By Randy "Rebelistic" Savig, MABRC Missouri State Director
Another Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium is in the bag. Long hours of preparation done. Anyone behind the scenes has a good understanding of what controlled chaos is all about. Planning, setting up vendors, speakers, food, all are an undertaking in of themselves. Just like in expeditions everyone has an idea or two that may or may not help but are sure to put out there. All are nervous and hope the public and others will have a good time and learn a thing or two.
I was privileged again this year to be asked to be a speaker. Let me tell you one thing, it ain’t as easy as one thinks. All the hours combing through audio, listening to the possible vocals and sounds that could be related to Bigfoot. Going through notes to put the whole thing in sequence. Doing a second run through comparing known critters against what you are wanting to present. One thing that I find is important is to try and put a presentation together that the public will find interesting but also may be a benefit to other researchers out there. Knowing me, I probably worry too much about it. But for me I always want to make a presentation that shows, the MABRC and the Bigfoot Community in a positive light.
One thing about the Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium. We don’t try to get the biggest celebrity names, rather we try to bring in local and active field researchers who put boots on the ground. Fancy and flashy just don’t seem to impress us much, but honest, creditable, verifiable research and collecting the best possible evidence does.
We were honored to have Lyle Blackburn as a speaker this year. His research and dedication in compiling and writing his books is top notch. Anyone who has read his books on Boggy Creek can feel his passion and drive to get things told as they actually happened. Not only is he a great author and speaker, but is so sincere and down to earth that he was a great ambassador to the Bigfoot Community. He is always welcome at the Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium. Maybe in the future we can get him to join us in the field for an expedition!
Robert Swain has been an integral part of the Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium from day one and he has spoken every time on his Laughsquatch books but more importantly about the research being done in the APES (Arkansas Primate Evidence Society) in central Arkansas. I know he is working on another book and really hopes he can get it finished before the next Symposium. I know it will be a very informative book. The APES team started the Arkansas Bigfoot Conference a couple years back and it has been an honor for me personally and the MABRC to help them get that a huge success and we will continue to work closely with the group. Robert was lucky enough to see his first Bigfoot sighting during the weekend. His sightings report along with recreations, drawing of the sighting, and the print casted to help and verify the sighting is posted on the MABRC.COM website. Congratulations Robert!
We were lucky enough this year to get a Tennessee State Director, Mark Newbill. For those of you have not yet heard of Mark, he is the founder of B.E.A.S.T. (Bigfoot Evidence Analysis Sawdustt Team). He has compiled a top-notch group of people to help with reviewing possible evidence giving him and his team more time in the woods instead of spending time on review. Congratulation Mark!
He gave an interesting presentation on the work they are doing in the LBL (Land Between the Lakes) area. After spending some time getting to know one of his research partners I’ve concluded that everyone needs a Larry! Hopefully in the next year I’ll be able to go over and hit the woods in Tennessee.
Sisters of the Moon. Henri, Kerri, and Debi put on an interesting presentation of an experience they had during an escapade as they called it. Anyone who thinks an all-female group can’t get the job done has never met these ladies. They had kind of a rough beginning to the Bigfoot world but we are honored to have them be part of the MABRC. I’ve had the pleasure to be in the woods with these gals and they really hold their own when it comes to evidence collection as well as trying to debunk anything that is an unknown. I’m really looking forward to hitting the woods again with them and hopefully with the rest of their team. These girls we noticeably nervous when they started their presentation but did great. They had a way of making you feel that you were there when their experience happened. Hopefully next year they will have another batch of possible evidence to share with us.
Jim “Biggjimm” Whitehead gave a thought provoking presentation comparing old world legends and histories of critters with the behaviors usually associated with Bigfoot activity. Anyone who says that the Bigfoot phenomena are a recent thing needs to see his presentation. Biggjimm’s knowledge into natural sciences and biology is a great asset to the group. Anytime I get the chance to share a campfire with him I always come away with new ideas and perspectives. Saturday night when movement was thought to be seen in a tree line outside of camp he got out his thermal and locked on to two heat signatures. Bernie went to see what it was and was confronted by a growl. It is highly suspected that it was a Bigfoot and according to the different sizes of heat signatures Bernie was about half the size of the critter. The thermal pictures can also be seen at MABRC.COM.
