Review: Finding Bigfoot

As many of you may know, there is a new show on Animal Planet called ‘Finding Bigfoot’.

Headed by Matt Moneymaker of the BFRO, a team of Bigfoot hunters travel throughout North America investigating sightings and of course searching for the elusive and enigmatic creature.

The four members of the team are as follows:

Matt Moneymaker – Bigfoot Researcher, Leader and Founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization
Cliff Barackman – Musician, Teacher, Bigfoot Researcher and Founder of the site: North American Bigfoot
James “Bobo” Fay (Jim “Bobo” McCoy) – Roustabout, TV Producer and of course Bigfoot Researcher
Ranae Holland – Biologist, Open Minded Bigfoot Skeptic

‘Finding Bigfoot’ follows a simple but effective premise. In each episode they travel to different North American locales to investigate a well known Bigfoot video, picture or story.

1. They first attempt to reenact the scene of the incident.
2. Do a little scouting around.
3. Then a town hall meeting to acquire locations to investigate.
4. They choose the 3 most impressive stories from the crowd.
5. Then it’s out to each location with the story tellers and discuss their experience.
6. They do their big night surveillance which is typically in an area triangulated from the 3 stories.
7. Finally, they gather evidence, say the word ‘squatch 2 or 300 times and claim there is in fact a ‘squatch in the area.

When I watched the first episode of ‘Finding Bigfoot’ I expected to be disappointed and it wasn’t long before I was.

This first show was shot in Georgia and centered around a video from a police cruiser:

Here the team attempt to recreate the sighting:

During the night research in this episode, things seemed to be going along well when suddenly Matt catches a glimpse of movement and takes of into the darkness like a madman. If the team was trying to look unprofessional they certainly succeeded here. Actually I shouldn’t fault the rest of the team for something their “Leader” had done. In fact they confronted him over it and he responded much in the way a spoiled child would.

So far there have been 3 episodes and as much as I want to cast aspersions, I have to say the show isn’t all that terrible. Although there are a few things to point out that have me in question mode. Actually the first just has me in irritation mode.

Apparently the group likes to use the abbreviation ‘sqhatch as well as variations such as ‘squatchy, IE: “That area looks pretty ‘squatchy to me!” I wouldn’t mind it so much but they use these terms ad nauseam. Why can’t they just say Bigfoot or Sasquatch like the rest of us? Is it really that difficult to say the entire word?

Another issue is Moneymaker himself who seems at times a tyrant. You get that; I’m in charge so don’t cross me feeling quite often from him. At one point in an episode of the show he tells his partner on a stakeout to radio the other group and tell them to do a “call”, meaning make a loud howling Bigfoot sound. Just as the radio is clicked Matt says “be quiet” and then in a venomous tone he backs that with “ABORT”. I’ve now given you a couple of examples of Mr. Moneymakers unprofessional demeanor but he really tops himself when he claims that “he” was the first to discover “tree knocking”. This is a practice by which Bigfoots allegedly communicate with one and other. The fact is that tree knocking has been associated with Bigfoot since the 60s or possibly even earlier.

I’ve read many derogatory remarks regarding Matt Moneymaker who has been accused of several underhanded deeds over the years. In fact I’ve more than once read that he has paid people to go out into the woods and “act” as Bigfoot, howling, tree knocking, rock throwing, etc… in an attempt to fool those who paid to go on one of his Bigfoot treks. Of course I don’t have first hand evidence of anything he’s done so I have to chalk it it up to hearsay. However, when you continually read this kind of thing, you begin to wonder.

This brings me to my third point which you can take with a grain of salt as well. If Matt has done certain off color things in the past to simulate or create a scenario, why wouldn’t he do it on this show? Why couldn’t he hire some townies from these places they investigate to mirror them on their night maneuvers and howl back at them when they call? I mean by show 3 we’re hearing wood knocking and howling clear as day. Matt’s reputation always puts a little doubt in the back of my mind as I question the veracity of these alleged Bigfoot sounds.

Point number 4 is in regard to IDing the creature. While they go to great lengths to recreate incidents and utilize thousands of dollars in surveillance equipment, more often than not it comes down to them hearing a sound, story or experiencing some other stimuli and immediately anointing it to be “‘squatch”. I don’t know how many times in cases of little to no evidence they exclaim: “That was a ‘squatch” or “It had to be a ‘squatch” or “Now we know a ‘squatch is out there”. Believe me, this is just a sampling of the inordinate number of times they are absolutely positive that Bigfoot is near them or no doubt in the picture, etc..

One thing I can say about the above is that Ranae isn’t so forthcoming with the ‘squatch ID. She seems the most analytical of the group followed by Cliff who is a bit more into believing they are a stones throw from Bigfoot but still isn’t as quick to cry ‘squatch as Matt and Bobo are.

My last issue is something that the team may not be responsible for. During their nighttime field research they spend a couple hours out in the woods looking for Bigfoot or sign of Bigfoot. What I don’t understand is if they are that serious about it, why aren’t they pitching tents and staying the entire night out there? Of course there could be constraints put on them by Animal Planet or some other very good reason but IMHO camping out would definitely increase their chances and make for good television to boot.

With all that negative stuff said, I can’t say that I won’t watch the show again. In fact, there is enough going on there to make the show entertaining and yes, put you on the edge of your seat once or twice. I like the format of the show and they seem to follow it religiously. Aside from some isolated incidents, they come off as well organized and quite frankly do a much better job than Monsterquest.

Do I recommend the show? Hmm, that’s a tough question. What I will say is that there is enough good happening with the bad and if you don’t think too much about what kind of manipulation may be going on behind the scenes, I think you will enjoy it. So, you can take that any way you wish. I’d say, give it a chance and if you don’t like it, don’t watch it. However, don’t miss out because of anything I have said, draw your own conclusions.

All in all, I give Animal Planet’s ‘Finding Bigfoot’ a “C+” which is very good considering most Bigfoot shows don’t even deserve a “D”. Now, if they just cut down on using that irritating term, you know the one, I might be inclined to give it a “B-“. And to tell you the truth, Matt Moneymaker seems for the most part to be genuinely trying to find Bigfoot.