Interview with Peter Von Puttkamer of "Killing Bigfoot" on Destination America - Primetime TV Show Articles From The TV MegaSite
 

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By Suzanne

Peter Von Puttkamer 

Interview with series Peter Von Puttkamer of "Killing Bigfoot" on Destination America 1/20/17

I don't normally watch any reality shows, or any non-fiction, and I rarely interview anyone from one, but this sounded very interesting, so I couldn't resist. To my surprise, this was a very professional and eye-opening interview with the producer of this show about tracking (and possibly killing) Bigfoot.

Here's a recording of our interview. Here's the transcription....most of it, anyway.

1. Do you really believe in Big Foot?

Uh, well...believe...that's almost a religious question. [Laughs] You know...I will say, since I've been doing this work (and we did another show called "Monster Hunters" in the early 2000's), I have met enough people and had enough, kind of, close encounters with people in and around me that I think there could well be something going on out there. And thirdly, where we are in the South, on this project, people are very afraid of this creature. Not just when the cameras are rolling, but going into 7-11's and Subways, talking to people. Everybody in these states that we've been in, Louisiana, Texas, and these areas. Many people have had encounters.

2. There's more than one, though, right?

Yeah, there have to be because we see them across 30 states. Even skeptical scientists, in analyzing it...there has to be at least a population of a couple of thousand across North America.

3. The show is called "Killing Bigfoot." Now, is that the preferred name, "Bigfoot?"

Yeah, well, "Sasquatch" is Canadian and "Bigfoot" is American. (He talks about working with Native Americans in Canada) When the first tracks were sighted in the late 50's, in Northern California, it was kind of dubbed that by the press. They didn't know how to describe it. A road crew was doing a logging operation and started finding tracks all over the place. That's when it hit in North America.

4. When they're referring to more than one, is it "Big Feet" or "Big Foots?"

Ha, ha! I should know, after working on proposals... It's a plural word. It gets used across multiple ones, "20 Bigfoot were sighted."

5. Why do they want to kill it or them?

We've been doing this a long time. The key to this thing in the South...it seems to be some kind of different type of Bigfoot. The way the hunters describe it - the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization - they think that the ones in the North are bigger, the way that Siberian tigers are bigger in the Northern climates. The ones in the south are sleeker, faster. They can run on all fours, up to 30 miles an hour. They're aggressive at times; some of them can be.

So in terms of killing the animal...they're not really out to shoot every Bigfoot that they see. They're really about helping people. It's kind of like the "Ghostbusters" situation. [Laughs] Some people are putting in these calls....this is really going on. Like, if we weren't filming down there, this is still going on. GCBRO comes in and investigates. The setups and the searching is enough to drive the Bigfoot off. What they really do is see themselves as protecting the public.

The other part of it is -- the killing part of it is -- they look at it more scientifically. They want to harvest a specimen. Just like all through history, science has always demanded a body. As long as no one believes it's real... the way the DNA these days is... unless you have a CSI with you, there's going to be contamination. Also, with Photoshop, it's too easy to fake things. I think a lot of scientists have looked at Bigfoot hairs and Yeti hairs. There's a lot of opposition to this. You saw it on the clip, right?

6. How did this show come about?

Because I've been working in this field for some time, in cryptozoology, we kind of pioneered this in the late 90's and early 2000's. I'm always talking to people in the area, different experts. They were telling me about a group that was going out with guns and hoping to bag one for science. That was interesting to me. I first contacted Jim Lansdale in 2009, and we didn't have any interest in doing a show like this. There weren't any other shows like this on the air. By 2014, people seemed ready for it. That's when we submitted it again and got interest.

5. Besides yourself, I assume you have other people who help you put the show together. Do you think most of the people working on the show believe in Bigfoot?

Well, you know what? We have a pretty interesting crew. Some of the guys used to work with Greenpeace. Some of them are outdoor loggers and people who've gone into the jungle with me or have worked in the Amazon, or have worked with me in Africa...we did a show on gorillas. I produced a show called "Biggest and Baddest" for National Geographic Wild. They have a healthy skepticism about it, right? A couple of producers, and at least one producer have had encounters that kind of shook that. We had a sighting close to one of the houses that we were at. It's unusual because you don't expect to see anything, while making the TV show. All the crew and cast was off, working. One of the producers and her assistant were back at camp, with one of the hunters, and they were around on a property that's quite forested, and all of a sudden the surveillance light came on, a dog barked, and then they see this large form, which they later figured out, measured up against the horse trailer, was at least 8 feet tall, with a thick neck, and moving with speed and with some purpose.

