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Bigfoot: To Kill Or To Film

- C H A P T E R   F I V E -

The Message Of George Haas

The fifth participant in the "great debate" was George F. Haas (1906-1978), of Oakland, California. I present his contribution to the discussion in a separate chapter because his words and the memory of him are very dear to me. We first heard of George Haas and his Bigfoot Bulletin from René Dahinden, and in March 1972 I began to correspond with Haas. It was from him that we first learned of Roger Patterson's passing in 1972. The Bigfoot Bulletin was a new kind of venture in North American hominology, much approved at the time both by Dahinden and Green. One chapter of Green's Year of the Sasquatch (1970) is devoted to that newsletter. Green writes:
One of the most significant developments of the year 1969, at least from a Sasquatch hunter's point of view, was the birth of an unassuming little publication called the Bigfoot Bulletin. For years people who were spending their spare time and money running down Sasquatch reports have talked about the need for a means of communication, but none ever did anything about it. Some kept in fairly regular contact by letter, but others did little or no writing, only dropping in during their travels or telephoning at intervals that might be years apart. Quite a few didn't know that anyone else was active in the field at all.

The man who changed all that is George Haas, of Oakland, California. George has worked at a variety of outdoor jobs and has been a keen woodsman for many years, but he got into the Sasquatch business via the bookshelf. From correspondence with George I know that his experience included a period as Ranger in Charge of the Calaveras Big Trees State Park in California and six years in Yellowstone National Park where he designed, built, and operated an 18-acre reforestation nursery.

The first issue of the Bigfoot Bulletin came out on January 2, 1969. It was just two mimeographed pages. The first item reported the finding of 16-inch tracks in the snow on the Bluff Creek Road, December 2, 1968. Most of the rest of the first page listed published articles on the subject in current papers and magazines, but on Page 2 was an article by Jim McClarin, who has continued to be the Bulletin's most prolific contributor. It was the first of a series of old-time stories to reach a modern audience in the Bulletin.

Despite its growth in size and circulation, George Haas has continued to distribute it (the Bulletin) free of charge, as well as handling an ever-growing volume of correspondence resulting from it.

A number of Sasquatch hunters are basically more inclined to compete than co-operate — because they each want to be the first to bring one in. From this point of view some already object to the Bulletin as making too much hard-won information available at no cost and no effort to anyone who comes along. But for those whose main interest is to see the facts brought home to a doubting world, the Bigfoot Bulletin is an undiluted blessing. No one can buy the Bulletin. It is sent only to those who contribute information.

George Haas is also known as the organizer, archivist, and spokesman of the Bay Area Group of Bigfoot investigators. Their aims, methods and activities are explained in the following texts. First comes George's letter to me of April 16, 1975 (somewhat shortened here):
Dear Dmitri:

Thank you for including me in the discussion of whether or not to kill a homi. You have covered the ground so well in your "Discussion" paper that I don't think there is much I could or need add. I fully agree with all the points you have made on why we shouldn't kill one. I will try not to waste time and space in repetition. Instead, I will make a few additional remarks that have a bearing on the subject. Also, I want to take this opportunity to try to clear up a few inaccurate impressions regarding me and other members of our Bay Area Group that seem to be held by some members of the opposition.

Fortunately, there seems to be a growing trend in the West to recognize that animals and other forms of life have rights of their own; that they were not just "put here for the benefit of man" but are fellow passengers on the spaceship Earth through time and space and thus entitled to the respect and consideration due to any fellow traveler. Most of this trend seems to be due to the growing influence of eastern philosophies on our western culture and I hope this trend continues.

As a species we have appointed ourselves trustees of the earth and of everything on it but actually we do not "own" anything. As individuals, as groups, as societies, we, in effect, hold all things in trust for future generations, not only of men but of all other species as well. How we manage this self-appointed trust is the measure of our integrity. If we log off all the redwood groves for the sake of a few jobs, if we exterminate all the coyotes to save a few ranchers' sheep, if we kill off all the eagles for a few souvenir feathers, then our sense of values is warped and distorted and we have failed to live up to our trust. The redwoods, the coyotes and the eagles have rights of their own and unless we can see that, we are in a bad way.

