International Falls, Minnesota
July 13, 1979
© International Falls Daily Journal

Sasquatch Hunter Looks for the Beast in Koochiching County

Richard Johnson knows it is a mammal. He figures it is a little bigger than a human, but not by much and its arms are a little longer than normal. It probably lives underground, walks on its hind feet, travels mostly by night and stays in the vicinity for only a week.

And Johnson believes it has a mind bordering the intelligence of humans, a sixth sense 'that almost has the ability to sense your presence. "It" is Bigfoot, or Sasquatch or whatever.

The 33-year-old St. Paul Man has pinpointed two quadrangulars - one in Koochiching
County just south of Margie and another near the Bear River in Itasca County. Sasquatch also may be found in the general areas of Craigsville or Crane Lake he said. He began writing letters this spring to various rangers in the area in an effort to acquire topographic maps of specific sites. He also wanted to let the game wardens to know of his intentions in case permission was needed to conduct his search. Copies of Johnson's letters finally arrived on the desk of Jim Schneeweis, an area wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR)

Johnson claims he sited a Sasquatch in November 1978 near Margie. It was not as heavily built as I thought it would be, he said via telephone from his St. Paul apartment Thursday. It had a reddish tinge to its fur. I saw it enter the swamp. Johnson also says he's quite familiar with wildlife and knows the animal was not a bear, which is about the only animal in Minnesota that could be compared to a Sasquatch. He tracked that one for a while but then lost it. He spotted footprints just this past March, which he says were narrower than he thought they would be. He plans to return sometime yet this summer or early fall before the hunting season begins. A carpenter, Johnson is out of work now due to an injury he received while on the job. He has a wife and child. As soon as his finances will allow, Johnson says he will begin another search.

"You don't know if you're going to see anything or nor," Johnson says, "but it's beautiful country and you get to see a lot of wildlife. This time I will be equipped with a good camera."

Johnson has no certain method when conducting his searches. Since the forest is so dense, he noted a compass is a necessity. You put up a camp and look and listen. Then you move in, look, and listen again. His interest in Sasquatch began several years ago when his brother worked for Boise Cascade Corporation in Walla Walla, Washington. At that time, the area was in a frenzy over reported Sasquatch sightings. But Johnson claims that it was only publicity gimmicks and estimates that 75 % of those sightings were fictitious.
A great percentage of people believe this is some sort of gimmick,' he says. But Johnson believes it's real and that possibly half a dozen roam the woods of northern Minnesota. He's been following the saga of the Sasquatch for about 12 years, but did not take a serious interest until he spotted one in 1978.

Johnson is not alone in his theory that some strange animal lurks in the forests. Harvey Cole, district technician with the DNR office at Northome, was one of the men contacted by Johnson. He confirmed that unusual sightings have been reported over the years.

One instance, he recalled, occurred in the winter of about 1965 when footprints trailed off the road and across a swamp. It was in the area south of Margie, exactly where Johnson suspects Sasquatch might exist. 'The snow was 3 feet deep,' Cole said Thursday. 'No man would ever go there and come back alive.'

A neighbor of Cole's, Chipper Lowe of Northome, was working in the woods by Marcel during the summer when Lowe and his friend spotted what they thought was a bear, Cole said. They evidently went to the lakeshore to see what damage the animal had done, but it had disappeared. Later that night, Cole said, something shook the trailer where Lowe and his friend were sleeping. They never discovered what caused the disturbance, Cole said. "That's the exact area where Johnson said the Sasquatch was," Cole said.

Other than his wife, Johnson says probably no one else knows of his desire to find the Sasquatch. He wants to keep it that way. "I really play this down. That's about it. If I happen to find it, there's a law protecting them. If I could find one and trap it, I would probably turn it over to the zoological society for scientific purposes. That's the only interest I have."

Johnson is not about to be swayed by the gimmickry surrounding the search for the Sasquatch. But he believes it exists and says with help he hopes to find it during his life time, "I'm a realistic person" he says, "I believe only in facts."

Credit Source: Susie and Rick Johnson, MN 1996

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