Confessions of a Bigfoot Junkie

Ramblings by a man who has spent the last 50 years contemplating all the unidentified hairy bipeds roaming the globe


The Curse of Bigfoot?

I lost my job at a Silicon Valley branding agency in 2002 when the boom came to an abrupt end. I had worked there through most of the 1990's, first as a freelance consultant, then as a salaried staff member. The company went from 40 to 4 almost overnight, and I didn’t survive the cuts. After nearly a year without a job it became clear to me that my age had put me out of the running for work in computer graphics, especially within the corporate market. Most firms were seeking younger employees who were more hip to the newer technologies, and much more likely to work overtime without additional compensation. For most of the few available jobs I was overqualified. For the others I was “not a good fit” primarily because I had worked for 25 years as my own boss.

It became clear that I needed to create my own job once again. I decided to reinvent my former retail art & craft business, which operated under the name CapriTaurus (with the tagline "handcrafts, fine & applied arts") from 1969 to 1994. In the ‘70’s CapriTaurus grew to staff of 14 persons, so I knew what might be done to make good use of the small commercial lot we have in Felton, located half a mile from our residence.

Another reason I made the choice to become self-employed once again had to do with my Mother (Margaret Rugg). She became unable to take care of herself around the turn of the century (at age 96). After living with my brother for a couple of years while I was working in Silicon Valley, she moved in with me and my housemate Paula Yarr. My mother was the original owner of the property but she chose to move out and live a solitary life in a small apartment by the ocean 40 years ago, a few years after my father died and as soon as I had become old enough to take over care of the property. It has been in joint tenancy ever since, so she was at that point returning to the family home for what she referred to as her "deathtime."

Paula was already under my care as she is disabled due to a series of events that started with a near fatal accident caused by a drunk driver, followed by her being diagnosed with Lupus. She is also a cancer survivor and has a number of other health issues. Her only income is from social security disability, and she is essentially unemployable due to her poor health. Because my mother was now in the household and in need of daily care, and Paula was unable to deal with her needs alone, it became even more important to create a business close to home so I could be available at a moment's notice, to take care of Mom. Paula was able to help greatly with the business plan as she is an MBA, and prior to all her current health problems had been a VP of Marketing at Union Bank of California. Preparing to embark on a new business venture, we discussed the business plan at length and agreed to pool our resources and "go for it."

In 2003, we began work on a retail store/museum/art & craft gallery with a Bigfoot(Sasquatch) theme. This is a topic I have developed particular knowledge about, and the Internet provided proof that the topic was of interest to a great many people across the world. We set up a website and remodeled the retail store to become more of a roadside attraction: a Bigfoot Museum. Then we encountered an unforseen setback: for the better part of a year we had to deal with delays caused by the Planning Department. They claimed the business property had been rezoned to residential and that we no longer had the right to operate a business there. We had to seek help from our County Supervisor (we are in an unincorporated portion of Santa Cruz County.) After a series of meetings it turned out that we did indeed qualify for a "grandfather clause" allowing us to continue to do business in the fashion we had in the past, as a retail store and art & handcrafts studio. The "museum" we had created fit the criteria as a retail store selling our own and other local art & crafts. We had also operated a cottage industry for the better part of 20 years, handcrafting musical instruments, so we still had the right to produce a "product line" as well. We had won the battle, but lost valuable time in the skirmish (our long delayed Grand Opening was June 2006.)

While developing the retail store and museum I had hoped to augment our income by taking on occasional graphic art/illustration contracts. But over the course of the next three years these jobs dwindled as I lost my contacts within the industry. Rapid changes in software and other aspects of computer technology took place and I was officially "out of the loop." Contracts were scarce and the need to be close to home became even more critical as my mother's condition began to deteriorate. She required full-time observation and nursing care in 2007, as she was entering into dementia and unable to even recognize her own family members. Needless to say caring for Mom pulled a lot of my time away from the work I needed to do to further develop the business and institute our marketing. Then, in October of 2007, Mom passed away.

