The call of the wild brought America’s leading Bigfooters and Sasquatchologists to San Francisco this weekend for the Bigfoot Bonanza, a three-day symposium of all things Yeti held at the Balboa Theater. The event was a roaring mixture of old B-movies and vintage TV episodes about Bigfoot, and wildboy or wildgirl experts who’ve devoted their lives to finding the perennially elusive woodland beast.
Yes, there are prominent women in the Bigfoot hunting field, with notable contemporaries including the Ultimate Female Bigfoot Team. “We have put together a team of six girls in the hopes that we would have different results out in the field hunting Bigfoot than we would if we had any men with us,” Ultimate Female Bigfoot Team lead investigator Montra Freitas tells SF Weekly. “The premise is we have a softer approach and we are not as threatening to anything out there.”
That team was just one of many eclectic researchers and Bigfoot hunters who presented their findings and methods. “These Bigfoot conferences have people with all sorts of personalities” Kai Wada, organizer of Bigfoot Bonanza tells SF Weekly. “But they all have this one thing they that they really love, and it’s this giant hairy monster that could live in the woods or it could just live in their minds.”
Between screenings of Bigfoot-centric episodes of old TV shows In Search Of and Jonny Quest, legitimate Bigfoot hunters showed off their most effective and ingenious methods of luring the beast. One Bigfoot hunting method known as call blasting involves the high-volume broadcasting of supposed Bigfoot sounds. “We take recorded Bigfoot sounds, or known mammals like gorillas,” longtime Bigfoot hunter John Freitas tells SF Weekly, shortly after blasting one of the calls.
Many wondered whether the loud sounds might scare off a Yeti rather than attracting it. Freitas maintains that Sasquatches are confident enough in their high placement on the food chain that they’re not deterred by any animal calls.
“I’ve never seen a Sasquatch,” he says. “If they truly exist — which I have no doubt that they do — they’re the biggest game [animals] out there. They want to found out ‘What is this?’ Their hearing has got to be exceptional.”
A king-size treat for Bigfoot fans on hand was the chance to hear a presentation from Bigfoot field researcher Cliff Barackman, co-host of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot. Barackman’s far-reaching findings were inspiring to Bigfooters, but his conclusions not so much.
“Proof is a dead body,” Barackman told the crowd. “[Bigfoot] DNA will not cut it. Photographs will not cut it. Video will not cut it. The only thing the scientific community will accept at this point is a dead body.”
Until then, if ever, Bigfoot believers will keep at the hunt despite being lumped into a fringe element. “People don’t believe in Bigfoot, but they believe in our current president,” organizer Kai Wada says. “That’s crazy.”