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Maybe you'll be the person to finally shoot the definitive movie or photo that incontrovertibly proves the presence of Bigfoot.

That's of course not very likely, but adding a mild Bigfoot focus to a pleasant day of hiking in the beautiful outdoors is a fun thing to do.

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How to Search for Bigfoot

Techniques to improve your odds of maybe finding something

Do you see that shadowy shape in the background?  Is it a Bigfoot?

Well, in this case, no there's definitely no Bigfoot in this picture we took, but you need to always be alert for barely discernable Bigfoot sightings in the middle distance, and also to guard against mistaking other objects and shapes for Bigfoot.

Part three of a four part series on Bigfoot; see also :

1.  All about Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest
2.  Where and When to Find Bigfoot
3.  How to Search for Bigfoot
4.  Some suggested Bigfoot touring around Seattle



Going out in search of Bigfoot need not be complicated, and could be (should be!) fun.  You don't need a lot of special equipment or anything out of the ordinary, and many sightings have been by 'ordinary people' who stumbled across a Bigfoot while doing ordinary things.

However, some preparation and planning, and some simple 'tools' to help you find and document any encounters will definitely improve your chances of a positive outcome.

So consider the following as suggestions rather than as mandatory 'must do' items, and create a balance that allows you to enjoy a lovely day out with an undercurrent or theme of looking for Bigfoot.

Things to Bring with You when Searching for Bigfoot

It helps to have a formal list of things to take with you, and then to check items off that list (I say this having gone out Sasquatch searching myself but forgetting my binoculars).


Perhaps the most obvious thing to bring with you is a camera, of course.  Be sure to check you've plenty of space on your memory card for more photos, and make sure the battery is fully charged.

Adjust the settings for the largest image size and also for the highest quality/least compression, so as to end up with the best possible pictures.

We also suggest you turn your flash off.  Chances are any Bigfoot you might see will be too far away for the flash to make any difference to the picture quality, and turning off the flash will speed up how quickly the camera can take photos, it will actually make for better quality photos (with distant subjects), and it will avoid startling a Bigfoot, hopefully giving you more time for more photos.

One more thought about cameras.  You might want to consider bringing an 'old fashioned' film camera with you, because a traditional camera can be thought of as being 'instantly on', whereas a digital camera needs to be turned on, and that delay while the digital camera comes to life might make the difference between getting a picture and not.

If you take a traditional camera with you, load it with fairly fast film (perhaps 400 ASA speed rating) because lighting will be subdued if you're in moderately covered forest areas, and that will also allow for faster shutter speeds and therefore sharper images.  Set the focus to manual rather than automatic if you can (so there's no focus delay), and pre-focus it to a distance that is shorter than infinity, but which then gives you a field of view stretching out further and back a bit closer too.  If you can have a fast/instant autoexposure setting, that is good, otherwise manually take light readings on a regular basis and then set the shutter and aperture at a short of average value for the common lighting.

This will allow you to almost instantly pull your camera up and all you need to do is push the shutter button without pausing for switching on, focus, exposure, or anything.


If you have a camcorder, then of course bring that too (and again check you have plenty of film and a fully charged battery).

With both a camera and a camcorder, turn off any digital zoom features they might have.  Of course, use plenty of optical zoom to get Bigfoot to fill most (but not all) the picture, but don't use digital zoom.  If you do get a tiny picture of Bigfoot in the distance, you'll be able to get very much better digital enhancement of the image if you haven't already used the digital zoom feature of your camera/camcorder.


A pair of binoculars is definitely useful.  If you're buying a new pair of binoculars, the best multi-purpose binoculars are 7x50 binoculars.  These give good magnification (seven times magnification) without making the image seem too jerky as a result of too much magnification, and the 50mm diameter on the lens means that they collect lots of light to make it easier to see in poor and low light conditions.

Try and always ensure that the second number in a binocular specification is about seven times greater than the first number.  If it is less than seven times greater, then they will not work so well in lower light conditions.  For example, a pair of 8x24 binoculars (with a 3 times greater second number) are terrible in any conditions other than bright daytime.

Cell Phone

Bring a cell phone with you.  You may be out of cell phone range, depending on where you are and who your service is with, but you'll still want the extra safety and convenience of a cell phone.

It would be prudent to check with your wireless provider's online coverage maps before heading out to see if you're likely to have reliable cell phone service or not.