Besides the extreme drain this had been over the last several months on our minds and hearts, it also resulted in a precipitous drop in our household revenue pool. The drop in revenue, combined with the lack of graphic art contracts, and the steady decline in the economy was rapidly draining our savings and operating capital. Realizing our income was now unable to cover our obligations, we decided to take drastic steps to augment the revenue flow. In April 2008 we began repairing and remodeling our home to convert it into income property. The ground floor has a studio apartment, which for over 20 years had been unusable for anything other than storage due to flood damage. We decided to invest the last of our savings and capital to repair the apartment for our own use as a dwelling, leaving the entire second and third floors available for rental space. We also invested in home improvements—like new paint and flooring—to upgrade the part of the house that was to be rented.

I had planned to integrate the residence with our commercial endeavors from the beginning. Originally I expected to utilize the downstairs carport and storage as workshop space for the product line we plan to produce. But once Mom was gone and all the children were grown and had moved out, we realized the most realistic way to increase revenues dramatically would be to market the space as a vacation rental. That way we could still occupy and protect the property and still have use of the space for conferences, meetings and so forth in association with our museum. By then we had over 100 paid museum "members," all of whom receive a monthly newsletter. Many of our local members have volunteered their time to help us produce two major conferences and several smaller events, which have put us "on the map." We have rented the space several times since mid July, but we were too late for the main tourist rush of summer because people reserve these spaces in advance and ours wasn’t available yet. In October, 2008, one year after the death of my mother, the economy took a turn for the worst right as we ran out of funding. Our business is seasonal, with 75% of our revenues typically happening between April and September, so we fell behind quickly as Winter approached.

Our first major bigfoot event took place in August 2008, called Bigfoot Discovery Day II. During the course of a weekend our “Bigfoot Riveride Retreat“ was the host to nearly 40 bigfoot researchers including Dr Jeff Meldrum, Richard Noll, Bob and Kathy Strain, and Bob Gimlin. Dave Paulides, Craig Woolheater, Monica Rawlins and Dan Perez were also present at the event and a great time was had by all. Local members who helped host the event included Tom Yamarone, Mike Barrow, Matt Bento, Mellow Russell, Ralph Jack, Bobo Faye, Bart Cutino, Cliff Barackman and others. As it turns out the first “bigfoot bash” at our newly created retreat will also be our last at that location, because our home is now in foreclosure and scheduled for auction on the 9th of April. So we’ll not have the opportunity to develop the place into a bigfoot conference center as we hoped. But the museum is still going on, and our local research is actually beginning to produce evidence of a bigfoot presence in our area. (We recently shot video and recorded audio of what might actually prove to be a bigfoot, and we have a tooth of unknown origin.) The Bigfoot Discovery Project will continue, undeterred by this setback, but we are now seeking funding help from outside sources.

One of the things a “professional” bigfoot researcher has to put up with is the tendency for critics to put down researchers who receive any revenue from their work. Our plan was that the museum would generate enough income to pay back the mortgage that supported it for 5 years, while sustaining its ongoing research projects. My conviction that bigfoot is real, based on my own personal experience and a lifetime of research, convinced me that this was an important cause and worth the risk I was taking in pledging my home as collateral for the project. In other words “I put my money where my mouth is!” I’ll also point out to critics who accuse me of “doing it for the money,” that I have never charged an admission fee for people to visit the museum, as our mission is to educate the public about the likely reality of bigfoot, while quietly seeking proof. Nonetheless it does take money to keep the power on and the telephone ringing so we can receive the 1.5 bigfoot encounter reports that come in to our museum per week (on the average).
Anyone out there with some discretionary cash who wants to help us prove bigfoot is real?

