William Jevning’s 40-year fascination with sasquatch – the legendary creature that either exists or is the figment of imaginations – has brought him back to Graham, where it all started for him.
Jevning believes he came face to face there with a pair of sasquatches near his family’s home when he was 14. Now living in Fairfield, Calif., he’s writing his fourth book in his quest to convince the world that the animals are more than lore. He’s basing it on “previously untold” stories he heard recently from the Graham area, and he wants to hear more from anyone in Eatonville, Kapowsin and other rural Pierce County environs if they have any to tell.
In previous writing, Jevning has asserted that while “morphological similarities between the sasquatch and humans is apparent, I would not say that the sasquatch is human.” But he believes the creatures are “much closer to humans than apes.” He also notes “large gaps in the hominid fossil record. Perhaps the sasquatch is one species that fills one of those gaps.”
He concedes that skeptics, hoaxes and a sometimes mocking news media, plus the fact a sasquatch has never been captured (something he doesn’t necessarily want to happen) keep the sasquatch imaginary in most people’s minds. In an interview with The Dispatch, he explained why he thinks the creatures are very real..
Dispatch: Tell us about your years growing up in Graham, and what led you to currently live in California.
Jevning: I was born in Puyallup and we lived in Orting until 1970, when we moved to Graham. My parents bought a small farm on 10 acres, and it was a great place for a young boy to live.
I had never heard the word “Bigfoot” until the winter of 1972, when my friend Mark and I were walking one Saturday morning to our friend John Adams’ home and we came across three sets of large, human-like footprints in the snow. When we told John’s father what we found, he grabbed his .45 pistol and camera and asked us to take him to the tracks. After photographing them, he explained as best he could what made them. This really excited us at 14-year-olds, and we spent many weekends in the nearby forests looking for more evidence, but didn’t find any more trace of the creatures. We didn’t think much about them again until the evening in the fall of 1974 when I encountered two of them near my home.
I moved to California two years ago because my fiancee lives here.
Dispatch: You had what you describe as a close encounter with a sasquatch in 1974. What happened?
Jevning: Just before dark, my collie began barking furiously toward the tree line closest to our barn. My dad told me that I should watch for raccoons and skunks and to shoot them if they came in the yard because they might have distemper and infect my dog or sister’s cats. We kept my dog tethered to his doghouse at night to prevent his roaming to neighbor farms and getting into trouble.
I got one of my .22 rifles and a couple shells and released my dog, which immediately ran fast toward the tree line. I followed him, but he was ahead of me by a hundred feet or so. When he reached the edge of the forest, he froze and stood there growling low in his throat, and before I reached his location he turned and ran past me as fast as he could, not stopping until he reached the porch and sat there shivering.
I could hear something moving in the dry leaves inside the trees and walked in to see what was there, ready to shoot what I thought to be just a small animal. Just 15 feet, approximately, to my front was a huge creature resembling a man. But it was about eight feet tall and covered with dark hair that was between two and six inches long, with pieces of vegetation in the hair as though it had walked through brush and gotten this material stuck in it. It was moving the leaves on the ground with its right foot, which looked very much like a person’s foot except for being covered with hair. I could see the foot tendons flex as the foot moved.
When the creature saw me, it stopped and just stood there looking at me, I estimated its weight at least 800 pounds, and having grown up on a farm and seeing my dad butchering cows and pigs,\ and hunting with him, I knew animal weights pretty good.
I thought I knew wildlife pretty well, but I was shocked at what I was looking at and wondered what it could be. Then it came to me that this must be what made the footprints we found in 1972. I knew my rifle was too small to do anything to something so large, so I decided to shoot in the air to see what it would do. When I shot I heard a noise to my right, and from behind some thick bushes walked out a second creature like the first. This one was smaller than the first, between six and seven feet tall. It walked over and stood by the first creature. That’s when I decided to get out of there quickly, not knowing what they would do to me.
I called my friends who lived closest, and we decided to meet at my house the following morning at dawn to track the creatures. We didn’t tell our parents – they made fun of us when we found the tracks in 1972. We met at first light with our rifles and tracked the two creatures in the heavy frost on the ground, until the sun came out and melted the tracks.
Dispatch: How many other encounters of one type or another have you had, and were any as close as the one in 1974?
