Columbia Police Department is investigating a slew of Bigfoot sightings near the Pearl River, according to The Columbian-Progress. The police chief indicated he believes it's a hoax, but it makes you wonder, "What if it's not?"The next time I'm sitting in the deer stand and it's dark and murky, I will probably spot one. And then like the hundreds of other witnesses to the cultural phenomenon will have no tangible proof, and then everyone will think I'm crazy.I first learned of Bigfoot while watching TV in my camp amid the swamps. It's way out there - 30 minutes from the nearest Piggly Wiggly and just one bar with Verizon Wireless. And what pops on the TV, a Bigfoot special. Scared me to death. I almost forgot about sasquatch (well, minus those beef jerky commercials) until some friends from Columbia were talking about it last week. And as God as my witness, one of friends went out searching for it last week.Let me tell you about Laura. I just met her two weeks ago, a friend of a friend. She lives in the outskirts of Columbia, and every evening, she sits on her porch with a cigarette, listening to the cackle of her police scanner.I knew instantly she was my kind of person.She didn't find Bigfoot, but she did discover a track. No lies.I wanted to make Mississippi famous, something other than Frank Melton stories.I called CNN; no bites. I called Fox News; they said they couldn't cover it because it could mock their viewers. So, I decided I would write about it. You may think I am kidding about the whole thing. No, it's on the Progress' Web site now. And even better, the police chief said "an out-of-state organization had visited the area with specialized equipment for primate study and had found no evidence of anything unusual." I know what you're thinking; I looked into the matter.
All Fritscher family members are accounted for, and none have passed through the Columbia area. I have some beastly aunts and uncles - quite possibly science's link between us humans and the homanids.During my research of Bigfoot, I stumbled upon some nifty facts (all from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization):
· Mississippi has had 18 sightings confirmed by the BFRO. The BFRO's Web site said it investigates sightings and only posts information of likely ones.
· No sightings in Rankin County, unfortunately. Maybe the county's icy law enforcement officials act as a deterrent. Or maybe Bigfoot just plain prefers cocktails over beer.
· Clark and Lauderdale counties lead the state in sightings with three each.
· Bigfoots are not dangerous, says the BFRO's Web site. But sometimes they can get territorial and stalk people, which - allegedly - spooks off humans. They do eat aggressive pets though.
It does make me wonder why, despite hundreds of sightings, that tangible evidence has never been left behind. Although most sightings are reported along the Pacific Coast (469 in Washington and 411 in California), you think someone in the South would've trapped one.
Why hasn't anyone in Columbia trapped it or at least got close enough to snap a photo? Whether it's a hoax, folklore or the imagination of some crafty individuals - sightings, real or not, make the legend live on. Maybe the Columbia Bigfoot will wander up the Pearl and pay Rankin a visit. Perhaps a stop in Flowood for some newly legalized fire water on the rocks. Maybe they are out there; they may just be that good.
Justin Fritscher • Reporter • June 9, 2009