Michael Rugg

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Whitton & Dyer Con men NOT Pranksters

Well, last night Steve Kulls was ubiquitous-- he was all over the place: first on his own blogtalk radio special show, then on Monsterquest. On the internet radio broadcast he indicated his feeling that Biscardi was indeed duped again, and explained that most of the Searching for Bigfoot Team (including himself) were operating in the dark, with only Biscardi's claims via phone conversations that he had really SEEN, INSPECTED and TOUCHED the body. Apparently Biscardi "went for" the hoax hook, line and sinker. He was blinded by his need to be THE ONE who "finds" bigfoot; he apparently made claims that were untrue (even to his own staff) to keep the ball rolling. 

But the two hoaxers were guilty of more than just a "prank." They commited fraud, and managed to pull way too many people into this largely because of Matt Whitton's position on the Clayton County Police force. Many folks found it impossible to believe a deputy sheriff and former "correctional officer" could take a "prank" all the way over the top! 

Now they are trying to weasel out of this by dissing the entire bigfoot community, making out that it's OK to lie about Bigfoot, "'cause everybody knew it was a lie." I really find this offensive especially coming from a former (he got fired) police officer. I guess Rick and Matt were not aware that many members of the police community in different parts of the country have come out with their close encounters of the bigfoot kind. The aforementioned Monsterquest episode included reenactments of deputies encountering what they could only describe as a bigfoot in upstate New York! One of the newest books on the subject of bigfoot "The Hoopa Project" was written by a retired San Jose policeman, who got involved in bigfoot research four years ago after he was convinced by two other policemen (from the Hoopa area in Northern California) that bigfoot IS REAL. I guess Matt and Rick didn't realize that the public at large like their policemen to be honest, and not commit childish hoaxes in front of the entire world via the internet.

To excuse the hoaxers because "bigfoot isn't real" would make a mockery of exploratory science. Many people in this country are involved in bigfoot research with an expectation that one day the truth will be revealed, either through careful scientific exploration or by a random act like a bigfoot roadkill. They engage in this study because they have either "done their homework" on this subject or they've actually seen one with their own eyes. The people who took Whitton on his word were grieviously damaged by this incident... skeptics will have a field day with this and ignorant news anchors (they don't do any research) will start to act out with all the bigfoot jokes, pushing the genuine study of this mystery further into a bad light. The two men committed fraud on an international level when they told their lies in front of a Press Conference, and showed every intention of indulging in other fraudulent endeavors on their web site (expeditions-$499; plus they printed up a product line of hats and shirts to sell) based on their claims of being the world's best bigfoot trackers. They are con men and bunko artists and need to be punished for this egregious act. Plus they actually bilked Biscardi and his  investors out of hard cash.


Bigfoot Hoaxers will Reappear

Last night online Steve Kulls (the man who introduced Biscardi to the Georgia men) read a statement and answered questions about the "bigfoot body." He gave a timeline breakdown on how the hoax went down, Fox News was given the exclusive scoop because Biscardi has worked with them in the past. Kulls waited until 10:10 EST to make the statement due to the promise to Fox, The jist of it is this, referring above to the three choices I offered yesterday to explain Tom's actions, it turns out to be both (1) he lied, and never really saw the thawed body and (3) contrary to his claim of the opposite, he is quite obviously the WORST bigfoot hunter in the country.

He was indeed duped again, but didn't know it until very early Sunday (17th) morning. He then called the two "good old boys" and they admitted the hoax and agreed to meet Biscardi at 8 AM to sign a document admitting guilt and promising to return the money they had been advanced. Biscardi got to their Palo Alto hotel room only to find out they had skipped town. The statement by Kulls is available online, but I don't think this drama has played out yet. The two men will either have to disappear and go into hiding or reappear soon with a mitigating explanation that absolves them of the fraud. I for one plan to "stay tuned" as the biggest circus may be yet to come, and the true "ringmaster" yet to be revealed.

