MOREHEAD — Eastern Kentucky is known for its hunting possibilities — deer, turkey, elk and even black bears. But Bigfoot? Not so much.
That might be changing, however, as the second Bigfoot hunt in less than five months was scheduled for Saturday night in the Daniel Boone National Forest near Cave Run Lake.
These particular hunters were armed with nothing more lethal than infrared cameras and laser pointers. About 50 registrants paid $75 apiece to attend the event, which included afternoon lectures and presentations at the Hampton Inn in Morehead.
[Editor's note added Sept. 12, 2012: A participant in the Bigfoot hunt later told the Bluefield Daily Telegraph that she had seen Bigfoot during the hunt.]
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Paranormal researcher Chad Morin said he paid $150 for a permit from the U.S. Forest Service for the night hunt, which was to last until 2 a.m. Sunday. He said the document reads "Permit to hunt Bigfoot."
Morin hosted another Bigfoot hunt April 21 near Morehead. "We saw so much weird stuff we had to make a second run," he said.
Morin showed the audience an infrared-camera video taken in April that showed an indistinct "heat signature" of ... something. One of the hunters directed a laser pointer at the object, but it didn't move, Morin said.
"Now, think about this," Morin told the audience. "If you're a person in the woods, and there's a huge group of people pointing laser pointers at you in the middle of the night — we're the scary ones now, you know what I'm saying? But the object doesn't move at all. It's just standing there."
Charlie Raymond, founder of the Kentucky Bigfoot Research Organization, said the group has received more than 230 reports of sightings since its founding in 1998.
"We meet the witnesses in person, so we validate that they're credible as best we can," Raymond said.
Anderson, Bullitt, Carter, Ohio and Henderson counties are "hot areas" for sightings, Raymond said.
Participants could buy boxed "evidence kits" for $25 that included plastic bags, specimen cups and tweezers to collect sasquatch scat and hair in the field. The kits also included ingredients to take plaster casts of footprints. A book titled The Beginner's Guide to Bigfoot Research was for sale, next to another paperback titled Zombies: What You Need to Know or You'll Die.
Participants who were interviewed would give only their first names. Lori of Frankfort said her husband, Jim, is a fan of Bigfoot-sighting shows.
"We thought it would be fun to be a part of one of the hunts we see on television," Lori said.
"I've always been fascinated by the whole possibility," Jim said. "I just wanted to come see what it was all about."
However, their 17-year-old son Dylan said he is skeptical that a sasquatch exists.
"If there was, somebody would have found it by now," he said.
Matt, 37, and Mark, 42, drove 170 miles and three hours from Columbus, Ohio, for the hunt. Matt said investigating the unknown was the biggest draw.
Participants at such events typically do not want to be identified because they don't want to be ridiculed, said Marilyn Carlson, director and senior investigator for the Oklahoma UFO Paranormal Team.
As for herself, Carlson said she doesn't try to persuade skeptics.
"If they don't want to believe, I'm not going to change their mind," she said. "That's their paradigm, not mine. And I feel like I don't have to prove to anybody what I've seen or what I've experienced."
If you missed Saturday's hunt, be patient. Morin said another Bigfoot hunt is planned for April 2013 in Morehead.