Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 17th, 2007
People outside the study of “Bigfoot searching” create a good deal of speculation and melodrama about the feuds and in-fighting occurring in our field. What is often overlooked is how that within cryptozoology and hominology, oftentimes, the bottomline comes down to a mutual support of the overall effort to find new species.
Being a chronicler and student of the students of the pursuit, of course, I have observed how people have hunted Sasquatch for a long time. I felt it was such an important topic that I included a “Bigfooters” chapter in my Bigfoot book, and did an entire biography on Tom Slick who funded the early expeditions.
Having interviewed members of the Slick family about Tom Slick, I understand all too well how important it is for those that have money be free to give to those they please, in support of Yeti expeditions and Bigfoot search parties.
Therefore, let me be perfectly clear about how I feel about the new revelations that have come out in today’s article (see below) on millionaire Wally Hersom’s support of the BFRO.
I am absolutely delighted for Matt Moneymaker.
I am very happy to hear that someone in the tradition of Tom Slick and Tom Page is out there funding research on Bigfoot, in whatever way that individual wishes to donate his money. Those that are wealthy should be encouraged to pursue their interests, especially in the realm of cryptozoology, and in whatever direction they want to go. I am glad to hear about this detailed news.
My sincere congratulations to the BFRO for obtaining this funding.
Here’s the news item about which I am sharing the above commentary, dateline Devil Peak, El Dorado National Forest, California:
Wally Hersom is an intuitive man, with an instinct for when opportunity might knock.
It’s not knocking now.
The soft-spoken, white-maned Hersom is standing in the dark on a remote mountaintop in Northern California listening to the eerily quiet rustling of leaves.
“It’s too quiet,” he says. “It doesn’t feel right.”
Below him in the pitch-black hollows of this remote forest area, groups of men and a few women sit crouched, pointing $9,000 thermal imaging cameras at the darkness.
Every so often, one of them emits a blood-curdling shriek.
They are searching for a monster.
Hersom, 72, is the reason why. Over the past year, the part-time resident of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., (Hersom’s primary home is in Henderson, Nev.) has pumped tens of thousands of dollars into the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, an Orange County-based group of Sasquatch-hunters.
Hersom pays the salary of Matt Moneymaker, the BFRO’s director. He has outfitted the group with 10 thermal imaging cameras, as well as video recorders and night-vision devices. Total cost: more than $100,000.
In the process, Hersom hopes to change the popular conception of Bigfoot believers from wooly-eyed weirdos to heroic hominoid hunters.
Hersom, like the more than 2 dozen people who have joined him on this expedition to the El Dorado National Forest, believes that Bigfoot is a yet-undiscovered species of immensely strong, craftily intelligent and highly elusive great ape.
“I think the timing’s right,” Hersom says. “In the next 12 months, this thing is going to break wide open.”
Hersom is the former owner of HC Power, an Irvine, Calif.-based company that manufactured power conversion equipment for cell phone towers and industrial facilities. The company flourished, Moneymaker says, in large part because Hersom foresaw the importance of gadgets like cell phones and computers and created technologies to serve them.
“He’s an engineering genius, and … he’s got this almost spooky sense of when it’s the right time to do something,” Moneymaker says.
That sense convinced Hersom to sell his company in 2000, before the dot-com bust. He reaped $110 million and decided to indulge a lifelong fascination: Bigfoot.
“My broker – when I told him what I was doing he couldn’t stop laughing,” Hersom says. “He thought I was crazy. But I think we have a unique opportunity because nobody believes us. Once [it's] proven that Bigfoot is out there, … I think this is going to be the biggest discovery of the century.”
Hersom stumbled on Moneymaker’s BFRO Web site, one of many such sites that track and list Bigfoot sightings around the country. He went on an expedition in Wisconsin.
Hersom tried again on a second expedition. This time he says he heard howls in the night and had rocks thrown at him – typical Bigfoot behavior, according to Moneymaker.
“I heard three distinct steps near my tent,” Hersom recalls. “I thought ‘Oh, my God, here it is.’”
The experience sold him. He joined the BFRO and went on four more expeditions. He collected photographs and plaster casts of 15-inch-long Bigfoot tracks, which he displays in his stately San Juan Capistrano hilltop-home. He bought cameras and other equipment in hopes of generating photographic proof for the naysayers – and lucrative film footage for himself.
Moneymaker and Hersom speculate that Bigfoot has a nocturnal animal’s acute night vision. The key to “discovering” Bigfoot, if such a creature exists, is to mimic that ability.
“The only way we’re going to [prove] it is if we can film in the dark,” Moneymaker says. Hersom has enabled the BFRO “to bring some technology to bear that has been out of reach of Bigfoot researchers.”
On the mountain, Hersom stands silently while Moneymaker and his group of volunteers put the equipment to use. Through the camera’s glowing scope, the darkness transforms into a silvery landscape. But there is no Bigfoot to be seen.
Moneymaker tips his head and emits a piercing scream. Over the radio, the scattered group of BFRO members is instructed to do the same and to knock baseball bats against trees. The screams and knocks are meant to mimic the alleged noises of a “real” Bigfoot. The hope, Moneymaker says, is to trick the creatures into coming within filming range.
Does Hersom ever feel … er … a bit ridiculous?
“I’m just going to play it by ear,” Hersom says. “I’m going to go as long as it feels right for me.”
Hersom says he has only heard Bigfoot, but many within the group report more intimate encounters. They describe a giant apelike creature that walks on two feet and appears to have its own language (called “Samurai” for its sing-song resemblance to un-dubbed ninja warrior movies).
Bigfoot also is, some say, capable of projecting a paralyzing telepathic feeling of fear that stuns humans and animals alike. Moneymaker uses the term “infrasound” and calls the experience being “zapped.”
Why then, would anyone pursue an encounter?
Moneymaker describes the discovery of Bigfoot as a “historical prize.” But for many members of this (mostly male) group of enthusiasts, the quest is the lure.
“Part of me really like the mystery of it – the not knowing, the seeking,” says Robert Leiterman, who works as a park ranger in Humboldt County, Calif.
Leiterman is one of a half-dozen past and current Orange County residents who have joined Hersom and Moneymaker on this expedition to Northern California.
Among the group: two employees from an architectural design company, an advertising executive and the director of security for a hotel.
“I just have to know the truth,” says Kathy Lammens, 43.
Lammens is on the expedition with friend and office-mate, Brooke Sharon, 54. Like many members of the BFRO, they are captivated by their obsession and capable of laughing at it.
“I am one of these people who have an open mind,” Sharon says. “I love the idea of Bigfoot, of UFOs, of Nessie. Why not? Who’s to say it’s not true?”
Does it bother BFRO members that nothing will come of this night spent in the cold mountains of California – or the next two nights to follow?
“I’m a little bit discouraged that we didn’t hear anything,” Hersom says. “They’re not everywhere all the time.”
Good timing is Hersom’s stock in trade. But even he acknowledges that “there’s some luck involved.”
“Some people say: Bigfoot will find us, we can’t find Bigfoot,” Hersom says.“Hunters of Sasquatch undaunted by failure,”
The Baltimore Sun, December 16, 2007.