Published:11:45 AM - 10-17-11
By: Josh Shaffer
Michael Greene will never forget the first time he heard Bigfoot: a whoop in the dark he can only compare to the sound of King Kong screaming in your ear.
Even more thrilling was the night he left a jar of Skippy outside his tent as Sasquatch bait, screwing the lid shut and coating it with a generous dollop of peanut butter. When he woke, only the lid remained, licked clean - obviously the work of a creature with thumbs.
But the highlight of his 20-year quest came two years ago, when Greene pointed his thermal imager into the forest at 3 a.m. and captured footage of a 7-foot, neckless stalker.
"It's a weird hobby," said Greene, now 70 and retired.
Next month, Greene will lead a four-day Bigfoot hunt through the woods south of Uwharrie National Forest - a $300 trek that is already sold out.
They'll bang on trees with baseball bats, hoping nature's bashful giant will prick up an ear.
They'll leave Zagnut bars at their campsites, recorders whirring nearby.
And they'll persist in the search for a furry caveman at large for decades, hoping to briefly glimpse his primitive hide.
"Usually," says Greene, who lives in Salisbury, "nothing at all happens. But you hear roaring in the bushes. They'll pitch rocks into camp, but they never hit anybody."
It's notable, I think, that in the middle of a trashed economy, people will spend the price of a month's groceries on a four-day Sasquatch jaunt.
For one, Bigfoot strikes me as a West Coast beast.
Those blurry pictures you see of a shaggy creature loping through the trees are always taken, it seems, in Grizzly Adams territory.
It's hard to imagine a Sasquatch in the damp, dark forests of North Carolina, where a vine loops around your leg if you stand still too long.
But the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization reports that sightings here are up to 67 now, three in counties you'd consider part of the Triangle. And he's been spotted as recently as August - a near-collision in Pender County.
"They seem to pop up in the damnedest places," Greene said. "Tennessee, Mississippi, New Jersey, Florida - anyplace there seems to be a good stretch of woods."
Master of things Bigfoot
Greene's fascination began while writing his master's thesis in behavioral psychology, which centered on group hysteria. He shrugged off spacemen and the Bermuda Triangle. Too implausible.
But Bigfoot ...
For years, Greene stalked Bigfoot, wearing camouflage, sneaking through the forest at 3 a.m., tip-toeing between the trees like a wild-man detective.
He sat up all night in his tent, listening for the breath of a hairy humanoid.
He tried to get inside the head of a Sasquatch, wondering how to sneak into its primitive world as an interloper from civilization.
But that didn't work.
Greene never caught a whiff of Bigfoot until he abandoned stealth altogether.
So now, instead of hiding, he advertises his presence. It makes sense. Any Sasquatch can smell domestic living quicker than a buzzard sniffs out a dead skunk.
Even if the woods reveal nothing wilder than a squirrel, Green promises fun with expensive Sasquatch-detecting equipment - which makes stealth even less possible.
So Greene's motto, by inviting hordes into the forest with him, by tramping and stomping through their hidden Eden, is let the furries know you're there. If they whoop, whoop back. Let them know modern man, with his clothing and his cars and his soap, means no harm.
If Bigfoot want come, Bigfoot come.
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