|Wild Creek Bigfoot
Photo Property of Cliff Crook
Back in 1995, an off-duty forest ranger allegedly took a series of seven 35mm photos of a Bigfoot-type creature in the Wild Creek area of Washington State, near Mt. Rainier. Not wanting to draw attention to himself or put his career in jeopardy, the ranger was said to have sold the photos to sculptor and (controversial) Bigfoot researcher, Cliff Crook. The photo above is the only one of the set to be widely circulated among the public, appearing in quite a few books about Bigfoot, cryptozoology, and all things strange and unexplained.
In fact, that’s how I first became familiar with this photo. I was watching a YouTube video (I really wish I could remember who the creator was so I can credit them) of a guy talking about some of the books he had read as a child. He happened to show this photo, which appeared in one of those books, and noted that it scared the crap out of him at the time. I immediately thought the photo looked familiar, so I assume that I had probably also come across it at some point in my younger days, as I was devouring anything and everything I could find written about anomalous phenomena.
But unlike this YouTuber, I don’t remember ever being scared by the image. Rather, I thought it was pretty hilarious to look at! I’m not sure if it has something to do with the Uncanny Valley, or if my love of movies like Clash of the Titans (1981) influenced me, but I never thought this thing looked like a living, breathing animal—undiscovered or not. I thought it looked like a claymation/stop-motion model of a monkey man.
And, as an adult, I’m pretty relieved to find out that most people agree with me! On January 30, 2010 Matt Moneymaker of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization (BFRO) wrote an article in response to Cliff Crook’s continued promotion of this image (licensing it to publishers for up to $9000!). In the article, titled ‘Hoaxer Cliff Crook Promoting Phony Photo, Again,’ Moneymaker notes that Crook is a sculptor by trade, and thus this image, along with a whole collection of tracks, were merely pieces of art, photographed and passed off as the real thing. Respected researcher Doug Hajicek agreed, noting that the ‘model’ Bigfoot used was probably no bigger than a foot high. This makes total sense to me, because whenever I see this image, my mind interprets the figure as actually being very tiny. I think its mostly the vegetation in front of him. To me, those look like blades of regular ol’ grass, not waist high weeds or anything. There are no big trees in the background for perspective, just a reflection that could have been nothing more than a tiny branch. Trying to be fair, however, I sought out another analysis.
Posted on the ThinkerThunker Facebook page on October 3, 2021 is an analysis video titled ‘Shadowlands Bigfoot…Could it Be Real?’ In the analysis, ThinkerThunker kind of tears Matt Moneymaker’s article apart, pointing out the old adage, ‘just because you CAN, doesn’t mean you DO.’ In other words, although Crook was a sculptor and could have created a model, that doesn’t mean he actually did. Okay–I can see that. When I want to know for sure if something has been hoaxed or not, I like to see indisputable proof that fraud has been committed, not just a mention of that it could have happened, so it did. ThinkerThunker then delves into analyzing some facial and body proportions. The results were inconclusive, but seemed to lean to the idea that it was at least possible for this to be a real creature. He also takes at look at the fur, which is of an irregular length and hangs in wet clumps in a way that he feels would not be possible with fake fur. At this point, I’m seriously starting to believe that this guy is going to come to the conclusion that this is a photo of a real Bigfoot.
|On the right is the 2nd photo, used in
Thinker Thunker’s analysis.
Screen-shot from video.
And then a second photo emerged.
The original photo that we’ve all seen floating around for 25 years was supposedly taken from a bridge, with the forest ranger aiming the camera at a downward angle. This second shot appears to be taken at a totally different angle, from the side and much closer to the creature. Yet, in the time that it would have taken the ranger to access the other vantage point, the creature does not move at all. It doesn’t even turn it’s head (well, actually, from its lack of neck, it’d probably have to turn its whole body) to look at him, or throw up it’s arms. I don’t know where ThinkerThunker obtained the second photo (I can’t find a copy online) or if it is 100% true that it’s the same creature, but this was the smoking gun for him. That was the proof needed to declare the photo a hoax.
I think it’s safe to say that the majority of the Bigfoot research community has filed this photo away as being fraudulent, but without the rest of the photos in the set of 7 available for analysis or the true photographer coming forward, there will always be doubters. Unless Crook confesses or the actual model that was used is found, there will be someone out there who legitimately believes this goofy, neckless creature represents the Holy Grail of Bigfoot evidence.
What do you think? Could there be any chance that this photo is the real deal? Is there a piece of the puzzle I’m missing or overlooking? Or, do you agree that it’s nothing more than a hoax? Let me know down in the comments below, or join me over at Theresa’s Haunted History of the Tri-State Facebook for more discussion on this and lots of other paranormal topics!
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