Survivorman Bigfoot was an enormous breath of fresh air.
In this sixth season of Survivorman, survival expert and filmmaker Les Stroud jumps headfirst into the strange world of Sasquatching. As most by now realize, there are only a handful of individuals actively involved in Bigfootery who command unbiased respect. In fact, the majority are viewed so negatively that, despite incredible growing interest, the field is still firmly ridiculed. Enter Les Stroud’s Survivorman Bigfoot.
The Finding Bigfoots and Mountain Monsters no doubt grab ratings, but Survivorman Bigfoot is the most comprehensive, practical analysis of the cryptid on-location that I have seen. Les Stroud’s firm step into the field is incredibly refreshing. While well-produced shows like X-creatures, the Bigfoot Files, and Fact or Faked do a well, non-partisan job of evaluating Sasquatch, none of those programs feature the respected magnitude of the well-loved Stroud. For many, including me, this was a cryptoid godsend. Kind of like when your favorite team gets the best player in the league.
There was a lot to digest from this important two-specials and seven-episode stretch. Here are my highlights.
Obligatory Todd Standing ‘Blinky’ and ‘Ewok’ Mention
First, I have to briefly mention Todd Standing’s incredible encounter video clips of two stationary Sasquatch: the blinking Mexican wolf-man and the doll-eyed Ewok.
Since these clips have already been flung across internet, torn to shreds, revered, examined, celebrated, loved, and hated I would instead like to focus on some of the more subtle takeaways from Survivorman Bigfoot. These are fantastic encounters chew on, but they clearly deserve their own analysis and background investigation.
Survivorman Bigfoot Takeaway #20 – Even Les Stroud Gets Scared
Les Stroud is an absolute badass. He can survive anywhere.
But some of the most interesting moments in Survivorman Bigfoot occur when his fearless mental fortitude rolls back a bit. Even Les Stroud, god of survival, freaks out. There are few times throughout the season where he looks genuinely concerned with his safety. In those moments, it is fascinating to observe the mental transition into “oh shit this might be real.”
After two days of beach-camping at the ominous, north-end of Klemtu Lake in ‘Episode 1: Legend of Klemtu Hill’; Stroud was met with an aggressive display from something presumably very strong. Was this an actual Bigfoot encounter? In the 48 hours leading up to the event, Les intermittently performed inviting behavior, like wood knocking and food-gifting. Whenever he returned to the beach campsite he would discover unusual prints and missing food.
On his final day, Les was startled by the sound of a large tree or rock hurled down the beach in his general direction. On this windless evening, he appeared visibly frightened and shocked. He cycled through potential causes of this aggressive crash, but struggled for an explanation. This was one of the intense times when only two culprits surfaced: man and Sasquatch.
#19 Bigfoot Might Spend Time in Hollow Trees
Was a Sasquatch, spiritually or physically, communicating with Les Stroud from within a hollow tree?
In one of the more spiritual segments of Survivorman Bigfoot, Les and his Hupa Guide Inker attempt to make camp in a relentless rainstorm in the wet Hupa Valley. Inker believes that the mystical presence of Sasquatch drained their electronics and cast bad luck upon the men. As experienced woodsman, the pair oddly struggle for hours to start a simple fire. Among the rain pattering, Les describes a persistent and deliberate knocking noise coming from a large, hollow tree.
The strange knocks escalate as the pair’s frustration grows. Their determination holds strong, and in divine-fashion, a different nearby tree falls in the windy storm. The fallen timber provides Les and Inker perfect dry, pulp to light their fire.
With this ordeal, Inker felt they were spiritually tested by the Sasquatch. Their persistent strength was rewarded with fire. And the odd knocking pushed them further and further.
#18 Todd Standing Was Almost Ripped Apart by Sasquatch
No stranger to controversy, Todd Standing provided a swell of compelling material for Survivorman Bigfoot, especially ‘Special 1: Nordegg’. Despite his enthusiasm for evidence, Todd was a nice part of the show.
I have always thought that other than embellishing a few times to maintain funding and/or interest, Todd really had serious encounters with Sasquatch. And real or fake, he seems to have a growing collection of Bigfoot videos.
Todd provides a pretty intense piece of video evidence to the show. In the dark clip, Todd can be heard screaming like a drunk homeless guy “Gettouttahere!!! Gitouttaheeeeya!!!” into the blackness. The only light comes from a bright red flare… his anti-Bigfoot insurance policy. The dude sounds incredibly freaked out, and we can even here a deep, deep growling that more-or-less caused him to dip into shock. Todd says that over four Bigfoot surrounded him that night in remote Alberta and were supremely pissed off. If valid, truly an incredible encounter.
