(I’m guessing that bigfoot is hanging out next to the 400 foot waterfall at Whiskeytown….cd)
By ALEX BREITLER
Scripps-McClatchy Western Service
August 13, 2005
HAPPY CAMP, Calif. – Tom Biscardi is on the hunt for Bigfoot, and you’re invited to join him.
For a fee, that is.
The controversial Sasquatch sleuth has embarked on yet another expedition, this time in western Siskiyou County where a flurry of sightings has been reported in recent weeks.
This time, Biscardi is broadcasting his search on the Internet, saying he hopes to bring viewers around the world a genuine Bigfoot encounter – like the one he claimed to have had near Burney, Calif., earlier this year.
Happy Camp has mixed feelings about this Bigfoot business. Some boldly back Biscardi while others skewer him for inviting ridicule into their community.
“There’s the old-timers that are saying, ‘Yeah, there’s something up here,’ ” said Vickie Schmalzbach, who owns JavaBobs Bigfoot Deli with her husband, Bob. “And then there’s the group that says, ‘Oh, brother.’ ”
Three cameras are documenting the 90-day expedition around the clock. The cost to viewers is $14.95 for a seven-day pass and $59.95 for all 90 days.
Biscardi, a former show producer from Las Vegas, said he’s been exploring the woods since Saturday. Braving triple-digit temperatures and swarms of mosquitoes, he’s been busy clearing brush, positioning cameras and riding ATVs along what he believes to be a Bigfoot migration route.
He said he thinks two creatures living in the area are responsible for recent sightings, at least two of which involved motorists on Highway 96.
“We’re very, very close,” Biscardi said last week. “This is one of the hottest areas I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Besides footage from his jaunts through the woods, the video feeds also feature locals sharing breathless accounts of Bigfoot encounters, re-enactments of those sightings and interviews with primate experts, Biscardi said.
Why charge the viewing public? Biscardi pegs the cost of the expedition at about $400,000 so far. He said he needs the money to pay his 16-member crew and to purchase the equipment needed to hunt the beast and broadcast the adventure.
“This stuff didn’t cost 20 cents,” he said.
Biscardi, 57, has made ambitious plans to track and even capture Bigfoot in the past, including the use of net grenade launchers or even “sleep bombs” that would be dropped on the creature from the air.
This time he has a “secret weapon” that he won’t discuss.
He will say that his broadcast has more than 40,000 subscribers, some from as far away as Ireland, Russia and Poland. Many likely found out about Biscardi’s mission during recent coast-to-coast radio broadcasts.
He has already gained some notoriety for claims that he’s spotted Bigfoot five times in more than three decades of searching.
Back in Happy Camp, some residents say their town shouldn’t embrace the expedition, arguing it promotes the region for the wrong reasons. On Tuesday, a television news crew from the San Francisco Bay Area toured the area with Biscardi.
“Those in town supporting this idea that Bigfoot exists are doing it simply to make money,” wrote John Goodwin in a recent letter to the online Happy Camp News. “Guess what? Happy Camp looks ridiculous as a result.”
Even some Bigfoot believers say Biscardi is a big faker.
“It’s the phoniest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life,” said longtime Bigfoot enthusiast John Green.
Green, who lives in British Columbia, Canada, won’t be subscribing to the pay-per-view service.
“It’s just a scam,” he said Tuesday. “I don’t think he (Biscardi) is even interested in looking for Bigfoot.”
Green’s skepticism is rooted in the fact that Biscardi has ties to Ivan Marx, a Burney hunting guide who claimed to catch Bigfoot on film in 1970. The film was later deemed a hoax.
But Bob Schmalzbach – whose deli offers “sandwiches that can satisfy Sasquatch” – says Biscardi seems to be on the level. Heck, the 56-year-old Schmalzbach has joined in the search.
His deli serves as headquarters and has become a clearinghouse of Bigfoot info, offering a place for residents to share their sightings in secrecy.
Happy Camp, population 1,100, hosts a Bigfoot Jamboree each Labor Day. “We have statues of Bigfoot,” Schmalzbach said. “Everything’s Bigfoot this, Bigfoot that.”
But Schmalzbach guesses many residents who’ve seen the mythical monster don’t want to come forward.
Biscardi said he hopes to add to Happy Camp’s legacy. Folks can sign up for the Bigfoot broadcasts on his Web site.
Buyers, beware. The fine print offers this unusual disclaimer:
“This subscription does not guarantee that you will personally witness a Bigfoot encounter.”