Throughout history, there have been many obscure, albeit intriguing, hobbies and career choices that involve the supernatural or unexplained.
In 1947, a U.S. Air Force surveillance balloon crashed at a ranch near Roswell, New Mexico, prompting decades of paranoia and fascination around the possible existence of little green men and UFOs; this prompted many to spend their time searching the stars.
The 1984 classic, Ghostbusters, brought the realm of ghost-hunting into the light; today there are many businesses that thrive on the income that comes from busting ghosts.
Squatching is another such unusual pursuit; it is popular right here in our own backyard -— after all, they don’t call the Pacific Northwest “Bigfoot Country” for nothing.
Merriam-Webster defines “Sasquatch” as “a hairy creature, like a human being, reported to exist in the Northwestern United States and Western Canada and said to be a primate between 6 and 15 feet tall — called also Bigfoot.”
Some scoff at the idea of a Sasquatch species and roll their eyes at the mention of the hairy biped’s existence. Others, like Steve Wilkins and his friends, spend weekends and holidays trolling the forest for clues and encounters.
The Washington Sasquatch Research Team, co-founded by Wilkins, is a local group that strives to collect evidence, log sightings, and preserve the Sasquatch species within research areas that focus greatly on the Mount Rainier and Olympic National Forest areas.
We talked to Wilkins at length about Sasquatches and he had a lot of intriguing information. Here are some tips to help you head out on your own Squatch expedition, and decide for yourself whether Bigfoot is fact or fiction.
1. The research: Wilkins suggests starting out by visiting the website for the Bigfoot Field Research Organization. “They’ve got a website with a great database of reported sightings all over the country and Canada,” he said. “You basically go to the sightings map, click on a state, click on a county, and every single reported sighting will be there.” Tread carefully; some research groups can be territorial, and part of researching includes making sure you don’t step on any toes.
2. The season: Fall is the best time to look for Sasquatches. “Salmon run, or as we call it, the Bigfoot research Super Bowl, usually occurs in late September,” he said. “Just like bears like to gorge on salmon, Bigfoot does, too. Of course, it’s hard to schedule an outing around the salmon run because you never know when it’s going to be; the salmon run when the salmon run.” Alternatively, winter is the worst time of year for spotting those hairy forest creatures for a number of reasons. “It’s cold, our access is limited because of snow, and Bigfoot aren’t quite as active in winter months,” said Wilkins.
3. The gear: Squatching can be a costly hobby to pursue. “We first started out with a video camera, and now we have so many toys,” said Wilkins. Journey out once or twice and decide whether this activity is for you before dedicating big bucks to the tools of the trade.
- Camping gear for overnight jaunts
- Layered clothing
- Hiking boots
- First aid kit and other hiking necessities
- DSLR camera
- Video camera
- Trail camera, GoPro
- Thermal imaging camera
- Night vision
4. The signs: According to the BFRO, evidence of the species is all around. On its website, the BFRO states, “The assertion that there is absolutely no physical evidence is absolutely false. Physical evidence is found every month in various areas across the country. Distinct tracks that do not match other animal tracks, hairs that match each other but no known wild animals, and large scats that could not be made by any known species, are all physical evidence.” These are just a few of the alleged signs; thinking outside the box and seeing little things that defy logic is key on a Squatch watch.
- Broken branches or tree trunks that defy the probability that they were broken by human, animal, or natural means
- Piles of rocks or sticks in unusual and unnatural positions
- Teepee structures made from multiple branches or large sticks
- Anything that is not naturally occurring
Additionally, a surefire way to know whether a Bigfoot is around is getting hit with a rock. Have you ever been out in the woods and heard something land close to you? Wilkins explains this may be Bigfoot telling you to hit the road. “Getting rocks or pinecones thrown at you is a very, very common Bigfoot behavior,” he explains. “Primates do the same thing; they throw things at you when they don’t want you around. That only happens if you happen to be in an area that they don’t want you in. If you don’t leave, the rocks and pinecones will get closer and closer until you get the picture and leave.”
5. Debunking: “A good researcher will try to debunk everything he or she finds, and they try to look at the evidence and ask, ‘Could this be natural?’ and ‘Could this be done by a human?’” said Wilkins. If the evidence isn’t up to snuff, keep on searching. If you are able to substantiate the evidence you discover, contact the BFRO and share what you’ve found so fellow Squatchers know where to look.