What we must not forget or overlook is that in Bigfoot (and in other forms of relict hominoids) we now have a totally unique opportunity to do something worth while before it is too late: to demonstrate our integrity and to save and protect all the individuals of what we all agree is undoubtedly a rare and unique form of life. We should all work together to accord to this species at least the inherent rights it has, the respect it deserves, so that future generations will not look back at us and say "they muffed it." We have the opportunity now to avoid the killing of even one individual for the questionable reasons of expediency, fame, financial returns or supposed medical benefits. Surely we can rise above such fleeting aspirations and do right by one species. We may never get the chance again.

It may be, as I have stated before, that the Bigfeet, for example, will eventually be classified as "animals" but they may be something more. I call for caution in advocating a killing. It seems to me to be a little reckless to advocate and encourage others to shoot something before we really know what it is. In this connection, let me quote the little Himalayan folk tale from Odette Tchernine's book, The Snowman and Company, page 158: "One day as I was walking on the mountainside, I saw at a distance what I thought to be a beast. As I came closer, I saw it was a man. As I came closer still I found it was my brother."

Shooting at the creatures in a given area would certainly destroy all chances of making any kind of friendly contact there in the future. Furthermore, if one were hit and wounded that particular creature might become exceedingly dangerous, not only to the one who shot him, but to other people living in the area and to campers and other forest visitors. This possibility certainly should be taken into account by those who advocate a killing. From time to time we of our group take or send young people, sometimes teenagers, into our particular research areas and we certainly don't want them to be subjected to an angry, wounded Bigfoot. This is another reason why we have always been very reluctant to report any of our experiences and chance having outsiders coming in to shoot up the place. This should be obvious to those who cannot understand why we refuse to share some information.

I think all of us who are doing research in this fascinating subject should be aware of and take into account public opinion. We should understand that all over the world there is a growing awareness of the importance of preserving our environment and all of its various elements. This is not something "emotional;" it is something essential if we are to understand pollution and all the other environmental problems and learn how to deal with them. If we don't learn, we are on the way out. It cannot be denied that there is this growing awareness, especially among youth, everywhere. Almost without exception, I find these people deeply concerned about the Bigfoot mystery and what we, as investigators, are doing about it. They take an exceedingly dim view of the idea of killing or caging one. Our public image of Bigfoot investigators has greatly suffered in the past and the advocating of killing a Bigfoot certainly has not helped. After my "The Present State of Bigfoot" was printed in the Willow Creek newspaper, I received a letter from a woman of that area thanking me for expressing such opinions and saying that she and all her family and friends have always contended that if they ever did see a Bigfoot, they would never report it for fear the "Bigfoot hunters" would be out to kill it. I have received other such letters and I think this attitude is typical of most of the people who live in Bigfoot areas. The same sentiments are held by many Indians also. The real reason why Indians won't talk, why they are reluctant to give information to investigators, is not because they are afraid of being laughed at, as some anthropologists contend, but because they have a long-standing protective attitude toward Bigfoot. In the experience of our Bay Area Group, we find the residents of Bigfoot areas, as well as Forest Service employees, more willing to talk and give information when they find that we go into the woods unarmed and when we explain our protective aims and policies.

In the September 1974 issue of The Sierra Club Bulletin is an article titled, "The Rings of Life," by Galen Rowell, a writer and mountaineer. In this article he describes the death of what was undoubtedly the oldest tree in the world, a 4,844-year-old Bristle-cone pine in the White Mountains of California. With the permission of the Forest Service, it was cut down with a chain saw by a "scientist," a dendrochronologist and geographer, from the University of North Carolina, in order to see how old it was! What adds to the horror of this atrocity is that this act was completely senseless and unnecessary since the same information could have been obtained by using a borer, taking out a pencil-sized core of the annual rings without injuring the tree. Here was a living tree, probably 1,000 years old when King Tut ruled Egypt, and it might have lived another thousand years. Surely there is something wrong with our sense of values when such atrocities are perpetrated in the name of science. The correlation between this act and the killing of a Bigfoot to prove it exists is obvious.

A Bigfoot left alive in its native habitat certainly should be of more value to science in the long run than a dead one. A corpse, of course, is of value for dissection and for determining its identification, but that's the end of that particular Bigfoot. A live one, on the other hand, is still available for study, for possible contact and, above all, for perpetuating the species.

