A hunter has recently come forward with the claim that he has shot and killed the legendary Bigfoot in the woods of northwest San Antonio, Texas, back in September 2012.
This man has produced an unimpressive grainy video and two photos of his quarry, one of which shows exactly the sort of face that the public has been conditioned to picture in their mind’s eye when thinking about Bigfoot. But fabricating hard evidence of this kind is difficult, which is why the creature in these photos looks to the impartial eye like a cross between Santa Claus and the Abominable Snowman:
What more evidence do we Bigfoot skeptics need to be convinced of the creature’s existence than two photographs of a hairy ape-looking thing with its eyes shut? The answer is a great deal more, if this is the best alleged confirmation to be found. The pictures smack of fakery, which makes the fact that the story is receiving news coverage even more pathetic.
But the worst part of this story is the person who made it up. The hunter making this claim is named Rick Dyer, a man who just will not go away. Dyer is the same man who purchased a Bigfoot costume from TheHorrorDome.com and stored it in a freezer five years ago, in preparation for the perpetration of the biggest Bigfoot hoax in recent history.
The Bigfoot Hoax of 2008
In August 2008, a pair of locals in Georgia named Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer claimed to have shot and killed Bigfoot in the woods of northern Georgia and collected the body. They also claimed to have seen a family of bigfeet living in the forest. The two men, affiliated with the website TheBigfootTracker.com, presented a corpse and sold it at a very high price to one Tom Biscardi, owner of SearchingforBigfoot.com.
The men were first introduced to Biscardi by one Steve Kulls, a self-proclaimed “Sasquatch detective” who expressed great interest in the Georgians’ alleged Bigfoot kill. Kulls traveled with a team of scientists to an undisclosed location to analyze the body and perform a DNA test. In what became a month-long media circus, Whitton and Dyer planned to reveal their find to the world in a press conference set up by Biscardi, which was held in Palo Alto, California on August 15, 2008.
Three days before the Palo Alto press conference, a press release was issued about the Bigfoot find. It announced that DNA and photo evidence would be presented at the conference:
Extensive scientific studies will be done on the body by a team of scientists including a molecular biologist, an anthropologist, a paleontologist and other scientists over the next few months at an undisclosed location. The studies will be carefully documented and the findings will be released to the world, according to Biscardi.
This turned out to be an empty promise; no actual evidence of any kind was presented at the press conference. On the contrary, the hoax was exposed in short order. In late August, the self-deluded researchers revealed to the public that the alleged Bigfoot body was actually a costume made of rubber and fake fur that had been stuffed into a Styrofoam cooler. Whitton and Dyer had also placed pig entrails on the body for added effect. Jerry Parrino, owner of TheHorrorDome.com, confirmed that the fake body was identical to the Sasquatch costume sold on his online store. The only thing Tom Biscardi got for his money was a costume for Halloween.
At the time the story broke in 2008, there was some debate about what endgame Whitton and Dyer could possibly have had in mind. It is entirely possible that Whitton and Dyer were stupid enough to think that their fakery would not be discovered by fellow Bigfoot believers. But there are other more plausible endgames that the two Georgia men may have wanted to see realized. According to Internet rumors, Biscardi paid the men $50,000 for the fake Bigfoot body. Whitton and Dyer may have simply been playing Biscardi to get that hefty sum of money from him. What might have started as a low-key hoax against Biscardi then spiraled out of control when the media got wind of their story.
However, if the endgame of Whitton and Dyer was to perpetrate a money-making scam, it would make more sense to infer that Biscardi was actually in on the con, not an unwitting victim of one. The very fact that Biscardi complained that Whitton and Dyer vanished with his money after the hoax was revealed serves as a clue to the likelihood of this possibility, because it is extremely difficult for anyone to simply vanish with $50,000. The alternative scenario, the one in which Biscardi is a gullible but innocent victim of a con, finds Biscardi falling for a rubber Bigfoot scam that was childlike in its execution. Even people with more money than brains tend to be more careful than Biscardi was about where $50,000 of their own money ends up. This speculative scenario is plausible for other reasons as well. It is not inconceivable that Biscardi would have a stake in working with Whitton and Dyer in planning the hoax, considering that he has an interest in keeping his name and his company, Searching for Bigfoot, Inc., a relevant fixture of sensational headlines. Perhaps the three of them were gambling on the potential money to be made through Internet advertising and selling of Bigfoot merchandise. In addition, we should not overlook the statement of Loren Coleman, a prominent cryptozoologist and regular contributor to the popular website Cryptomundo.com:
“[Biscardi is] a huckster, a circus ringmaster,” Coleman told FoxNews.com. “It’s all about money with him. It probably didn’t matter to him whether it was real or not.”
“They probably started out small, as a way to promote their Bigfoot tracking business, and got in way over their heads,” Coleman figured. “These are not very intelligent individuals.”
Coleman makes a good point. If the 2008 Bigfoot hoax was conceived as a money-making scheme – which at this point remains a speculation – Whitton and Dyer were certainly not intelligent in planning it. No scenario preserves their powers of reasoning. For one thing, Matthew Whitton’s actions cost him his job as a police officer with the department in Clayton County, Georgia. Upon hearing that the Bigfoot body was a hoax, Chief of Police Jeffrey Turner told Fox News that he “filed the paperwork to terminate his employment.”
