Many critics of the sasquatch phenomenon point to the scarcity of photographic or video evidence as a reason to doubt the existence of the species. Although no one has ever debunked the best footage that is available, skeptics continue to question why sasquatch images are so rare. Quick logic suggests there should be miles of footage if the animals really do live in our forests, especially considering how much footage there is of other large North American mammals.
It is possible to obtain footage/photos of these
particular animals, but the odds of this happening randomly are sharply
reduced by particular factors:
-- Sightings of sasquatches are
unpredictable. They occur only in rural areas. Very few people in rural
areas keep a decent camera handy at all times.
-- Witnesses consistently describe initial confusion and/or fear during their sighting.
-- Sightings typically last only a few seconds. A camcorder's auto-focus, by itself, takes a few seconds to adjust.
Very few people go out looking for these animals for the purpose of
photographing them. Most bigfoot researchers are "arm chair"
-- Sasquatches seem to be on the move most of the
time, following deer/elk herds like nomadic predators, or
hunter-gatherers. There are no dens or nests that are occupied
continuously or predictably. Their temporary dens and nests are quickly
abandoned when approached by humans, so there's no easy way for wildlife
paparazzi to catch them at home.
-- The only practical
opportunities for footage or photos with everyday cameras are
situations where a sasquatch is observed out in the open, in the day
time, from a distance, for several minutes. Those situations are rarely
-- The typical habitats are dense, brushy, quiet
forests, where human intruders can be heard well before they get within
visual range. In those environments a person can be completely invisible
to someone standing less than 10 feet away.
-- Sasquatches are likely nocturnal. Hunters and fisherman almost never hunt after dark without a flashlight or lamp.
Sasquatches are likely intelligent. Just as their bodies are much
larger than humans', so, apparently, are their heads, and presumably
their brain cavities as well. They don't live like humans, but they are
certainly more complex than other ape species.
-- They may be the
most elusive land mammal species of all, yet they receive the least
amount of effort or attention from the government.
handful of short blurry or inconclusive film clips *may* depict real
sasquatches, neither the Patterson/Gimlin footage nor any of the lesser
clips possess the quality that viewers have come to expect from
commercial wildlife footage.
Commencing with the fifteen-minute
telecast “The Nature of Things” (1948-1954), natural history
documentaries significantly impacted common perceptions regarding
wildlife photography. Popular programs such as “Marty Stouffer’s Wild
America” and, in more recent years, “The Crocodile Hunter” contributed
to the belief that any terrestrial (land) animal can be located,
followed, and filmed in the wild by naturalists and professional
cameramen without too much difficulty. With that in mind, it is hard for
the general public to accept the premise that any large species can
consistently elude determined film makers. While these conclusions may
appear to be logical enough, most people are simply uninformed about the
In addition to the failure of professional
wildlife cinematographers to film a sasquatch, critics also emphasize
the fact that millions of people live near or visit purported sasquatch
habitat. Many of these people are armed with cameras. It stands to
reason, according to the argument of skeptics, that sheer chance alone
dictates that someone should see and photograph a sasquatch. As with the
odds of a random hunter killing a sasquatch, there are many unique and
unusual factors to consider when evaluating a random photographer’s odds
The term "random photographer" is used here to
describe someone toting a camera who is not specifically looking for a
sasquatch. A random photographer's odds must be analyzed differently
than the odds of someone who is specifically looking for a sasquatch.
vast majority of people who have cameras or camcorders with them in
forests are tourists and vacationers, not professional wildlife
photographers. Tourists and vacationers are usually found in places
where there are lots of other tourists and vacationers. This class of
photographer rarely gets far away from crowds and is typically found
along well kept trails and roads in popular destinations such as
Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon National Park, etc.
nature tourists may occasionally don backpacks and join smaller groups
headed to less crowded locations, but those trips still take place along
marked trails or down rivers that endure relatively heavy and
consistent human traffic. Safety concerns keep most backpackers close to
marked and maintained trails. More experienced backpackers may venture
into wilder mountainous or densely forested areas, but even here they
generally stick to some kind of established footpath.
woodland or wilderness animals such as predators, on the other hand, do
not generally use or rely on these same trails. Such creatures know the
routes used by other animals and humans. If a bear or mountain lion were
to travel along a trail frequented by people, it would normally use the
trail at night, a time when it is less likely to have a surprise
encounter with a human. In those rare instances when an unanticipated
encounter occurs along a road or a maintained trail, animals like
cougars, wolves and bears usually slip back into the woods within a few
seconds, before a backpacker can get a camera ready to shoot a single
Most nature tourists, even backpackers, carry cameras for
the purpose of photographing themselves, fellow travelers, and
landscapes. Cameras are brought to preserve vacation memories, not to
photograph quick moving animals. Tourists do not usually hold cameras in
their hands until they reach a place where they know they are going to
take a photograph, and many people keep cameras safely secured inside
backpacks. Many seconds may elapse before the average tourist is able to
remove a backpack, fish a camera out of the bag, deal with the lens
cap, try to focus the camera, find the subject in the view finder, and
take the shot.