One of the reason to rule out hoaxes is that, if you show up on one of these properties in a fur suit, there's a good chance you're going to get shot. So basically, it would be a suicide mission, to be wandering around in a fur suit, by themselves. So that's a pretty good reason for rulling out hoaxes. So they saw something, for sure. It was dark, but they could see the shape of it, and it was huge.

We got something on a GoPro camera as well, by accident. We weren't expecting it. Something showed up on a hunter's GoPro. We were waiting for some eyewitnesses to show up. There was a church where an encounter had happened the day before in the woods behind this church, and it was adjoining a property that one of the key eyewitnesses, who had a dog - actually, the largest German shepherd that I'd ever seen. It had been thrown through the air and had its jaw dislocated, at night. Not something a cougar or coyote would do. It's an unusual kind of accident. Guests won't stay there any more. I sent two guys in, informally. One of them had a GoPro on his head. The other one went off with another cameraman, but they were quite separate. When Don, who had the GoPro on his head, came back, he said, "I heard SOMEthing. It seemed to be tracking me. I'm not sure what it was." Later we looked at the footage, and sure enough...it's a big wide shot because it's a GoPro - one of those portable cameras you can stick on your head. When you blow it up, you see a bipedal form - so someone with 2 legs, sloped shoulders, and an ovoid head. It stopped behind the tree, just waiting. It's waiting for our guy to move. As soon as he moves, it steps forward, and he walks out. You can see the split in the light as he walks out out of the woods, into the next area. So, is it definitve proof? No. But it's unusual, and strange, also given the fact that people have seen someone they've described as white-haired, and ape-like, moving in there the day before.

6. So how do you know it's not an escaped gorilla, or a bear, or something?

Yeah, well, it definitely wasn't a bear. That's for sure. We ruled out fellow cast members because they weren't there. So could it have been a person? Yeah, it's possible that it could be a person. It'd be a really weird person. Most people come up to us, and ask, "What are y'll doing?" Whatever this was, it was hiding. Basically, with all of the vertical lines in the woods, if Bigfoot stood still, you'd never see him. So this thing was poised behind the tree, and then going ahead and moving. They don't have bear caves in Louisiana, so, once in a blue moon, you could get a bear, but they're not common, let's put it that way.

7. The reason I asked that is because the description for the episode says, "Several locals have reported seeing a small orangutan-like creature, monkey-like, near the woods" so I was gonna ask, "How do they know it's not some kind of monkey" but that's not the 8 foot one you mentioned.

You're right. That's kind of the fun part of the show, like "What the heck is going on?" Because we know about Bigfoot sightings, but what's this about monkeys? It's bizarre, right? Consistently across three eyewitnesses there, had referenced... there's a skull that shows up, a small ape-like creature, and it ties into something they call a Devil Monkey in lore across the south. We get into a lot of that, an escaped circus animal and all kinds of ideas about what it could be. It's unusual. Is it a baby Bigfoot? One lady describes an orangutan-like creature at one point.

8. Why are there so few clear Bigfoot photos?

Well, I've done shows on feral hogs. There are 8 million of those in the U.S. now, between domesticated pigs that have escaped as well as the descendents of the wild boar that were brought here in the turn of the 20th century. You don't see those. You'd never know they're there. They only move at night. Unless you specifically go hunt them with dogs, you're not going to see a feral hog. The idea with Bigfoot is that he or she's mostly moving at night. By the way, they've talked about different varieties (3-toed, 4-toed and 5-toed). They think there's some kind of in-breeding going on. They think the ones that are 3-toed are more aggressive. There's a whole school of thought about it, with the GCBRO. Based on 20 years of research about it. It's one of those things, like, "Have you ever seen a baby pigeon?" You don't even see dead bear carcasses...bears that have died of natural causes in the woods. If there are just a few of them, and they're moving at night, and they're cautious...then, it's possible.

9. How are Southern Bigfoot different than ones in other areas of the US?

Based on what Jim Lonsdale and Bobby Hamilton from the GCBRO are saying, it is a very different creature. The eyewitness descriptions, the ones that we've interviewed, as well...talk about something sleeker, streamlined. Red-haired or silver-haired, which was really unusual, I thought. I'd never heard that red-haired thing before. And the fact that they can drop to all fours and run through the thickets because that's the big thing down there. The jungle is very dense. I worked in Africa, and the Congo, and I've worked many times in the Amazon. When we get in those thick woods in Louisiana and Texas, it's just as tough as any of those other environments I've worked in. So the creatures would have to drop to all fours to move at high speed. That's what the theory is; that's what Jim and the others believe. They have reports of them running at speed on all fours.