#17 Wood Knocks and Whoops Might be Legitimate…..
Throughout the two specials and the first season of Survivorman Bigfoot, both Todd Standing and Les Stroud invite audible contact with potential Sasquatch in the area. Hiking through the remote hotspots, they attempt to communicate via short whooping noises, rock knocks, and wood knocks.
A lot of critics in the Bigfoot community dismiss these inviting tactics, but the men were relatively successful. In the first special, for example, a distant ‘whoop’ was picked up by the camera and stopped Les in his tracks. Todd confidently proclaimed: “THAT was a Bigfoot.” Les took the critical-thinking road and deliberately cross-referenced his internal survivor database. Crossing out bear, cougar, crow, quail, and other local fauna; he arrived at two possible culprits: man and something else that we don’t know of: perhaps a large ape.
Wood knocks returned a notable result as well. In ‘Episode 1: Legend of Klemtu Hill’ Les performed daily wood knocks at his beach camp. On his final early-evening on the eerie Klemtu Lake beach, something a few hundred yards away catapulted a huge object in his direction. The air was completely still and Les immediately sensed aggression in the act. Did the wood knocks invite a large predator to his camp? We will never know.
As Les regularly reminded us, though, mountainside crashes and whoops in the forest aren’t going to prove the existence of anything.
#16 ….. Not to Mention Upside Down Trees
Les and Todd found an upside down tree near a logging road in remote Alberta. Perhaps more perplexing than tree-branch structures, these trees are basically ripped out of the ground and shoved back in upside-down with the roots in the air. How odd…
On this find, Les ruled out human hoaxing, due to the apparent age of the hole that likely predated the logging road. He believes the time, resources, and strength needed to flip the tree further ruled out human involvement. To accomplish this strange task, he determined one would need a gas-powered auger to dig the hole and sledgehammers to drive it in position that firmly. No hammer marks were found on the tree.
#15 Tree Structures Might Be the Real Deal Too
Les and Todd regularly investigated long tree branches in the remote woods that were cross-stacked and layered like some sort of half-ass, broad teepee. Were these tree structures really built by Sasquatch?
A big portion of ‘Special 2: Radium Springs’ is basically Survivorman Bigfoot CSI. Les tirelessly tried to understand how the tree branches ended up in their positions. Did they fall naturally? Was it snowfall? Windstorm? He questions everything, arriving at the conclusion time-after-time that these structures were deliberately built.
This is another instance of ‘why would anyone do this?’ when it comes to hoaxed Bigfoot evidence.
Of course, humans can accomplish just about anything, so we must assume that they are responsible for every piece of Sasquatch evidence discussed on this show. But why on earth would hoaxers arrange these heavy branches in these twisting and strange positions.
Maybe they’re not hoaxing at all. Maybe we’re just misunderstanding the motivation.
Perhaps they are practicing their tree communication?
Les references tree symbolism as practiced by the Cree Indians. Each notch and specific overlay position branch to branch meant something different. Modern day scouts and experienced woodsmen also implement similar trail signs/markers. These include tying long grass with cordage, arranging and stacking rocks, and stick/branch positioning.
Unfortunately, we must assume that these structures are human-built information markers. What do they inform? We have no idea, but…
#14 Trees Structures Are Probably Going to be Hoaxed Regularly Now
Just like wood knocking and monkey whooping before it, the concept of Sasquatch tree structures has already seeped into the hoaxing bloodstream. With enough determination, you and your evil buddies can accomplish a halfway believable tree structure in one fun-filled afternoon.
I really don’t doubt at all that about 95% of received whoops and knocks in the wilderness are just other people. It’s so effortless. If you are even a little aware of these sounds as they relate to Bigfoot, you would probably get a kick out of returning the call. It takes two seconds to whoop-out or knock on a tree… and you might just be making your distant pal’s day with an emphatic response!
#13 For a Bigfoot Encounter, Your Best Bet is to Get Them to Come to You
The notion of ‘finding a needle in a haystack’ is repeated several times in Survivorman Bigfoot.
This is one of my favorite Sasquatch-could-be-real arguments. Obviously, I completely agree with Les Stroud’s strategy. There is so much uninhabited wilderness. A 2014 article from the DailyMail cites 47% of land in the United States is uninhabited, based on ‘census blocks’. This also includes developed, but abandoned land so the numbers are skewed a bit high when we’re considering actual wilderness.