I think I should dwell a little upon our Bay Area Group and try to dispel the impression held by some that we are an "emotional" group who only want to see a Bigfoot and who spend our time camping in the woods and reading fantasy fiction. My own qualifications, for what they are worth, are fairly well known in Bigfoot investigation circles. I don't hold a degree in any branch of science but I have had a great deal of practical experience in forestry, botany, mountaineering, conservation, exploration, and all-round woodsmanship. During the past 20 years I have been collecting all the information I have been able to find on Bigfoot and related creatures so that now I have what is generally conceded to be one of the largest collections of its kind in the world. I might be called the archivist and spokesman of our group.

One of our leaders is Archie Buckley whose knowledge of ambulation, accumulated through many years of research and practical application, is profound. In him we have an unexcelled expert on footprints and their evaluation. His knowledge of wildlife and his practical woodsmanship are second to none. His success in drawing a Bigfoot into his camp as described elsewhere, using the friendly contact technique we advocate, was, and still is, unique.

We hope:
1. To collect all available bibliographical information.
2. To collect all the information we can regarding the creatures by actual field studies without molestation.
3. To collect all possible information - short of killing a specimen - leading to their identification and acceptance by scientists.
4. To work for legislation for their protection.
5. To work toward getting areas set aside for their refuge and preservation. Perhaps all the National Forests could be declared Bigfoot preserves or reservations. It may come as a surprise to some who read this to hear that some members of the U.S. Forest Service are already interested in this phase of the problem.
6. And, yes, we do want to see one ourselves.

We have publicly stated our aims and policies, outlined our methods of approach and encouraged others to do likewise. We have proposed an alternative course of action. Someday, somebody, using our non- violent methods of making contact, should be able to bring back convincing scientific proof of which there could be no question. For example, anyone - be he scientist or otherwise - viewing Bigfoot films comparable to those made of the gorillas by Adrien Deschryver of eastern Zaire and denying their authenticity, would be a die-hard skeptic indeed.

I also want to correct the false impression evidently held by some that I feel that the spread of information about Bigfoot is harmful to their cause and that we should "leave them alone." There is no doubt the creatures would have been better off if nothing had ever been written about them and if all reports had never been made but it has long been too late for that. Indeed, I have contributed no small share in spreading information about them in the publishing of the Biqfoot Bulletin together with two published articles and a vast correspondence. On the contrary, I feel that greater public knowledge about them may lead to a greater understanding of the problem and that in turn may lead to their protection and preservation. A mark of a simian is curiosity and we are simian folk too. Undoubtedly, we have inherited and developed that old simian thirst, curiosity, to a far greater degree than any other primate and I see nothing wrong in it. Curiosity leads to information and information may lead to understanding.

I think all of us in this investigation of relict hominoids are in it because we are a little more open-minded than the average man in the street. We have demonstrated that we have the vision necessary to accept that we are dealing with an unknown as yet unaccepted by the scientific community and we have demonstrated a willingness to investigate. But let us not fall into the trap, peculiar to many scientific disciplines, of constructing a body of concepts, of building up a set of "facts" and of thinking that's all there is, that we have all the answers. Therefore, let us carefully weigh and consider every proposal for the solving of this mystery, no matter how much it differs from our own current beliefs, and not dismiss it without due consideration. This is what "investigation" is. How else are we going to find out anything new? Let us not become "set" in our ways of thinking.

Let me take this opportunity on behalf of all of us in the Bay Area Group to send our greetings and best wishes to our esteemed friends and colleagues in both Canada and the U.S.S.R. and to all those elsewhere who are doing research in this fascinating field. We hope that in spite of differences of opinion and aims, there will develop between us new understanding, mutual tolerance and respect of our different viewpoints.

George F. Haas
April 16, 1975
cc: René Dahinden, John Green, Gordon Strasenburgh

Some more information about the Bay Area Group sent over by George at the time follows:
We have no grants, no funds, nor do we seek any. Members pay their own expenses. We have no profit motive in this Bigfoot research and investigation; we are out to obtain knowledge and information only.

Most scientists say they need a body but we do not feel that the killing of a specimen for that purpose can be justified in any way whatever. ...Sooner or later the body of one that had died naturally or been killed by accident will be found.

As a group we spend upwards of 2 or 3 months in the mountains of northern California each summer on field research and we occasionally make weekend or longer trips into our search areas during the fall, winter and spring. We investigate sightings and footprint finds reported to us but more than that, we spend time in the woods looking for evidence ourselves. We study food plants and their distribution. Since we have evidence that Bigfoot is a deer hunter, we study the deer and their distribution and migration habits. One of our most important finds was a butchered fawn. We feel certain this was a Bigfoot kill from the evidence we found near it.

