Melissa Hovey's "Women in Research"
An Interview with Bobbie Short
August 15, 2006
Where to begin. To describe Bobbie Short as a Bigfoot Researcher, just doesnt cut it. Ms. Short has investigated this mystery in our own country and outside of it. She has searched high and low for any and all information she could find, then she started a website many know as Bigfoot Encounters. Many consider Bigfoot Encounters a "go to site", for good reason. Bobbie Short has compiled some of the best reports and information in the search for this undocumented animal.
When I sent Bobbie Short an email requesting an interview, I expected her to decline - she does not grant many interviews. So, you can imagine my shock when she said yes. Ms. Short was very honest and forthcoming with her thoughts and how she thinks, in relation to this research. While you may not agree with everything she says - at least she has the guts to say it. She may not care what I think about her, but I will say I respect her, and am very proud and honored, to add her name to the list of those I have interviewed to date.
Bobbie Short is a woman to be reckoned with in this field of research, and a woman I hope to one day meet and have a conversation with. I get the feeling if your skin is not thick, you should not start a debate with Ms. Short - as she is a very smart woman, and can hold her own against anyone in this. I admire women who stick to their guns and say what they think, especially when they just might know what they are talking about, and Bobbie Short is a woman of just that description.
I would like to thank Bobbie Short, for taking the time to answer all of my questions and being so honest. I do hope to continue this short conversation again in the future.
Women in Bigfoot Research, Bobbie Short
Question: Please tell the readers about yourself.
Bobbie Short: Only that I'm Bobbie Short, currently living in California formerly lived in Colorado and Texas. Contrary to the opinion of some, I am not a product out of the Pacific Northwest.
Question: How long have you been active in the field of Bigfoot research?
Question: What has been your primary focus, in this field of study? Please explain.
Bobbie Short: In the beginning, I just wanted answers or some plausible explanation as to what the Sasquatch was, I wanted honest answers without bias. Interestingly what I kept getting in the early days was a lot of laughter, ridicule and biased opinions without much supportive evidence for those early theories. Eventually, after a great deal of time in the archival dungeons that was our newspaper capabilities before the Internet, I began to piece together the Sasquatch mystery.
You could say my focus was to understand what this life form is that people kept seeing, that left footprints and swift images but stayed outside the boundaries of science. I was bent on reading & collecting everything I could get my hands on, books, newspaper and magazine articles, interviews, databases, you name it, if it was relevant, I consumed it. More often than not, it was a worthless waste of time but I often found little gems of truth in the worst of publications that seemed to help fit the forming picture. Slowly, plausible answers came.
Follow up question: Do you still see the same amount "laughter and ridicule" today as you did when you first became interested in this subject?
Bobbie Short: To some extent yes, certain personalities you can't tell them anything. They simply don't want to hear it. There really isn't anything I can do about those people, I don't spend a great deal of time thinking about those characters.
Follow up question: Where do you stand in the debate on Capture vs. Kill? Do you think researchers should attempt to do either one if possible? And, what do you see as the ramification of an actual Life Capture?
Bobbie Short: Nobody understands better than I that science requires a body before they will believe. But there has to be a better way. I guess I am hopeful that one will die of natural causes and be found for science or that one will become so tame to allow blood to be drawn.
Capture doesn't work for me, and neither does the kill method. If I thought this was some wild beast, then I might reconsider but I think to shoot one, I feel is murder. There has to be a better way and maybe I'm being a bit foolish and blindly optimistic but I'm always hopeful.
Question: Are you active in any Organized Groups, or are you Independent? Or Both?
Bobbie Short: I've always been an independent researcher; I've never been much of a "joiner." I was a part of a couple of organizations at one time, very briefly, but I didn't understand the need for secrecy and signed non-disclosure contracts, nor did I understand the atmosphere of the leadership, so I quickly left. Working alone works best for me.
Question: What do you think about the growing numbers of women becoming active in this field?
Bobbie Short: Oh well, I think it's great and it's about time. I would always be supportive and encourage other women.
Question: Have you had to deal with any resistance to your being in this field of research, due to your gender?
Bobbie Short: Oh, I'm sure, but if there was non-acceptance, I didn't notice much. There were several incidents when men made it clear I didn't know what I was talking about and this was generally from men who weren't field savvy; who have never seen that which they speak and write so eloquently about and mostly from those who hadn't done their homework.
Question: What advice would you give to a female researcher who may be experiencing this?
Bobbie Short: I wouldn't pretend to give her advice, but if she has done her homework with an open mind and knows her craft, then I would say "stand tall." There will always be the less informed who will chide and ridicule you. As long as you know your craft, in the long run you'll be okay.
Question: Can you give any advice to women who are considering entering this research, but are hesitant.
