Many years ago a respected reporter from a regional newspaper telephoned me to ask about the then purported sighting of a rural Remer, Minnesota, ahem, bigfoot; aka yeti, abominable snowman, sasquatch, etc., ad nauseam and so forth (spoiler alert—I’m a non-believer). In fact, for the fun of it, Google “Blane Klemek bigfoot” and you’ll see for yourself. Indeed, I’m forever linked to bigfoot on the World Wide Web as my claim to bigfoot buffoonery should appear right at the top of the heap of hits.
You see, about 10 years ago someone with a hairy sense of humor decided to dress up in an ape suit while skulking in front of the obviously known location of a trail camera. And well, as one would figure with such things, the “shocking” discovery of the ape-man’s image on the camera’s memory card created quite the local stir. Press everywhere picked up the story—print, radio, and maybe even television.
Bigfoot lore looms the world over, as do the legends of other mythical creatures such as the Loch Ness monster, chupacabra, vampires, mermaids, and to a lesser extent, the jackalope of the American West. There are even local legendary creatures such as the “Side-hill Gouger”, as described with relish by my Uncle Cliff on the opening morning of deer hunting many years ago.
About the latter critter, Uncle Cliff’s chosen audience was always young greenhorns that were about to walk into the woods alone in the dark for the first time. The creature, as he’d describe, “ . . . is dirty and hairy, has big teeth, half wolf, half bear, walks on all fours, but the front and back legs on one side of its body are longer than the two legs on the other side of its body.”
“SO! Whatever you do”, Uncle Cliff warned, “DON’T get caught on a side-hill because the Gouger will slowly circle you . . . will close in . . . and you won’t know it until it’s too late!”
Uncle Cliff likes a good story. And he can tell one, too.
Bigfoot is another fairytale creature of the deep dark woods. Records of supposed sightings, tracks, and other so called “evidence” in North America date back a very long time. Indeed, I remember sitting in the Wadena Cozy Theater as a teenage kid watching a bigfoot movie on the big screen. The infamous Patterson-Gimlin film, which was shot in California in 1967 in what looked like a forest clearing in broad daylight, was shown at the beginning of the movie.
The plodding creature in the fleeting footage looked like what a bigfoot should look like through my young eyes at the time, but of course it, too, was nothing more than a person dressed in a gorilla suit. I’m sure Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin (and the man or woman in the ape suit!) shared plenty of good laughs about their hoax for many years.
And then there’s the chupacabra, sometimes called “el chupacabra”, the goat-sucker. First purportedly seen in Puerto Rico of various descriptions depending on where one is “observed”, chupacabras are said to be around three to five feet tall with rows of spikes down its back. Eyes that are alien-like, a vampire to boot, the chupacabra is believed by some people to be a creature from outer space or a secret government genetics experiment gone awry.
Believe it or not, it was reported that maybe one of these creatures managed to make its way to Douglas County, Minnesota in August 2011. A road-killed, hairless badger was photographed and reported to authorities as possibly a chupacabra. It didn’t take long for hysteria to take hold and a local television station to pick up the story, too.
Jackalopes? You might have seen one of these clever and humorous taxidermists’ creation displayed on the wall of your favorite saloon, but you’ve never seen an actual living and breathing and bounding jackrabbit with antlers. Though certainly plausible looking, no lagomorph sports headgear in the real world.
Some folks say that suitable bigfoot and chupacabra habitat is abundant here in northwest Minnesota.
And I suppose that if such creatures did exist, then they’d certainly find plenty to their liking, especially here in the Becida Triangle, as we get out and enjoy the great outdoors.
Blane likes to hear from his readers. Email him your favorite outdoors experiences and wildlife encounters at firstname.lastname@example.org.