But Canada…. oh boy.
Canada is the second largest country in the world. And so completely empty.
The vast majority of the country is ‘sparsely populated’, which, according to population density reports, means that there is less than 0.4 persons per square kilometer. Most Canadians live close to the U.S. border. The sheer absence of humans in this huge section of North America is breathtaking.
So let’s take it up one more notch.
In my write-up about where specifically Sasquatch live, I proposed a range of the minimum viable species amount, mirroring that of the Gorilla (842 to 11,919 total gorillas). It’s impossible to tell of course, but if this species is “thriving”, there would have to be no less than 800 of them. They could very well be endangered though, in which case there would be less than 800. So that’s around 800 individual Bigfoot spread out across at least 1/3 of the United States, and the majority of Canada.
Les’s approach is to enter reported Bigfoot hotspots, take up residence for a few days, and employ behavior that would invite these cryptids to him. Needless to say, becoming a needle-magnet, so-to-speak, is the absolute best approach.
#12 Native American Cultures View Sasquatch No Different than other Animals
In my opinion, one of the best supporting idea behind Bigfoot’s existence and not something like the Jersey Devil or the Loch Ness Monster, is the impressive amount of Native American reference. Most Native cultures tell stories about tall, hairy men in the woods and mountains. There’s also a huge amount of native art that clearly depicts these imposing, ape-like beings.
Les is very aware of this and dedicated an entire episode to Bigfoot hunting on the Hupa Indian Reservation in Northern California, a culture strongly intertwined with the presence of Sasquatch, or Ohma– as they call it. As Les says, “Most native cultures don’t fear Sasquatch. They respect them.”
One of the more intriguing ideas supporting the Native American & Bigfoot connection is the cultural context. The art depicts Ohma, Bigfoot, or Sasquatch right alongside other real-life, documented animals. They are presented along coyote, bear, squirrel, owl, or any other creature you could throw a stick at in the woods.
The Native Americans understand them as real beings. Maybe the rest of us just need a little more time living with them to gain that understanding. But as we build and build and build urban areas, I highly doubt we will make that connection anytime soon.
#11 The Government Might Kill Bigfoot
Todd Standing provided plenty of food-for-thought in Survivorman Bigfoot. In ‘Episode 4: Giants of the Forest’ he brought Les back to their original Alberta location for another expedition. This was one of Todd’s hotspots, where he experienced a lot of activity over the years. Even Les noted the amount of strange evidence.
Their return voyage was uneventful. There was almost no activity. Todd ultimately explained to Les a “sinister” theory why the Sasquatch are all gone.
On a solo expedition in the “hardcore backcountry”, Todd found five sets of boot marks spaced 20 yards apart from each other walking through the bush. He made camp near where he found the tracks and was violently awoken by loud, rapid gunfire. He heard “multiple weapons discharging hardcore” followed by immediate silence. An hour later a helicopter landed in approximately the same area. Todd watched the descent, notching no lights and fast, deliberate, militaristic behavior. It darted in with no illumination, landed, and then went back up into the black sky.
Are Bigfoot hunted by mercenaries? If so, there’s definite financial motivation. What could it be?
Survivorman Bigfoot Takeaway #10 – There’s No Shortage of Unique Bigfoot Bait
Les’s strategy to lure Sasquatch comes with no shortage of unique baits. In ‘Episode 6: Searching the Southwest’ he even uses his own son!!
Here’s a few more:
Todd Standing and Les ‘gifted’ shiny red apples to the lurking phantoms. They climbed high into trees and supposed Bigfoot structures and fastened the fruit onto protruding tree branches. The men wanted to make sure that no bear could retrieve the apples. Of course, when the duo returned a short time later the apples were gone, but does that really mean Bigfoot took them? Not at all. Todd has been ‘gifting’ apples for years. In my opinion, I think he’s just been keeping the local racoon population fat and happy.
Marbles, Crosses, and Wind Chimes:
You have to admire Les’s dedication to Sasquatch fishing. He’s a man who is not afraid to cast unusual lures.In the Great Smoky Mountains Les and Bigfoot enthusiast Scott Carpenter used shiny marbles, specifically organized stone arrangements, and even displayed a cross made of sticks: a test to answer the question, are Bigfoot actually biblical Nephilim? The final episode of season 1 focused on the extra-dimensional, ‘hippy’ lens of Bigfoot. Thus, wind chimes were used for luring the creature.