The desire or ability to photograph a large
dangerous looking wild animal always depends on the comfort level of the
tourist. Photographing a group of large hungry polar bears poses no
threat when the tourist is seated safely inside a large heated bus
designed specifically for the purpose of thwarting large hungry polar
bears. Similarly, photographing "park bears" eating from a garbage dump
in Yellowstone is not an uncomfortable situation because lots of other
people are also standing around taking pictures.
is totally different when a backpacker observes a large dangerous
looking animal while hiking through a forest. Encountering a bear or
mountain lion in a remote area can be a very frightening experience,
even if the animal turns and runs away. When a surprise confrontation
occurs, the observer is usually very concerned about his or her safety.
The observer does not think about taking pictures at that moment, even
if he or she has a camera in hand. This physiologically derived response
can be likened to the "Drive-by Shooting Effect."
shootings were a nightly occurrence in Los Angeles during the 1980s and
early 1990s. Dozens of people were killed each year. There were,
collectively, hundreds of witnesses to these incidents.
only one piece of video footage documenting an actual drive-by
shooting. This astounding fact appears to defy superficial logic,
considering that Los Angeles is one of the media capitals of the world.
Many Angelenos own cameras and try to make a buck with them.
one piece of footage was obtained by a free-lance TV crew. The crew was
taking a break between stories and testing its gear in a dark downtown
neighborhood when the incident quickly unfolded in front of them. The
crew dove for the floor of the van while the camera continued rolling.
got the footage, but it happened unintentionally. The camera happened
to be sitting on a tripod, with tape rolling, and pointed in the
direction of the gas station where the shooting happened.
crew had somehow gotten advance warning that a shooting was going to
occur, the camera would not have been sitting on a tripod outside the
vehicle. It would have been on a camerman's shoulder. He would have
likely taken cover when the shooting started, and he would have missed
getting footage of the shooting.
An unexpected sense of extreme danger will interfere with any mission or desire to take pictures or shoot video.
a sasquatch to be an easy target for casual photographers, it would
have to wander repeatedly into the open, in daylight, and in predictable
places frequented by humans. But sighting patterns indicate that
sasquatches prefer to remain in thick forests, venturing out only after
Because viewing opportunities are exceedingly rare to
begin with, especially in daylight, the odds of a random person
photographing a sasquatch during the daytime are almost negligible.
The odds of a "sasquatch photographer" have to be analyzed differently.
person dedicated to the goal of photographing a sasquatch is likely to
be more mentally prepared to handle the surprise of an encounter and has
undoubtedly played out possible scenarios many times over. The
photographer knows the sasquatch may dash off quickly, so the camera is
more handy for a fleeting opportunity. Even with the given advantages, a
sasquatch photographer must still overcome special challenges.
addressing some of these special challenges, it is important to note
that very few experienced photographers intent on documenting a
sasquatch actually get into the field on a regular basis.
skeptics assume there must be hundreds, or at least dozens, of active
bigfoot hunters in the field at any given time. In reality, only a dozen
or so investigators get into the field consistently for at least a few
days each month. Nearly every equipped "bigfoot hunter" has a day job,
or a family, or both. So they are rarely able to remain in the field for
more than a few days at a time.
The present quantity of
wildlife photographers who are employed full time for the purpose of
obtaining sasquatch footage/photos:
surprising as it may sound, no television wildlife production company,
or wildlife magazine, has ever put a professional wildlife photographer
in the field for more than a few days, in an attempt to obtain
photographs, film, or video footage of these specific animals.
companies that do produce programs dealing with sasquatches typically
focus their attention on sasquatch researchers and witnesses, rather
than trying to get original footage of these animals.
the problem is that production companies do not have the luxury of
planning for long-term projects with uncertain odds of success. It is
much more financially feasible to spend a few days or weeks tagging
along with folks who call themselves bigfoot researchers, and
interviewing them, and asking cliche questions, and showing stock
One practical long term plan for a sasquatch
photographer would be to analyze geographical patterns of sighting
reports and pinpoint promising areas to patrol on horseback, at least a
few times each year for several days at a time.
sasquatch photographers almost never have the time or resources to
conduct those kinds of repeated, extended, horsepacking trips. In fact,
the last people who actually did this over the course of a few years
were Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin. They were able to approach the
photography challenge from this angle because their jobs were seasonal.
