Published: 1:04 PM - 05-18-11
Many of us are familiar with the legend of the Bigfoot, an alleged giant creature that lurks in the forest, and against all odds is able to avoid being detected by humans, at least when we want to see them.
Thousands of witnesses have come forward over the years describing encounters with a large bipedal hairy creature from nearly every corner of the world, including the scorching Arizona Sonoran desert.
In 2006, KTVK channel 3 news in Phoenix covered the story of a Phoenix area man who claims to have had a run in with a Bigfoot in 1988. He says that he and his friends were camping near a lake west of Gila Bend when one night he noticed a shadow cast over him in the light of a full moon. He looked up to see a large female Bigfoot.
Peterson couldn’t hold back the emotion recounting the story to KTVK’s reporter. He says that soon after his encounter his friends saw another Bigfoot charging their group. He felt he had no other choice but to shoot at the second creature. It went off wailing into the night. He knows he hit it, but says he is unsure whether he killed the creature or not.
Peterson has since returned to the scene several times, hoping to see the Bigfoot again and catch it on videotape. In 2001 he believes he did record one crouching behind a bush. You can watch the attached KTVK report to decide for yourself.
Eventually Peterson enlisted the help of Bigfoot expert Tom Biscardi. According to Biscardi’s website he got interested in Bigfoot research in 1967 when he saw a famous film of a Bigfoot, called the Patterson Film. He says he thought to himself, “How the hell can we send a man to the moon, but we can't find this creature?” Biscardi believes that the desert outside of Phoenix may have 30 to 50 of the creatures traveling through the area during migration.
The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) tracks sighting reports throughout the United States. According to their website, they have received over 60 Bigfoot reports in Arizona, most of those being in the northern forests of Coconino County. However, Maricopa County does have 4 sightings of its own spanning from the early 90s to 2004.
The further south you go, the more scarce the sightings. There are no sighting reports in my home county of Pinal, but there has been one report in Pima and two in Cochise. The most recent Maricopa County sighting was in the spring of 2004 at around 2:30 am between Tonopah and Buckeye off of Baseline Road. BFRO investigator, Lyle McKinley, wrote:
The witness, who was driving, noticed a figure standing still on the south side of Baseline Rd. illuminated only by the high beams of his pickup truck. There were no other vehicles in the area, and there was no moonlight that morning or ambient street lighting.
The witness observed a tall figure covered in gray hair that he believes was a Sasquatch [Bigfoot]. As the truck approached the creature, its eyes reflected a "yellowish glimmer". When he got within 20 ft, the previously motionless figure quickly turned away from the vehicle and ran rapidly across an agricultural field.
The witness estimated the height of the creature at "7 ft" because it was as tall as the roof of his lifted pickup truck. The witness was close enough to see muscle tone under the hair. He was impressed by the way the creature moved which seemed very "animal-like" and not like the movement of a person in a costume. He described the movement as "weird" as the creature took unusually "long strides" away from his vehicle. The entire sighting lasted about 6 seconds.
Records of Bigfoot like creatures go back hundreds of years in Native American lore, although before 1960 it was most often referred to as the Wild Man. The term “Bigfoot” was coined in 1958 in a story in The Humboldt Times newspaper. The story was about loggers in Northwestern California being harassed by the giant hairy creature. One of the loggers, Jerry Crew, had found tracks of a big foot and made a plaster cast. He took the cast to reporter Andrew Genzoli who wrote a story on the situation. In Genzoli's story he combined the two words and thus started the Bigfoot craze. Incidentally, this area in California has remained a Bigfoot hot spot.
Although, we often think of Bigfoot seeking refuge on snow capped mountains, hiding away deep inside of treacherous and wild wilderness, it seems that Arizona, and the Phoenix area in particular, may be home to a desert Bigfoot. Besides rattlers and scorpions the Bigfoot is one more thing to look out for when you are out and about on those warm desert nights.