10. We see a lot of places where people have encroached on animals' habitats. Is it possible that's what's happening with the Bigfoot?

Yeah, exactly. That is a good point because the funny thing is...the hunters refer to themselves as rednecks, but they're the most environmental rednecks I've ever met. They really are concerned about fracking and over-logging, over-foresting. It's bad for all of the habitats and wildlife. They're hunters, traditional hunters, not trophy-hunters. They're woodsmen. They respect the forest and the animals. They shoot an animal, they skin it and eat it. So, yeah, they think the habitat is shrinking and the Bigfoot are coming more into the places with human contact. Especially these places we go to, which are on the edge of the forest. Many of the places we went to were like the area in Texas called the Big Thicket where you've got 200 or 300 miles of wilderness. We have reports of wolves or panthers, and other large predators there. So, yeah, it could definitely be attributed to habitat destruction. (He speaks some more about talking with native Americans and how they believe in the Bigfoot as if it were any other creature)

11. A lot of the Bigfoot lore seems to consider them some kind of mystical beast. Do you think it's possible that it's just some kind of animal that we haven't discovered yet?

Yeah, that's a part of the big debate between these different groups. One side says you can't kill one because it's humanlike...it would be murder." Then GCBRO says, "No, it's a big ape." It lives in holes in the ground and doesn't have tools. It fits the description of animal in most people's minds. The group we refer to in the show, one of the main spokespersons (a psychologist) feels that you should not treat Bigfoot aggressively. He was with the GCBRO but changed his mind about it. So now they go into the woods and want to treat Bigfoot like a tribal people. This is really interesting to me as a filmmaker. I had no idea this was going on down in the South. There are people who go into the woods and they leave food for Bigfoot. They want to commune with Bigfoot. They feel that there's a psychic connection, in many cases, between humans and Bigfoot. To the GCBRO, this is all craziness. They don't believe in any of that. They'd rather just get a specimen, once and for all, and then maybe it can be protected. They said that in the show. Maybe it can be protected in a national park or something. But you gotta know it exists...unlike science, government... no one will believe it.

12. Can't they shoot it with a non-lethal weapon?

Well, that's another good point. I've been in Africa tranquilizing lions. In fact, we had one wake up early and we had to run to our cars. It was kind of crazy. You don't know the dosage for an animal this size. When we're in Africa, and we've got a veterinarian with us, and we see them, visually. They're on a big plain. You can go, okay, that's a 400 lb. animal, and it's a cat, so I know I need this kind of medication. But when you're dealing with an unknown animal, and then there's the idea that once the adrenaline is pumping...you don't know how effective it's gonna be. That kind of thing has led to people almost being eaten by hippos. They still don't know what the dosage is for a hippo. It changes depending on its mood. It's not a hunting gun. You can't go hunt an animal with a tranquilizer gun. You can't have 20 pretend guns out there. It's not practical. You're trying to find this animal and it's right on top of you. If it is there and it does indeed exist. That would be very difficult to do.

13. That makes perfect sense. And I didn't know that hippos eat people or attack them, either.

Oh, my God. We were going to do a documentary about this. There's footage of a guy in the water, and a hippo about two feet from his leg, with his mouth open, and the tranquilizer wasn't effective. Hippos kill more people in Africa than any other animal.

14. You mentioned Sasquatch and Yeti. Do they have Bigfoot all over the world, then?

Yes. The sightings of these animals...hairy giants, human-like, ape-like, are on virtually every continent. In Russia, they're called Almas; in China, they're called Yeren. In Vietnam they have one...you know, recently...this is an interesting thing. You've heard of the Wild Men of Borneo and that sort of thing? About ten years ago, they found some bones in a cave in that part of the world, in Indonesia...they couldn't believe it because it looked like a fully-formed, tiny human. Then they found more. Some scientists argued that they had a disease, they're not fully-formed people, etc. But in the end, they decided that this was a new type of human. They mostly refer to it as the Hobbit people. They think that as recently as the 1600 or 1700's, these tiny humans... all different species of human beings... existed in the islands. They were very small, like 3 foot-something, and they hunted. They have a pigmy elephant there, and a giant forest rat (a rat the size of a dog, and an elephant the size of a large dog) Then they have komodo dragons, which would have been like real dragons to these tiny people. So it's a whole fantasy world come true. That's just in the last ten years, and we didn't even know that they existed. So it makes you think about things like Bigfoot or the Yeti.

