The Money Behind Moneymaker

Posted by: Loren Coleman on December 17th, 2007

People outside the study of “Bigfoot searching” create a good deal of speculation and melodrama about the feuds and in-fighting occurring in our field. What is often overlooked is how that within cryptozoology and hominology, oftentimes, the bottomline comes down to a mutual support of the overall effort to find new species.

Being a chronicler and student of the students of the pursuit, of course, I have observed how people have hunted Sasquatch for a long time. I felt it was such an important topic that I included a “Bigfooters” chapter in my Bigfoot book, and did an entire biography on Tom Slick who funded the early expeditions.

Having interviewed members of the Slick family about Tom Slick, I understand all too well how important it is for those that have money be free to give to those they please, in support of Yeti expeditions and Bigfoot search parties.

Therefore, let me be perfectly clear about how I feel about the new revelations that have come out in today’s article (see below) on millionaire Wally Hersom’s support of the BFRO.

I am absolutely delighted for Matt Moneymaker.

I am very happy to hear that someone in the tradition of Tom Slick and Tom Page is out there funding research on Bigfoot, in whatever way that individual wishes to donate his money. Those that are wealthy should be encouraged to pursue their interests, especially in the realm of cryptozoology, and in whatever direction they want to go. I am glad to hear about this detailed news.

My sincere congratulations to the BFRO for obtaining this funding.

Here’s the news item about which I am sharing the above commentary, dateline Devil Peak, El Dorado National Forest, California:

Wally Hersom is an intuitive man, with an instinct for when opportunity might knock.

It’s not knocking now.

The soft-spoken, white-maned Hersom is standing in the dark on a remote mountaintop in Northern California listening to the eerily quiet rustling of leaves.

“It’s too quiet,” he says. “It doesn’t feel right.”

Below him in the pitch-black hollows of this remote forest area, groups of men and a few women sit crouched, pointing $9,000 thermal imaging cameras at the darkness.

Every so often, one of them emits a blood-curdling shriek.

They are searching for a monster.

Hersom, 72, is the reason why. Over the past year, the part-time resident of San Juan Capistrano, Calif., (Hersom’s primary home is in Henderson, Nev.) has pumped tens of thousands of dollars into the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, an Orange County-based group of Sasquatch-hunters.

Hersom pays the salary of Matt Moneymaker, the BFRO’s director. He has outfitted the group with 10 thermal imaging cameras, as well as video recorders and night-vision devices. Total cost: more than $100,000.

In the process, Hersom hopes to change the popular conception of Bigfoot believers from wooly-eyed weirdos to heroic hominoid hunters.

Hersom, like the more than 2 dozen people who have joined him on this expedition to the El Dorado National Forest, believes that Bigfoot is a yet-undiscovered species of immensely strong, craftily intelligent and highly elusive great ape.

“I think the timing’s right,” Hersom says. “In the next 12 months, this thing is going to break wide open.”

Hersom is the former owner of HC Power, an Irvine, Calif.-based company that manufactured power conversion equipment for cell phone towers and industrial facilities. The company flourished, Moneymaker says, in large part because Hersom foresaw the importance of gadgets like cell phones and computers and created technologies to serve them.

“He’s an engineering genius, and … he’s got this almost spooky sense of when it’s the right time to do something,” Moneymaker says.

That sense convinced Hersom to sell his company in 2000, before the dot-com bust. He reaped $110 million and decided to indulge a lifelong fascination: Bigfoot.

“My broker – when I told him what I was doing he couldn’t stop laughing,” Hersom says. “He thought I was crazy. But I think we have a unique opportunity because nobody believes us. Once [it’s] proven that Bigfoot is out there, … I think this is going to be the biggest discovery of the century.”

Hersom stumbled on Moneymaker’s BFRO Web site, one of many such sites that track and list Bigfoot sightings around the country. He went on an expedition in Wisconsin.

Nothing happened.

Hersom tried again on a second expedition. This time he says he heard howls in the night and had rocks thrown at him – typical Bigfoot behavior, according to Moneymaker.

“I heard three distinct steps near my tent,” Hersom recalls. “I thought ‘Oh, my God, here it is.'”

The experience sold him. He joined the BFRO and went on four more expeditions. He collected photographs and plaster casts of 15-inch-long Bigfoot tracks, which he displays in his stately San Juan Capistrano hilltop-home. He bought cameras and other equipment in hopes of generating photographic proof for the naysayers – and lucrative film footage for himself.

Moneymaker and Hersom speculate that Bigfoot has a nocturnal animal’s acute night vision. The key to “discovering” Bigfoot, if such a creature exists, is to mimic that ability.