D.W. Lee, Founder and Executive Director of the MABRC was again this year’s Emcee. He opened this year with a brief history of the group and set the tone of excitement for the weekend. What he does in front and behind the scenes is unbelievable. No one in the MABRC has challenged me to become a better researcher than D.W.. He has set the bar for the MABRC high for integrity, honesty, credibility, in all possible evidence. I think that is why the success of the group is as it is.
With the speaker’s informative presentations, and just researchers trading ideas of what they do that works and don’t makes it worth it. But there is another factor that we sometimes forget as researchers. The human element. The public has had encounters, experiences that they have questions and concerns about. These people come in to see if someone can help them to understand the what and why of these critters. They look at us as the “experts”. As researchers we know there ain’t any experts in Bigfoot and even though our knowledge is actually very limited, the folks coming for these events think we know it all. I had one family come up to me after the open house where there was a good question and answer session. Sometimes we forget that people can be very reluctant to talk about what they are experiencing. We are so used to getting the looks and eye rolls from people who don’t think there is such a critter we seem to forget the embarrassment that can go with having an encounter.
This fella has lived in the general area since he was a kid. Grew up in a house not a mile from where he lives now. The first question he asked in a quiet tone of voice like I’ve seen before when people are used to be ridiculed. “Why do they slap the side of the house?” I could see by his wife’s expression that this really bothered her and their son had a real fearful look in his eyes. I kind of smiled and explained that in primate behavior slapping trees etc. usually done during shall we call it the teenage years, as males seem to want to show off for either possible mates or to gain rank in the hierarchy. The relief in them was so apparent as their whole bodies seemed to relax. I told them that there was little or no evidence that is was meant as any aggression toward them. I had them chuckling when I told them that even the human primate did it. Used an example of when we used to play that same game on a grouchy old fella back home. We’d knock on his door and run! It was all good for us teenage boys and we got a kick out of it but I’m sure he didn’t. They talked about an odd whistle that they would hear at times when they were in the yard. I mimicked one that I’ve recorded and it gave the gal goose bumps as he excitedly said, “Yep that’s it!”. I explained that most likely either a location vocal or maybe just a way to say we’re here. I tried to reassure him that if he had lived there all his life that the area Bigfoot were used to him being around and knew he was no threat to them. Kind of like the stray cat analogy. A stray cat shows up on the farm and doesn’t bother anything you both tolerate each other and share the same space. After a while you actual seem to bond with it and watch out for it.
That is when the conversation took a weird twist. He got a real serious look on his face. He started with “I wonder if….”. He really was reluctant to finish the sentence. Long story short, he told me a time a year or so back where he came home one night after work to seeing all the lights on and doors opened in the house where it should have been dark and locked. When he got closer he saw that he had been broken into. After the sheriff’s department arrived they entered the house to see piles of stuff by the doors and some windows like it was being readied to be loaded up. But very little was removed as if the burglars were scared off. He always wondered what scared them off. This was perplexing to him as he lives on a dead-end road and there were no cars met as he came home and no others until the deputies arrived. He has no close neighbors.
He then asked, “Were they looking out for me?”. Of course, I was floored. I told him that I could only speculate because I had no way of answering that. But it could have been just a coincidence that one may have slapped the house that night as they had said happened often in the past and that could have scared them away. But honestly, my brain was spinning at the possibility that maybe, just maybe they were looking after him. The intelligence that these critters seem to have its not beyond the possibility. He has lived there all this life. They have had what appears to be limited interaction with them. So, it is an intriguing thing to consider.
So, to answer the question. Are Bigfoot Conferences Worth the Effort? Even though it is a strenuous time where the days are long and the nights are short, nothing really goes as we think it should, even with all that I’d have to say yes. The human factor makes it important that we as researchers can help people understand a little more of what could be going on. And if we ain’t careful, we may learn some new things too. It’s these little things that mean so much. Sure, it’s cool to get a picture with some celebrity, get a t-shirt or hat, maybe a book, but at the end of the day it should do with people who are the greatest asset to the researcher. The little pieces they can give us with their experiences can help fill in some blanks and expand our knowledge.
Until the Next conference. The answer is in the woods!