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Bigfoot: To Kill Or To Film

- C H A P T E R   S I X -

Incomparable Sociability

George Haas never read Boris Porshnev, yet he and I spoke with one voice about the way of solving the hominoid problem. If only that voice could have been heard in Green's books, if only George could have been on the ISC (International Society of Cryptozoology, founded in 1982) to help me counter Grover Krantz on the issue... But fate willed otherwise.

George's contribution to the great debate was so much to my liking that I even entertained for some time pipe dreams of George launching a new publication, called Current Hominology, a man and nature magazine, devoted to ecological, ethical, and philosophical problems, with man represented by the hominologist and nature by the homi. Alas, George was not in the prime of life, illness intervened and in October 1977, I received word from Warren Thompson of the Bay Area Group who said, George Haas has asked me to write to you on his behalf. He has been in the hospital for the past five weeks because he has cancer. It was just disclosed this past weekend that his condition is now considered terminal and that he has only three to four days left to live."

LEFT: Three Bigfoot veterans with the 'Bigfoot Blues,' (from left to right), Dmitri Bayanov, John Green and Grover Krantz, (Moscow Conference, Darwin Museum, October 1997).
RIGHT: George Haas:"Bigfooters, cheer up! We shall overcome some day!" (Photo received from George Haas.)

Happily, the next message was from George himself, it said, "Just a few lines to let you know that my condition which we wrote to you about a few weeks ago has taken a turn for the better. I was released from the hospital a week ago after being there for two months, I am now back home in my apartment. I am slowly recovering, getting stronger and feeling better every day. Well, I just wanted to let you know that I am still here and looking forward to hearing from you again in the future."

Overjoyed, I replied with this message:

For Bigfoot to survive,
George Haas must be alive.
Back home George is!
We feel gorgeous.
Long live George the Wise!
Leave us not for paradise.
He left us for good on February 16, 1978. With his passing, wrote Warren Thompson to me, we have all lost a wonderful friend. The field of Bigfoot research has lost one of its major assets. As was his wish, we plan to continue on with the work he initiated.

I continued to communicate with Warren Thompson, who published and distributed the Bigfoot Bibliography, initiated by George Haas, but contact grew thinner and some years later ceased altogether. Thus, on the question of ends and means, I was left to face Dahinden, Green, and Krantz without an ally in North America, at least an ally known to me and of a stature and abilities of George Haas. Dahinden was not much of a problem because, unlike Green and Krantz, he didn't widely advocate a 'kill Bigfoot' policy, and in the early 1980s he broke relations with us anyway. But Green and Krantz, the outstanding hominologists of North America, continued to remain my 'professional' colleagues as regards the reality of relict hominoids while we were destined to be bitter opponents on the 'kill or film' issue, and that was somewhat tragic.

I greatly valued Green's literary work, for his three paperbacks, On The Track of the Sasquatch (1969), Year of the Sasquatch (1970), and The Sasquatch File (1973), enabled the researcher to compare North American and Eurasian data on relict hominoids. Even more fruitful in this respect was Green's fourth book, a hardcover volume of 492 pages, published in 1978 and titled Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us. It was most useful not only because it supplemented information previously published by the author but also because, unlike the previous books, this one had a Sasquatch Index, with such subdivisions as Behavior, Description, Indicated Diet.

In the opinion of Boris Porshnev, George Haas, myself, and many others, the key to the solution of our problem is friendly contact with the hominoid. Haas writes that Bigfoot "is never seen unless he wants to be seen or doesn't care." Obviously, it is essential for the researcher seeking friendly contact to have an idea about situations in which Bigfoot wanted to be seen or didn't care. And here Green's volume, with its Index, comes in handy. The very first lines of Chapter 1 read as follows:

You are sitting alone in the house at night when you hear a slight noise outside, and turning your head you are confronted by a bestial black face, more like a gorilla's than anything else, staring in the window at you. An animal looked in out of the darkness to see what was inside your lighted room, but it wasn't trying to get in to eat you, and it felt no hostility towards you. It was just curious and for some reason abandoned its usual caution. In reality you were granted a rare privilege, a chance for a close look at one of the most interesting creatures on earth and one that very few people ever see. It's too bad you weren't in shape to appreciate it. (p. 13)
To appreciate what stands behind those lines, let me quote from Green's book (with the help of its Index) a couple of cases of Sasquatches approaching buildings.
Another report recently received from New Jersey, although it happened some time ago, takes us back to the Pine Barrens, to the town of Lower Bank. A couple who lived there in the fall of 1966 claimed to have found 17-inch, five-toed tracks outside their house after they had seen a face looking in the window more than seven feet off the ground. Instead of panicking, they began leaving table scraps outside, mostly vegetables, which something ate. The only thing rejected was a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Then came a night when they forgot to put out any scraps, and a loud banging was heard outside the house. The husband went out to find out what was going on, and saw a 'Bigfoot-like' creature covered with gray hair throwing a garbage can against the side of the building. He fired a shot in the air, without scaring it off, then fired at it, whereupon it fled and did not return. (p. 269)
There is reason to think the creature was gray with old age and that is why it began to rely for sustenance on garbage cans. Among items indicated in the Diet Index, Green mentions 'garbage.' Incidentally, the famous Bossburg cripple foot tracks were found in a place where a Sasquatch was coming to feed out of roadside garbage cans. He must have been elderly too. Such evidence is known in Eurasian data as well.

