Cryptozoology: The study of "hidden animals," includes Bigfoot, Loch Ness Monsters, Yeti, Myakka Skunk Ape, and hundreds of other cryptids.

 
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Paul Freeman (August 10, 1943-April 2, 2003)
Bigfoot Dermals Discoverer Has Died
 

 
Longtime Bigfoot hunter Paul Freeman, 59, died this morning, April 2, 2003, at his Airway Heights home, located near Spokane, Washington, according his family and long-time friend Vance Orchard.

Paul Freeman has been a part of the Bigfoot scene since June 10, 1982, when, near Walla Walla, Washington, he first encountered a hairy, reddish-brown Bigfoot, nearly 8 feet tall. The muscular, bearded, 6-foot-4-inches tall, 265 pound Freeman was working as a watershed patroller for the U.S. Forest Service.

"He was 60 yards away," Freeman recalled for reporter David Foster in 1997. "I watched him walk the length of two football fields. He'd take a few steps, look back at me, and take a few more steps. Then he went up over a hill and disappeared."

"When word got out," wrote Foster, "Freeman became an instant celebrity, but the fame was spiked with ridicule. Reporters hounded him. His supervisors doubted him. Anonymous callers said he was crazy and threatened to take his three children away. Freeman quit his Forest Service job and moved away, drifting through a series of jobs. A gnawing need for vindication, he says, drew him back to Walla Walla in 1984."

Once back in the Walla Walla area, Paul Freeman became an almost full-time Bigfoot hunter. After the late Dr. Grover Krantz began finding dermal ridges in Freeman-discovered plaster casts in the 1980s, Freeman gained some respectability. In the 2003 book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America, it is noted that the Paul Freeman's footcasts were the critical piece of evidence that convinced Krantz of the reality of Sasquatch. It was a turning point for Bigfoot studies.

Others did not know what to make of Freeman's claims. The late Canadian Sasquatch researcher Rene Dahinden thought Freeman might just be a publicity-seeker. And Freeman's old Forest Service employers regularly would withhold comment about Freeman's findings.

Still, some people such as newspaper columnist Vance Orchard chronicled Freeman's quest as compelling, and discussed what the Washington State man found in the way of Bigfoot tracks and other evidence. In the last few years, Dr. Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University grew to know Freeman well, and closely studied the dermal ridges in the Walla Walla footcasts, with much interest. In the 1990s, Freeman began taking photographs and films at an increasing rate. In the 2003 Discovery Channel documentary, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science, a segment of one of Paul Freeman's footage is examined. 

Freeman tracked Bigfoot in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, sometimes three days a week, late in the 1990s, and put $50,000 into the search. But, for Freeman, he readily admitted that he never made any real money for his Bigfoot work, only earning $2,000 once, from appearing in an ice cream commercial featuring people who do unbelievable things.

Loren Coleman 2003

Cryptozoologist Loren Coleman is the author of
twenty books, including Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America (Paraview Pocket, 2003). His website is www.lorencoleman.com.

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