Buhs & The Bigfooters

Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 17th, 2009

Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend was technically published on May 15, 2009, by the University of Chicago Press, but it has been available to read for almost a month. Written by Joshua Blu Buhs, 36, of California, the 279-page hardback is available at bricks and mortar bookstores, as well as online.

I was given an early, pre-publication copy of the manuscript for my reaction. I read it and enjoyed it. I understood that it would be a book that would be misread, so to speak, as yet another dismissive examination of Bigfoot, and, indeed, of all of hominology. But I viewed it as a deeper book, one with a sociological insight that should be appreciated. Sure, folks, especially, Bigfooters, have reasons to be cautious, but unlike the vitriolic ad hominem skepticism spewed from Greg Long’s book, Buhs actually delivers a level-headed tome.

So, a summary of my opinion was published on the cover of the book:

“While Bigfoot researchers have grown weary of skeptical treatments of the topic, Joshua Buhs’s examination of the Sasquatch is refreshingly crisp and insightful, as opposed to demeaningly debunking. His grasp of the popular cultural significance of Bigfoot is outstanding and his overview of the legacy of these creatures is topnotch. Highly recommended.”

Today, I found in the middle of a longer article, a concise review of Buhs’ new book that is from a Bigfoot chronicler. Reporter Paul Fattig has, in the past, for example, written a positive, rather pro-Bigfoot article on September 3, 2006, “Off the Beaten Path.” It was a column about Eugene, Oregon resident Ron Olson who, with his father and a friend, built the Bigfoot trap (above) near what is now Applegate Lake in 1974. The reporter had also done an earlier column on saving the trap.

Fatting’s review of Buhs’ book seemed worthy of sharing here.


The skillfully written book isn’t about debunking the legend or proving the big guy exists. Rather, Buhs, whose other book, “The Fire Ant Wars,” was published by the same printing house in 2004, explores the cultural phenomenon created by the Sasquatch lore.

Buhs takes us around the world, from Olson’s bigfoot trap on the upper Applegate River to the search for Yeti in the snowy Himalayan peaks with Sir Edmund Hillary. You will read about Roger Patterson, who shot the grainy film footage of an alleged Bigfoot along Bluff Creek in the Klamath River drainage and Washington State University professor Grover Krant, who sought to give gravitas to what cryptozoologists have dubbed Gigantopithecus americana.

The stories are invariably interesting, sometimes strange, often humorous and always entertaining. It’s a good read, particularly if you’ve ever camped in a wilderness and wondered what lurks in the darkness just beyond the dying campfire light.

The writer, who has a degree in history and the sociology of science from the University of Pennsylvania, lets readers make their own conclusion.

He does note in the preface that he doesn’t believe the big boy exists. Yet you won’t find that bias in reading his book.

“I’m willing to concede people out there might see something they otherwise can’t explain,” he said in a telephone interview Friday. “I personally don’t believe it is a big hairy beast. But a lot of people are very sincere about what they’ve seen.

“There are the hoaxsters out there,” he continued. “But there is also a real core group of people who are very sincere and earnest, just trying to understand what their friends have seen or they have seen themselves.”

Reared in California, Buhs recalled first learning of the Bigfoot legend as a youngster. He also has camped throughout the Northwest.

“The approach I wanted to take was not, ‘Yes, it does exist’ or ‘No, it doesn’t,’ but to look at how Americans think about nature and our ideas about wilderness, particularly in the 19th century,” he said. “I also wanted to look at the different ways the bigfoot legend has spread. It is very ubiquitous.”

He also explores why there was so much interest in the creature at different times in our history, including the 1970s.

“I didn’t expect to find this many people involved or the detailed information that was out there,” he said. “When you get into the microscopic anatomy of a footprint cast, that’s very specific … I had a blast writing it.”

He is now researching a book about the Forteans, folks who follow the work of Charles Hoy Fort, an early 20th-century writer who devoted his life to phenomena on the thin edge between fact and fantasy.

“I think that could be very interesting,” he said.

And, yes, there still may be good reasons to keep that Bigfoot trap in good repair!

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.