#9 Scott Carpenter Recorded Some Eerie Vocalizations
Bigfoot screams and chatter are freaky. I thought I had heard most of them; at least those posted throughout the internet, but Survivorman Bigfoot provided us a brief listen to a new recording. They all possess creepy tones and a disorienting malevolence, but Scott Carpenter’s recording from the Smoky Mountains in Episode 4 might be the strangest and eeriest evidence of Bigfoot chatter we have ever heard.
Have a listen:
#8 Bigfoot Hunting Gets People Outside
Who ever said hunting Bigfoot is bad? It’s great!!
Any excuse to get people outside, hiking, camping, and appreciating nature is fantastic.
I never thought about it much, but Les has a great point. As this subculture grows year after year, it’s bringing like-minded people together and out into the vast expanses. And I think these expeditions into the unknown will ultimately help all of us understand that these areas need to be protected, Bigfoot or not.
Conviction in the existence of Bigfoot provides most of these folks an appreciation for the vast wilderness. Most of us reside in meticulously mapped-out regions with clear borders. This naturally feeds the idea that terrestrial Earth is, for the most part, fully discovered. More and more I read about the sheer expanses in Canada and throughout the Western United States (see Takeaway #15). Les makes consistent reference to this, as well. If anything, I believe that these Bigfooters cherish the idea that our planet is still very mysterious. Outside of our charted lines, a massive, intelligent, athletic species can eat, drink, sleep and reproduce. The more people venture to the lands beyond, I believe the more people feel the need to protect these beautiful, untouched areas from human destruction.
#7 Bigfoot Might Dig Clams
In ‘Episode 1: Legend of Klemtu Hill’, Les talks about native legends describing Sasquatch as “diggers of the sand” and “clam diggers”.
Trying to attract attention on a dark night, Les dug up clams on the beach of a Klemtu Sasquatch hotspot. Though uneventful, it was very interesting to hear about Sasquatch clam digging in Survivorman Bigfoot. It’s something I’ve never really thought of. He also provided an eerie story about local clam harvesters.
In a voiceover, a Klemtu native describes a story about clammers harassed by creatures in the night. They screamed horrifically at him and his small group. He compared it to the shrieks of a violently tortured man. After a few tense minutes, they hurriedly collected their clams and started to leave. Before they could move two steps across the wet sand, a large rock landed next to the pale.
Here’s another account of these expert clammers:
In 1907 a “monkey-like wild man” appeared on the moonlit Vancouver Island beaches. The local indigenous population vacated the area out of fear as the creature dug up clams and howled “in an unearthly fashion.” They tried to shoot the five-foot high, hairy “monkey”, but couldn’t land a blow.
#6 Utah “Sasquatch” Paintings Feature Horns
In ‘Episode 6: Searching the Southwest’, Les seeks rock paintings in a “haunted” Utah canyon. The old, red markings depict elk, deer, birds, and other everyday animals found in the region. Among the smeared art, are also depictions of bipedal beings. The human-like figure stands straight up with long legs, large feet and… horns.
Many native cultures describe Sasquatch/Bigfoot as “devils”, or “mountain devils.” To many, they represent malice and fear. This must be a fairly recent portrayal, though. If I’m not mistaken, the concept of the devil is wholly European and mostly rooted in Christianity.
I’m not sure exactly when the European concept of the devil overlapped with the regional Ute or Pauite tribes, but I will say that the presence of horns does objectively convey aggression and power.
#5 Believable Hoaxing is a Serious Endeavor
Every Bigfoot sighting is either a bear or a hoax right? Les takes a serious stab at recreating a convincing fabrication in ‘Episode 7: Hidden World of Bigfoot’. His aim was to pull-off a set of tracks to trick the experts, trying to answer the question:
“How easy is it, or isn’t it to fake?”
It’s a little harder than everyone thinks. Let’s take a look at the elbow-grease put in to this endeavor.
Les heads to S.O.T.A. FX in Los Angeles to gather the materials needed for his hoax. The team explains that most every FX Warehouse in Hollywood has done a Bigfoot costume… but getting a stunt guy out on-location in the suit is “horrible.” Essentially, you’re sitting in a steaming cocoon of foam, two inches thick.
Rather than throw on a suit, Les decides to make some tracks. Easy, right?
The S.O.T.A. FX team outfits him with some premier Bigfoot stomping boots. At this point he has spent over $1000 and four full days of his time. He can’t achieve the proper stride length. He can barely get the impression depth more than an inch into the ground.