Here's another case dealing with the evidence of the night watchman at a small sawmill in the forest 20 miles north of the town of Orofino, Idaho:

The animal was described as being about six feet tall, completely covered with shiny dark hair except for its face, hands, and the nipple areas of its very large breasts. All visible skin was pink. He thinks it may have been nursing a baby... He and several other employees had seen many tracks in and around O Mill all during the summer of 1969. There were at least three different sets of tracks, one very large set, one human size, and one child size. The tracks indicated that they had explored in and around the buildings. They played in the sawdust pile and ate sandwiches he had put near the carriage. He could hear them jabbering among themselves and throwing boards which got in their way. They were in and around the mill most of the summer. (p. 289)
Hominologists generally believe that female Bigfoot (and other hominoids) raise their very young offspring in secure natural sanctuaries, well away from civilization, which is probably true. Yet the female with a presumed baby mentioned above found a secure refuge at a peaceful sawmill in the forest whose watchman 'threatened' her with nothing more than sandwiches. Similar cases are found in Eurasian data too.

In her paper sent to the Vancouver conference, M.J. Koffmann said that the almasti of the Caucasus used to be offered food and even clothes by humans. Special sympathy was offered to their females with babies. The creatures take food from man — dairy products, meat, honey, porridge, all sorts of fruits and vegetables. John Green's Sasquatch Diet Index, which includes "stolen items and handouts," lists, among others, the following items of interest to Bigfoot: apples, cattle, chickens, cooked food, corn, fish, flour, garbage, macaroni, oranges, peaches, prunes, rabbits, sandwiches, sheep, table scraps, turnips, vegetables.

I wrote in Current Anthropology magazine in 1976:

Judging by the available data, the American hominoids look more 'archaic' than their European counterparts. The Green 1978 volume has almost erased the difference in my mind. Perhaps Bigfoot are more ‘pure-blooded’ apemen than some Eurasian, especially Caucasian, populations but basically, I think, homins** on both sides of the Pacific are of the same Pithecanthropus (i.e., apeman stock). In ecology and ethology (i.e., behavior) North American hominoids (or, in keeping with present-day classification, relict hominids) are no more different from their Eurasian counterparts than the American brown bear is different from brown bears elsewhere. That is clear to anyone who has studied relevant data gathered by Russian and North American investigators, John Green in particular. As for Neanderthal, in the opinion of Grover Krantz, this form should be put in Homo erectus (Pithecanthropus) and the whole group should be treated "as something distinctly less than human" (personal communication). I tend to agree with this view, adding the important reservation, however, that "less than human" is not necessarily tantamount to 'purely animal.' I think that the 'superanimal' qualification would be more to the point. "Homo erectus existed for over a million years with relatively little change — a kind of evolutionary plateau — and then was transformed rather quickly into Homo sapiens" (Grover Krantz 1980, Sapienization and Speech). So it is logical to surmise that today’s wild bipedal primates in Eurasia, Australia and the Americas are relics of that evolutionary "standstill," which lasted long enough for homins to penetrate and settle whole continents before the advent of Homo sapiens. Adapting to local environments they must have more or less departed in their physique from the fossil Homo erectus forms presently known to science.
In A Hominologist's View From Moscow, USSR, I called upon colleagues to follow the example of Jane Goodall who, having made friends with free-ranging chimpanzees, was able to thoroughly study their way of life in the wild. I mentioned three factors that facilitated Goodall's research: First: the chimpanzees are diurnus animals; second: they lead a community life; third: Goodall's project had financial support. I then referred to the handicaps of our task, having failed to mention one very important point which must facilitate the solution of our problem — the incomparable sociability of the apeman!

Nonsense? Paradox, yes, but not nonsense. No species of the great apes in the wild is known to make such regular and profound contacts with humans as our 'wards' do. By 'profound' I mean that they take not only food from humans but sometimes take the latter along as well, usually causing them in so doing no physical harm. Such cases are on record both in Eurasia and North America. One entry in Green's Sasquatch Index reads, "Carry things: animals, persons, ..."

Why then is it paradoxical to speak of Sasquatch sociability? Because in relation to man it is, as a general rule, one-sided. In those rare but ever repeated cases when a homin is ready for friendly contact, humans are usually not. In my book, In the Footsteps of the Russian Snowman, a case is listed involving Anatoly Pechersky, a teacher, who was approached and followed in the mountains of the Kirghiz Range by an old and hungry hominoid. Contact was interrupted when a fearful Pechersky produced a hunting gun. In North America, as follows from Green's writing, similar contact was broken when man not only produced a gun but fired at the creature. The idea of friendly contact with wild hairy bipeds is as strange a fantasy to civilized bipeds of the 20th century as the idea of friendship with gorillas was to civilized people of the 19th century. For them a norm, not a fantasy, was the slaughter of these relict animals by trophy hunters.