13 Responses to “Buhs & The Bigfooters”

  1. wvbig09 responds:

    He seems to be among those who believe most sightings are the result of hoaxes or mistaken identity. I find that belief insulting since the only thing people could be mistaking for Bigfoot for is a bear & it’s common knowledge to anyone over 10 years old that bears don’t walk on two legs for more than a couple steps & many sightings & evidence discoveries occur where no would-be hoaxer could have a reasonable expectation of their handywork being discovered. Which he would know if he put a little serious effort into researching the phenomenon. Skepticism doesn’t annoy me, in fact, it’s necessary. But skeptics who can’t (or don’t even try to) put together a solid case for their viewpoint, do annoy me. Thanks for letting us know about the book Loren

  2. DWA responds:

    The view that everything is the result of hoaxes is incredible.

    Anyone who has seen animals in the woods knows that the idea of mistaken identity is even more farfetched.

    Anyone who has read reports knows that either one is ridiculous, and a combination of the two beyond credibility (which I guess is what “incredible” means).

    This is my problem with anyone who is skeptical about this. They show they have paid no attention to the evidence, and it’s hard to respect that. If you are going to write a book on this for money, ferpetesake, at least know what you are talking about. Don’t show me you don’t without my even having to lift the book.

  3. tropicalwolf responds:

    EVERY sighting a hoax??? EVERY sighting??? Really??? Ooooookay……

    (Note: Understand, the term “EVERY” is an ABSOLUTE which does not allow for any other alternative than the agreed upon or presented conclusion. WEBSTERS = “All individuals in a set WITHOUT exception.”)


    Nuff said.

  4. JoshuaBBuhs responds:


    Thank you very much for your support. I really appreciate your calling attention to my book, and the very gracious thoughts you have shared about it.

    I would also like to take this occasion to clear up some seeming misconceptions about the book. I do not claim that “every” sighting was a hoax. It’s not attributed to me in the review, and I don’t say it in the book.

    I was trying to understand the interest in Bigfoot: who was attracted to the creature? Why? How did knowledge about it come to accumulate. During the five years I spent on the book, I came to certain conclusions about Bigfoot’s existence. But this was based on my review of the information that went into the general creation of Bigfoot–that is to say, a review of the classic cases.

    I did not examine every sighting, nor attempt to explain every sighting. That was not the goal of the book. As I say in the review, there very well may be people who have seen things they (or I or no one) can explain. The world’s full of such things.

    But, I still think the book could be very interesting even for those who accept the evidence in support of Bigfoot’s existence. Nothing in my approach presupposes that Bigfoot does not exist–indeed, I used a similar methodology in my earlier book on imported fire ants, and no one doubts their existence! But, the book does provide a narrative history of the study of Bigfoot, which might be useful to even those who see the evidence differently than I do.

    Again, Loren and commenters, thanks for your interest in the book.

  5. Loren Coleman responds:

    I appreciate author Buhs writing in this morning, because I was just about ready to leap in myself.

    It seems folks need to back up a bit, and re-frame what’s happening here in the comments section in terms of some reality testing.

    You have wvbig09 first commenting, “He seems to be among those who believe most sightings are the result of hoaxes or mistaken identity,” without having read the book, it seems. Even I don’t see that being said in the review, above.

    Then, DWA made the jump to “The view that everything is the result of hoaxes is incredible.” Again, this comment is without reference to anything in Buhs’ book or the review.

    Next, tropicalwolf begins by saying “EVERY sighting a hoax??? EVERY sighting??? Really???” and ends with “EVERY…Really??? Nuff said.”

    This is how the game “telegraph” and “telephone” are played, with the statements having nothing to do with what Buhs originally has written in the book.

    I would recommend folks read the book before jumping to conclusions.

  6. wvbig09 responds:

    Mr. Buhs says 1) “I’m willing to concede people out there might see something they otherwise can’t explain,” he said in a telephone interview Friday. “I personally don’t believe it is a big hairy beast” & 2) “There are the hoaxsters out there,” That’s why I feel he’s saying all sightings can be attributed to hoaxing or mistaken identity

  7. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    “I’m willing to concede people out there might see something they otherwise can’t explain,” he said in a telephone interview Friday. “I personally don’t believe it is a big hairy beast. But a lot of people are very sincere about what they’ve seen.

    “There are the hoaxsters out there,” he continued. “But there is also a real core group of people who are very sincere and earnest, just trying to understand what their friends have seen or they have seen themselves.”

    Did y’all bother to read this in the article Loren posted before accusing the author of calling all reports “hoaxes”?

    No wonder folks think those involved in crypto-studies are nutters. Y’all give us a bad name.