They were also experienced backwoods hunters, and they had access to
specially-trained trail horses.
Patterson and Gimlin also had a
decent communications network (by 1960's standards) in the northwest
that enabled them to stay abreast of the most recent sightings and track
finds in the region.
In 1967 sasquatch tracks started turning
up along logging roads that were being constructed in a remote part of
Northern California called Bluff Creek. Patterson and Gimlin got wind of
the track finds and set out on horseback to explore the area. They
scouted for days throughout the vast watershed. On horseback they could
travel long distances and easily scout areas that were rarely visited by
By a fortuitous twist of fate, the winding canyon
bottom of Bluff Creek was quite open in late 1967. A major storm had
caused massive flooding earlier that year. The brushy creek bed had been
transformed into sand bars, mud flats, and piles of logs and other
The stream continued running down the middle of
the devastated canyon bottom, fully exposed to view. For months after
the floods, animals had to venture out into the open, and cross the mud
flats and sand bars, to get to the stream to drink. This rare
circumstance allowed Roger Patterson to film the sasquatch as it
retreated from the stream back to the tree line.
footage site now looks very different. Trees and brush have grown back
with a vengeance. Today Patterson and Gimlin would not have spotted the
figure from where they first spotted it in 1967, nor would they have the
unobstructed view they had as the animal retreated.
other unique circumstances in the 1960's and 1970's that contributed to
the rise in sightings and track finds across North America during that
period, particularly the construction of new logging roads into remote
Patterson and Gimlin themselves were the
product of a western cowboy culture that could endure for weeks on
horseback in the mountains. They were the type of guys would be unphased
by a surprise confrontation with an animal -- unphased even if a
panicked horse suddenly fell back on top of one of them and pinned him
to the ground.
Patterson was also mentally and physically
prepared like a western quick draw gun fighter, to whip out a movie
camera from a saddle bag in order to document a fleeting encounter.
one has matched Patterson and Gimlin’s feat since then -- in terms of
the footage obtained, or in terms of the long-term deep-reach effort
required to obtain that footage.
The unique hindrances to obtaining daylight footage of these animals stems mainly from their elusive lifestyles and behaviors.
any other type of terrestrial animal is easier to locate and photograph
than sasquatches, not merely because there are larger numbers of every
other type of large mammal.
Sasquatches are somewhat nomadic and
mainly nocturnal. Their food requirements may force them to move from
place to place on a frequent basis, and in unpredictable patterns,
within a very large home range.
Elusive predators such as wolves,
cougars and bears have more predictable territories and circuits,
making it much easier to trap or shoot them.
Captive animals can
be relocated to settings designed with the needs of the wildlife image
market in mind. As a prominent wildlife photographer related, "An animal
such as a cougar is virtually never photographed in the wild unless it
is hounded by dogs first. All of the images on calendars, in magazines
and books are taken in captivity - even if they don't look like it.
There is a whole industry around the photography of difficult predators.
Photo tours to game farms such as the Triple D in Montana are big
business and a reliable resource for documentary film makers."
facilities, offering expansive natural-looking settings, make it very
easy for filmmakers to locate their subject. They create the impression
that the animal has been skillfully tracked and carefully approached
among wild habitat. Much of wildlife videography is "staged" in this
The nocturnal habits of sasquatches create special
challenges. Sasquatches retreat quickly from bright illumination in the
woods at night, as if bright lights in the darkness are painful to their
The deterrent effect of bright lights makes the
photography effort much more costly, because special equipment is
required. Camera-grade 3rd-generation night vision scopes, and thermal
cameras allow photographers to film from a distance in the dark, but
those devices cost thousands of dollars, putting them well out of reach
from most photographers.
more sighting reports becoming available to the public via the
Internet, and with unmanned trail cameras becoming more affordable, new
people will undoubtedly try to obtain trail camera photos in areas with a
history of sightings.
The emergence and dispersion of
high-output "true infrared" motion-sensing trail cameras (such as the
Reconyx RC60-HO) will inevitably lead to some unprecedented images of
sasquatches. These particular devices will allow professional and
non-professional photographers to overcome most of the limitations
inherent with hand-held devices, in the context of this unique pursuit.
Patterson Gimlin Bigfoot Film- Analysis by Bill Munns and Dr. Jeff Meldrum
Corroborating Evidence Makes Strong Case for the Authenticity of the Bigfoot Footage of Paul Freeman