--Michael Rugg

I wrote the above on August 19...
just a moment ago I heard that the "good old boys" are at it again. I figured they had something "up their sleeve" when they went all the way to the press conference. Maybe they figured Tom Biscardi would join in on the hoax and were disappointed when he refused to do so; maybe they had a "sting" explanation planned from the start. Steve Kulls is probably the only person who might know the truth (other than Biscardi) and he will be talking tonight, I expect, on his Squatchdetective radio show. When I heard that the thawed ice revealed the hoax, and that the two hoaxers had skipped town, I figured they would most likely claim it was all just a ruse to prove that all bigfooters are gullible fools, and that Biscardi is a hoaxer. It was the only scenario that made sense, given their previous antics; with Biscardi's reputation, and Whitton's position on the police force in Georgia, Tom makes a perfect fallguy. I said from the beginning this looks like the Dukes of Hazzard meet Smokey and the Bandits over the top!


Bigfoot: Flesh & Blood or Paranormal ?

Yesterday at our monthly bigfoot meeting we had a presentation by Eric Beckjord. As usual he spoke about Bigfoot being a shapeshifting, paranormal being. He talked about the various little pictoglphs that he says appear in the light and dark patterns on the hair of the subject in the Patterson-Gimlin Film. This lead me to question exactly why is it that Paranormalists and Flesh and Blooders have to be at odds in this ongoing quest to solve the mystery of global bipedal primates.

"If it's paranormal, do we need to use special tactics in our search for evidence?" I asked Mr Beckjord. "No," he replied, "we still need to find a property owner who is experiencing ongoing bigfoot events who is willing to share that information and allow bigfooters to camp out and attempt habituation." At least he doesn't advocate shooting one, but then what good would that do if it's paranormal?

Some people go out in the woods and scream or play alleged Bigfoot recordings into the night, in hopes they'll get a response they can record for posterity. Others go to areas where they believe bigfoot hang out and leave food treats to try and lure them out in the open over a period of time. Still others hang out in the woods in the dark, packing heavy artillary, hoping an unsuspecting (or perhaps previously habituated) bigfoot might come in close enough to be fired upon with the conviction that a bigfoot body will bring fame and fortune.

What's common to all these scenarios is that the basic methodology is generally the same. First you have to locate a bigfoot and then somehow document that you did so. So whether bigfoot turns out to be paranormal or flesh and blood, the methods of garnering proof are still the same. For this reason, I propose that arguing over issues like this are essentially a waste of time. So why don't we stop the bickering about what they might turn out to be and pool our resources to proove they're out there.?


1967 Bigfoot "Hoax" is Urban Myth

I don't have much time to put all the details in this post to back up what I'm gonna say, but I feel a screaming need to say it.

The claim that the Patterson-Gimlin film of bigfoot of 1967 has been "debunked" is an Urban Myth perpetrated by the media. Its the result of several events and claims being lumped together inappropriately.

The latest reports about the "bigfoot" in Malaysia by major news sources has included a short history of the "bigfoot story" that includes the statement about the "famous film from 1967 having been debunked when the family of the photographer admitted it was someone in an ape suit." This statement is wrong in just about every way possible. The "family" who made the claim were the survivors of Ray WALLACE who died a couple of years ago. They announced to the press that their father (Ray) had "made all the bigfoot tracks in Northern California." They also said he had filmed his wife in a "Bigfoot suit."

The 1967 film was made by Roger PATTERSON (who held the camera), backed up by Bob GIMLIN (who stood on alert with rifle in hand prepared to shoot if the animal turned on them.) No one in either of THEIR families has denounced the film, and Ray Wallace had nothing to do with their bigfoot encounter (although he liked to claim he told Patterson "where to look"... that also had nothing to do with their film event.) Over the years there have been a number of individuals who have been credited with making or wearing the "bigfoot suit" in the 1967 film, by various skeptics. The fact is, the Patterson-Gimlin film has never been debunked. For a more detailed explanation of how this Urban Myth started check out


Omigod...Creationist Museum Embraces Cryptozoology

Have you heard about the new Creationism Museum that is being assembled in Kentucky? I noticed that they intend to have a section dedicated to Cryptozoology. Does that make you nervous? It does me.