Bobbie Short: Depends on what they are hesitant about. I think you have to have an all-consuming drive to find answers by yourself without much help from the establishment. If the self-motivation is there, a woman is capable...so my advice would be to "get it on." Some men find it difficult to visualize a woman trekking the wilderness alone or with one other person, or for that matter on horseback.
Some of us were born to it. And you'll notice that most relationships formed have been between a Sasquatch and a woman, we're less threatening. I would tell them we all have a starting point, let Birute Galdikas, (orangs) Jane Goodall (chimps) and Diane Fossey's work with gorillas be a source of encouragement, not that I think we're looking for an unclassified ape; I most certainly do not.
Follow up question: Do you think the techniques employed by the late Diane Fossey and Jane Goodall can be used effectively in this field of research?
Bobbie Short: No I don't. We're not looking for a mystery ape. The women I cited were looking for an ape. I think these women encountered the same sort of ridicule and difficulties that we do in our search but they overcame those problems and went on to other great successes.
Follow up question: If you do not think this is an "Unclassified Ape" what do you think it is?
Bobbie Short: It simply cannot be an ape. Apes are quadrupeds, the Sasquatch walks upright. You can't have it both ways. The ape has a divergent big toe, the Sasquatch does not. Again, you can't have it both ways. It's one or the other. It's probably something in the genus Homo. I don't know just what, or how human it is, but I know it doesn't look like an ape in person and it doesn't express much in the way of ape traits other than its hairyness. In person, they look incredibly human but with a muscular build adapted for their survival in the terrain they must negotiate.
There again, we go back to the hundreds of year old oral history of the Indians who have said all along the Sasquatch are a people who have been cast out of society because of the war-like tendencies.
Question: How did you become involved in the search for this undocumented North American Primate?
Bobbie Short: I never intended to be "involved." Truly, it just happened, I guess because I'm always around asking questions, probing and prodding. I am much less involved currently than I've ever been, I don't read the lists and newsletters as much as I used too, there are other priorities I've discovered.
Question: Have you had a sighting? If so please explain.
Bobbie Short: Yes, the sighting is what started the curious route that has been my yellow brick road. It happened when I was backpacking in northern California in 1985 with some friends. In the wee early hours of a morning's first light I got out of the tent to relieve myself and noticed peripheral movement coming from my right side. I rose up to fasten my Levis and here comes this hair-covered something, or so I thought, from downhill on my right up through a small field of ferns to pass to my left. It was female, either old or unkempt, disheveled looking. It looked sick, had a huge scar on the left shoulder that looked as if it hadn't healed properly. This thing looked my way, knew I was there but never broke its stride.
The moment was so totally bizarre that I thought someone was trying to pull off a joke or something. This thing was close enough to see details but details of what I wasn't sure of for ten years that followed. I had no preconceived notions about monsters or such life forms so it wasn't scary it was just plain odd.
Bobbie Short: I seriously doubt I would have this much interest, had I not literally bumped into the thing by happenstance.
Question: Do you ever get into the field?
Bobbie Short: I used to get out a great deal more than I do now, now that I've come to some basic realizations, I'm not sure what the point would be other than to be in the woods, which is a great source of relaxation for me.
Follow up question: What "realizations" have you come to?
Bobbie Short: If you've seen the Sasquatch, it doesn't take much to realize this isn't an ape. No ape has ever evolved to walk upright and too, North America has no fossil record of apes, napes or mystery apes of any kind.
Apes are quadrupeds, the Sasquatch is bipedal. You can't have it both ways. It's either one or the other....it has become abundantly clear that the Sasquatch will eventually be classified in the genus Homo someday. That's my opinion on the subject. I would, of course, like to understand how the Sasquatch survives; know more about them socially and details about them, but I'm happy for the moment. I know my belief pattern isn't widely accepted. That's okay, if the 'ape hypothesis' works for science right now, I think that's great, at least they're thinking about the problem and working towards resolving the mystery. That's encouraging!
Question: Do you take witness statements?
Bobbie Short: Yes, I do, and interviews with informants and witnesses.
Question: Most researchers have one Report that "Stands Out" in their minds, is there a report that still "stands out" for you?
Bobbie Short: No, not really, not just one report. I'm most impressed with the early day accounts and those oral history reports Native Americans have shared with me. Those were impressive, but I found humor in the Keno Hill story, the man was a crack-up. There isn't just one that was all that impressive, except perhaps the John W. Burns Chehalis stories or the Frank Dan account. I can't shake those details...
Follow up question: Do you think current researchers could learn from the stories of the Native Americans?
Bobbie Short: Oh absolutely. I would hope that researchers soaks themselves in the legends and oral history handed down by the First Nation Canadians and Native Americans. Every detail is so important, the little details form a bigger picture of what we're dealing with and too, they were here before the white man was, at a time when there were far more Sasquatches. The Native traditions and stories surrounding the Sasquatch are very important.
Question: What do you think is the most important question to ask a witness?
Bobbie Short: It isn't so much what I ask as it is witness body language, I like reading people's mannerisms, it speaks to a great many issues.
