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Into the woods
By Teresa Hammond

His is a passion which some might find fascinating or even unbelievable. Regardless, Jerry Hein makes no apologies for his belief in Sasquatch. The Jamestown resident believes so strongly that he has spent the past 47 years as a field researcher of the elusive Bigfoot creature.

“I started doing this in ’71, before it became so popular,” the researcher said.

Hein spent his professional career in varying businesses in the Bay Area; his off time spent researching and traveling in search of Bigfoot. He estimates that 260 days a year he’d spend researching, traveling or investigating Bigfoot. Now retired and living in the foothills, he spends about 100 days of travel investigating the human-like mystery.

“I don’t have to travel so far,” Hein said of his foothill address, noting that there have been reported sightings of the elusive creature in area National Parks and regional favorites, such as Yosemite, Fall Creek Campgrounds and Cherry Lake.

“It’s very real,” he said of the legendary mystery. “I’ve seen them twice. Once in ’76 by Yosemite National Park and then April 2011, I was about 20 feet from an eight-foot tall one.”

According to the Hein, there are reports of thousands of Sasquatch throughout the 50 states with the exception of Hawaii. They vary in hair color, skin color and size.

“In this area of California, they’re about eight to 10 [feet tall], 10 [feet] is the max,” Hein said. In the Pacific Northwest and Alaska they have been reported to be as large as 14 feet tall.

“The ones in Alaska are more bulky,” he continued. “The ones in Florida are thinner because of the heat and they’re not as tall.”

Through his extensive research and communications with others in his field, Hein has learned a great deal about the mysterious Bigfoot. According to Hein the now limited population once lived with the Indians, noting, “until the white man came and they backed off.”

When he himself goes into the woods he shared he wears bright florescent colors.

“I want them to see me,” he said, indicating he doesn’t want to cause threat or harm to them. In fact, his ultimate goal in all of this is quite simple.

“My dream is to just get a picture of a mother, a father, a young one and myself — a group picture. Is that too much to ask?” Hein said.

For some that answer may be an emphatic “yes,” “you’re nuts” or “it’s possible.” For Hein it is a quest worth seeking. The researcher attends Bigfoot conferences with thousands of others throughout the United States. He’s also invested a fair share of money in a custom van complete with television, motion sensor camera, video recorder, bed, refrigerator and freezer.

“I record for seven days,” he said of taking the van into the wilderness. “I can park the van out there. If anything crosses in front of it, it takes a picture.”

Once the van is parked, Hein hikes in the opposite direction, leaving the van and exploring off well-traveled paths for a couple of days. Once he’s out among the trees he looks high and low, noting that often times the teens are in the trees. Upon his return he reviews the camera footage taken from the van.

“They want to stay in the bushes and watch us,” he said, “but we can’t see them. We’re their TV.”

Hein has also found and casted footprints during his excursions. He’s spent a lot of time speaking with retired park rangers as well. He said information from those sources is a bit more forthcoming once the rangers are no longer on active duty.

“For fact I know they have,” he said of Bigfoot bodies being found. “The government has bodies. I know for fact from many resources. They’ve been seen in every National Park in the United States.”

As for the naysayers, the skeptics and critics, Hein has no concern and welcomes conversation and inquiry.

“My family thought I was nuts,” he admitted, laughing. “My brother for years thought I was crazy, but now he has Bigfoots all over. After seeing the footprint (casted by Hein) and seeing a footprint on another’s property, he believes.”