Evidently they like the things that monster hunters seek. The reason for that is the possibility of "living fossils" or other life forms that remain a mystery to science. You see, conventional science not only denies the existence of mystery bipedal primates and living dinosaurs, they tend to ridicule or demean those who dare to look into the possibility of such things. That's because the evidence for these cryptids is largely anecdotal. Creationists are hopeful the cryptozoologists are right, as that will prove conventional science wrong (Creationists claim that dinosaurs and humans walked the earth together--contrary to the lesson in the fossils--and they figure a living dinosaur will make their case.) I think the scientific establishment needs to take heed, and change their evil ways.

People experience anomolous creatures all over the planet. Science denies these creatures exist. This creates a credibilty gap between the average person and our "scientific authorities." This can lead to a lack of confidence in the teachings of science and open the door to all sorts of weird belief systems and superstitions. Witness the use of crytids such as Bigfoot to bolster the concept of creationism! If anything, Bigfoot should be recognized as further proof of evolution.

A simple survey of the history of science shows that most discoveries of "new" animal species are preceeded by travelers' tales and the "mythology" of local eye witnesses. So why are so many scientists so extremely closed to the concept of studying these anecdotal accounts? This attitude transfers over to popular media: news anchors, not wanting to appear "unsophisticated," assume the wink, wink, nudge, nudge jokes when they report such stories.

I, for one, am darn tired of this attitude. Its this sort of thing that makes it so difficult for the amateur, volunteer seekers who do pursue answers to these mysteries, to get respect (not to mention funding). Isn't it about time to embrace anecdotal information as a viable starting point for the study of new life forms? Once the number of reports reach into the thousands and include physical traces such as tracks and scat, looking into the source of the reports certainly doesn't deserve the attitude exhibited by most skeptical scientists.


Mythbuster Challenge: Debunk the Bigfoot Debunkers

There’s a major ripple going through the bigfoot community (people who try to keep track of the latest BF knowledge) caused by the Mythbusters promo that's currently being aired on TV. You’ve probably seen it... a guy in a sasquatch suit speaking with a French Canadian accent reporting that no myth is safe (including him.) In case you haven’t seen it:

The BFRO contends that the Mythbusters will NOT attempt to debunk bigfoot, but they are shamelessly furthering another myth with the promo: The myth that bigfoot has been proven to be a hoax.

The program centers on two Hollywood special FX types who systematically test various myths or apocryphal tales by using technology and scientific experiments that either debunk or authenticate the “myth” of the week. They pretty much stay away from tales involving animal sightings because its pretty difficult to prove a negative. (And even if a particular photo of Nessie or Bigfoot is proven fake, the existence of the animal remains possible.)

But in the case of bigfoot evidence, there IS a current myth that has been perpetrated by a number of individuals via the sloppy work of the media. The fact is that the Patterson/Gimlin Film has never been debunked, even though a number of pretenders have made claims to the contrary, and the press has been remise in pointing this out. This is the single best piece of evidence for bigfoot and it is this footage (along with hundreds of footprints) that has gotten science to take a second look at the subject of sasquatch.

So here’s a challenge to the Mythbusters that is “well suited” to their techniques (pun intended). All they have to do is get a 1967 vintage gorilla suit and attempt to “recreate” the P/G Film by modifying the costume utilizing Patterson’s skill set and the tools and techniques available to him at the time the film was shot. (Don’t make a state-of-the-art 2006 Bigfoot suit and have a guy walk with an exaggerated arm swing and say that’s a match.) When they try to recreate what Patterson is supposed to have done 38 years ago, and fail, they’ll put and end to the “Its a man in a suit” myth once and for all. What’s more, with a tiny bit of research they can easily come up with evidence to debunk the Wallace and Chambers claims as well.