After a year’s worth of canceled events, 2021 is starting to look eerily familiar, as annual gathering dedicated to an eerie creature was called off again.
The Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium is a chance for Bigfoot researchers, believers, and those looking for answers to meet and discuss possible evidence of the large, hairy mammal. Due to COVID-19, Darren Lee said the event had to be canceled, but hopes to bring it back next year.
In the meantime, he said enthusiasts can supplement the lack of a public gathering by doing a little research and potentially going on a search themselves.
However, Lee said skeptics and believers alike need to be prepared before they go off searching for the ape-like creature known as Bigfoot.
“I really don’t recommend people going out and doing this without learning more about it before they go out,” said Lee. “You don’t necessarily just have Bigfoot to worry about. You also have the human factor. You might be out there and stumble across a meth lab or somebody’s marijuana patch. There’s all kinds of dangers out there, and bad things can happen to people.”
In fact, Lee and a group were once out in a “listening post,” and instead of Sasquatch, they saw a caravan of trucks and SUVs come down a trail near them. After about 20 minutes, he said the group could smell the odor of meth being cooked.
“So we quietly packed up and got the heck out of there,” he said.
Those interested in taking a deeper look into presence of Bigfoot can start by doing a little research online, while keeping an open mind. They’ll also want to find an established group, said Lee, who has been doing it for a while and can answer questions.
“There are a lot of people out there who think they know a lot, but basically it’s just what they’ve seen on TV and it doesn’t work that way,” he said. “Unlike a lot of other conferences where they bring in celebrities, we have a lot of researchers who come in and talk about their actual research.”
Over the years, the Oklahoma Bigfoot Symposium has been a place for enthusiasts to share thermal footage, audio recordings, pictures, and other evidence of Bigfoot encounters. It makes the group a good place to start for those who are serious about wanting to learn more about the mythical creature.
Searchers can visit the woods hundreds, if not thousands, of times and never see evidence of the beast. But just one encounter could turn someone into an avid believer. Lee said he’s had 26 run-ins with a Bigfoot.
“When you figure up the odds, .006 percent of the time I’ve gone into the woods, I’ve had an encounter,” said Lee. “It’s not face-to-face encounters. I’ve seen them off in the distance, but there have been a couple of times they got pretty close. So I’ve become a firm believer in them. There are some who are believers because they’ve recorded obvious Bigfoot sounds on recorders, but they’re still out there trying to get their first encounter.”
Lee and others are convinced there is a family unit of about 20 to 30 Bigfoots that span across Cherokee, Adair, and Sequoyah counties. The area is also known to have black bears, but Lee said it’s not difficult for people to tell the difference between the two.
“A couple of years ago, during deer season, we had a hunter who thought he saw a black bear sitting down in a field,” said Lee. “Even though he wasn’t supposed to shoot it, he shot at it. It stood up on two feet and was about 7 to 8 feet tall, and turned around and screamed at him and walked off. When one turns around and looks at you, you figure out real quick that it’s not a bear or anything like that.”
People can look for tracks on the ground, but that’s not always as easy to find compared to other potential evidence. If the terrain is rocky, Lee said it’s rare to spot a footprint.
“If you go to a wooded area that’s substantial – not a park or anything like that – you can probably find some of your own evidence,” he said. “You could look for tree structures or what we call 'tall-boy trails' – where something really big has been walking through the woods and has created a trail. That’s where the sticks and branches on the trees are broken off about 7 to 8 feet high.”
Check it out
The curious could start by finding literature such as Lee’s “Bigfoot Field Guide: Starting your own Bigfoot Research.” They could also find more information by going to okbigfootsymposium.com. Lee said the symposium may decide to have virtual event later this summer, but no decision has been made yet.