Some extracts follow from The Present State of Bigfoot by George F. Haas:
Out of all the hundreds of reports of sightings made during the past hundred years and more, probably not more than about 10% are truthful or valid accounts. As in any other field of investigation, especially of Fortean phenomena, Bigfoot research has been pestered with hoaxes, frauds, practical jokers, and mistaken identifications. Inevitably, the field has attracted the publicity hounds, the bounty hunters, the greedy, and the confidence men. The investigator has been seriously handicapped by wasting much time in evaluating or running down such stories, but all should be investigated. However, there remain about 10% of the reports that merit serious consideration. It would only require one valid report to prove the case.
The "hawks" have been inclined to dismiss George Haas and his group as naive and gullible romantics. The above passage gives the lie to the assertion.
Most of us in our Bay Area Group feel that we are dealing with a creature that is more than a "mere animal." We feel that the Bigfoot can and should be studied in their natural habitat somewhat like George B. Schaller studied the gorillas in Africa, without molestation and certainly without killing or capture.

We could go along — but with strong reservations — with current plans for a capture providing humane methods were used and providing the creature were turned loose immediately after the examination. However, such a capture might result in imparting to the creature involved various human diseases to which it might not be naturally immune. Also, it would be inevitable that tremendous pressure would be brought to bear upon the capturers against a release.

In proportion to his population, Bigfoot has probably been sighted as often as the mountain lion. He knows all about people, cars, tents, logging equipment, and campgrounds because he sees them all the time; he sees campers, hunters, fishermen, and hikers by the hundreds of thousands in the woods every season. While he generally avoids them, he is not particularly afraid of people but he is understandably cautious. He is never seen unless he wants to be seen or doesn't care. He is, as Archie Buckley points out, a "master of concealment." He can approach a camp, even in daylight, and never be detected. He uses all available cover and even at night will approach a camp or other human habitation by coming in from tree to tree, using them as cover just as the Indians used to do. One Bigfoot that approached to within 46 inches of the car in which Archie Buckley was sitting did just that; he used four different trees as cover in coming in. Tracks in the mulch told the whole story the next morning.

The time has come to use new methods if we are ever going to solve the Bigfoot mystery, see one for ourselves, get close-up photographs or, more important, make friendly contact. We are never going to learn anything of any zoological or anthropological value about the creatures using present methods. We learned little of value from the big game hunters about the gorillas; that had to wait until a man like Schaller went in to live with them.

We go into the woods completely unarmed and in small groups of not more than two or three in any one place. We set up unobtrusive camps, try to blend into the landscape and set out baits and lures in an attempt to entice the creatures in to look for us rather than the other way around. Most important is our attitude. This is a relaxed, friendly attitude, purged of the hate-fear that provokes hostility and aggression in return. Anybody who knows anything about dogs will know what I mean. I am also speaking here from the experience of having spent a whole day with a wild coyote on a mountainside in Wyoming and of days on end spent with a herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep taking pictures at a distance of fifty feet.

If we appeal to Bigfoot's evident curiosity or hunger then sooner or later friendly contact should be assured. Indeed, that this system works is attested by the fact that Archie Buckley, with infinite patience and an intimate knowledge of wild creatures, did succeed in drawing a Bigfoot into his camp.

With the increasing awareness and acceptance that Bigfoot may indeed exist and inhabit our western forests, there is, in our experience, a mounting public attitude of 'leave Bigfoot alone.' This is encouraging since this attitude will no doubt grow into strong public pressure against any exploitation for private gain should one of the creatures be captured. Also, with increased and more enlightened attitudes toward rare and endangered species in national government circles, it is certain that private exploitation of Bigfoot will not be allowed.

We hope that all Bigfoot investigation and research will take a more human and civilized approach to the solving of the mystery in the years to come. Patience should be the watchword for there is no hurry. The mystery is not going to be solved next weekend or in the immediate future — the search may go on for years.

January 1973

LEFT: Trio of big Bigfooters (from left to right): George Haas, Rene Dahinden, Archie Buckley.
(Photo taken January 1975, received from George Haas.)
RIGHT: Archie Buckley at camp during Bay Area Group trip to Trinity Alps, Northern California in April, 1979. (Photo Credit: Warren Thompson.)

Foreword | Introduction | One | Two | Three | Four | Five | Six | Seven | Bibliography