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A plywood cutout of Bigfoot leans against a tree at base camp at the BFRO's 2013 expedition to Michigan's Upper Peninsula. (Photograph by Annie Agnone)

How to: Find Bigfoot

I recently spoke with Tyler Bounds, investigator with the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) and outdoor technician for Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot.

For Tyler, ‘squatching — tramping through the woods on the look out for Sasquatch — is about seeing the world differently. “It’s camping with a purpose,” he explains. “You go out and you pitch a tent, you do your thing, but now you’re paying attention to other things besides what you usually pay attention to.”

It’s about where the journey takes you, too — even if you come back empty handed. “I’ve been all over the States and seen some amazing things — landscapes and sunsets and hills and mountains,” Tyler says. “Even when nothing happens, you’re still in the woods. You’re still out in it.”

And, lastly, it’s about being open to unseen possibilities. As Tyler says: “There’s something to be said for the unknown, the unsolved mysteries of the world.”

Tyler shared his personal philosophy on ‘squatching — his raison d’yeti, if you will — as well as some tips for newcomers interested in going on their very own DIY expedition.

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Check the food supply to see determine whether a large mammal could survive in a given area. (Photograph by Annie Agnone)

Here are the Basics to get you Started

Where to go:

Though the Pacific Northwest is a flashpoint for Bigfoot sightings, you can go ‘squatching almost anywhere — at least in the U.S. “There are reports from every state except for Hawaii,” Tyler says.

It helps to pay attention to reports (which are available on the BFRO website). You can visit areas where there have been reports of sightings, but remote areas where there haven’t been sightings might be active, too.

What to do when you get there: 

‘Squatchers don’t agree on a right or wrong way to ‘squatch. Some favor stealth, while others simply try not to attract suspicion. Tyler says he always recommends doing what campers do: laugh, talk, giggle, sing, cook food. Have fun.

The bottom line, he says, is just being there, open to the experience, and ready to record if anything should happen.

What to look and listen for: 

Evaluate the food supply, water availability, and shelter in a given area to determine if it would be possible for a large omnivorous mammal to survive there. Look for signs of animal life — footprints, scat, claw marks on trees.

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Night-vision gear is a plus, but by no means a must. (Photograph by Annie Agnone)

At night, Tyler recommends listening for animal communications — hoots, hollers, screams, whistles, the sound of knocking on wood. Again, he emphasizes the importance of familiarizing yourself with local wildlife, so you can begin to eliminate possibilities with some degree of certainty.

What to bring:

1. Basic camping gear. Bring what you would bring on any other camping trip.

2. A guidebook on local wildlife. This is a must, according to Tyler. “So many people, they hear something and think ‘Is it Bigfoot?’ But it’s an owl. Or it’s a coyote. If you familiarize yourself with the local flora and fauna, it goes a long way toward knowing where to go, what to look for, and what to listen for.”

3. Means of documenting what you think you see and hear. If you end up seeing or hearing something, you’re probably going to want proof. Bring an audio recorder, a video camera, or, at the very least, a smartphone with recording capabilities.

4. A journal. This is serious stuff. A regular notebook will work, but due to the nature of ‘squatching, it’s a good idea to bring a simple audio recorder that you can use to record your observations as you move through the darkness.

5. A tape measure. If you find a footprint you want to photograph, this is great tool for providing scale and measuring your findings.

6. Night vision. Being able to see in the dark using thermal imagers and night-vision scopes can’t hurt. However, as Tyler puts it, “You can put tons of money into buying all the most modern technological geekery things, but you don’t need it.”

Interested in learning more? Tyler recommends:

● Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science by Dr. Jeff Meldrum

The International Cryptozoology Museum (11 Avon Street in Portland, Maine)

The Bigfoot Discovery Museum (5497 State Route 9 in Felton, California)

In addition to documenting what Americans do when most everyone else is asleep, National Geographic Young Explorer Annie Agnone is pursuing an MFA in creative writing at the University of Alabama. Follow her story on Instagram @annieagnone.