“The only way we’re going to [prove] it is if we can film in the dark,” Moneymaker says. Hersom has enabled the BFRO “to bring some technology to bear that has been out of reach of Bigfoot researchers.”

On the mountain, Hersom stands silently while Moneymaker and his group of volunteers put the equipment to use. Through the camera’s glowing scope, the darkness transforms into a silvery landscape. But there is no Bigfoot to be seen.

Moneymaker tips his head and emits a piercing scream. Over the radio, the scattered group of BFRO members is instructed to do the same and to knock baseball bats against trees. The screams and knocks are meant to mimic the alleged noises of a “real” Bigfoot. The hope, Moneymaker says, is to trick the creatures into coming within filming range.

Does Hersom ever feel … er … a bit ridiculous?

“I’m just going to play it by ear,” Hersom says. “I’m going to go as long as it feels right for me.”

Hersom says he has only heard Bigfoot, but many within the group report more intimate encounters. They describe a giant apelike creature that walks on two feet and appears to have its own language (called “Samurai” for its sing-song resemblance to un-dubbed ninja warrior movies).

Bigfoot also is, some say, capable of projecting a paralyzing telepathic feeling of fear that stuns humans and animals alike. Moneymaker uses the term “infrasound” and calls the experience being “zapped.”

Why then, would anyone pursue an encounter?

Moneymaker describes the discovery of Bigfoot as a “historical prize.” But for many members of this (mostly male) group of enthusiasts, the quest is the lure.

“Part of me really like the mystery of it – the not knowing, the seeking,” says Robert Leiterman, who works as a park ranger in Humboldt County, Calif.

Leiterman is one of a half-dozen past and current Orange County residents who have joined Hersom and Moneymaker on this expedition to Northern California.

Among the group: two employees from an architectural design company, an advertising executive and the director of security for a hotel.

“I just have to know the truth,” says Kathy Lammens, 43.

Lammens is on the expedition with friend and office-mate, Brooke Sharon, 54. Like many members of the BFRO, they are captivated by their obsession and capable of laughing at it.

“I am one of these people who have an open mind,” Sharon says. “I love the idea of Bigfoot, of UFOs, of Nessie. Why not? Who’s to say it’s not true?”

Does it bother BFRO members that nothing will come of this night spent in the cold mountains of California – or the next two nights to follow?

“I’m a little bit discouraged that we didn’t hear anything,” Hersom says. “They’re not everywhere all the time.”

Good timing is Hersom’s stock in trade. But even he acknowledges that “there’s some luck involved.”

“Some people say: Bigfoot will find us, we can’t find Bigfoot,” Hersom says.“Hunters of Sasquatch undaunted by failure,”
The Baltimore Sun, December 16, 2007.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

57 Responses to “The Money Behind Moneymaker”

  1. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- I didn’t mean that YOU jumped to conclusions, I was talking about the statement made in the article about sasquatch being nocturnal, which seemed to me to be be made as if it were fact, which it isn’t. At least not at the moment it isn’t.

    As far as the evolutionary role of these activity cycles, it’s not really the habitat that the animals share that determines whether they are nocturnal or diurnal, I mean after all a wide variety of species both nocturnal and diurnal can share the same habitat and yet they have evolved differently. A whole range of different habitat types have diurnal and nocturnal animals living there, so it is not the habitat itself that determines it as this is almost universal. I would say a more significant factor would be what is best suited to the niche the animal fills within that habitat, as well as which is more conducive to gathering or exploiting new resources needed to survive, and avoiding predation. I won’t go too much more into it here because I get the feeling I am getting off topic, but diurnal and nocturnal lifestyles both have their advantages and disadvantages. The selective pressures of the animal’s role within the habitat is going to determine what sort of activity cycle best suits its survival and which disadvantages are acceptable in light of the benefits. It doesn’t matter what the habitat is, rain forest, temperate zone, arctic circle, whatever activity cycle a particular animal needs to survive best in its niche, or biological role, is the one it is going to adopt. The niches that the great apes, and indeed almost all monkeys, fill seems to favor a diurnal lifestyle. How this relates to the sasquatch is entirely debatable, but I am certainly not out of line in thinking it could be diurnal as there is biological evidence and sightings evidence to support that.

