The trickiest thing when writing about bigfoot is whether or not to capitalize Bigfoot.
I mean, not every bigfoot could possibly be named Bigfoot, right?
Not every wookiee is Chewbacca.
You wouldn’t just randomly capitalize Raccoon or Squirrel or Muskrat, so why does everyone insist on capitalizing Bigfoot like there’s only the one?
There are exceptions, I suppose.
Toad and Badger, Rat and Mole in “The Wind in the Willows,” for instance.
At any rate, I just couldn’t stop thinking about this as I trudged, homemade spear in hand, along a fence line near Tremont City one recent morning with a local trapper who bills himself as a cryptozoologist — that is, someone devoted to the study of species that are yet to be recognized by the scientific establishment.
But after envisioning me carrying a spear near Tremont City, I’m guessing the question of whether or not Bigfoot should be capitalized probably doesn’t matter now, does it?
I know, I know — it’s not every day that you can squeeze “spear,” “Tremont City” and “Bigfoot” all into the same sentence.
Then again, it’s not every day that you come across a guy’s business card that announces, “Now specializing in coyote capture and cryptozoology studies.”
“A lot of the nuisance animal trappers just do nuisance animals,” Mark Edwards explained. “But I’m not normal.”
Edwards, a longtime Springfield resident and security guard, has been ridding local homes and properties of groundhogs, raccoons, feral cats, snakes, bats and the like for the better part of a decade.
Two years ago, he decided to branch out and add cryptozoology to his business.
As I dialed the number on his card, I hoped to be regaled with stories of chupacabras in chimneys.
Or maybe, one time, someone in Northridge couldn’t get a mothman out of their garage.
As it turns out, the local cryptozoology industry isn’t exactly robust.
“You’re it,” Edwards, 42, confided. “You’re the only one who’s called and said, ‘Hey, I know what this is.’
“I was doing a happy dance.”
It was like — recalling “Ghostbusters” here — I called up and said the words he’d been waiting all this time to hear.
“I am the Keymaster.”
By telling me I needed to come over to his house, it was like he was saying in return, “I am the Gatekeeper.”
I was that someone who finally understood.
A father of five who’s been married for 15 years, Edwards greeted me wearing a homemade necklace adorned with a trio of polished coyote teeth.
It’s clear we bonded.
He let me touch the teeth.
“Not even the wife knows this. When people see strange things, they tend not to tell others,” Edwards said, preparing to explain how an avid outdoorsman like himself became a self-taught cryptozoologist.
“There’s no school for cryptozoology,” he added.
It all happened eight, nine years ago while bow hunting at the local reservoir.
“I’m hearing these steps out in the woods. Sounds like another hunter,” he recalled.
“I stopped. It stopped moving, too.
“You know how they talk about that feeling you’re being watched?”
He climbed into his tree stand — but he wasn’t alone in the woods that morning.
“It could’ve been a guy in a ghillie suit,” he said, “but I know what a ghillie suit looks like.”
According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization — the group that stars in Animal Planet’s “Finding Bigfoot” show — there have been almost as many alleged Bigfoot sightings in Ohio as in Oregon.
Of the state’s 221 reported sightings since the ’90s, Clark County has had five.
The state’s most recent sighting was reported this past August.
The BFRO website states the following: “A bigfoot caught staring at a lady with her puppies in Hocking Hills.”
The popularity of the Animal Planet show on Sunday nights — the season premiere earlier this month attracted 1.6 million viewers, Edwards among them — promises to do for cryptozoology what Syfy’s “Ghost Hunters” has done for paranormal enthusiasts.
I mean, everybody and their dog is out hunting for ghosts these days with video cameras.
“I’ve had my paranormal experiences,” Edwards said, his eyes widening.
“It’s not something the living should be messing with. I’d rather come face to face with angry Bigfoot than anything paranormal.
“I know he can be killed.”
Edwards then handed me two homemade spears — two sturdy tree limbs fitted with knives purchased from the Ninja Headquarters at the Upper Valley Mall.
“I call it my Bigfoot capture or escape kit,” he said.
Oh, and if I wanted to tag along with him to check his coyote trapline on a farm just outside Tremont City, he’d let me carry one.
The next morning, I felt like Marlin Perkins on his 1960 expedition to the Himalayas with Sir Edmund Hillary to seek out evidence of the Yeti.
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