Tennessee has a long history of bigfoot encounters, and many interesting bullet points in the bigfoot history books as well. One of the very first bigfoot websites I ever encountered was Mary Green’s website on which she called herself the Tennessee Bigfoot Lady. While I have never met Mary, I have friends who have, and they speak of her in good terms. Also from Tennesse was the Janice Carter habituation case, probably the first that most bigfooters would have heard of. While many bigfooters have doubts about what both of the above women have to say, I reserve judgment for cases where I know a little bit more about the people involved than what I’ve heard through the sometimes vicious bigfoot rumor mill (being a frequent victim of this rumor mill has taught me its inaccurate nature).
The evidence that brought the Finding Bigfoot team to Tennessee was a trail camera photograph obtained by Scott Carpenter on May 29, 2012. The camera was not a motion-activated camera as is often deployed by hunters throughout North America, but rather a camera that takes one photograph every minute until the memory card is full, or the batteries die. It is rare that this kind of camera is deployed, but I think these show promise in our collective endeavor of capturing footage of sasquatches.
The photograph shows what could be interpreted as an ape-like face peeking out from behind a tree. It’s at least possible that it might actually be a bigfoot, but it is hard to say for sure. It’s equally possible that it’s just be a play of light and shadows. However, whatever is shown in the photograph seems to be blocking out the background which is clearly seen in other pictures from the location. To his credit, Scott agrees that his photo is ambiguous, but was still willing to share it to get our opinions.
Using measurements of the tree taken at the location, some dimensions of the possible creature can be gleaned. The top of the head to the bottom of what I interpret as the mouth (NOT the bottom of the chin, which is obscured in the photo) is about 14 inches. From the middle of the face to the edge of the its right shoulder is somewhere around 12 inches, which would indicate a shoulder breadth of 24 inches. While this seems a bit narrow for a bigfoot, it’s possible that the angle is askew to the point of minimizing the width.
If the photo shows a bigfoot, then some insights into its behavior can be speculated upon as well. The head is only a foot or two above the ground level, so it had to have been crawling up towards the camera. Certainly this belly-crawling behavior is quite common, and it has even been observed and/or filmed on rare occasions. If it was belly-crawling, then it can be assumed that it was doing so to get a better look at the camera, which was 48 feet away from the subject. If the sasquatch saw the camera, it was at some distance, reaffirming that bigfoots are keenly aware of any slight differences in their environment. While Scott did not see any signs of the bigfoot in the previous photograph or the following one, perhaps the bigfoot “stalked” the camera effectively and kept out of sight until this one picture was obtained.
I don’t know what Scott’s photo shows. It might be a bigfoot, but the clarity is such that no firm conclusions can be reached. Certainly the photo is interesting, and I have to commend Scott for getting out there and trying numerous approaches and various technologies. We should all endeavor to emulate Scott’s efforts, both in the field as well as in our willingness to share our information.
The Knight family sighting was a most interesting case. They were the family that was driving home and saw a bigfoot cross the road in front of their car. However, there is so much more to tell about their sighting than the editors could put into the show.
In early fall of 2008, the Knight family was driving back to their rented cabin near Pigeon Forge, TN. At about 1130 at night, they caught a fleeting glimpse of a large creature disappear into the dark on the side of the road. Thinking it was a bear, they wrote it off. Something about what they saw didn’t fit the bear model, though. As they drove the same stretch of road the following night at about 1030, they were joking about it being “bigfoot alley” or something like that, when a sasquatch walked across the road at about the same location as the night before. This time, however, they got a very good look at it using four sets of eyes.
Each witness happened to be looking at a different part of the creature as it glided across the road from left to right in front of them. It was observed walking downhill into the ravine next to the road before the family drove off down the road towards the safety of their cabin. The mosaic of eyewitness accounts clearly paints a picture of what could only have been a bigfoot, effectively eliminating the possibility that they were hoaxed in my eyes.
The creature stood a bit over seven feet tall, even though it was leaning slightly forward as it walked. It was between 18 and 24 inches deep at the chest area, and the shoulder width was estimated at being at least 30 inches wide when seen from behind at close range. The distance from where their headlights illuminated the creature to where it left the road was covered in just two steps, which meant that it covered a distance of 11 or 12 feet with those two steps, yet it was not running nor did it seem to be in any huge hurry. The hair was brown in color, and several family members noted that the muscles flexing under the layer of hair was clearly visible. Individual fingers were clearly observed. Mrs. Knight told me that if it was a suit that they saw, it was better than anything she has ever seen in any movie.
The family had a difficult time describing the way the creature walked. They said words like “fluid,” and said there was no bobbing of the head as it crossed the road. It walked steadily out of their sight. When I imitated the gait of the Patterson/Gimlin film subject, they all cried out simultaneously that it was exactly what they observed and riddled me with questions about how I knew that.
