sasquatchin-featuredThe search for “Big­foot” or “Sasquatch” has cap­ti­vat­ed soci­ety for hun­dreds of years. Tales of huge, hairy human-like crea­tures roam­ing the woods and moun­tains have popped up all over the world and the pop­u­lar­i­ty and inter­est has nev­er been high­er than it is today. There are orga­ni­za­tions all over the world sole­ly devot­ed to search­ing for the beast; tele­vi­sion shows are ded­i­cat­ed to the hunt; and of course advanc­ing tech­nol­o­gy cou­pled with social media has fueled the mad­ness. But why do humans have a fas­ci­na­tion with this mys­te­ri­ous figure?

“I think it’s human nature to think ‘I can do this. I can fig­ure this out,” says Mike Bard­s­ley, founder of www.IndianaBigfoot.com, a web­site that pro­vides a place for those who have or believe they have had an encounter. Mike found­ed the web­site after sev­er­al mem­bers of his friends and fam­i­ly (and lat­er him­self) inde­pen­dent­ly had encoun­ters with the creature(s) on pri­vate prop­er­ty in Michigan.

“On the 4th of July week­end in 2009, after a series of vocal­iza­tions south of our camp in Michi­gan began to trail off, I had got­ten into a car alone and went out for a dri­ve around 2:30am to try to iso­late and fig­ure out where the sounds were com­ing from]. I was head­ing back to camp when I had a [Big­foot] cross the road in front of me. I went from low-beams to high-beams in time to see it in the mid­dle of the road sev­en­ty-five to nine­ty feet in front of me, and then run off the road to the south. It was tall and lean, and prob­a­bly 6 ½ — 7 feet tall.”

What do I need to join the hunt?
Accord­ing to Mike, one should rely more on dili­gence than fan­cy gear. “While hav­ing gear is a great thing while out in the woods, it so far hasn’t proven to be the equal­iz­ing fac­tor in get­ting any­one proof or enhanc­ing their chances of an encounter. The best tip I could give any­one is to find a place where there seems to be an estab­lished, viable pop­u­la­tion of the crea­tures liv­ing, and then go spend as much con­sec­u­tive time there as pos­si­ble.” In short, gear­heads can bring their gear, but all you real­ly need is good ol’ camp­ing equip­ment and a healthy amount of patience.

Should I bring a bunch of peo­ple like they do on tele­vi­sion?
On tele­vi­sion, many times the groups that go out look­ing for Big­foot con­sist of sev­er­al inves­ti­ga­tors and a film crew. Should you strike out in huge num­bers in hopes of increas­ing your chances of an encounter? “On an aver­age week­end when I’m in camp, it might be me and one oth­er per­son. On a hol­i­day week­end we’ve had upwards of a dozen to fif­teen peo­ple in camp. We’ve had activ­i­ty under both of those sce­nar­ios.” Mike also has a very inter­est­ing opin­ion on who exact­ly should go, too. “My opin­ion as well, is that hav­ing more women in camp and a few chil­dren is a good thing. While I’m sure it’s only anec­do­tal, there’s wide-spread belief with­in the com­mu­ni­ty that women have a bet­ter chance of hav­ing an encounter. And hav­ing chil­dren in camp also cre­ates a real inter­est in a Big­foot observ­ing humans. This seems to be one of the things they do in regard to us. They seem to love to sit back at night and watch us. That’s why the over­ly-para­noid use of flash­lights is counterproductive.”

Where do I go? The North­west?
While theP­a­cif­ic North­west is prob­a­bly the most pop­u­lar area of the coun­try to search due to the heavy foresta­tion, Mike believes that there are many oth­er great places, as well. “You real­ly just need to find a place with enough foresta­tion, water, and nat­ur­al resources where large ani­mals exist. Water­ways are impor­tant [too]. In many cas­es, just hav­ing plen­ty of swamps or lakes in a region is enough.”

So, young squatch hunter, you’ve got a lot to chew on. In the mean­time and with Mike’s advice in mind, let’s take a look at five great places to set out on your adventure.

Pierce Coun­ty, Wash­ing­ton — Accord­ing to the BFRO (Big­foot Researchers Orga­ni­za­tion), the State ofWash­ing­ton has the most report­ed Big­foot sight­ings annu­al­ly. Of all the coun­ties in the state, Pierce Coun­ty sports the high­est num­ber. Sur­round­ing coun­ties of King and Lewis also have a high num­ber of reports. All three of these coun­ties (as well as the major­i­ty of the oth­er sight­ings) are near water sources.

Bluff Creek, Cal­i­for­nia — If you’ve seen the Pat­ter­son-Gim­lin film, you might know that it this grainy, yet mys­ti­fy­ing video of a crea­ture appear­ing to be Big­foot, was shot in Bluff Creek, Cal­i­for­nia. As Mike points out, “I doubt [that] after 40 years, ‘Pat­ty’ is still hang­ing out there wait­ing to be found.” How­ev­er, the Six Rivers Nation­al For­est in Bluff Creek is list­ed in the top 10 of high­est num­ber of sight­ings in the nation, accord­ing to the BFRO.

Bloom­ing­ton, Indi­ana — This one may shock you a bit as it’s…well, Indi­ana. But, if you’re in the mood for a lit­tle Mid­west­ern adven­ture, the Deam Wilder­ness, a part of the Hoosier Nation­al For­est and just south of Bloom­ing­ton, is a favorite of Mike’s. “Over­all, I think the north­ern part of Indi­ana is used more as a trav­el cor­ri­dor. In the south­ern part of the state, you have far more stand­ing tim­ber, mak­ing for much bet­ter habi­tat and long-term sur­viv­abil­i­ty, as well as far more nat­ur­al resources for the crea­tures to uti­lize. I’ve camped in the Deam Wilder­ness just south of Bloom­ing­ton. That whole area around there has some rich his­to­ry of activ­i­ty.’ 

North­east­ern Ohio — While you’re in the Mid­west, it may behoove you to go to North­east­ern Ohio, as well. Shockingly,Ohio has three coun­ties that rank in the top 10 of annu­al sight­ings accord­ing to the BFRO. Ohio actu­al­ly cur­rent­ly has more sight­ings than Ore­gon. “All of the Great Lakes states have his­to­ry of activ­i­ty and sight­ings,” Mike says. “Find some rugged, rur­al areas with enough nat­ur­al resources and some his­to­ry of activ­i­ty and go set­tle in for a few days, or even a week or two. You’re going to have to let them come to you, because you aren’t a threat to them. I can’t stress that enough.” Well now, that’s scary…

Ocala Nation­al For­est, Flori­da — In Flori­da, there have been so many Big­foot sight­ings that they’ve got their own name for the crea­ture – The Flori­da Skunk Ape. One of the more active places in the state seems to be Ocala Nation­al For­est. For exam­ple in 2012, a man report­ed being accost­ed by a crea­ture after get­ting his vehi­cle stuck in the sand on a for­est road while explor­ing. The crea­ture report­ed­ly threw rocks at him and lat­er emerged from the for­est car­ry­ing a small­er “child” Big­foot. Baby Big­foots? Yikes!

So there you have it, folks. Every­thing you could pos­si­bly need to get out and start “squatch­ing.” At the very least, you have a great (if quirky) excuse to explore America’s wilder locales. The author of this arti­cle absolves him­self from any and all respon­si­bil­i­ty for Big­foot maul­ing and maim­ing injuries.