15. So why do so many scientists just dismiss it as folklore? Is it just because there's no physical evidence?

Yeah, they need a body. They need to see it [Laughs]. Obviously, to them it's in the realm of UFO's and that sort of thing. Blurry photos...I mean, the best evidence remains that Patterson footage from 1967. 16mm film shot by two cowboys from Yakima, Washington. That footage...if it's a suit, it's the best damn suit that anyone's ever made because they tried to copy it and no one looked anywhere near as convincing as that footage. It's never really been disproved. They can't figure out how it was done, particularly of that "Patty" as they called it, is female and has breasts. When she turns to look at the guy, the breasts kind of sway. You go, "If you were gonna hoax something, why go to all that trouble to make it female?" So it's unusual, the details in it, and it still hasn't ever been explained.

So scientists are really waiting for that definitive proof. The body or a piece of it.

16. If the series is successful, do you think you'll have enough for a second season?

Well, we'd all love to do a second season. Of course, yes. We'd love to do more. I've already been talking to the guys, and there's so many more cases coming in all the time. Every month, each of them gets probably half a dozen reports. Out of those, probably 2 or 3 they feel are really worthwhile to follow up on. We met some very interesting and compelling people on our expedition down there. People are quite credible in their descriptions of what they're seeing and what the behavior of this creature was. Then our crew's close encounter with something weird. It made us think that there is something really going on there.

17. Anything else you'd like to tell people about watching the show?

Well, the title is kind of out there to get people interested in it, but it's not really a hunting show, and it's not a show all about guns. These guys aren't murdering, cold-hearted people. They're really good guys, family guys. I think it's important to know that these are all professionals. You've got land-surveyors, engineers, geologists, some ex-law enforcement, combat veterans, and ex-National Guard. These guys are very capable and intelligent. They're moving in an interesting world that they inhabit, exploring Bigfoot and responding to people's calls for help. It's not like they just woke up and decided to do it. They've been committed to it for 12 years. Bobby Hamilton, the founder...he had an experience as a child that kind of shook him to his core. A Bigfoot creature came to his window as a kid. He was so traumatized by it that he's kinda made it his life's mission to find and prove the existence of this creature. The guys are really interesting. They're a pretty cool bunch of guys. They're not just out there, having a good time. There's no drinking allowed or even smoking on the hunts. They're very professional about it.

MORE INFORMATION:

'Killing Bigfoot' on Destination America to Premiere February 4

DESTINATION AMERICA’S ALL-NEW SERIES “KILLING BIGFOOT SEARCHES FOR THE LEGENDARY CREATURE, DEAD OR ALIVE

(Silver Spring, Md.) – Deep in the heart of Texas, Bobby Hamilton has been on the hunt for Bigfoot ever since encountering the monster as a child. Decades later, the world still doesn’t have definitive proof of Bigfoot’s existence. That’s where Bobby, his friend Jim Lansdale, and their team of monster hunters, known as the Gulf Coast Bigfoot Research Organization (GCBRO), have decided to take matters into their own hands. Down south, the hunters believe a sleeker, faster and more aggressive type of Bigfoot is attacking people’s homes, farm animals and pets. In the all-new series KILLING BIGFOOT, GCBRO is on a mission to help families terrorized by Bigfoot and prove once and for all that the fabled creature exists by killing one specimen – and providing a body of definitive scientific proof. The six-episode first season of KILLING BIGFOOT premieres Saturday, February 4 at 10/9c on Destination America.

Under Bobby and Jim’s leadership, the members of GCBRO come from vastly diverse backgrounds including civil engineering, IT and corporate technology, and private investigation and surveillance. The team also includes former cops, National Guard and military veterans, a medical tech, and even a coroner’s “body removal specialist.” GCBRO’s main goal is to help those frightened by alleged recent encounters with Bigfoot, but however well-intentioned GCBRO’s mission may be, their extreme objective to kill even one Bigfoot puts them at odds with many in the crypto-zoological community who do not want to see one dead.