The above points are well illustrated by the late anthropologist Carleton Coon in his report at the Vancouver conference entitled, Why There Has To Be A Sasquatch. He relates a case in New Hampshire which he investigated personally and reports as follows:

A man who lived just below the border in Massachusetts had driven his pickup truck, which he had converted into a camper, to a wooded glade along a highway. He stopped there and went to sleep at the wheel, his two young sons likewise snoozing on bunks by a window. At 11:00 p.m., the man awoke. Something was rocking his vehicle from side to side. An earthquake? He stepped out and was immediately grasped on the left shoulder by a seven foot creature covered with light brown or yellowish hair. Its right hand pushed the camper off his running board onto the ground. It looked down on him, and stuck out its tongue. The man jumped free, the creature stepped back. The man drove as fast as he could up the highway, the creature followed him. Later on, one of the sighter's sons saw the creature's face peering into his bedroom below.
"Several elements in this narrative," says Coon, "had been recorded elsewhere, in other encounters, by persons who never heard of our New Hampshire actors and vice-versa. Both these encounters took place at night. The animals rocked the vehicles. It touched its human occupant. Its touch was not aggressive, but apparently a clumsy attempt at interaction, what might have been called a pat of affection, or way of saying: 'I'm hungry!' or 'I need a drink of water.' The face-in-the-window syndrome is also on record elsewhere." (Vladimir Markotic, ed., The Sasquatch and Other Unknown Hominoids (1984), pp. 46,47)

On record is also a knock-on-the-door-and/or-window syndrome, as illustrated by the case of Mecheny in Siberia, described in my book. All of that, and many other peculiarities of Sasquatches and their relatives in Eurasia, bespeak their 'more than animal,' (i.e., 'superanimal') qualities.

Knowing this, how should we proceed about 'discovering' these creatures? Searching for them in forests and mountains has long been compared to trying to find a needle in a haystack. Grover Krantz has improved upon the simile: "the proverbial needle is furtively moving about inside that haystack and leaving little indication of its previous locations." So what's to be done?

Some clever housewives, instead of groping for a dropped needle on the floor, easily find it with the help of a magnet. A powerful magnet, I suppose, could extract a needle even from a haystack. So if we want to discover a hominoid by way of friendly contact we should use all means that attract him and put aside all things that repel or alert him. That is why George Haas says of his group that they set out baits and lures in an attempt to entice the creatures in to look for us rather than the other way around; that they go into the woods completely unarmed; that most important is their attitude, which is friendly and relaxed, free of hate and fear. Similar advice was offered by me to René Dahinden.

To entice a hominoid, to induce him to respond accordingly to a friendly gesture and offer on our part is one reasonable line of action. It demands, besides clever planning and preparation, immense patience and persistence. Some initial results on this way have already been marked by the Bay Area Group in California and M.J. Koffmann's group in the Caucasus. Our beacon in this approach should be the pioneering work in befriending chimpanzees and gorillas by such primatologists as Jane Goodall, George Schaller, and Dian Fossey.

Another no less obvious and reasonable line is to use the help of those, as Boris Porshnev states, "tender-hearted people who are already in friendly contact with the creature, having positively responded to his sociable advances." Porshnev pinned special hopes on this tactic, calling it "a key to the practical solution of the whole problem." When he wrote that, we only had information about such cases in Eurasia, mostly the Caucasus, with the problem that local inhabitants there tend to obey taboos which forbid them to "betray" wildmen. Today we know, from the Green volume in particular, that friendly contacts of this kind are also on record in North America, where the population (except the Indians) knows no taboos in regard to Bigfoot and Sasquatch.

Our task then is to:

1. Inform potential contactees of our interest
2. Find actual contactees
3. Interest actual contactees in cooperation with us

Obviously, there is the question of money for us, just as there is for the opposition. Says Grover Krantz on this point,: "With enough money, say about half a million dollars, a Sasquatch could almost certainly be obtained by expert hunters."

I realize that permanent friendly contact with a Bigfoot may cause some inconvenience to a household or its neighborhood. But would not one take inconvenience in one's stride for half a million dollars? Would not the man who fired at the creature demanding its daily portion of table scraps have behaved differently had he known that half a million bucks awaited him for continued supply of table scraps to his hairy intruder?

Where to get the prize money? Of course, tender-hearted private funders would be most welcome and may step forward, considering the fact that the dividends would start coming as soon as photographic evidence was obtained. But perhaps the necessary funds could be raised through contributions by people of ordinary incomes around the world if we explain to them the aim and significance of the operation. The next step, then , is to find enterprising and trustworthy people or an organization that would be willing to undertake such a venture.

** I now use the term "homin" instead of "homi" and as a substitute for the old term "relict hominoid". Hominology is the science of homins.

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