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What does Bigfoot sound like? Take a listen

Image courtesy Monica Gallagher/www.eatyourlipstick.com

As part of our series on Texas cryptids – those creepy creatures that inhabit our local legends – Texas Standard interviewed an expert on a creature that’s been reportedly sighted nationwide: Bigfoot.

Paul Bowman, of Tulsa, is an archaeologist by profession. But he’s also on the board of directors for the North American Wood Ape Conservancy, a group focused on Sasquatch research.

Bowman has chased Bigfoot all over East Texas and Oklahoma. He spoke to Texas Standard’s Michael Marks about some of his experiences.

The audio included in this interview was recorded by Bowman and his colleagues in the field, and is courtesy of NAWAC. Listen to the interview above or read the transcript below.

This transcript has been edited lightly for clarity:

Texas Standard: Tell me about some of the field research that you guys conduct.

Paul Bowman: So what we tend to do is we have we have a research area. We’ve had a couple over the years.

One was in the Big Thicket National Preserve, which is an hour or two north of Houston. We’ve done work in Sam Houston National Forest, but mostly in southeastern Oklahoma. We have an area where we lease some property that is known for a lot of activity. We’ve been there since 2006.

What we started out doing was using camera traps. We used, at the time, what was state of the art game cameras. It took a considerable amount of time and money to do a project like that long term.

And so in 2011 we had sort of a shift, a paradigm shift, and we started doing long term research trips where we would have overlapping teams, four or five people. They would be replaced by another field team. So we we would maintain a constant presence in the area for 6 to 8 weeks. That actually turned out to be quite fruitful.

When you say “fruitful,” what do you mean?

Well, within the first two weeks, back in 2011, we started having contact. These creatures would would come up to the edge of our camp. They would throw rocks. In some cases, they would run through camp in the middle of the night. And it was quite a change from what we’d been used to.

What sounds do they make that people may not expect?

What got me were the things… like we’ve heard mouth pops. All kinds of grunts, growls, huffs, barks.

There’s one that really gets me. I’ve only heard it one time. I call it the “mouth squish,” and it’s kind of a strange squishing sound that they would make with their mouths, we assume. And then, of course, there’s the faux speech. It sounds like gibberish. It’s incomprehensible, you know, as far as language goes. But it sounds like somebody is trying to talk.

We’ve had countless visuals. Of course, the very first question everybody asks is “why no pictures?” And the short answer is that these contact events are usually 1 to 2 seconds, maybe 3 or 4 seconds in length. My own visual, of course, I had in 2014, even if I had had a camera at the ready, I just don’t think I would have been able to get something on film. It sounds crazy. I know it sounds absolutely crazy, and I get that.

Plaster casts of alleged Bigfoot tracks are seen on display at the Museum of the Weird in Austin.
Patricia Lim
/
Texas Standard
Plaster casts of alleged Bigfoot tracks are seen on display at the Museum of the Weird in Austin.

But can you tell me the story of when you saw Sasquatch in 2014?

So at the time, we had been leasing an area that had some very rustic off grid cabins. I think it was August. And, you know, we were trying to stay out of the heat and the sun, and we were sort of resting on the side of the cabin, a small group of us, and we heard a rock hitting the tin roof of an adjacent cabin down the road about maybe 60 or 70 meters or so. And so a couple of guys went to go investigate.

One went down to the creek near where this cabin was, and there were two individuals that jumped up and ran and took off upstream up the creek. So I went down and kind of stopped down next to this cabin where we had heard this rock impact. We were stopped at a corner along this gravel road, this little two track road, and I saw something moving down in the creek. I saw movement. This thing was walking towards a clearing. And then when this thing walked into view, it obviously didn’t look like anybody I knew. And so it kind of threw me for a loop.

I mean, it was that quick, you know. It walked into view and I saw it for a few seconds and then it was off in the brush and it wasn’t what I had pictured in my head. It was lankier. I would say probably six and a half to seven feet tall. The chest and face was dark. I would say almost like an olive, kind of olivey black. And then the rest of it was reddish brown.

The thing that really got me and still sticks with me was not so much what it looked like, but the ease of movement. It was almost shuffling, just like it was very casually walking as if a person would be strolling through a park. But it was just sort of gliding. It’s a strange thing to sort of have to explain.

When you reflect on these sounds and what you’ve heard in your time out there, what conclusions do they help you draw about the behavior or nature of this creature?

To me, it screams primate. Everything they seem to do is in line with typical primate behavior. They appear to be somewhat territorial, just like any other primate would.

We’ve even had reports, particularly one, of an incident that took place in the Big Thicket that was very remarkably like a howler monkey. I mean, it was much deeper and it lasted for several minutes at very close range. Most of the great apes have been observed mimicking humans in controlled environments. And so that sort of falls in line as well.

And honestly, that’s the part that kind of gets me. You know, that’s a weird one. We’ve had instances where people have sort of, you know, done their own whoops just walking out in the woods, and then they receive a callback almost identical to their whoop, but louder.

But there’s sort of a notion that Bigfoot is this sort of paranormal… everything from, you know, a shapeshifting, inter-dimensional time traveling alien to, you know, a ghost. And that’s fine if that’s what your belief is, if that’s what you’re inclined to to follow. That’s anyone’s business.

But we’re trying to stay steeped in science, you know, steeped in reality – what we know. And so we believe this thing is a real flesh and blood primate. And as such, you know, they can be studied at some point.

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