Some people, particularly if they are going further away from civilization, and perhaps for longer periods of time than just a quick afternoon's walk from a trailhead and back choose to rent a satellite phone for the time they're on their 'expedition'.  If you choose a satellite phone (and the Iridium service based phones are vastly better than the others) this will give you close to 100% coverage everywhere you are, as long as you have a reasonably clear view of much of the sky overhead (where the satellites may be found).

And, whatever type of communication devices you take with you, be sure to check their batteries are fully charged.  Because your cell phone will probably be in marginal signal areas rather than strong signal areas, it has to 'work harder' at sending and receiving radio signals to far away transmission towers, and this will use up your battery much faster than around town.

Walkie Talkies

If you are traveling in a larger group, and/or if you will sometimes anticipate splitting up into small sub-groups, walkie-talkies can be a convenient way of keeping in touch with each other, although only over very short ranges (maybe several tenths of a mile, depending on terrain).

Modern GMRS based walkie-talkies are the best choice to make.  FRS walkie-talkies are not as powerful, and CB based ones are too big and bulky.  Get the ones with the most transmit power possible, and ignore the ridiculous range claims they make.  We've extensively reported on FRS, GMRS, CB and MURS two-way radios, and have also tested the real-world ranges you can expect from two way radios.


If you have one, bring a GPS as well, and know how to either mark locations into your GPS memory and/or how to read out latitude and longitude position information so you can accurately record exactly where you've been and where any Bigfoot encounters take place.

A GPS can also help you navigating - you can even get topographical map sets for GPS units that are very helpful in working your way around on foot.

Audio Recorder

Another useful device is a tape recorder - in addition to seeing a Bigfoot, some people hear strange sounds that may be made by a Bigfoot.  Modern digital recorders can be very small and lightweight, while creating excellent quality recordings.  A tip - consider buying a separate microphone for your recorder - an external microphone will enormously improve the quality of the sound recorded.  Of course, if choosing an external microphone, you'd want a directional rather than omnidirectional microphone, and get a wind shield (basically it is a piece of soft foam rubber) for the microphone.

If your tape recorder actually uses tape, set its recording speed as fast as possible.  If it is a digital one, set the sampling rate and bit depth as high as possible.  And, of course, make you have plenty of remaining time and battery life.

Plaster of Paris, plastic  gloves and water

Consider bringing a sturdy large bag with some Plaster of Paris powder in it, and a sufficient quantity of water to mix it with so that, if you should encounter a Bigfoot footprint, you can create a plaster cast of the footprint impression.

Use the gloves when mixing the plaster and water in the plastic bag - extended exposure to the material can cause skin irritation.


Wear sturdy shoes, and bring suitable and sufficient clothing to allow for any possible changes of weather and temperature.

Food and drink

Depending on how long you expect to be out, consider taking some food and drink.

Comfort aids

If your plan is to set up an observation point rather than to walk through an area, then a lightweight chair is a good idea.


If you'll be out at night, you'll want at least two flashlights - a regular one plus an emergency one if the bulb burns out in the regular flashlight, and fresh batteries.  We'd recommend a small LED powered unit such as this one for the emergency ones - they give out a strong light, are long lasting, and robust.

Notebook, pens, and measuring tape or ruler

Be sure to also bring a notebook and pens with you to record any experiences you encounter as they occur, while your memory is fresh.  Plus the act of writing something down in as much detail as possible helps you to remember the event into the future, and encourages you to remember and record more details than might otherwise be the case.

The measuring tape or ruler can be used to show the scale of objects you are photographing.  A photo of a footprint by itself is meaningless unless there's some way to establish the size of it, and this is best done by placing a ruler or measuring tape into the picture next to the footprint.

Night vision goggles

A wonderful luxury for night searches would be night vision goggles, but if you're going to treat yourselves to these, don't be fooled into buying an inexpensive low quality set.

You'll want to get the best you can afford, with the best resolution and ability to enhance the remaining light.  Don't choose a set of night vision goggles that are primarily infra-red based, but instead you want ones that amplify the available light.


Lastly, a difficult decision.  Should you arm yourself with firearms or not?  If you are lawfully able to take firearms with you into the area you'll be going, there's perhaps no reason not to do so, but there's also not necessarily any need to do so; to date there is little reason to view Bigfoot as aggressive or dangerous.

The legality of hunting/shooting a Bigfoot is at best uncertain, and this may actually be unlawful under various different statutes.

On the other hand, there can be no doubt that a dead Bigfoot would provide the ultimate answer to the decades of speculation about these creatures.

There's a subtle thing to be aware of if you take any firearms with you.  They can cause some people to change their subconscious approach from being a subtle stalker to being an aggressive 'hunter'.  This is not what you want to happen.  You want to remain quiet and stealthy as you go out in search of Bigfoot.

