The expedition to South Dakota really taught be a lot about how adaptable bigfoots can be. I had very few expectations as to what kind of terrain we would encounter on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, but when I got there I really was taken aback. Far from being the moist, cool, forested habitat one envisions when thinking about bigfoots, this part of South Dakota was harsh, dry, open fields with hardly any cover beyond brush and shrubs. On top of all of this, when we visited the location it was well over 100 degrees during the day. What was going on here, and how could bigfoots call this place home?
As it turns out, while many bigfoots are seen in the open areas described above, they do not hang out in such places very long. Bigfoots in this area seem to spend most of their time in the deep, narrow river valleys that wind through the reservation. They are seen out in the open as they cross the plains between these canyons under the cover of night, or sometime alongside roads as they snake besides the larger rivers.
Since all the tributaries that are at the bottom of these valleys empty into only a few larger rivers, these hidden valleys are all connected. Many have water flowing in them for most of the year, and all of them are thick with cover with plentiful food.
We initially were going to visit the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation to investigate a possible bigfoot video, but our plans had to change when we later found out that the video was the result of a practical joke played on the kid in the video. Since we do not investigate admitted hoaxes for the show, we turned our attention to James Twiss, the former chief of police, and the compelling story that came from the reservation a number of years ago. There had been many sightings of a bigfoot in August of 2006 over a week’s time. One night the police were called out to a mobile home where a witness saw his dog chase after a very fast “tall man.” When police arrived, they were told the direction that the tall man had run and James started scanning the area with the department’s thermal imager while he sent a squad car down towards another home nearby. Through the imager he could see the cruiser and the police officers by the house, but he could also see another figure walking nearby. This figure was much larger than the police officers, and it was walking unseen by them in a nearby gully. The bigfoot slipped by undetected and made its way towards the river. From that vantage point, James could hear the dogs go off as the creature went about its business and left the immediate area along the nearby river.
James already knew that bigfoots were real, as there had been several encounters on and near his property. His children reported seeing them near the swamp at the end of their road, and other children in his family told of having bigfoots look in their windows at night. One of the family dogs was found ripped apart and shoved under a trash dumpster on the property. Footprints left by the creatures occasionally showed up in the soil near their home.
My solo camping trip was very informative. I started by going downhill to find where the water was most likely to be flowing. Instead of a large river, I found a dried up muddy riverbed with only shallow pools of water too muddy to drink. I then changed my strategy and headed up to the highest elevations I could find in hopes of catching the water flowing before it had the chance to evaporate in the sweltering heat. It was in the thick pine forests of the higher altitudes that I encountered the big horn sheep and the bison.
Much to my disappointment, the last night investigation really didn’t translate well to the TV screen. It was much more exciting than what was shown. After Ranae and I found the bison wallow on a hilltop north of Yellow Bear Reservoir, we decided to head down into a thickly wooded valley.
I was ahead of Ranae by 15 or 20 yards when I reached the bottom. As I descended the final ten feet or so to the valley floor, a large branch break occurred just a few dozen yards ahead of me. I stopped and heard something large pushing its way through the brush ahead. I stayed in position as Ranae came down the slope and met up with me. Just then, a loud knock or clap sound came from fifteen feet above our heads and twenty-five feet up the canyon wall to the left. This was followed by the sound of bipedal running on padded feet quickly heading away from us along the lip of the canyon where the erosion made it impossible to scale the canyon walls. That was enough for me to identify the culprit as a bigfoot.
That is the point when I decided to try to clap to the creature to draw its interest. While the show depicts me trying the claps to elicit a response, I was doing so after the branch breaking, brush popping, loud knock, and hearing the padded feet run away.
Ranae and I started to make our way up the canyon in the direction I heard it run and soon found a large log that had fallen down into the canyon from the lip above only 100 feet or so from where I initially encountered the branch breaking. This log gave animals the opportunity to climb to the canyon lip as if on a ladder. Perhaps the creature I encountered made its way up this log and spied us from above before knocking once and leaving?
A short ways up the canyon, Ranae and I heard another loud knock. This one was certainly wood on wood. This noise was soon followed by the sound of movement in the brush ahead of us, further up the canyon. I figured that we should continue to head that direction, though I imagine that was part of the plan of the bigfoot that seemed to be making the noise. Before long, we headed back down the canyon and listened for a good while, but heard nothing more.
Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has bigfoots living there. The habitat seemed unlikely at first glance, but a closer look revealed fresh water, deep cool valleys, and plentiful game. Those three things, combined with a rich history of bigfoot encounters from the Lakotas that live there, clearly indicates the presence of sasquatches. Now that I am aware that bigfoots can not only live in places like this, but thrive in places like this, a whole new world of bigfooting has been opened to me. I look at other habitats with a different eye. I’ve often said, “Never underestimate the squatch,” and later found that I was doing so already.