County for the research center, which have yielded a plaster cast of a footprint, photographs of tree breaks and possible nesting areas, and a hair sample one witness provided. He spent the night on one site in the county in February, but nothing was attracted to the bait he set out.

Bigfoot seems to enjoy a wide variety of food, including fruit and vegetables, and, of course, pet food.

“It loves cat food,” Marvel said. “Canned cat food especially. Canned dog food as well.”

The Texas Bigfoot Research Center’s mission is to find and study the animals in their natural habitat, using motion sensing cameras to capture them on film. Other plans include taking DNA samples and implanting a transmitter to track the animals.

Photographs by themselves will never be enough, Holley said, because they are too easily doctored. He advocates a different approach — he’s out to bag a Bigfoot.

“Only a body’s going to suffice,” he said. “Or even a part of the body, if you can find an intact skull.”

Holley’s interest started in 1971. He and a friend were on an island in Broken Bow Lake when they noticed they were being followed. Thinking it might be a bear, the pair started running. They heard heavy breathing behind them, Holley said. He described the pursuing creature as gorilla-like — reddish-brown in color and about 7 feet tall.

The two ran to their boat. The creature followed them into the water partway before turning back. Holley said.

“(When) something scares you, you want to know what it is, and I’ve stayed with it for all these years,” he said. “What started out as an 18-year-old trying to figure out what he saw has turned into a 30-year quest.”

Woolheater said he and his wife saw a Sasquatch in Louisiana in May 1994, about 175 miles northeast of New Orleans, walking along a highway. The creature was about 7 feet tall and hairy, he said.

Esterer said she has seen footprints in the Sulphur River bottom and heard them calling in Reno.

Skepticism is normal for the field — some even consider it necessary — and investigators will admit that not everything out in the woods is Bigfoot, such as the dung and hair samples that Holley freely admits could have come from a bear, although he says few bears in Oklahoma are tall enough to leave hair 7 feet up in a tree.

“I’m not going to stick 30 years of hunting these things out in the open and say, ‘It’s got to be,’” he said. “I’d say 90 percent of the time it’s not. These things are shy and they’re not going to reveal themselves unless they’re curious about something.”

Whether it’s really Bigfoot, a bear or people with overactive imaginations, the hunt with camera and gun is likely to continue. Tales of roaming Sasquatch have carved out a niche in people’s imaginations so deeply that some believe without ever seeing so much as a footprint.

“I think people that believe sight unseen want to believe that there’s a mystery out there to be solved,” said Holley. “I think those out there who do see become, like I did, obsessed with finding the truth.”

(Jeff Parish receives e-mail at
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