by Karen Mehall Phillips - Thursday, January 28, 2021
Need more proof that hunting stimulates the economy? Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey (R-Lane) just introduced House Bill 1648 to open a Bigfoot hunting season to bolster tourism and attract more hunter-adventurers to his part of the state. Of course, what place could be more fitting for bagging Bigfoot than the Sooner State, home of numerous alleged Bigfoot sightings and to the town of Honobia, in the heart of Humphrey’s district and the site of America’s annual Bigfoot Festival and Conference held the first Friday and Saturday in October.
As reported by Fox News and countless other media outlets, Humphrey’s House Bill 1648 states: “The Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Commission shall promulgate rules establishing a big foot hunting season. The Commission shall set annual season dates and create any necessary specific hunting licenses and fees. This act shall become effective Nov. 1, 2021”—just as thousands of hunters and trappers are spending time in some of the most heavily-forested areas of the state in pursuit of big game. There will be more details to share after the Oklahoma Legislature meets on Feb. 1.
In a news release announcing the bill, Humphrey said tourism is one of the biggest attractions in his House district. “Establishing an actual hunting season and issuing licenses for people who want to hunt Bigfoot will just draw more people to our already beautiful part of the state. It will be a great way for people to enjoy our area and to have some fun.”
Considering the economic benefits of hunting to local communities, the International Business Times picked up the story, sharing how Humphrey hopes to ride the momentum from the area’s Bigfoot Festival. Even Popular Mechanics jumped on it as news that competed for attention on Inauguration Day. “While a new president is newsworthy,” it reported, “legislation that seems to acknowledge the existence of a mythical creature is arguably more significant.”
Humphrey clarified that the bill only permits trapping, or capturing, Bigfoot and hopes to set aside $25,000 for a bounty for the first person to bag Bigfoot. As for the odds of success, Humphrey admits, “I think that Bigfoot is pretty elusive. I don’t think we’ll find him.”
Oklahoma City-based KOCO-TV asked the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation (ODWC) for a comment on H.B. 1648 since the agency oversees hunting and trapping in the Sooner State. Perhaps bursting Humphrey’s Bigfoot bubble a bit, ODWC spokesperson Micah Holmes said the agency “only uses science-driven research and doesn’t recognize Bigfoot.” But then there are all those sightings, photographs and video and audio recordings of the supposed 7-foot-tall hairy creature, and the occasional cast of a large footprint or two. If Bigfoot enthusiasts are really onto something, maybe an Oklahoma hunter will set just the right trap and reveal the mystery this fall.
Finding Bigfoot is certainly the hope of D.W. Lee, researcher with the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center, though not in this way, he explained. “The efforts of the people out there actually being serious about this—it really hampers us.” Lee, who prefers the term “creature” when referring to the mythical, ape-like being that has captured adventurers’ imaginations for decades, says, “I’ve had 26 encounters that I can say was actually a Bigfoot.”
Recognizing that not everyone supports H.B. 1648, Humphrey said, “Again, the overall goal is to get people to our area to enjoy the natural beauty and to have a great time,” he said. “And if they find Bigfoot while they're at it, well hey, that's just an even bigger prize.”
Stay tuned on whether we’ll soon see a hunting season established with a list of regulations, tags, season dates … and a bag limit, which one might guess would be set at one.
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