The next day, the family returned to the location where the creature crossed the road. When they arrived at the spot, there was another car parked there and a man and wife were out of their car looking around. Mr. Knight pulled over and initiated a conversation before asking if they had seen anything weird. As it turns out, the other family saw a sasquatch there just the night before. This, of course, might be indicative of an elaborate hoax on the part of some joker living nearby. However, listening to the Knight family give their detailed descriptions of the gait, visible anatomy, and other observations makes me think that there was at least one, and maybe two, bigfoots on that stretch of road that night.
Anthony, the man who saw a bigfoot looking in his window one night, had a story that was also not deeply explored due to time constraints imposed by the television format. Anthony and his family have been having bigfoot encounters for literally decades on or near their rural homestead. The first encounter the family is aware of was when Anthony’s grandfather saw a “booger” quickly walk away from him on the other side of a small pond near the house. It was perhaps 20 yards away from him, had long arms, and was dark colored. The encounter happened at dusk more than 20 years ago.
Anthony’s mother, Anna, had a close encounter with a bigfoot as she returned home one night. She drove into her driveway, turned the car around, and left the car running with the lights on so as to illuminate her way as she fed her chickens. After getting out of the car, she heard the sound of an unhappy cat in the brush next to her driveway. Turning that direction, she saw a sasquatch squatting in the thick brush next to the driveway. It had shoulders that were 30 inches or so wide, and red-tinged hair as it was lit up by the headlights. Though she did not see it holding the cat, Anna believes that it had the cat, or had just killed the cat. Several cats had gone missing on her property before this event.
Anna has smelled a strange animal scent on or near her property for the last 40 years. However, she never connected the smell with a bigfoot until the above encounter when she saw one at close range that night.
Anthony’s sister, Crystal, has had several encounters as well, but no sightings. She was closely approached by something that kept out of sight, but gave her a good scare by growling at her. The growl came from several feet above her head level, and less than ten feet away as she was standing next to a large tree by the pond. She has also heard similar growls in the brush where her mother had her close encounter. Though she has never actually seen a bigfoot on the property, Crystal is adamant about what made those sounds, and refuses to even go out to her car at night without an escort. The bigfoots scare her too badly for that.
Anthony’s encounter was the most detailed and dramatic of them all. While watching television one night, he saw a large face in his window. He initially thought it was his cousins wearing a mask to scare him, so he smiled at it. He realized it wasn’t a mask when it smiled back at him, and blinked. Not knowing what he was dealing with, Anthony started moving his head back and forth, and the sasquatch did the same, seemingly imitating Anthony’s movements.
While Anthony interpreted the bigfoot as smiling at him, it should be noted that this is pretty common ape behavior. The other extant apes “smile” when they are either afraid or stressed out. While this sasquatch continued to imitate Anthony’s movements (or at least that is what Anthony interpreted from the event), and maybe wasn’t very stressed about the encounter, this smiling behavior might just be a product of being put in an awkward and potentially stressful situation.
Anthony’s description, along with measurements taken from the location, give a very complete description of the bigfoot. The creature stood about 96 inches tall (8 feet), and its eyes were 87 inches (7 feet, 3 inches) off the ground. The mouth was at 79 inches (6 feet, 7 inches). No chin was discernable. The window the creature was looking through is 16 inches wide, and the face took up the vast majority of that width.
The creature had an overhanging brow ridge with deep-set eyes. Its head was approximately egg-shaped. The mouth of the creature was very wide, and it had a set of jagged incisors that were plainly visible as it “smiled” at Anthony. It had slight canines on both the top and bottom rows of teeth, though neither were very pronounced. Also noted was a large scar that extended from the forehead to above the left eye.
Interestingly, this was not the first time that Anthony had seen a bigfoot in that window. Ten or so years ago, when he was 8 years of age, Anthony came running out of his bedroom one night when his sister and mother were in the living room. Anthony remembers seeing eyes in the same window, and both his mother and sister remember Anthony being totally panicked. He refused to sleep in his room, and cried quite a bit about what he saw.
Besides the witnesses, one of the great pleasures of this particular expedition was meeting the mayor of Knox County, Tim Burchett. He is not only a great guy to hang out with, but he really is a fan of bigfoot through and through. I was so taken by his down-home attitude and say-it-like-it-is demeanor that even I would vote for this guy, even though I’m about as far from being a Republican (or Democrat, for that matter) as you can get. This guy loves bigfoot. So much so, in fact, that he shared with me a number of doodles that he has done on post it notes when he was attending meetings that maybe weren’t all that interesting. With his full permission, I am sharing a couple of his doodles below… If only other politicians had their priorities straight like Mayor Tim Burchett!
Between the excellent witnesses, being welcomed by the town of Knoxville and Mayor Tim Burchett, having October 16th be officially declared as “Bigfoot Day” throughout the entire county (click this link for a cool Youtube video showing some of the festivities… My favorite part is when he refers to Moneymaker as the “humble” Matt Moneymaker…), having tree push-downs on both night investigations, and celebrating Thanksgiving with our Finding Bigfoot family (for the second year in a row), I’d have to say that the Tennessee expedition was a highlight of this season. Working with the local investigators, as well as the good people of Tennesse makes this region one that I am very much looking forward to revisiting in the future.