Maine Bigfoot observers tell their hairy stories for an Animal Planet TV episode.

Editor’s note: “Finding Bigfoot”‘s Maine episode aired on Animal Planet last Sunday, Jan. 10. For episode clips, including howling sounds caught near Bradbury Mountain, check out AnimalPlanet.com/tv-shows/finding-bigfoot.

BUXTON — It was a BIG event. Fittingly.

Loren Coleman’s car sat in the parking lot, CRYPTO 1, covered in all the stickers you’d think a cryptozoologist’s car would be covered in.

Bill Brock, the Durham star of Destination America’s reality show “Monsters Underground,” talked nearby with his posse.

The Maine duo from Spike TVs’ “10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty” posed for photos with Animal Planet star James “Bobo” Fay, his trademark Bigfoot necklace slung around his neck.

People toted pictures, drawings, evidence-laden flash drives and plaster cast footprints. Happy anticipation filled the air.

It was, without a doubt, the Bigfoot event of the year.

I checked in — everyone had to sign a nondisclosure form not to share for the next few months what they were about to see and hear — and then slipped into a rustic post-and-beam barn as the April night cooled and the sun set.

We were all about to take part in taping an episode of Animal Planet’s hit series “Finding Bigfoot.” Over eight seasons, the show has filmed around the country. Out of the country. Seemingly everywhere but Maine. Until right here. Until right now.

But first, I had to use the loo.

While my husband saved us seats, I was two steps behind Coleman on the way to the facilities at the back of the picturesque Flanagan Farm. Behind me in line: a woman who’d driven up from Massachusetts, one of the few non-eyewitness fans let in for the taping. Behind her, a minute later: Cliff Barackman, one of “Finding Bigfoot”‘s four stars. (Fay, Ranae Holland and Matt Moneymaker round out the reality show cast.)

Barackman didn’t pull rank to use the bathroom first; I didn’t ask for an interview. Basically, we both played it cool. 

Over the next two-and-a-half hours, I’d learn that there had been a recent broad daylight sighting three miles from my house in Litchfield, that the four stars were genuine and funny (very as-seen-on-TV), and that there might be a glaring gap in our state’s educational system around orangutans. But more on that.

Barackman opened the taping by telling the crowd of 50 or so assembled in folding chairs that he’d heard all about Mainers. 

“I think you are some of the most insular people in the country — you don’t talk to outsiders much,” he said.

Not entirely untrue, and not meant as a diss.

Maine, though, was still worth the show’s time. Based on the number of eyewitness Bigfoot reports spanning the last three decades, “there’s enough here, it’s clear there’s some in this state,” Moneymaker said. 

In the Northwest, the team’s home turf, people talk about sightings all the time, no reservations, no stigma.

“In a situation like this, we’re hoping you’ll tell us everything,” he said.

So it was time to get over ourselves, slightly.

Let’s talk Bigfoot.

*     *     *

The TV show’s typical format is to open with a town hall meeting like this one to drum up as many local eyewitness stories as possible, winnow them down to a handful of the best, then spend nights out in the woods for the next week in those same spots, tree knocking, whooping and trying to definitively prove Bigfoot’s existence.

The latter hasn’t happened. Yet.

“This is the state I’ve been wanting to come to, Maine!” said Holland, cameras on, warming up the room. 

Between 20 and 30 hands shot in the air when Moneymaker asked who in the barn had seen a Bigfoot (considered a Class A sighting). More hands went up for having heard one or seen tracks.

“Everyone who’s lying put your hands down,” he said.

No takers.

So, an excellent start.

After a few production tips — look in this direction, don’t chew gum, talk loudly, say where and when you had the sighting — an audience member who identified himself as Michael stepped up with three consecutive days of Class A sightings in Gardiner in 2010.

And we were off.

Michael had been bow hunting from a portable tree stand when he spotted what appeared to be another person sitting in the crotch of a tree 15 to 20 feet off the ground. He initially mistook the figure for another bow hunter. Then it jumped down — 7 feet tall, covered in hair — and walked away.

The next day, next to the same field, he had another sighting. Day three, he was back out hunting, same field, and heard tree knocks followed by a deep growl.

