Posted by: Craig Woolheater on February 13th, 2006
The article that originally ran in the San Antonio Express-News titled "Group busy stalking Big Thicket Bigfoot" and was discussed here on Cryptomundo at the time, was picked up by the Beaumont Enterprise. Thomas Taschinger, editorialist for the Enterprise wrote a piece ridiculing the notion that the Big Thicket in particular, and the state of Texas in general could harbor a bipedal primate.
The article by Roy Bragg of the San Antonio Express-News told about the Texas Bigfoot Research Center and its efforts to find the big guy. With tape recorders and infrared cameras, the group’s members occasionally roam the Thicket after dark, trying to make one of the world’s greatest scientific discoveries. So far, they have come up with the same results as other Bigfoot researchers – lots of suspicion but little fact.
Locals may be disappointed, but there’s virtually no chance Bigfoot is tromping about the Thicket or other parts of the Eastern or Southern United States where it has variously been reported. The wilderness in these places is not vast enough and the human presence is too pervasive to support a breeding population. If the creature were in the South or East, it would have been shot/trapped/photographed sometime during the past two centuries.
In the Pacific Northwest and Canada, the Bigfoot legend is a tad more believable. That corner of the continent has thousands of square miles of uninhabited or lightly populated territory. In theory, a small band of intelligent and elusive mammals could be hanging on.
It’s not easy finding and documenting an extremely intelligent, nocturnal animal that may have a population of no more than 50 or 100 in all of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana; it’s kind of like trying to find a few moving needles in a 63,000,000 acre field of hay. These are very special needles; they are mobile, rare, nocturnal (with the requisite, outstanding, night time visual acuity), can think like a chimpanzee, and are as agile as cougars.
Where do I get 63,000,000 acres, you ask? Well, since you are obviously unaware, there are "only" 63,000,000 acres of forestland in the four state region of Texas (22,000,000), Arkansas (18,000,000), Louisiana (13,000,000) and Oklahoma (10,000,000). In East Texas alone, there are over 12,000,000 acres. 63,000,000 acres of forestland is equivalent to 100,000 square miles. That is equivalent to a piece of real estate that is equal in size to the entire state of Oregon.
You made mention of the Texas Bigfoot Research Center having "little fact," yet you make statements such as "wilderness in these places is not vast enough and the human presence is too pervasive to support a breeding population." It sounds like you need to get out a little more, Mr. Taschinger. Please tell me, how is it that a "pervasive human presence" could keep a rare species from breeding in 63,000,000 acres of timber land? And how is 63,000,000 acres of timber land not vast enough?
The best evidence supporters have produced so far is the infamous 16 mm clip filmed in 1967 by Roger Patterson in northern California of a big ol’ thing striding into the woods. Its 953 frames have been scrutinized in a way that makes the treatment of the Zapruder film seem almost casual.
Some anthropologists have said the beast could not possibly be phony, showing fluid movement and an apelike stride. Some makeup artists have said it’s an obvious fake, "a man in a monkey suit." The discussion gets down to fine points like whether the creature has a water bag under the stomach fur, a trick used to make a costume ripple like real flesh. One debunker claimed to have spotted a few frames with a bell-shaped zipper fastener on the fur. Supporters call it a drop of water or a film flaw.
The cold reality is that it is extremely hard to believe that Bigfoot is real. Despite the ratio of wilderness to people – whether in the Pacific Northwest or the Himalayas -you have to wonder why no one has been able come up with conclusive proof after all these years – either a corpse or skeleton or good photos. Heck, I’d settle for droppings or hair samples that the FBI lab agrees do not come from any known animal.
You insinuated that perhaps a good photo would seal the deal for you but in the same breath, you insinuate that the image in the Patterson-Gimlin footage is nothing more than a "man in a monkey suit." You even mention that the film is so controversial that one debunker, Chris Murphy, claimed to have spotted a few frames with a bell-shaped zipper fastener. Actually, Mr. Murphy’s position is that the "bell-shaped zipper fastener" is not that at all; his position is that the image is indeed a sasquatch.
He’s large, he’s hairy and he roams the Big Thicket scaring small children.
We are not talking about your Uncle Leonard. We are talking about Bigfoot – a.k.a. Sasquatch, or the critter called the Abominable Snowman in the Himalayas.
Most Southeast Texans have heard of Sasquatch sightings in the Pacific Northwest and Yeti encounters in Asia. To the surprise of many, no doubt, a story we ran last weekend suggested that the apelike creature could be skulking around these parts.
Finally, you mentioned in your piece about how many Southeast Texans, "no doubt," were surprised to learn that a big bug-eyed monster is "scaring little children" in Southeast Texas (by the way, it’s not a "monster," as you implied, it’s an extremely rare species of primate). "No doubt" there are also many respectable Southeast Texans, of unassailable character, who have had experiences with your implied monster; I know, I’ve interviewed dozens and dozens.
Unfortunately, because of public lashings, ridicule and disdain such as that shown in your opinion piece, these witnesses (such as judges, law enforcement, wildlife biologists, pastors, hunters, nurses, journalists, bankers and many others) are highly reticent about such events and choose to keep such events highly confidential.
Well Mr. Taschinger, the Big Thicket is a vast, thickly forested area. Here are some facts about the area taken from the Handbook of Texas Online.
Newton counties. The federal government established the Big Thicket National Preserve in twelve different units in Polk and Tyler counties and the counties to their south. The old people and old families, however, who have always known that they lived in the Big Thicket, define it as a much smaller area. This is frequently called the bear hunters’ thicket.
The history of the Big Thicket goes back to the time when it was covered with water. In the last sixty million years, "recent times" according to geologists, the Gulf shoreline of Southeast Texas submerged and emerged time after time, in unison during the Pleistocene Age with periodic glaciations to the north. The shore line that contained the thicket rose above the waters of the Gulf during the Ice Age, and was built up by silt washed down and deposited by some ancestral Trinity River. The woods of the thicket grew, and ten thousand years ago the thicket dwellers included mastodons, elephants, the American horse, Taylor’s bison, camels, tapirs, and giant sloths, beavers, and armadillos. Preying on these animals were the sabre-toothed tiger and the dire wolf. Their day ended around 8,000 years ago. The time of the glaciers established varieties of soils and vegetation in the thicket that remained after the glaciers retreated, and produced a unique biological crossroads of at least eight different kinds of plant communities. The Big Thicket is possibly the most biologically diverse area in the world. Cactus and ferns, beech trees and orchids, camellias and azaleas and four carnivorous plants all occupy what is called the thicket, along with the pines, oaks, and gums common to the rest of East Texas. The thicket also supports a wide variety of animal life and is especially noted for the many species of birds, around 350, that either live in the area or visit annually. The abundant rainfall and the long growing season, around 246 days, ensure that vegetation and all the animal life that depends on it thrive.
It sounds like the Big Thicket has all of the trappings of suspected Bigfoot habitat. But what do I know ?
Longtime newspaper writer, and a native of the Big Thicket area, Rob Riggs has written many articles about the "Big Thicket Wildman." He even wrote a book that was published in 2001 titled, "In the Big Thicket : On the Trail of the Wild Man." While it also discusses other phenomena, it does tell many of these stories.
Maybe Mr. Taschinger doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does… />