The end result of this debacle has been the persistence in the public consciousness that another Bigfoot hoax was perpetrated. TheHorrorDome.com still invokes the nationwide hoax to advertise the store’s Sasquatch costume. The description section of Item Number NT009 reads,
OUR BIGFOOT WAS CALLED THE HOAX OF THE DECADE . . . AS SEEN ON CNN, FOX NEWS, ABC, CBS, INSIDE EDITION AND EVERY OTHER NEWS AND TV STATION IN THE COUNTRY. WE FOOLED THE WORLD WITH OUR BIGFOOT / SASQUATCH COSTUME.
Thus, Dyer’s hoax failed to fool anyone but succeeded at raising the sales of an online Halloween goods provider. This outcome is very much in keeping with Dyer’s true character as a showman selling the illusion that tabloids can come to life and be experienced vicariously.
Rick Dyer: Portrait of the Man
Rick Dyer is very well-known by and active in the community of Bigfoot enthusiasts. A great deal of video footage exists chronicling his Bigfoot-tracking exploits and in which he talks about his adventures. Several newscast videos have incorporated clips of Rick Dyer engaged in various Bigfoot-hunting activities. These clips, of which there are many, provide us with a glimpse of the kind of genius we are dealing with. For example, at one point in the video featured on the San Antonio-based KSAT news segment covering this latest story, Dyer is sitting shirtless in a lawn chair in the middle of the woods at night, taking a potshot at something off-screen. Another clip in the same news segment shows Dyer running through the woods in his underwear, again at night:
Dyer is first and foremost a P.T. Barnum of our age. According to KSAT, “Dyer plans to take the body on tour across the U.S., Mexico and Canada. He said he will charge a small fee to view the body.” But the Bigfoot hoax Dyer committed five years ago is well documented, and the real story surrounding his latest shenanigans is the collective amnesia that seems to have descended on some news writers who fail as journalists by not mentioning his past and the fact that he is an admitted liar.
Given his history of intentional fakery, Dyer is in no position to claim that he found Bigfoot, and he never will be. But suppose for the sake of argument that Bigfoot actually does exist and that, by some bizarre coincidence, Dyer really did have a run-in with the creature. What course of action would he take? If he was not completely idiotic (which admittedly may be asking too much), Dyer would first come to terms with the possibility that very few people would believe his story after the stunt he pulled in 2008. He would then realize the need for rock-solid, irrefutable evidence of his claims and would do his best to meet that need.
But this of course is not the course of action Dyer has taken. His latest alleged killing of Bigfoot reportedly took place well over a year ago. Reporter Tim Gerber begins his KSAT news article with these words:
Nearly a year ago a self-described professional Bigfoot hunter claimed to have shot and killed one of the creatures in San Antonio.
That first sentence raises the first of several red flags that should be sufficient to make even the most die-hard Bigfoot enthusiast skeptical. Over a year has passed since the alleged incident, and the only “evidence” Dyer has provided is one very grainy video and two questionable photographs? If that is the protocol of a “professional Bigfoot hunter,” I would hate to see what an amateur hunter’s endeavor looks like.
Perhaps Dyer has equated “professionalism” with extremely bold and impossible claims. For example, Dyer told the San Antonio reporters this:
“Every test that you can possibly imagine was performed on this body — from DNA tests to 3D optical scans to body scans. It is the real deal.”
That remains to be seen. But I am going to go out on a limb and predict that the new body will turn out to be just as artificial and fake as the last one.
In one important sense, Rick Dyer really is the man who killed Bigfoot. Because of his fraudulent actions, the hopes and goals of many sincerely-motivated cryptozoologists to discover real evidence of Bigfoot’s existence has been killed. For those who follow Bigfoot culture and research, any future announcement of a Bigfoot find will call to mind the hoaxes perpetrated by Dyer. Perhaps the only good outcome of Dyer’s obnoxious actions will be that Bigfoot buffs will gain an appreciable level of skepticism that has been conspicuously lacking in the cryptozoology community.
On the other hand, the most one can reasonably credit Dyer with achieving is fragmenting the Bigfoot community, the members of which must either love him or hate him. In a video uploaded on January 14, 2014 to his YouTube channel, Rick Dyer made the following statement that contains a kernel of truth, the irony of which is probably completely lost on him:
[On] September 6th, I killed a bigfoot. And let me tell you something, people. The Bigfoot community is so jealous. So much envy that I killed a bigfoot. The reason is, folks, I am not part of the Bigfoot community. I’m part of the Team Tracker community. The Bigfoot community is a joke. I mean, there’s nothin’ good about the Bigfoot community. They’re a bunch of backstabbing people that never want Bigfoot to be found. And when I come out and I find it – ‘cause I’m the one that talks shit about them all the time – when I find it, they’re just oh-my-God so jealous.
Now their money stops, because . . . there’s a lot more money in Bigfoot when you don’t have a bigfoot, when Bigfoot don’t exist. Bigfoot is real [or] is he not? There’s a lot more money in Bigfoot that way. And now I’ve got one and I’ve brought it out and now the buck stops.
Dyer’s narcissism is keeping him from understanding why there is a lot of money to be made in a cultural industry that sells a non-discoverable mythical creature. Like the rest of our society, the popular media is enamored with Bigfoot culture, as evidenced by the many credulous shows on cable television about the creature. Rick Dyer has done nothing to calm the ongoing fruitless search for a creature whose existence is about as likely as that of the legendary Tooth Fairy, and he never will.
This is why celebrity Dean Cain’s upcoming “reality” television show 10 Million Dollar Bigfoot Bounty places such a high price on the head of the imaginary creature. He knows no one will find the bounty, but he also knows that the masses love mind candy and that the less substantive a show is, the more it will be consumed by the populace.