Firearms can also encourage you to be more aggressive and take inappropriate risks when encountering any sort of wild animal.  A firearm does not guarantee that you'll prevail in any encounter with a wild animal, and you are best to remain non-threatening and with a defensive posture at all times.

One more point about firearms.  If you are choosing to take firearms, even if simply for self defense against wild creatures in general, you should take a high powered sporting rifle.  It seems that a Bigfoot is larger than a bear, and so therefore is presumably at least as robust.

Pistols are almost entirely useless if you're confronting a bear, and so would be unlikely to be helpful if you needed to defend yourself against an attacking Bigfoot.  A .22 caliber rifle would be similarly ineffective.  A .223 may or may not be suitable; ideally you want to go to a .270 or larger caliber with a high power cartridge load.

An Interview with a Park Ranger

We unofficially interviewed a Park Ranger in Washington state in early 2010 on the subject of shooting a Bigfoot (he was filling up at a gas station the same time we were, so we got to talking for five minutes).  He said that it is illegal to shoot animals unless you have a hunting license that specifies the type of animal you may shoot, and we both laughingly agreed that WA did not issue hunting licenses for Bigfoot.

On the other hand, he hinted at us that if we felt the need to shoot a Bigfoot in self defense, then that would be a different story and would probably make it a justifiable killing.

I asked him 'What say Bigfoot came running backwards at me, and I had to shoot it in self defense in the back accordingly' and he laughed knowingly.  He said that probably there'd be no prosecution, in part because of the scientific value of finding a Bigfoot, but that doing so would make a lot of people angry at me, whatever that means.

We also asked him if he'd seen a Bigfoot himself.  He said he hadn't, but he added that one of his colleagues had seen 'something bigger than a bear' moving about one night in the forest.  His colleague didn't know what it was, and he evaluated his colleague as sensible and his sighting report as credible.

He was open minded on the subject of Bigfoot himself.

Searching for Bigfoot

When you're out looking for Bigfoot, you want to be using all your senses.  You want to be listening - listening for the sounds of other creatures around you - the noises they make, and the sounds of them moving through the bush.

You want to be smelling - reports often suggest a strong and unpleasant odor associated with Bigfoot.

You want to be looking - you want to be looking down at the ground for unusual large footprints, and you want to be looking all around you for signs of movement.  When you're looking around you, you need to consciously focus your eyes onto a relatively distant object and hold that focus point, rather than allow your focus to lock onto a closer object.  If you focus on closer objects, as one unconsciously tends to do, more distant objects will be less distinct and more easily missed.

Should you stay in one place or move around?

Most people prefer to be actively moving around rather than stationary in one position when looking for Bigfoot, and this makes sense from the perspective of allowing you to cover more ground and possibly see Bigfoot tracks.  But when moving, try not to be unduly noisy.

One inference from the elusive nature of Bigfoot is the very probable thought that the create is shy and avoids contact with people, so if you are making a lot of noise - ie talking loudly and laughing with each other, maybe playing a radio, receiving cell phone calls, and so on - you'll not only broadcast your presence but also make it seem more threatening and something to be avoided.

Be prepared!

If you should encounter a Bigfoot, the chances are the sighting will be very brief.  Maybe one will cross the trail in front of you, moving from bush/cover on one side, across the trail clearing, and then to bush/cover on the other side.

By the time you've seen the creature, pulled your camera out of your backpack, turned it on, aimed, focused, and taken a picture, it may have long since vanished back into the forest.  So, at the very least, keep your camera around your neck and ready to be used rather than in its case in a backpack.

At the risk of stating the obvious, if you do have a possible sighting, you should then cautiously approach where you saw the creature and look for footprints or other things that may confirm the creature's presence.

Simple Safety Procedures

Any time you go away from places where there are plenty of other people, you should consider some simple precautions to protect you in case something unexpected occurs.

You should let a reliable friend know where you plan to go and when you plan to return, and agree to call them to confirm your safe return.  If you don't call by the established time, they should then initiate an agreed upon series of calls - first to you, and then, if necessary, to Search and Rescue type organizations (you should research these and give them the details before you leave) so as to mobilize a rescue attempt for you.

Part three of a four part series on Bigfoot; see also :

1.  All about Bigfoot in the Pacific Northwest
2.  Where and When to Find Bigfoot
3.  How to Search for Bigfoot
4.  Some suggested Bigfoot touring around Seattle

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Originally published 24 April 2009, last update 30 May 2021

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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