Skeptical but Open-Minded, Texan Ken Gerhard Hunts for Bigfoot and Other Monsters

Posted by: Ken Gerhard on October 30th, 2014

A well-researched article that discusses the field of cryptozoology… particularly as it relates to south Texas. A big thanks to my friends at the Houston Press!

In a world where the hunt for unknown animals such as Bigfoot has become reality TV fodder, Ken Gerhard quietly goes in search of the truth behind monster sightings.

All over America and even beyond, when people see monsters or unexplainable animals, they give Gerhard a call or shoot him an email. The Houston-born author and rising name in the field of cryptozoology (the study of unknown or unexpected animals) was previously a star of the goth and dark electronica music scene that once included nationally known bands in our city. He toured and released extensively with the likes of Flowers and Machines and Bamboo Crisis, but two decades in the music industry eventually burned him out.

Now he hunts Bigfoot, thunderbirds, the chupacabra and other cryptids. He says it’s a lot less stressful and much more rewarding. He hasn’t left stagecraft behind entirely, though. When tracking Bigfoot, he dresses in black leathers and matching cowboy hat.

On this investigation he’s in Carrabelle, Florida, at the invitation of the Carrabelle City Council. People claim they’ve seen a black panther in the woods, a creature described as the size of a small cougar and dubbed “The Carrabelle Cat.” As part of his invitation, Gerhard was sent a link to a YouTube video shot by a hunter in a deer stand.

Large cats like the cougar are believed extinct in the United States east of the Mississippi River, save in Florida. Despite sightings, there has never been a 100 percent verified account of an all-black, or melanistic, cougar. If this sighting were confirmed, it would be the first, or perhaps it would indicate the existence of a new species of large cat.

Gerhard comes prepared. He brings with him a cardboard cutout of the panther based on the estimated measurements he received from his contact. Upon arriving, he is able to locate the deer blind spot where the sighting occurred and climbs into the same tree as the hunter. After some tinkering, he carefully positions the cutout so he can re-create the shot the hunter took.

Satisfied with his work, Gerhard will show his photo to experts who gauge ratios in photography to see if the Florida woods really are hiding an unknown large black cat after all. Eventually the analysis is complete and the panther measures in at…

Thirteen inches. No bigger than a common house cat.

The city is not amused, and according to Gerhard virtually runs him out of town, but this is the difference between the real world of monster investigation and the sort of thing you will see on a show like Mountain Monsters. On TV, a team of brave explorers are always just one step away from capturing or shooting some mysterious beastie that at the last second gives them the slip, disappearing back into the mists of the unknown to serve as bait for another intrepid band. It’s thrilling. It’s exciting. It’s riveting drama. It’s mostly hooey.

“Cryptozoology is based on scientific process, so I think it’s important to keep that in mind,” says Gerhard. “Even though it’s a discipline that deals with bizarre possibilities, it was designed by zoologists.”

Modern-day sasquatchploitation is very different from things like Leonard Nimoy’s In Search of…, the show that first inspired Gerhard as a child. Finding Bigfoot, now in its fifth season, is one of Animal Planet’s most watched shows despite criticism by researchers that the program is scripted and overly sensational. Gerhard learned early on to be very careful with which invitations he accepts to appear on television to discuss Bigfoot, lest he end up appearing different from the way he intended once the footage is edited.

“The field keeps getting black eyes from fictional stories portrayed as fact,” he says. “Lots of very terrible shows full of actors running around pretending to hunt monsters. It’s train-wreck television.”

Gerhard’s approach is different. He moved to San Antonio eight years ago to be closer to the majority of Bigfoot sightings in Texas and maximize the number he could investigate in the field. His apartment is covered in maps on which he marks with push pins each sighting or report he finds out about. He looks for clusters from multiple sources, indicators that something has enough of a presence that it’s unlikely to be the result of widespread misidentification or hoaxsters. The best candidates feature nearly identical stories and descriptions from unrelated individuals.

“I’ll give Ken credit for actually going out into the field,” says Chester Moore, a wildlife journalist who mentored Gerhard when he started out and helped him prepare for a trip to Belize to investigate Bigfoot sightings there. “There aren’t a lot of guys who do actually get out and dig around, and that is what matters. He definitely has a passion for it. Ken is aggressive in his pursuit.”

His ultimate dream is to find enough evidence of something to present to a peer-reviewed scientific journal. To do that, he has staked his claim across southeast Texas; sent after monsters, he’s looking for answers.

Read the rest of this article here at the HoustonPress.

Ken Gerhard About Ken Gerhard
Ken has investigated reports of mysterious beasts around the world including Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra, giant winged creatures and even werewolves. In addition to appearing in three episodes of the television series Monster Quest (History Channel), Ken is featured in the History Channel special The Real Wolfman, as well as Legend Hunters (Travel Channel/A&E), Paranatural (National Geographic), Ultimate Encounters (truTV) and William Shatner's Weird or What? (History Television). His credits include multiple appearances on Coast to Coast AM, major news broadcasts and Ireland’s Newstalk radio, as well as being featured in major books and in articles by the Associated Press, Houston Chronicle and Tampa Tribune. Ken is author of the books Big Bird: Modern Sightings of Flying Monsters and A Menagerie of Mysterious Beasts: Encounters with Cryptid Creatures, as well as the co-author of Monsters of Texas (with Nick Redfern) and has contributed to trade publications including Fate Magazine, Animals and Men, The Journal of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club and Bigfoot Times. He currently lectures and exhibits at events across America. Born on Friday the 13th of October, 1967 (exactly one week before the famous Patterson Bigfoot film was shot), Ken has traveled to twenty-six different countries on six continents and most of the United States. An avid adventurer, he has camped along the Amazon, explored the Galapagos, hiked the Australian Outback and has visited many ancient and mysterious sites, from Machu Pichu to Stonehenge.

One Response to “Skeptical but Open-Minded, Texan Ken Gerhard Hunts for Bigfoot and Other Monsters”

  1. DWA responds:

    Good to see baby steps, wherever in the mainstream press they happen.

    If journalists don’t help create critical mass it’s going to be very hard for scientists intrigued by the subject matter to come forward or be taken seriously.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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