Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 21st, 2007
The Real Bigfoot and Genuine Bigfoot Tracks
Part 3: Hoaxing
by Mark A. Hall
Serious writers on the subject of Bigfoot have included the topic of hoaxing in their works. They have acknowledged the existence of bad information that must be sorted from the good to find the valid traces of Bigfoot. My first treatment of hoaxes appeared back in 1979 when I discussed what were popularly labeled “Bigfoot reports” made in Iowa from 1975 to 1978.  The finding that some hoaxing of tracks was occurring along with genuine tracks has since been supported by the recollections of Larry Hagedon. He made them in 2001 in postings to the list Bigfoot@yahoogroups.com. He wrote: “When I was growing up in Wapello County, Iowa we used to have that many sightings [in the teens] reported most every year. Yes there were some frauds mixed in. Making bigfoot tracks by the light of the moon was a common pastime. One of the reasons that fraud was a popular sport was the frequency of the sightings by sober upstanding members of the community.” 
In 1999 the book Living Fossils included an overview of the early history of “things called Bigfoot” in North America. There I pointed to a record of frequent Bigfoot hoaxes in the 1970s. As a sample of the history of a hoax I presented the story of Rant Mullens who in 1982 also became known in press reports as the creator of Bigfoot. 
Writing in 1995, Loren Coleman took up the involvement of Ray Wallace (1918-2002) in the emergence of Bigfoot in the 1950s. Wallace was the subcontractor for road building in the area where the sensation started. At that time Coleman suggested that new workers were being hazed at construction sites by the planting of giant footprints.  He cited evidence from the personal correspondence of Jim McClarin, a Bigfoot enthusiast in the 1960s. Wallace wrote to McClarin around 1969 that he possessed fake feet. He gave as a reason that he was trying to put off the hunters of Bigfoot by claiming to have made the tracks. This was prior to the display of the 16-inch false feet that took place only after Wallace died. At other times Wallace denied making false tracks or gave other reasons for making false tracks.
Grover Krantz (1935-2002) also discussed hoaxing in Big Footprints.  John Green gave the readers of Sasquatch: The Apes Among Us the understanding that some film claiming to show Bigfoot was hoaxed. 
The presentation of the false feet does some benefit to the effort to understand the Bigfoot phenomenon. Those few people who look at the particulars of tracks and distinguish the sources for them want to discard the red herrings. They can now weed out some of the man-made fakes.
Click on image for full size version
What we find in Wallace is a storyteller who also faked large footprints. One of his early prints was widely publicized. Those tools (a pair of wooden feet) made clear prints that looked better than the real thing. And they were readily available to be copied and photographed. Genuine tracks were scarce and their features were not as obvious. When the subject of Bigfoot broke into the news in 1958 those few people who were curious about Bigfoot reports did not have a lot of experience with genuine tracks. And I will discuss in this article how we still do not have a lot of experience with genuine Bigfoot tracks even after the last fifty years of Bigfoot curiosity.
People should understand that there has been no confession to what was done to make false footprints with those particular tools. The man who could do that is dead. No one has presented chapter and verse on where and when prints were hoaxed. His relatives have simply held up their examples of false feet and said he did it. They have not even successfully demonstrated how those feet might have been used. They have created a sensation without much effort.
With the knowledge of what instruments were used to create some false tracks we can sort them out from the record. The tools show that Ray Wallace was involved in hoaxing tracks, and they allow us to detect where he did some hoaxing. Later in this article examples of genuine tracks will be discussed.
Tomorrow – Part 4: Stories of Pranks
Originally published in Wonders for December 2002 (Vol. 7 No. 4) pp. 99-125.
©2003 by Mark A. Hall. All rights reserved.