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[UPDATED] Why Can’t We Leave Bigfoot Alone?

bigfoot
Flickr/Jamie Bernstein

Why are we so obsessed with Bigfoot?

Think about it: after years of failed expeditions into the woods to find the fabled creature, why do hunters and other outdoor explorers continue to carry an insatiable obsession with finding Bigfoot? Hell, what would we do with him if we did find him? Play chess and swap stories? Talk about the night he spent hanging out with Nessie, Clark Kent, and the Easter Bunny?

The truth is, most hunters don’t have answers to those questions, and that’s because, at their core, Bigfoot expeditions aren’t really about finding a mythical creature. Thousands of people have claimed that they’ve seen Bigfoot over the course of history, but no one has ever provided convincing evidence of his existence – or her existence; you never know. Hunters heading out on a quest to find Bigfoot know that they aren’t in for any paranormal activities or – most likely – any out-of-the-ordinary sightings in the woods. Instead, the appeal behind a Bigfoot quest is the way it symbolizes the ultimate unattainable hunt.

In other words, the search for Bigfoot isn’t about finding the beast, but about the naturalistic thrill of the pursuit; it’s about the visceral thrill of the process, not about the reward of the prize. Why else would so many myths, stories, and conspiracy theories touch upon the search for places, things, creatures, or people that will never be found? There is something elemental and unforgettable about seeking to discover the undiscoverable. From the Holy Grail to the Fountain of Youth, Elvis to Jimmy Hoffa, Atlantis to Area 51, humans are constantly striving for the ultimate pursuit. For hunters, Bigfoot is that pursuit.

But even if our adventures to find Bigfoot never technically succeed, it is still never hard to wring memories and glorious experiences out of such a quest. The memories come from the time you spend bonding with your fellow adventurers; they come from the oneness with nature that hunters can find in the middle of an epic day or week or month spent in the woods; and certainly, they come from the animals you track along the way and the trophies you bag, even as your ultimate “find Bigfoot” goal fails miserably.

Maybe Bigfoot doesn’t exist. Maybe he does, but just doesn’t want to be found; he certainly hasn’t put his address up for all to see on the Internet. The futility of finding Bigfoot, however, only makes the hunt sound more appealing, and you can bet that explorers will continue to trek into the woods for generations to come, looking for a big, old, hairy dude, but getting the archetypal hunting experience instead; a fair trade-off, we’d say.

[UPDATE]

According to genetic scientists from the University of Oxford, Bigfoot DNA has finally been analyzed, determining the possible source of the legend. Borrowing two hair samples from suspected yeti witnesses, Bryan Sykes conducted mitochondrial DNA tests to find out exactly what sort of species Bigfoot could be, or be related to.

“In the case of these two yeti samples that we’re talking about, they matched a sequence in the GenBank from a polar bear jaw found in Svalbard, which is at least 40,000 years old,” Sykes told The Guardian.

So, in essence, the myth could be debunked. But, without the legend to inspire stories, beliefs and even hunts, something significant to the outdoors story would be lost.

Even still, the work of Sykes is being refuted somewhat by peers, but the results have been submitted to scholarly journals, where fellow professors can vet the truth for themselves.

Until someone finds a complete specimen, or at least more than a few alleged hair samples, we’ll keep searching for Bigfoot. Will you?

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[UPDATED] Why Can’t We Leave Bigfoot Alone?