The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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September 20, 2012

Animal Planet set for Bigfoot hunt

Ever hear a guttural sound emanating from deep inside a West Virginia forest?

Perhaps you’ve seen a massive rock flying through the trees, or heard the heavy footsteps of some unseen creature beating a retreat from a primitive campsite.

If so, chances are you have had an encounter with Bigfoot, says country rocker Kris Allen.

Ever since his boyhood years, Allen says he has personally witnessed several of the half-human, half-animal hybrids, known by a variety of names across the globe — such as sasquatch, or Yeti.

Generally, scientists have sought to debunk its existence, dismissing Bigfoot as the work of hoaxers, or the product of folklore and errant identification.

Come this weekend, in an undisclosed forest inside Greenbrier County, another attempt to find one of the creatures is planned by television’s “Animal Planet,” led by the program’s producer, Natalie Hewson, and assisted by Allen.

Allen, a former lead singer for the Marshall Tucker Band (albeit briefly) about a decade ago and now filling that role for his newer group, Southern Thunder, was asked by Hewson to provide leads on where Bigfoot is likely to be hanging out.

Just where the entourage is planning to stake out is shrouded in secrecy.

“We don’t want to have hoaxers out there, getting hurt,” Allen explained.

Not to mention the chances of being trailed by some NFL scouts, given the dimensions of Bigfoot — some as tall as 12 feet, which expands beyond 18 feet with arms raised. Imagine a defensive lineman with those measurements.

“Every country has a legend of Bigfoot,” says Allen, a music major at West Virginia State University.

Besides, says Allen, a serious hunt such as the one coming off in Greenbrier County calls for experienced hands, because the novice could mistake sounds and tracks for the black bear.

“There are a lot of things to look for,” he says.

“A bear can only make so many inches when it walks. Bigfoot can make four- to six-foot strides on average in a casual walk, and even longer on a jaunt. You also have to look for knuckle tracks. Woods in West Virginia are so dense it’s hard for a creature to run without running into trees.”

Allen says there are at least five known species of Bigfoot and by far, the most aggressive, is one called simply “dogface,” given its canine-like facial features.

“This is the most aggressive type,” Allen said. “It has attacked more humans and their pets than any Bigfoot recorded.”

Some time ago, on a camping expedition, Allen says one of his children was almost victimized by such an ape-like creature in woods at Smithers. Fifteen feet away, his 3 1/2-year-old son began to yell, “Dad, Dad, Dad!” and Allen says he grabbed his .45-caliber pistol and saw the creature do an 180-degree turn and flee deep into the forest.

“There are tons of physical evidence,” Allen says in rebuttal to the skeptics.

“I’ve turned in DNA evidence. The problem is, when you turn evidence in, your evidence will vanish if you turn it into the wrong agency.”

Allen is convinced that government agencies, at all levels, particularly those in charge of overseeing hunting and fishing ventures, fear confirmation of Bigfoot, since this would tend to discourage outdoor types from engaging in multi-million-dollar enterprises that make up a huge slice of the economic pie.

“Everybody is going to keep a lid on this,” he says.

Not only has he personally seen a slew of the creatures, but Allen says he has had “hundreds” of unsighted encounters to buttress his convictions outside camping tents — rocks and logs hurled at him, screaming, yelling, the indecipherable chatting on his camp grounds.

“In my tent, I was awakened one morning,” he recalled.

“I had my Rottweiler with me. He doesn’t let anything come near me. That was one scared to death animal. You would just never see this animal cower. When a Bigfoot comes around, that animal will not bark. He won’t even shake. It’s so scared.”

If Bigfoot is real, why then, the doubters ask, has the phenomenon only become a mystery of the modern age, and why isn’t its existence mentioned in historical accounts from ages ago?

Allen attributes this to Bigfoot’s uncanny means of surviving in less populated regions over the centuries, and points out that a new species of monkey with a narrow, hairy face resembling that of a human was found only a week ago in Kenya. Scientists have considered the animal as fact for some time but only recently managed to capture one.

“A lot of things not believed to be real have been discovered,” Allen says.

Besides, he said, the skeptics tend to overlook one trait of Bigfoot — his uncanny, innate ability to survive and elude the race of pure humans.

“Let’s say a country invaded America and we had to run for the woods, or die,” he said.

“You’re going to use all your survival skills. These creatures are trained from Day One to survive. They’re trained how to exist and how to blend in. That’s their hunting mode. It’s genetically inherent. They have to hunt. It’s an ambush type attack, and they’re expert rock throwers.”

To the uninitiated keying on finding proof of Bigfoot, he recommend camping in a rustic site.

“Go all out around the campsite and take pictures behind the trees,” Allen says.

“Go out two days later and take pictures of the same trees and see how much is torn up around the trees. That’s where you can clearly see that something stood behind the trees watching you. It won’t happen once in a while. It will happen quite often.”

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