On Saturday March 2nd, the SquatchHERS held our signature “Squatch Chat” at the Neighborhood Tavern in Effie, Minnesota. The event was to be for the duration of two hours between 5pm and 7pm. By the time I arrived at the bar my cohorts were already setting up the table with photos and tee-shirts. There was already one man eagerly sharing his own experiences with what is popularly called Bigfoot or Sasquatch.
The SquatchHers are a women-led cryptid research team. We explore wherever leads take us, but mostly stick to Minnesota. There have been detours in different states en route to various “Cons” which feature Bigfoot or other cryptids. But Bigfoot is our focus. I initially learned of the group because Heidi Stephens, from My Spirit Experience was a member. I have known Heidi for a few years now. She is also the leader of MPRS(Minnesota Paranormal Research Society) a coalition of individuals and paranormal research groups who meet monthly to share information and experiences.
I had been talking about getting Up North for quite a long time and this promised me the opportunity to do so in the companionship of other women. Less than 6 months after camping at Scenic State Park near Bigfork in May of 2018, I found myself living right in the middle of Bigfoot Country.
The evening was by any standards a huge success. The bar was packed soon after 5pm and stayed packed until after 7pm. Heidi Gustafson, the owner of the Tavern is also a Bigfoot enthusiast and was happy to host the event. We were thrilled to hear so many locals’ stories of first-hand experiences ranging from sightings to unexplained sounds. Since many of our group are also paranormal investigators and/or sensitives, we were also interested in the cross-over aspects of people’s experiences. We had a few experienced researchers from farther-flung locales also join us and share.
The thing about Bigfoot is that it’s a male-dominated field. It’s mostly men who are exploring remote areas and determined to be the first to bring in the “proof” of Bigfoot’s existence. While not all are Hell-bent on bringing in a body, most are not opposed to the idea. There are a couple problems with this. If it turns out that Bigfoot is more or less human, then killing one is morally anathema (for some anyway). If Bigfoot is determined to be an animal (and nothing more) then the rationale is that we can now designate it as an endangered species and legally protect it. I’m not sure I’m confident in that one. Endangered species are being removed from the list and are routinely dispatched based on the political/profit climate at any given time. Being endangered is no guaranty of protection.
I think it’s the challenge of the hunt that motivates the men. And, the possibility of fame and fortune. For some, it may personal and spiritual. But that is not the overwhelming sense I get. Just look at how many TV shows have popped up in the past few years.
What motivates the women of the SquatchHERS? First of all, the love of the woods. Curiosity. Respect. Wonder. The desire to connect with Mystery. The quest for the unknown is insatiable. Once you have had some kind of experience with it, be it paranormal, or simply a mystery, it’s easy to become hooked. We, as SquatchHERS are not interested in bringing in a body. We are not interested in disclosing locations so that others can go in with guns and kill them. We are simply interested in knowing for ourselves. We want others to know that we believe them. We are part of a loose network that extends all over the world. We wonder what we might learn from Sasquatch. As paranormal researchers and enthusiasts, we contemplate the possibility that Bigfoot may be interdimensional, or alien, or something else. Inquiring minds want to know!
Yes, there is competition and drama among groups for fame and fortune. There is conflict over strategies for finding proof. The fundamental dispute is whether Bigfoot is mere fantasy, hoax, or a real animal. It's especially pertinent when you live right in the middle of territory reputed to be home to the creature. Do I really want to know if Sasquatch lives in my own back yard? Knowing for sure will only happen if I have a first-hand experience. If I never do have one, I will always wonder. And sometimes wondering is more appealing than knowing. It’s the Journey that counts, not necessarily the Destination.