    In the end, you are right that we don’t even really know what the sasquatch is exactly, or what its role within its habitat is to any great degree. We do not know its nutritional requirements, movement patterns, or reproductive habits. Really we actually don’t know a whole lot other than what we can speculate on from sightings reports and circumstantial evidence. This being the case, it is hard to make any solid comparisons to other known animals and I will admit that even though we don’t know of any now, an ape could develop a nocturnal lifestyle if it was evolutionary advantageous. I just don’t feel the evidence necessarily supports a predominantly nocturnal sasquatch at this time or even one that has evolved in any considerable way to have nocturnal adaptations such as keen night vision. Please notice that at no time have I stated that sasquatch can not be nocturnal or that the idea is totally far fetched or impossible. I am just presenting the case that it might not be nocturnal.

  2. Benjamin Radford responds:

    Sergio sez:

    “I hope this will quell the Bigfoot apologists who say that the reason there’s no hard evidence for Bigfoot is that no one is funding the research.”

    Are you serious? You consider this to be full of scorn and derision? Wow. Someone would have to be incredibly thin-skinned to consider the above any kind of scorn; it’s simply making a point, and does not ridicule or attack anyone. I guess if you want to make up your own definitions of scorn and ridicule, you can interpret pretty much anything that way.

    By the way, there’s no contradiction in what I wrote: I never said there was no money, in fact I said the opposite. All I said was that people are not eager to pour money into Bigfoot research. This is true; there is no contradiction.

  3. mystery_man responds:

    Benjamin Radford- If it is any consolation at all, I don’t think you are particularly scornful or derisive and I really don’t know why you get some of the responses here that you do. You tell it like you see it, and you bring up things that some people would rather not think about, but I don’t think that warrants some of the animosity that seems to get directed at you whenever you post. The posts directed at you are far more castigating and scornful than anything you say. I don’t always agree with you, but you have as much right as anyone else here to put forward your opinions and share your findings. Personally, I welcome your input into these debates and think you have a lot to bring to the table.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    I understand how much fun it is for everyone to go off-topic, but this blog entry was NOT about Ben Radford, pro or con. There’s another blog about that. You can find it here:

    Staying on-topic about Bigfooters, millionaires, the BFRO, money, and Bigfoot within this comment section would be appreciated.

    There is no reason these comments should become a love or hate fest for Radford, thank you.

  5. mystery_man responds:

    I really must say that I like Hersom’s quote at the end of this piece. “Bigfoot will find us, we can’t find Bigfoot.” To me, there’s something somehow very poetic and inexplicably sad about that comment, an idea put into words that Bigfoot is beyond our abilities to find it, like an ephemeral, tenuous dream creature roaming through a shadow forest beyond our grasp. The idea that it is seen only when it wants to be seen, that any evidence found is somehow evidence it didn’t mind us having (or wanted us to find), and that if it finally ever gets verified by science it will somehow be on Bigfoot’s terms. I don’t know how accurate these things are, (probably not very) so call this the romantic in me talking, but it is a sentiment that just stirs up a feeling of wonder and mystery for me. Maybe I am reading far more into the quote than was intended, but I like it.

  6. DWA responds:

    mystery_man: yep, you’re reading far more into that quote than you shoud. 😀

    “We can’t find Bigfoot” sounds, well, wrong. I mean, that is, if any of that evidence out there is evidence of what proponents think it is. We’ve already found the big dude, many times over, and we keep finding him.

    Again, it’s just the mainstream of science not trusting the evidence that’s turning up enough to follow it up. I think that, if the big guy actually exists, and mainstream scientists go Ivorybill on him, we’ll “find” him all right. Or rather: we’ll see the mainstream finally confirming something that has been very much there all along.

    IF HE EXISTS. gotta toss that in. (Speaking of not trusting evidence LOL.)

  7. mystery_man responds:

    DWA- Yeah, of course if Bigfoot is out there, it can be found. I was just putting aside my scientific side for a moment and embracing the mystery of that quote (or at least the mystery I perceived). If sasquatch is out there (and isn’t an interdimensional orb projector 🙂 ), it is another animal like any other and it is capable of being found and studied in its natural habitat. The thing is, doing these things takes money and a whole lot of time, both of which seem to be in short supply for research groups on the subject.

    I would really like to see a well equipped, well funded, scientifically trained group get put down in an area with a lot of reported activity and have as much time as they needed. Let them have free reign to bring to bear their expertise and resources onto the phenomena, to really focus on it in a long term project. I’m not talking about one expedition, or a weekend excursion where everyone has to go back to work on Monday, but rather an ongoing legitimate scientific study. I would be very interested to know what such a project turned up. Wonder how likely we are to see something like this any time soon?

    For now, the fact that there seem to be wealthy men out there willing to contribute funding into the search is encouraging but I think unfortunately far from enough.

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