; Phantoms and Monsters: Pulse of the Paranormal

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Bigfoot Search - Lake Anna, Spotsylvania County, Virginia

fb.com - Hunting for the elusive Sasquatch is difficult enough, but rain makes it even harder.

Billy Willard, 41, the director of the Manassas-based Sasquatch Watch of Virginia, said the din of rain makes it impossible to hear anything else.

And the rain keeps animals--even Bigfoots--under shelter.

On Saturday, Willard and four other Sasquatch researchers were on 96 acres in the Lake Anna area, connected to 3,000 acres of mostly forests. Willard said there have been a lot of sightings in this region, especially in Culpeper County.

Ever since Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin released the famous film of a Sasquatch in Bluff Creek, Calif., on Oct. 20, 1962, people have argued its validity and that of thousands of other sightings across the country.

In Spotsylvania County, a man, a woman and a teenager reported spotting what appeared to be a Sasquatch in May 2009. They were about 300 yards away before it ran--fast.

"When I say running, well, all I can explain is it looked like it was on ice skates," said the woman. She asked that her name and exact location not be revealed because too often ridicule follows those who say they've seen Bigfoot; she also wants to protect adjoining property owners.

"If he lives here, and I think he does, it is smarter than a dog and dogs are smart animals," said the man who also reported seeing the creature that day.

Don't even try telling them that it was a bear.

"I've been in the woods since I was 5 years old; I know what a bear looks like," the woman said.

Her suspicions rose again in January when she heard a crazy noise in the woods that sounded like recordings she has heard on Bigfoot Internet sites.

"To me, the sound of hearing this thing was scarier than seeing it," she said. "It started with a low rumble and ended in a high-pitch scream."

The woman said she found Willard's website and invited him to the property. He's come back a half-dozen times.

Last month, he directed a weeklong Bigfoot expedition at the Spotsylvania site with five separate research groups.

The group heard strange Bigfoot-like sounds and filmed with a night-vision camera something very tall with red eyes. Two other researchers reported something shook their Jeep. A footprint impression behind the vehicle was cast.

"The eyes on the videotape, that was pretty impressive," Willard said.

But last weekend, the rain caused problems and it stopped the hunt early. The group got there at about 4 p.m. Saturday and stayed past midnight.

The only discovery that day was what appeared to be a large footprint near a pond.

Researchers like Willard often do their work with little fanfare. The full-time environmental engineer does not get paid for his Bigfoot research. He often gets tips and invitations through his website. He has been to at least nine states and has returned with plaster casts of a few different footprints.

His most frightening experience was in Paris, Texas, in 2007. The experience was so surreal that Willard thought it was a nightmare. He felt something grab him and he tussled with the creature for a few minutes while in his tent.

"I could feel nothing but thick hair on whatever this was," he said. "My hand didn't fit around the limb and I balled up my fist and hit it."

Not much high-tech equipment is necessary for expeditions. Researchers use night-vision game cameras and goggles and PA systems to broadcast Bigfoot calls and babies crying, which apparently creates a lot of action in the forest when played. There is also a lot of waiting, which leads to researchers sharing stories over a campfire about favorite trips, that often end up fruitless.

But not finding any evidence has little effect on their hope that someday one of them might get the evidence needed to prove Bigfoot does exist.

"There's no certification for this except a mental institution and an empty checkbook," Willard joked.

Sasquatch Watch of Virginia

Bigfoot Search - Lake Anna, Spotsylvania County, Virginia