Jevning: I saw a sasquatch one other time in 1988 in southwest Washington. A number of us had found sasquatch footprints in the spring in snow along the Washougal River the previous spring, so I wanted to look the area over better. As we drove along the river, I saw movement to my left just across the river, and there moving away from our approach was a very large, gray-colored Sasquatch. It was between 60 and 100 feet from us, and several members of our group got a very good look at it. It moved quickly and was out of sight in the thick brush before I could focus my camera. I collected reports by people in the region covering the previous 20 years (who had) seen the same creature.
Dispatch: What’s your reply to skeptics who don’t believe sasquatch exist?
Jevning: I have had a very good rapport with skeptics over the years, and I believe many don’t understand how long or full the history of the sasquatch is. While there are as of yet nodirect fossil remains of the sasquatch specifically, there is one which was larger than the sasquatch of today. A species named Gigantopithecus is said by scientists to have become extinct about 10,000 years ago. It grew to upward ranges of 12 feet in height and 1,200 pounds, by Chinese scientists’ estimations based on fossils of the creatures. This makes the possibility of the sasquatch much more likely, not to mention vast historical records in many countries (of creatures) such as Ogres, frost giants, the woodwose and the wendigo. Native American tribal histories are full of references to the creatures; with hundreds of names. They have a prominent place in native stories.
Spanish missionaries collected stories from tribes 300 years ago, and newspaper accounts so far date back to 1818 and can be found every decade from that time to the present. There is yet much to be discovered. For example the mountain gorilla was only discovered in 1902.
Evidence presented since the 1950s has not been properly used to demonstrate the creatures existence. Also, reporters haven’t helped, often writing articles which have either made fun of witnesses or evidence being downplayed. I once read an article where footprints were relegated to a “few dozen.” The reality is when good, credible lines of sasquatch footprints are found, they number in the hundreds and thousands at times. (Sasquatch hunter) Rene Dahinden told me that in northern California in the Bluff Creek region, when roadbuilding crews found tracks one time, he counted more than 900 footprints. These were all that were left after crews had been working and had destroyed most of the new prints.
Dispatch: Do hoaxes of sasquatch sightings hurt the credibiilty of serious research and sightings?
Jevning: Hoaxes absolutely hurt all investigations into this issue. They keep the image of the issue in the realm of unbelievabl to many people who are open-minded to the possibility of the sasquatch existing, which in my experience during the past 40 years is the overwhelming majority of thousands of people I have spoken with regarding the matter. Today, this is even worse with electronic media and people seeking attention.
Dispatch: Should a sasquatch be captured for research purposes and/or to prove their existence?
Jevning: Personally, I don’t believe a sasquatch should be captured – at least not until they have been properly recognized by science and it has been determined by qualified primate specialists that it is necessary.
Dispatch: Would you mind sharing some details of your personal life –– age, family, education and professional or career endeavors.
Jevning: I’m 54. I come from a large family of five sisters and one brother. My grandparents emigrated from Norway, and my parents moved to the Puget Sound area prior to World War II. I attended Washington State University at Vancouver, where I majored in psychology.
During the 1980s and ’90s, I was president of the board of directors for a non-profit research organization called the Pacific Coast Sasquatch Investigation Team (PCSIT). My friends and I created the original incarnation of this group after meeting world-famous sasquatch hunters John Green and Dahinden in 1975 as a result of their asking us to assist them in field work searching for evidence of the creatures. We originally called our group the Pierce County Sasquatch Investigation Team. It numbered 10 members. I moved to Vancouver (Wash.) in 1986, and friends urged me to begin work in Clark and Skamania counties and we reconstituted the organization. It remains the only non-profit organization to search for evidence to prove the existence of the Sasquatch.
Currently my organization is Jevning Research. It’s my continued quest for evidence and helping to educate the public about these creatures. My group is much smaller than the PCSIT, which we disbanded in 1998 when I relocated to the Puget Sound area to help care for my elderly father. PCSIT averaged 100 members, and Jevning Research is a small professional team of six members.
I’ve been writing for the past 10 years and am the author of “Notes From the Field: Tracking North America’s Sasquatch,” “Haunted Valley” and “In Search of the Unknown.” I’m working on two new book projects. I can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at Jevning Research, 3336 N. Texas St., Suite J-340, Fairfield, CA 94533.