Michael’s truck was a half-mile away. He collapsed his tree stand and chair, strapped both to his back, grabbed his bow and bolted.

“I could hear this creature walking in the woods, following me,” he said.

At his truck, as Michael wrestled everything off his back and quickly fished keys from his fanny pack, something started chucking rocks.

He’d been genuinely rattled. The room was impressed.

Just maybe the rocks were directed at the fanny pack, deadpanned Fay, a gentle poke at that extra detail.

“You’ve got to carry stuff in something,” Michael said.

And it’s true, you do.

Michael also produced a pair of plaster tracks cast by his uncle after a separate 2013 sighting 20 miles from Michael’s hot spot.

At the front of the barn, the reality stars seemed to exchange a knowing look: 20 miles was child’s play for Bigfoot.

*     *     *

John had been walking his 100 acres in Wiscasset in April or May 2013 when his teenage son Alex began texting that he’d just seen something alarming in the woods.

Moments later, John had his own sighting: A hairy creature, 8 feet tall, beady red eyes. John had the gun on him that he’d carried since finding a mountain lion track on the property the year before.

“I drew,” he said. “My first thought was I didn’t have enough bullets to drop this thing. It scared me.”

John holstered his gun, backed away and found Alex, who told his father something 7 to 8 feet tall with a light orange coat had walked less than 20 feet away.

Moneymaker asked if the fur was the same color as an orangutan’s. Alex, standing with his dad, didn’t answer. Pressed, it turned out he didn’t know what an orangutan looked like.

“They don’t teach that?” Moneymaker asked, dismayed.

“Did you see ears?” Barackman tried.

Alex, in a classic eye-rolling teen voice: “Of course.”

(Not everyone sees ears, according to Barackman. Something to tuck away for future sighting reference.)

Alex described them as bigger and fatter than human ears, the nose as flat and the skin possibly light gray. It was a side profile and a quick sighting.

“I think you probably saw one, but we’ll find out,” said Moneymaker.

*     *     *

Lawrence’s sighting dated back to 1978 in Livermore Falls.  He was 8, in his living room watching TV, when something caught the corner of his eye outside. For 10 to 15 seconds, he and his mom watched a hairy, 10-foot-tall something by a tree.

When he saw the Patterson-Gimlin footage years later (video said to be shot in Bluff Creek, Calif., in 1967; available on YouTube), he thought, bingo.

That was probably it.

*     *     *

Deep in the western Maine woods, not far from Rangeley, Kevin was out snowshoeing in 2013 when he heard a whooop! from one mountain ridge and a whooop! response back from another.

“I found some scat, I know my scat” — at which Moneymaker snorted — “it didn’t look right,” Kevin said.

He scooped up a sample in a cigarette carton and sent it off for testing. It came back too compromised to be definitive.

That next summer, he decided to camp out and investigate.

“I was feeling kind of gutsy at first; I’m not that gutsy,” Kevin said. “I was so nervous I decided to sleep in my Jimmy.”

He’d settled in when, “all of a sudden, it was the highest pitch screech I ever heard in my life,” he said.

As Kevin scrambled into the front seat to start the SUV, the cab suddenly flooded with bugs in a weird, more-bugs-than-you’d-expect-in-a-Maine-summer kind of way.

Like maybe they were bugs that travel with Bigfoot? It was his working theory.

Hmm. Heads nodded. Interesting.

“Up in that area, a lot of people don’t talk — they see what they see and that’s it,” said Kevin.

*     *     *

In 2008, Rolanda joined a friend for lunch near Jefferson. (Full disclosure: The audience member was an older woman, a soft-talker, back-to, and her name sounded like Rolanda, so, Rolanda it is.)

While the friend, a volunteer firefighter, stopped at a fire scene to chat, Rolanda watched out the car window as something tall, dark and hairy also appeared to watch the fire from the edge of the woods. 

The sighting lasted several minutes. Her friend never looked over to check it out. She doesn’t believe in such things, Rolanda said.

“She wouldn’t do this?” Moneymaker asked, turning his head. “You (Mainers) are stubborn.”

