'Sasquatch' on Hulu: A Brief History of Bigfoot Sightings

Sasquatch, just released on Hulu, is a true crime documentary with a twist. At its heart is the death of three farm workers found ripped to shreds in California's so-called Emerald Triangle of Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties. Locals told investigative reporter David Holthouse, who at the time was staying in a cabin next to a marijuana farm (hence this series' 4/20 release date), that these men were killed by the legendary Sasquatch, aka the Bigfoot.

The Hulu doc then explores three potential angles: That the Bigfoot was responsible, that the men were killed by a local drug kingpin or that the incident never happened.

The men's claims of a Bigfoot butchering these men are particular to this area of California, where most of the so-called evidence for the existence of a Sasquatch comes from.

The name "Bigfoot" itself dates from 1958. That year, a local named Jerry Crew discovered a set of gigantic footprints in Humboldt County. He then told his co-workers, who also claimed to have seen similar prints. The local paper called the creature that left these prints "Bigfoot," and the story was then picked up across the U.S.

sasquatch hulu
Still from Hulu's "Sasquatch." Hulu

A possible explanation for these prints did not emerge until 2003, when a Missouri man named Ray Wallace died, leaving his family to go public with the claim that he had created the prints using a pair of fake carved wooden feet.

Humboldt County was also the place where, in 1967, the Patterson–Gimlin film was shot. The 50-second piece of shakily-shot film shows what some believe to be a female Bigfoot among the trees. The filmmakers, Robert Gimlin and Roger Patterson, have always claimed that the footage is real, with the latter maintaining it was not a hoax until his death in 1972.

A number of scientific analyses of the film, the look of the creature and the way it walked have made arguments that the film shows a person in a suit, though this has never been conclusively proven either way.

California is the second state with the most sightings of what people allege to be Bigfoot. According to data collected by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), California has had over 450 sightings since the 1950s.

Humboldt has the highest number of alleged sightings of any of the state's counties with 44. This is likely partly due to the county heavily investing in the Bigfoot brand, with a Bigfoot Restaurant and The Bigfoot Taproom ("The Missing Link Between Man and Beer" per its website) as well as a restaurant that calls itself "home of the Bigfoot burger").

Sasquatch spotted!!! I'm not superstitious... just a little stitious. Have you noticed something strange on our Sherman Pass/SR 20 webcam before? If you look closely by the tree on the left there looks to be something... might be Sasquatch... We will leave that up to you! pic.twitter.com/RaDGqQdEUF

— WSDOT East (@WSDOT_East) January 22, 2020

Washington is the state with the most Bigfoot sightings with nearly 700 per the BFRO. The state even brought the Sasquatch into the social media age, when the official department of transport Twitter account for the state posted an image in January 2020 captioned, "Sasquatch spotted!!! I'm not superstitious... just a little stitious. Have you noticed something strange on our Sherman Pass/SR 20 webcam before? If you look closely by the tree on the left there looks to be something... might be Sasquatch... We will leave that up to you!"

These 20th and 21st century sightings are predated by centuries of local lore about large ape men. Indiginous myths on America's west coast describe similar creatures named sasquatch (a Salish Sasquits term), witiko and wendigo (Algonquin names).

Sasquatch is streaming now on Hulu.