This season of KILLING BIGFOOT includes the following episodes:

Season Premiere: Saturday, February 4 at 10/9c

Three members of GCBRO speak at the Honobia Bigfoot Conference in Oklahoma, where they meet angry resistance from those who want Bigfoot left in peace. The team is called away to Louisiana, where new evidence has been unearthed following an alleged Bigfoot hit and run: a tiny primate-like skull with teeth, which they send to a DNA lab for testing. Several locals have reported seeing a small orangutan-like creature and hearing monkey-like sounds near the woods. GCBRO organize a night hunt during which they have a frightening close-encounter and then possibly capture footage of Bigfoot itself.

Saturday, February 11 at 10/9c

A report comes in to the GCBRO of a terrifying Bigfoot encounter on the Dyess family’s 5,000-acre wooded farm in the swampy Sabine River area of southwest Louisiana. Family members have heard mysterious screaming at night and taken casts of huge, unidentified animal tracks found on the property. GCBRO steps in to try to bring peace to the Dyess farm and, in the process, has a possible nighttime encounter with Bigfoot. Meanwhile, GCBRO has a run-in with their old teammate-turned-rival Dr. Web Sentell, a neuro-psychologist and Bigfoot no-kill advocate who wants to prove he can find one of the creatures using a gentle, alternative: flute playing and food offerings. The benefits of killing or not killing Bigfoot in the South becomes a major argument between Sentell and GCBRO.

Saturday, February 18 at 10/9c

With cases flooding into GCBRO headquarters, Jim is intrigued by the reports but overwhelmed by requests for assistance. They need new hunters if they want to keep up with the demand. While Jim and Don Don visit a biker whose family had a face-to-face encounter with Bigfoot deep in the Mississippi woods, the process of interviewing new recruits begins: culminating in a series of challenging tests. The candidate search might be just as difficult as finding Bigfoot itself, but a night hunt with the most viable recruits shows off the talents they could bring to GCBRO.

Saturday, February 25 at 10/9c

The team gets excited by a report from a woman in east Texas, Anna, who claims she shot at Bigfoot in her backyard to protect her daughter and save her dog. A wounded monster should be easy to track down. GCBRO races down to meet her and check out the game camera photos she captured. Anna shows them an unidentified hair sample she found attached to her shoe that is sent away for DNA analysis. Before embarking on their night hunt back at Anna’s property, the team visits a nearby sighting eyewitness who leads the team to possible Bigfoot nests. That evening, the hunt reveals Bigfoot trails, tracks and some very close calls.

Saturday, March 4 at 10/9c

GCBRO member Don goes on a local TV show to reach out to the public to come forward with their Bigfoot sightings in the Mississippi area. GCBRO receives a report from a frightened rural family that claims Bigfoot killed several of their dogs and even attacked a young man. The team to meets Minnie and her family in a rural farming community, where they will conduct a series of night hunts to get to the bottom of the attacks. The hunt is on when another of the owner’s dogs goes missing. A hair sample is brought to Bigfoot forensics expert M.K. Davis.

Saturday, March 11 at 10/9c

Jessica and her physically challenged husband Bret live in a heavily wooded area of Texas. They say they’re being terrorized by Bigfoot pounding on the walls of their house, and screaming and wailing in the night. Bret also believes he saw a huge Bigfoot run in front of his car, and so he calls GCBRO to try and locate the creature that is frightening them. The team finds tracks around the house, including a huge handprint in the mud that’s twice the size of a human hand. The final night hunt of the season sends GCBRO in search of a giant, rogue Bigfoot.

KILLING BIGFOOT is produced by Gryphon Productions/Monster Hunters Productions for Destination America. For Gryphon Productions, Peter von Puttkamer is executive producer and Sheera von Puttkamer is producer. For Destination America, Fay Yu is executive producer, Jane Latman is general manager, and Henry Schleiff is Group President of Investigation Discovery, American Heroes Channel, and Destination America.

About Destination America

As the only network that celebrates the people, places, and stories of the United States Destination America is an inclusive network targeting Adults 25-54 and is available in 56 million homes. From spine-tingling campfire tales to uncovering history’s greatest mysteries, the network’s original series showcase the curiosity and adventurous spirit at the heart of being American, with original series like Paranormal Lockdown; A Haunting; Mountain Monsters; Ghost Brothers; Ghost Asylum, and more. For more information, please visit DestinationAmerica.com, facebook.com/DestinationAmerica, or twitter.com/DestAmerica. Destination America is part of Discovery Communications (Nasdaq: DISCA, DISCB, DISCK), the world’s #1 pay-tv programmer reaching nearly 3 billion cumulative subscribers in 220 countries and territories.

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