Rolanda handed the reality stars a sketch she’d done after the sighting. Tall. Hairy. Broad shoulders.

Yup. Looked like Bigfoot.

*     *     *

At 11 a.m. on a Sunday in August 2013, Kathleen was a passenger in a car driving through Wales, along School Street, when she looked out over Route 126 and the large sloping field near Mountain Road RV, just over the town line in Sabattus.

The field was dotted with round hay bales and, that morning, something else.

“There was a figure that popped up suddenly” near a hay bale, she said. It looked around like something had startled it (but not the car) and took off for the treeline in two to three giant, loping steps.

“It didn’t move right,” Kathleen said.

Her first thought: “What’s running in a ghillie suit?” And then, “What’s it running from?”

The sighting lasted 20 seconds.

That field is just a few miles from my house.

Total chills.

*     *     *

John saw “light bulb-bright eyes” outside his cabin in Portland in the 1980s.

“Oh my god, I thought it was a supernatural creature,” he said.

Moneymaker nodded. Heard that one before.

“They can definitely make their eyes glow,” he said. “I think that’s one way they signal each other in the dark — but if you’re a human in the woods, you think you’re in front of the devil.”

*     *     *

Doug, like “Finding Bigfoot”‘s Holland, was a skeptic.

Right up until something bolted through his backyard in Brownfield in the summer of 2014.

It was around 6 p.m. and he and his wife, Renee, had been collecting eggs. Their yard is edged by a steep, wooded ridge.

“Sound carries, and you could hear breathing,” Renee said. “Something is running and I mean running fast. It’s got to be clearing boulders and running through trees.”

Doug got a split-second glimpse from 75 feet away.

“It did have reddish long brown fur similar to an orangutan, which I have seen,” Doug said.

Ooh, Alex, that was meant for you.

“It was very, very quick,” Doug said. “Our chickens went completely statuesque” for 15 minutes before and after the runner in the woods, which was also weird. “They’re not still creatures; they’re chickens.”

*     *     *

Out walking her dog on family property in Windsor in the mid-1990s, Cheryl decided to have a seat by a small pond.

Approaching the pond from the opposite bank, down what they called Harry Mountain, was a figure walking on two legs with a thick face and neck, broad shoulders, long arms and strange gate. Cheryl grabbed the dog’s leash; it had once faced down a bear and she didn’t want the dog getting ideas.

“She was ready to leave, she wanted to get out of there,” Cheryl said. “I was just terrified.”

Back at home, she told her husband’s family what she’d just seen. His grandfather, a man in his 80s, said, “Oh, you saw the Indian devil.”

Her mother-in-law chimed in: “I saw it outside the house one day, a man in a monkey suit.”

It had run in front of her and cleared a fence.

“And you saw it on Harry Mountain? Hairy?” Barackman said.

*     *     *

The night brought out 14 Maine sighting stories in all, half as many as they had heard in New Hampshire the week before, according to Holland. A surprising number occurred during the day, most from people just minding their business, not one from someone who reeked of a teller of tall, hairy tales.

They’d seen what they’d seen. Believe them or not.

More people stood to talk about noises or tracks, like the fellow who was cleaning his chimney in January and noticed over-large footprints in his dooryard.

“Dooryard?” Fay asked.

“Sorry, my lawn,” he said.

It’s a Maine thing.

By 10:25 p.m., it was time to clear the barn, get out the map to plot all the night’s sightings and decide where to get this show on the road.

Epilogue: The team would do in-person visits to the Brownfield and Wiscasset sightings. We wouldn’t find out until the episode aired that the two-plus hours of filming that night in the Buxton barn was edited into less than five minutes of screen time. Or that the best evidence in the episode — tree knocks and wild howls — would be caught around Bradbury Mountain, an area Coleman had pointed them toward when the crew visited his International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland. Could Bigfoot be mere minutes from L-A? Here’s to hoping. Let us know if you hear anything!

Weird, Wicked Weird is a monthly feature on the strange, intriguing and unexplained in Maine. Send stories, ideas and stylin’ Bigfoot tube socks to [email protected]


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