He returns to the shop. Roy and Matt, the FX masters sculpt a new set of stompers made from polyurethane and attached to some stilts. Les heads out to a local creekbed and, after many trial runs, finally gets ONE track that looks good enough.
After all of this- time, airfare, custom feet, stilts, etc.- Les’s bill rings up to about $10,000…. And that’s even after the FX shop gave him a deal.
#4 You can Rent a Bigfoot Costume for $50
So cheap! Les says that S.O.T.A, specifically, houses dozens of costumes from Bigfoot B-movies. And if you want to rent them, it’s a pretty damn modest pricetag.
There are a lot of production stills from movies like Exists or The Untold that show the costume in a shot not included in the final film version. These stir the Bigfoot community a bit at first until someone explains the origin. But what if you rented the suit for a week and hit the local trails?
Could renting costumes from Sasquatch B-movies like Stomping Ground, Boggy Creek, or Night of the Demon be the next evolution of hoaxing? You wouldn’t even have to film me walking around. If you want to make a convincing video it’s all about the suit right? That’s kinda all you need. You can just film me sitting in the bushes in full fuckin’ Snowbeast garb, drooling at the camera like a maniac.
Anything is better than the Matilda Chewbacca mask.
Les’s point is proved in all of this though. If you want to hoax well, it’s going to cost you.
#3 Les Stroud Might Have Been Sat on by a Bigfoot
In episode 3 of Survivorman Bigfoot Les returns to the Canadian Rockies. Todd Standing retires to base-camp, while the Survivorman climbs the craggy overlook. He ascends to the top of ‘Bigfoot Mountain’ and makes camp for a couple nights.
On his second night alone on the peak Les is transported into the Twilight Zone.
That evening, Les starts a fire to, theoretically, attract and calm the Sasquatch (they presumably feel more comfortable seeing you while not visible themselves). As he drifts off into sleep near the blaze he witnesses four strange lights floating completely still in the distant sky, estimating them as roughly 5x the size of the Concord. By the time he set up his camera, they vanished.
He finally falls asleep, but rises hours later in confusion. Les gives a midnight confessional to his camera explaining a surreal dream he had about being sat on a by a Sasquatch.
Was his mind simply swimming in the topic of Bigfoot and just dreamt the encounter? Or did a large being actually walk by and sit on him?
No one knows, but the next day he retrieves a bizarre trail cam video from down the mountain. The film shows an apple extremely high, fastened on a branch, completely disappear with no visible explanation. How eerie.
#2 Les Stroud is Haunted by an Alaskan Encounter
Les’s strange experience in Alaska arguable spurred this entire Bigfoot project. It was the first bit of Les Stroud + Sasquatch talk I had ever heard, and it absolutely thrilled me. I thought, wow, THIS guy thinks something is going on out in the wilderness. From then on, I was hooked by any involvement he had in the subject.
#1 The Power of Suggestion Blankets All
There is a poisonous byproduct to Bigfoot’s growing popularity. Perhaps the biggest takeaway from Survivorman Bigfoot is the fact that the power of suggestion is now completely interwoven into every piece of Bigfoot evidence. Everyone thinks Bigfoot did everything. To quote a hilarious Finding Bigfoot meme: “Pile of leaves? Definite Squatch activity.”
Todd Standing is the representative for this line of thought throughout the season. While Les takes a few moments to gather the evidence and employ critical thinking, Todd cries Bigfoot.
Indentation in the mud? Bigfoot.
Woop in the distance? Bigfoot.
Tree structure? Rock pile? Pile of shit? Claw marks in the tree?
Although the casual viewer is probably bored silly by Les’s acute examination of tree structures, these are the most important takeaways. When a guy like Les Stroud just cannot find an explanation for an intricately woven collection of old branches, crashing boulders, or upside down trees, then I am REALLY intrigued.
Final Thoughts on Survivorman Bigfoot
To be honest, Survivorman Bigfoot is not for all walks of Bigfooter. If you lean paranormal and spiritual, you may not like it. If you lean full-on hoax/the whole topic is bullshit, you will passionately rip it apart. Given the most popular sorts of Bigfoot programming, like the entertaining Mountain Monsters and cultural phenomenon Finding Bigfoot, Survivorman Bigfoot is a huge breath of fresh air. This is the first uber-meticulous analysis of Sasquatch… even to the point where you might get uber tired of it. But one of Les’s biggest points is the insistence of meticulous evidence gathering, evaluation, cataloging & cross-checking. Since a body is unlikely to be dropped at CNN’s front door, this is the only way for serious believers to approach Bigfoot’s existence.