I prefer the witness who looks me straight in the eye, and tells it like it is coupled with those that have evidence to offer. All questions are important as long as they are not framed in verbiage that leads the witness. Let the witness use the adjectives don't lead the witness or make suggestions.
Question: What you would like people to know about you.
Bobbie Short: I'm not nearly as interesting as the Sasquatch is, I'm not at all comfortable talking about me, you'll have to ask pointed questions to get answers. That's an easier task for me.
Question: Do you have any advice for a new researcher?
Bobbie Short: Not really, other than to read, read, read and get yourself into the field and acquaint yourself with how the wilderness works.
Question: Have you had the opportunity to do research outside this country? If so, where and can you discuss your more memorable experiences?
Bobbie Short: Yes, I've spent time in the Pacific Rim countries; at the time I found it productive but in hindsight, I'm not sure what I learned was all that earth-shattering. The heat index and the biting insects and snakes sort of put a damper on the enjoyment side of trekking in those third world countries. Just knowing if something happened, I wasn't afforded the medical luxuries afforded to the same in the United States.
I'd like to go again to China, spend more time in Shennongjia Forest, unfortunately they've closed the area to visitors to allow for regrowth and in the interest of nature conservation. There are some strange creatures in there, some all white but not albino creatures, things that a zoologist would love. Another area of interest to me is the wild man or "bear man" of Jiulong Mountain in Suichang County, Zhejiang Province China. Maybe some day down the road I'll spend some quality time in China.
Question: Malaysia, what is your opinion of the claims of Bigfoot, and a book to be published with photos?
Bobbie Short: One has to understand the culture to a large degree to comprehend the clamor over what I was told was a track poured by an inexperienced member of that research team. Dr. Joe Watanabi wrote saying it was a rogue elephant track and that was the sum of that excitement, coupled with a lack of interest in tourism, they thought it was something to pursue.
The river people and native tribesmen who work the jungles are seeing something certainly, but the descriptions contradict. Dr. Sean Ang, one of Kuala Lumpur's leading scientists recently suggested Homo erectus.... I'm not sure what he based that opinion on, but it's interesting and surely encouraging.
Follow up question: What is it about the Malaysian culture that could have created this issue?
Bobbie Short: Generally they aren't the most scientific people, much of their culture is embedded in folklore, religious belief and social customs. They are, I found...excitable, easily led and deeply superstitious about such things as hairy giants in their culture.
Question: What is your opinion on Habituation ? Good idea, bad idea?
Bobbie Short: You'll have to define "habituation" for me.
Follow up question: My definition of habituation is what I hear described as "put food out for this animal, make it feel comfortable in your backyard, become friends with this animal, and develop a relationship". Do you think that's a good idea?
Bobbie Short: ...I seriously don't believe that it has ever happened outside of the Tennessee account and I am convinced that did happen. There are details there I can't ignore. I understand that there is a tendency for field people to put food out and a corresponding belief that it's a Sasquatch taking it, but unless you actually see the squatch take it, it's probably a raccoon or a badger, something like that. I don't know if it's a good thing or a bad thing, there isn't much in the way of data to form an opinion.
I don't know as it would hurt anything if you were resigned to do it all the time. But offering food only once in a while would seemingly be cruel. Wouldn't they become accustomed to it and forget how to take care of themselves? I haven't seen any field reports that speak to any successful habituation, so I really don't know what to make of this new trend.
Question: You have a fantastic website, for many its a "go to" for information, can you tell the readers when you started it and why?
Bobbie Short: Bigfoot Encounters has been a labor of love for eleven years. The first pages went up back in the mid 1990's, or as soon as there was a local ISP that could carry the load. At the time it went up, there was only one other on the web, that was Henry Franzoni's website. Kyle Mizokami had some great information on his early-day website as did many others. Some of the early pages I put up were really dumb!! Actually some pages still are dumb, but I was inspired to upload information free for public consumption as I found it or as it came to me, so that others could be equipped with the same information. Anymore, there is no reason not to be informed, not with all the free information provided.
Question: What changes over the years, have you noticed in Bigfoot Research? Good? Bad?
Bobbie Short: The biggest thing I've noticed is the coming and going of websites and interested people. Most tend to lose interest after a few years, and others enjoy a moment in research and are never heard from again. The most rewarding thing has been the sharing of information and text from ancient articles that people send to me. There is a gem in almost all of them that is supportive of the effort.
The most rewarding change has been the move away from the "bizarre" and the exodus away from the UFO related ideas. It used to be in the old days, the only place to read about hirsute hominids was in a UFO or like magazine. That trend is dying a fast death and I'm glad to see it go.
Now if we can just move research away from cryptozoology and those damn mystery apes, chupacabras, the moth man and Spring-Hill Jack, I'll be a happy camper.
posted by Melissa @ 1:34 PM
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