Bigfoot in Kansas? Really? It is rare, but it does happen. Most of the bigfoot sightings in Kansas are in its southeast corner near the Missouri/Oklahoma border. But, there are rivers and waterways that branch out from that region into other areas of the state, and these corridors produce the occasional sighting.
The evidence that compelled us to visit central Kansas came in the form of a series of photographs taken by a woman named Liz who lives a few miles northeast of Wichita. One day during the last week of January of 2007 Liz went out of her home in the morning to discover numerous footprints in the snow crossing her yard. The previous night had been bitterly cold, reportedly -30 degrees with the wind chill factor. Indeed, the area was experiencing the “storm of a decade” which dumped as much as seven inches of snow.
The footprints came onto her property from the road and went to a tree in her yard where the trackmaker apparently stood and faced the house for a short while. Then it took a right towards a hedge of larger trees before doubling back to the tree and turning right towards the fence. The trail was lost as it left the property into the cultivated field behind her house. The general direction of the trackway was towards the river that was perhaps another half mile away.
After discovering the footprints, Liz called the sheriff, and deputies reported to the scene. Later she called the Fish and Game department, and they also came out to take a look at the prints. Both the sheriffs and the wildlife officers stayed for about a half hour, but neither could ascribe the prints to any known animal in the area. The conclusion was that it must have been a hoax because bigfoots don’t exist, and even if they did they wouldn’t be in Kansas.
Many of the footprints were melted out since the temperature rose significantly overnight and into the morning. However, several footprints were found in the shade where the sun had not warmed up the ground, and these were still in excellent shape. The footprints clearly showed five toes, thus immediately discounting the possibility that these prints were made by anything but a bare foot. Snowshoes, a hopping rabbit, nor anything else could have made these.
This seemed to be the end of the story, or that’s where the editors left it. However, there is more to this story that didn’t make the air on the episode. As it turns out, Liz is a custodian at the local intermediate and high school in town. The next work day, she found these same footprints along with a smaller set in the snow at her school. Apparently, the two track makers had raided the dumpster at the school and wandered away. This would have been before the track makers visited her property on the same night.
Liz showed the photographs to a friend of hers that lives about a mile away from her property. This friend excitedly told her that she had the same footprints in her yard during the same time period, though it could not be verified that it was the exact same night. It seems that the two track makers were getting around the neighborhood during that cold spell.
While our first night investigation didn’t turn up any potential bigfoot evidence, our town hall certainly produced some good eyewitnesses. The meeting was held at the Kansas Aviation Museum where the grounds feature historic aircraft and artifacts from the early days of flight (along with an interesting photograph of someone who could very well be my great aunt, with the last name misspelled, as my grandfather was born and raised nearby). Due to the time constraints of production, we were forced to choose only a handful of witnesses to interview, though many deserved our attention.
Our first witness, James, claimed to have seen a sasquatch while fishing one night. He noticed a large figure watching him from above on the opposing bank. James was frightened enough by the presence to leave, but he thought it was a good move to leave a fish he had previously caught for the figure. He gathered up his belongings, but in his hurry forgot to pack his chair. Upon returning the next day, he found his chair where he had left it, but the fish was gone. There were footprints coming out of the river, and what he interpreted as handprints or finger scrapes where the fish was left. Though James’ story seems surprising, there are other reports of people leaving things for bigfoots they observe which later seem to have been taken by the creatures. I do not know if James’ story is true, but I do not judge him to have been lying. The location makes some sense, though it is only a mile or so outside of a very small town. The surrounding fields would have been full of wheat and corn at the time of year the encounter happened. There are also train tracks not far away, and there is a strong correlation between train tracks and bigfoot sightings, just as there is for power line cuts.
I later followed up with Ken and Gary, two brothers who spotlighted a bigfoot in the woods while making their way to a catfishing spot at two or three o’clock in the morning. One of the men heard movement in the brush in front of them, and a large figure steadily walked out and crossed the path in front of them at only about 75 yards away. The figure was described as very large, perhaps 7.5 or so feet tall, and uniform in color from head to toe. The men shined a spotlight of at least one million candlepower at the figure, so there was no mistaking the figure for any other creature, not even a human. The gait was described as brisk, and the creature took very long strides. Both of these details indicate that the creature was moving quickly. They both had a very clear view of the figure for three strides before it entered the trees on the right side of the path.
Our final night investigation had to change a bit just a day or so before filming. Originally, we planned to have me in an open cockpit plane from the 1940’s throwing “meat bombs” out of the aircraft. Each of these meat bombs would have a GPS tracker embedded into it so we could find it later on the ground. We thought it would be an unusual technique that had never been employed, would look great on camera, and would be a lot of fun. However, upon requesting permits from the various government agencies involved, we found out from the FAA that it is illegal to throw things out of planes. Go figure. Instead, we employed another plane (and one that would be much warmer to be in) to scout the area to find the best locations to deploy frozen meats to hopefully lure as many animals to the location as possible. These locations were carefully chosen to be in the largest swaths of forest, and would be adjacent to large rivers.
The plane ride was amazing. I rode in a 1943 Cessna UC-78 Bobcat that had been utilized as a troop transport during World War 2. It had the smell of my grandfather’s garage: a sort of wood, metal, and petroleum odor that really showed the age of the vehicle. It was a loud and cold ride, but one that I won’t soon forget.
The final night investigation proved to be one of the most uncomfortable nights I have spent in the woods. The temperature was only 16 degrees, and then the breeze kicked up to bring the temperature down to around zero with the wind chill factor. And to top it all off, we didn’t get anything at all. What a disappointment.
While I fully accept the occasional presence of sasquatches in some parts of Kansas, I do not think that they make the state their home at all times. I suspect that the bigfoots in the southeast part of the state that shares a border with Oklahoma and Missouri sometimes has a bigfoot with wanderlust that makes its way down the large rivers to the plains. These occasional bigfoots produce occasional sightings, and every once in a while a report makes its way to an investigator. For those of you who live in Kansas or the surrounding area, I would encourage you to try bigfooting at promising locations. If your timing is right, maybe you’ll get a glimpse of something even more rare than the average bigfoot: a Kansan bigfoot.