Bigfoot Encounters

Bigfoot sighting leaves lasting imprint
By Alex Breitler, Record Searchlight April 16, 2005

SIGNS OF THE BEAST? -- Bigfoot hunters say these plaster casts were taken from prints next to a logging road near Clover Mountain, about 10 miles southwest of Burney, on April 5, 2005.

BURNEY -- Bigfoot, or big phony? Depends on whom you ask.
A group of longtime Bigfoot hunters say that two weeks ago they saw a dozen huge tracks next to a logging road near Clover Mountain, about 10 miles southwest of Burney. Three days later, on April 5, as they poured plaster casts, one of them claimed to see the beast itself.

Tom Biscardi, 57, said he heard a rustling in the brush and looked up, expecting to see melting snow plopping from the treetops. Instead, he described a "blurry blackness" that rose from a squatting position about 100 yards away and took off through the woods.

"I said, 'Oh God, here it is again,'" recalled Biscardi, who said this was his fifth sighting in 32 years of hunting. "I'm yelling to the guys, 'Come on, get the cameras, let's go!'"

To his dismay, Biscardi had left his tranquilizer gun and his wire-mesh grenade launcher at home. He said he threw a stick at the creature hoping to antagonize it, but apparently the beast wasn't fazed and disappeared into the trees after a brief pursuit.

"It walked upright like a man," said Biscardi, who issued a press release about the incident this week. "It wasn't a deer. It wasn't a bear. It was unbelievable."

That's exactly what the skeptics have said about past Bigfoot sightings.

The U.S. Forest Service considered Bigfoot legitimate enough to include the creature in a 1977 environmental impact statement for a logging project in Trinity County.

There's a twist to this story that could fuel further skepticism. A pair of brothers from Burney, Lee and Jimmy Hickman, were among the discoverers of the tracks.

They are grandsons of Ivan Marx, one of the more well-known -- and controversial -- Bigfoot hunters of decades past.

Marx died five years ago, and many believe his stories were no more than tall tales. Very tall tales -- Bigfoot, after all, is supposedly up to 9 feet tall.

Marx, a hunting guide whose family has lived in Burney for nearly 50 years, announced in 1970 that he had caught Bigfoot on film in Washington state. He boldly stated that he would capture one live within a year.

Six months later, the film was deemed a hoax. A fellow Bigfoot hunter argued the alleged animal was a man dressed in fur.

Critics continue to blast Marx on various Bigfoot Web sites. But his widow, 79-year-old Peggy Marx, defends his name and says this latest encounter was real.

Peggy Marx said she went to view the tracks two weeks ago and was there when Biscardi yelled for the cameras. She and her grandsons didn't see the creature, but she said she has spotted Bigfoot four times in the past.

"Some believe, some don't," Peggy Marx said Friday. "They're entitled to their opinion. You just let it fly by -- you learn not to pay attention to people like that."

Biscardi, a former show producer in Las Vegas who lives in Redwood City, got swept up in Bigfoot fever after he saw the most famous footage of all, the 1967 Patterson film shot near Willow Creek in Trinity County.

Since then, Biscardi claims to have seen a Bigfoot at Lassen Peak, and, more recently, a white baby Bigfoot.

Last year, he announced an "expedition" to capture a Bigfoot. News reports said he would seek up to $1 million in corporate sponsorships to pay for gear ranging from high-tech global positioning equipment to deodorant and bug spray.

Biscardi enlisted a public-relations firm to get out the word and said any findings would be "offered for commercial sale, use and distribution and scientific study."

How does he plan to catch this elusive prey? His tools include a "grenade launcher," which casts a net that would burst open and trap the Bigfoot. Biscardi also once planned to drop a "sleep bomb" on Bigfoot from an airplane.

His expedition involves more than two dozen people searching all over the United States, Biscardi said, including lesser-known Bigfoot hangouts such as Louisiana, Florida and Vermont.

The exact location of the Clover Mountain sighting was kept secret. Biscardi did say it was about 5,300 feet above sea level in an area still thawing out from winter snows.

Few Bigfoot reports come out of the Burney area, but the rugged terrain is likely good habitat, said Bigfoot investigator and U.S. Forest Service archaeologist Kathy Moskowitz.

The prints were said to be 15 inches long and up to 6 inches wide. The creature supposedly had a stride of greater than 5 feet.

"These have to be two of the most pristine prints I've ever seen, and I've been in this business a long time," Biscardi said.

Most possible Bigfoot encounters in the north state aren't sightings, but rather blood-curdling screams at night, nasty smells or strange footprints.

The Hickman brothers, who reported finding the latest prints, haven't yet seen a Bigfoot.

But the seasonal timber fallers are certainly trying. They spent much of Friday on their off-road vehicles, binoculars in hand, carrying on with the hunt their grandfather Ivan Marx began in 1951.

"Anytime the weather's clear, we're out there," said Lee Hickman, 37. "That's all we do.

"I've never seen the creature -- but I want to see him."

Reporter Alex Breitler can be reached at 225-8344 or at

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