In January of this year, Oklahoma state legislator J.J. Humphrey introduced a bill that would have created a designated Bigfoot hunting season in his state.
The bill failed to advance out of committee, but the idea got a lot of attention.
And that attention is apparently paying off.
According to Oklahoma News 4, Humphrey said the exposure his bill received did exactly what he wanted it to do, and has promoted interest and tourism in Southeast Oklahoma.
Just last week, Rep. Humphrey provided an update on those efforts and indicated that a TV show about searching for Bigfoot is now being filmed in the area. There is also a $3 million bounty for anyone who can prove Bigfoot is real without harming the creature.
“We don’t hunt Bigfoot. Nobody wants to harm Bigfoot. We’re going to do a live, humane capture of Bigfoot.”
“We’re extending this beyond just our region and throughout the state. We’re wanting the whole world to come to southeastern Oklahoma, to the state of Oklahoma and get involved in our bounty, Oklahoma bounty, Bigfoot bounty.
So, we’re excited to invite the whole world to come and participate.”
The clarification about not hunting Bigfoot comes on the heels of criticisms about the plan to open a Bigfoot hunting season, with many Sasquatch experts speaking out against the idea as dangerous and uncalled for.
Capturing Bigfoot, Not “Hunting”
The most vocal opponent of the previously proposed Bigfoot hunting season was D.W. Lee from the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center. He claims the species is:
“A mix between an orangutan and a human. I’ve had 26 encounters that I can say was actually a Bigfoot.”
Despite his frequent encounters, he expressed major concerns about hunting Bigfoot with firearms.
He told KTUL, the bill appears to be a money grab, a move to promote tourism in southeast Oklahoma:
“We have a hard time finding him ourselves, so what makes you think that a hunter is going to be lucky enough to find him?
I just don’t see how this bill is anything more than just an attempt to get tourist dollars for southeast Oklahoma.”
Rep. Humphrey agreed the intent behind the bill was not to kill Bigfoot, but was indeed to draw more people to the rural part of the state where the Bigfoot legend is strongest.
The Oklahoma Department of Conservation issued a brief statement indicating that all of their management plans are based on science, and they scientifically don’t recognize Bigfoot as existing.
After plans for the Bigfoot hunting season were derailed, Humphrey quickly pivoted to working with stakeholders to create a “Sasquatch Quest” style scavenger hunt that would not involve hunting Bigfoot, but rather trying to find evidence of the species existence through photographs or live trapping.
Humphrey has reportedly been working with state tourism officials to develop a promotion campaign focused on Bigfoot that includes license plates, decals, an annual commemorative tracking license as well as a new tourism focused map of the region to show visitors the best route to take to spot Bigfoot while simultaneously promoting local businesses.
Any profits generated from the new Bigfoot tourism campaign will be used to maintain the state’s lakes, parks and other infrastructure.
As for the $3 million bounty, $2 million of that is being offered by a Hollywood film company with plans to film a Bigfoot movie in the area, and the rest has been made through private donations.
Humphrey’s initial proposal suggested the state set aside a $25,000 bounty for Bigfoot’s capture, but state funding is no longer necessary thanks to outside interest in the idea.
Rep. Humphrey seems to be self aware about his odd but effective marketing tactics.
“We’re having fun with it It’s a lot of fun. I’m enjoying it. But at the same time, I know a lot of people thought I was crazy. But, I think if people chill out, they could see that this could be a serious deal bringing in a lot of money, a lot of tourism.
I hope people get here and ride 4-wheelers and go fishing and go to the restaurants and sleep in motels.
Come to Oklahoma, have an adventure. Enjoy yourself, tell your friends and come back.”