My niece Haley is 11 and in the sixth grade. She loves the Animal Planet channel and watching the “Finding Bigfoot” series. When her Grandpa Reese heard about it he just shook his head, “There’s no such thing as a Bigfoot. I don’t care how many times they go in the woods at night there still not going to find no Bigfoot.” I tried to explain to him that for shows like the “Finding Bigfoot” series you have to have what they call a “willing suspension of disbelief.”
He said he didn’t care they still were not going to find a Bigfoot. I have to admit I am a skeptic as well. It’s not that I don’t want them to find a Bigfoot. I mean, I would love for them to actually find a creature like that still existing. I want to believe, but until they have better proof I have to agree with my Dad.
That proof is headed Iredell County’s way on Saturday, January 17th at 2 p.m. at the Iredell County Public Library. Author and Bigfoot researcher Tom Burnette will be at the library to lecture on his encounters with Bigfoot right here in North Carolina. Mr. Burnette has written about his sightings in “Nature’s Secret Agents” published in 1999 and “Bigfoot: Exploring the Myth & Discovering the truth,” written with Rob Riggs in 2014. Mr. Burnette first saw a Bigfoot on his property about five miles from the Blue Ridge Parkway in the Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina in 1991. Tom remembers seeking an ape like creature in the woods after it began pelting him with pebbles to scare him off. Since that first encounter Tom has been researching the Bigfoot creature and has had other sightings.
Tom Burnette feels that the creature we refer to as Bigfoot is actually a Gigantopithecus. The Gigantopithecus is a prehistoric giant ape that supposedly is now extinct. Burnette says these are intelligent creatures that are very reclusive. To scare people away he claims they will hit sticks against trees as a warning. In reviewing Burnette and Riggs book, the San Francisco Book Review said it is “a well-written and thrilling account of their work. The stories in this book will raise the hair on the back of one’s neck and cause sleepless nights, especially if one lives near big woods.” Publishers Weekly says “The speculations will provide Bigfoot enthusiasts with plenty to contemplate, as will Burnette’s assertion that he’s captured ‘the best Bigfoot picture bar none in the world.”
Recently Les Stroud, the star of TV’s “Survivorman” series, did a couple of episodes searching for Bigfoot in Canada with researcher Todd Standing. Stroud decided to look into Standings research after seeing footage taken by Standings that can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=xHcC6WbwuUw.
The Discovery Channel recently aired a program called, “The Russian Yeti: The Killer Lives” in which researchers claimed that a Bigfoot/Yeti attack killed nine Russian college students on a camping trip in 1959. More information about the incident can be found online at www.discovery.com/tv-shows/russian-yeti/.
An online video interview of Tom Burnette can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=TZ7C-zsNmgY. Iredell County has its own mysterious creature referred to locally as a “Santer” or “Wampus.” This creature was first reported by Landmark editor J.P. Caldwell in the fall of 1890 and sightings have been reported in Iredell County since that time. Tom Burnette’s Bigfoot program Saturday is free and open to the public. For more information contact the library at 704-878-3098.
Joel Reese, Local History Librarian
Iredell County Public Library
This article was published in the Statesville Record and Landmark in January 2015