Is Bigfoot alive and well, and living in Minnesota? It depends on what you make of a photo that looks like (a) the mythical beast or (b) a really tall guy in a black jacket and hood.
Brothers Peter and Casey Kedrowski, who classify themselves as typically skeptical, say they set up a motion-activated camera outside of their family's hunting shack in the woods a few months ago before deer season. They just wanted to see what might be wandering around their property. When the hunting season began, they took down the camera and forgot about it.
A few weeks later they decided to look at the pictures. And what they saw on the night of October 24 -- a giant, fuzzy creature walking upright -- shocked them. "We just looked at each other," Casey said. "Each of us thought we were playing a trick on each other."
When they swore neither one was playing a prank on the other, they checked around to see if anyone had been in the area that night. Tim said the only neighbors were two elderly hunters in their own shack, neither of who matched the size and appearance of the thing caught on camera.
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But the men did say they went out at about 2 a.m. that morning to use the outhouse and had heard strange squealing noises. Tim said he asked them to show him the direction of the sounds. They pointed to the area where the camera was. But Casey and Tim never told anyone, let alone these two men, where they put the camera.
The brothers didn't know what to do next. So they consulted the Minnesota Bigfoot Web site (of course one exists), which led them to Don Sherman and Bob Olson, the Northern Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team (yes, that exists as well).
Sherman has been on the hunt for Bigfoot for a while now. He has responded to numerous sightings in the area since 2006, and has made casts of footprints. He also claims to have caught an image of the creature on a thermal imaging camera, and even heard its call.
Sherman has analyzed the Kedrowskis' photo, and believes it's the real deal. He estimates this Bigfoot's height at 7-feet tall.
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While Sherman is convinced Bigfoot is real, others are a bit more skeptical. "Personally, I don't buy the fact this thing exists," said Blane Klemek, assistant wildlife manager with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Bemidji.
He points out that no one has ever found a Bigfoot carcass. "All organisms die; they don't just go away," Klemek said. "You'd think someone someday would find one."
Evan Hazard, Bemidji State University retired mammalogist, also expressed doubt about the Bigfoot's existence. "I just don't know," he said. "My background in mammalogy makes me skeptical, not expert. My inclination is to say we really don't have good evidence."
Hazard said proof would be a clear photo matched with footprints at the same site -- multiple pieces of overlapping evidence.
As anxious as everyone is to find Bigfoot, no one wants to see it dead. "I've talked to people who've had them in their sights and their scopes, and they said they couldn't pull the trigger," said Sherman.
Tim Kedrowski said his sons wouldn't either. "Absolutely not -- no way, said Tim in a telephone interview with the San Jose Mercury News. "I asked my sons would they shoot it, and they said no. It has every right to live." The same, it can be assumed, cannot be said for the deer they hunt.