Standing in front of a crowd of about 50, Mike
McDonald explains that up until two weeks ago he didn't believe in Bigfoot. That was, he
says, before he saw one of the legendary creatures while hunting near Spuzzum. "I
don't even know where to start," McDonald, 33, nervously told the crowd gathered at
the fifth annual International Sasquatch Symposium in Vancouver on Sunday.
He was hunting brown bear, he said, and believing
he had found one, set the sights of his gun on it. The creature had its back to McDonald,
so he waited and watched through the gun sight for the bear to turn around and give him a
good shot. "Six or 10 seconds later it stood up and it was definitely not a
bear," he said. "My heart started pounding. I was so scared." He waited
until the creature left, then ran to his truck for his camera. When he returned, the
creature was nowhere to be found.
On the way home, McDonald stopped to phone his
girlfriend and tell her of the experience, but told no one else until Sunday.
"I thought, who do I contact?" he
re-called. "Do I call the police? No - they're going to call me a nut. I would have
thought that before, too."
The atmosphere of the symposium hasn't put
McDonald, an Abbotsford mill worker and former corrections officer, at ease.
"There are some strange people here."
he said after his speech.
He stands out from the crowd because unlike many
of the others, he doesn't have a name tag identifying him as a Sasquatch hunter or
investigator, or member of any particular crypto-zoological-group.
Sasquatch enthusiasts discussed everything from a
link between the giant ape like creatures and UFOs to their telepathic abilities at the
weekend convention at the H.R MacMillan Planetarium.
The walls and lectern were plastered in ads for
Kokanee beer, which sponsored the symposium. Each time a new speaker took the stage a
lucky raffle winner received a T-shirt from Kokanee, whose advertisements feature a
Over to the side, a large cartoon Bigfoot was
propped up against the wall, its face cut out to allow visitors to stick their heads
through for a photograph.
The subject of Sasquatches attracts some
"flaky" people, admits California-based comedian Scott Herriott, who attended
He likes to poke fun at the subject himself.
"I thought I saw one once crossing the road,
but on reflection I realized it was just two hairy leprechauns on stilts," he joked.
He also showed a 30-minute video he made, a
satire about how to sight a Sasquatch.
But Herriott is a true believer. He, too, shared
a story of his own encounter with a Sasquatch.
First-hand accounts like those are what
convention-goers pay to hear. They also dish out up to $40 for books describing encounters
that were offered for sale outside the convention-room doors.
Around the corner, dedicated Bigfoot fans could
buy a grainy poster reproduction of artistically enhanced scenes from Sasquatch video
footage for $20 each, or even plaster castings of Bigfoot's big feet for just $88.
And interest is growing. Organizer Stephen Harvey
said the convention enjoyed its busiest year yet, in part because it moved to Vancouver
from Harrison Hot Springs this year, and in part due to a resurgence of interest in the
"Certainly the 15 [-year-olds] to the 20s
seem to be more open because of the television programs that are on these days that are
giving coverage the unknown," said Harvey.
More than 300 people attended symposium sessions.