Baby Boomers, especially those who came of age in the 1970s, were exposed to all kinds of cultural phenomenon, especially the creature known as Bigfoot. Decades later, the large, man-like creature is the focus of "Finding Bigfoot," an Animal Planet series that began its second season on January 1. Each episode follows members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) as they investigate leads, footprints and other evidence.
When reached by phone on December 30, Cliff Barackman, a "Finding Bigfoot" co-host, said that he did receive a phone call that morning from someone who knew someone who heard crazy screams while camping. "I'm getting ready for New Year's Eve, but I may be heading to the woods tonight," Barackman said. "There's always something happening."
Like trying to find a mosquito in a sports stadium
Bigfoot, also known as Sasquatch, has been part of the popular culture for a decades, which means reported sightings and footprints occur on a regular basis. "Sasquatches are a normal special of the fauna in North America, so one would always expect there would be sightings," Barackman said. "And that's what we find."
Before he took the gig on "Finding Bigfoot," Barackman was an elementary school teacher who taught sixth grade. "I would be out in the woods for the majority of my summer breaks, a whole lot of weekends and whatever vacations I had," he said. "One year I was unemployed and I spent over 150 nights in the woods. It was amazing."
Barackman said it is always good to head to sites where fresh Sasquatch activity has happened. "Finding a Sasquatch, I've tried to compare it to finding a mosquito in a sports stadium. You know it's there somewhere, but it keeps moving around and it's going to be super-hard to locate. That's what Sasquatch and all creatures do; they move from food source to food source and hang around while that food source is producing," he said.
Sasquatch as a social animal
Many people who believe in the existence of Bigfoot, Barackman said, assume that the creatures will follow the same behavior patterns as the tropical apes we have today. "Mountain gorillas, lowland gorillas, orangutans, whatever. But these are a different thing," he said. "The chimpanzees, for example, live in troops-between 10 to 30 individuals for the big ones."
The Sasquatches, on the other hand, tend to live in small, family groups. "Generally speaking, three is a very common number and that is based on footprint findings; that is not just speculation. There is data to support that. That's the intriguing thing because they break the mold on what other apes do," he said.
Barackman also said that Sasquatches seem to be hiding from us in the dark. "They haven't caught on that we don't see well in the dark. They don't want to be seen; they want to be left alone," he said.
For whatever it's worth, one of the early chimpanzee researchers before Jane Goodall was following this one troop of chimpanzees around," Barackman said, "He was finding their footprints; he was finding their scat, their bedding sites, their foraging areas, hair samples, the whole nine yards. He never saw a chimpanzee for over two years because they would hear him coming and quietly leave the area. And that's 20 or 30 chimpanzees,"
With the Sasquatches, Barackman said, finding them becomes even harder. "You increase their intelligence. You give them a way smaller family group; you give them nocturnalism and perfect night vision. I think we are very lucky to ever see a Sasquatch," he said.
The second season of "Finding Bigfoot" can be found on Animal Planet on Sunday evenings at 10 pm ET/PT.