  8. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    @ WVBIG09

    Let me engage in a little analogy. I personally don’t believe that all the folks reporting abduction and encounters with little grey men are seeing aliens from another planet. There just isn’t enough evidence to prove they are from another planet. It doesn’t mean I don’t think the PHENOMENON is real, or that folks aren’t experiencing SOMETHING real, an unknown that they are interpreting in terms of the known (in this case the “known” is technology and so they are more technologically advanced beings).

    The fact that the phenomenon has always been with us both leads me to believe the phenomenon is something real (i.e. in the 19th century, the same phenomenon interpreted in terms of the “known” church literature, would have been a succubus demon), but not necessarily exactly what the experiencer interpreted the phenomenon as. (The fact that the has been interpreted differently in different eras, in fact, leads me to believe that the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis has no more validity than the faery/demon/wizard hypotheses of past ages.)

    From what I’ve read of Mr. Buhs in his own words from interviews (granted I haven’t read his book yet, but I look forward to it, despite our difference in opinion on the reality of Sasquatch), he takes a similar track.

    Now, the very fact that Sasquatch sightings, on the other hand, have maintained certain consistencies across the eras, combined with the outdoor experience of many witnesses and the remote locations of much of the physical evidence (e.g. footprints) I’ve personally seen leads me to the opposite determination when it comes to Sasquatch (in other words, I’m pretty convinced they are a flesh and blood animal based on the circumstantial evidence and my own observations).

    However, I can’t dismiss the fact that they have also become a part of our American popular culture and also likely fulfill cultural and mythological roles filled in other eras and cultures by wood woses and wild men and the like. In the same way that coyote trickster tales don’t detract from the fact that flesh and blood coyote are real critters, I don’t think acknowledging and studying the role Bigfoot plays in our pop culture necessarily need detract from the search for a flesh and blood critter.

    In closing, I’d just say that acknowledging your skepticism about the interpretation of a sighting is not necessarily dismissing the testimony of the witness. In fact, its the honorable thing to do if you do have a bias. Until I’ve read the book, I can’t really say how respectfully Mr. Buhs treats the subject. But until I do, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    Heck, its the least I can do seeing as how, in the past, I’ve even stood up for the rights of skoftics like Ben Radford to contribute to the dialogue.

  9. wvbig09 responds:

    @ Jeremy_Wells

    I never said Mr. Buhs attributed all sightings to hoaxes. I said he seems to attribute them to hoaxes AND mistaken identity. If he doesn’t believe Bigfoot exists & he acknowledges the existence of hoaxers, the only other possibility is mistaken identity of known animals

  10. proriter responds:

    Looks like there are some “researchers” out there with pretty thin skins. What, exactly, are they afraid of?

  11. DWA responds:

    Sheesh. Well, it might be a funny read.

    But here’s a telling blurb from an old friend of ours, on Amazon.com:

    “The mistaken assumption of past Bigfoot investigation is that the phenomenon is best understood from the perspective of natural history. Joshua Blu Buhs has written an original and engaging book that tells us the meaning of the hairy beast that won’t go away yet we cannot seem to find. Bigfoot is the definitive history of the legend’s social and cultural context, and it offers an explanation for the phenomenon that will be pondered and discussed for years to come.”

    -David Daegling, author of Bigfoot Exposed

    Yep, that big ol’ ‘mistaken assumption,’ for which Daegling can’t come up with thing one to back his case.

    One thing’s for sure. A book that gets kudos from someone like that isn’t doing much for cryptozoology.

    But again, it might be amusing. Maybe.

    proriter: ignorance is all anyone should be afraid of. And if I were a cryptozoologist, I’d have long since seen more than enough of that to have me jumping at shadows.

    (Or anything else brainless.)

  12. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    Eh, strong enough evidence, when found, is going to stand up on its own; skeptics, skofftics, and critics aside.
    As far as people on both sides of an argument (skeptics and evidence seekers) both recommending and lambasting his book (I bet you a dollar there are skeptic sites out there blasting him for not being more dismissive), I worked long enough in newspapers to come to understand that receiving heat and/or praise from both sides means you’ve done your job and presented the facts as you found them.
    Even though I don’t agree with his stated bias that there are no large native wild primates in North America, I really can’t wait to read his book.

  13. cryptidsrus responds:

    I, for one, am willing to give the book a try.

Sorry. Comments have been closed.

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