An interview with Ranae Holland of “Finding Bigfoot”

 
 


Photo courtesy of Animal Planet

AE: Has there been an incident that made you move a little closer to thinking there’s a ‘Squatch in those woods?
RH: Absolutely. You know, there are those nights when you’re just in the right type of place, and you put yourself in the mindset of those stories that you’ve read and the guys like to say "It looks so Squatchy here," and I’m like, "Oooh," you know? I’m here to be – I’m educated in the natural sciences; here’s my background. But obviously there’s this part of me that is open-minded and wants to believe and wants that experience and loves the idea of it. I’m out here — so there you are, it’s dark, you’re walking down this road, and you’re trying to do these things, and you’re listening. 

As far as what has aired so far, there is an expedition into Oregon when we were making calls back and forth – I won’t take too much time to describe it – but we heard this, what I could best describe, it sure sounded organic to me. It did not sound like a recording or anything. And its origin was up a creek draw which had no roads, and it would be difficult for someone to hike in there. Because in order to carry the volume and the distance it traveled to us, where we were recording it from, it would have had quite an amplitude to it. And it sounds supposedly like what these Sasquatch calls are. Now could it have been a coyote, a wolf, or something else? That exact sample, which I haven’t had access to in a long time, would need to go to a specialist and have them say, "Can this be something else." But it was the best experience, aurally, that I’ve had to date, because I’m like, "Wow, that was creepy." And my cameraman was a guy who, when we were going to be anywhere, he was always going to follow my lead, and when he saw me do that and get all nervous, he was like "Whoah! What’s going on?!" So I was like, "Wow, that was nice." 

And then when we were in California and I saw — I see eyeshine all the time. But this eyeshine, the size that it was was impressive. Because of the distance it was at, it was difficult to gauge. There was no scale, to line it up against. So could it have been one of the larger owl species? People don’t understand that the larger owl species have eyes almost the same size as a human. But because they have the tapetum lucidum, which gives them the ability to see in the dark and reflects light so much, their eyeshine will glow much larger than humans. So when you see that at a distance, it’s going to seem bigger than a person. And they have their glabella, which is the space between the eyes, kind of the brow area – their eyes are spaced farther apart, proportionally, than a human being’s. So you see an owl and night, with eyeshine it can seem bigger than a person, is what I’m trying to convey. With the right reflection, the eyes shining — you put those factors together, it can seem like a monster. 

So was that an owl? I’m not going to know. But we went over to that location, and here  were these huge, green glowing eyes. They were yards away. More than 40 yards away. We walked up to that area, and we had been hearing whistles all night long. I think Cliff wanted to whistle one more time, and a rock – a large rock, probably bigger than my hand – got thrown at the tree that was right next to us and then we heard it roll down the hill, and we were like, "OK, that was pretty awesome. That was pretty cool." Did that change my mind, right there, that Bigfoot is real? No. But that’s a person who went to great lengths, and did not move for a long time, they have night vision camera. They were stealthy as all hell, and they did it cunningly. And they did not create that eyeshine. There’s no way. Because they couldn’t climb the tree, and I would have seen. So, it’s pretty cool. I need an experience that’s definitive to say I believe. 

And there are ones that haven’t aired. We’ve had some fun, exciting stuff. You’ll have to watch, Ali. You’ll just have to stay tuned for those adventures. 

AE: I’m a fellow skeptic, but I have to ask: Do you have a protocol for if one of you actually runs into a Sasquatch?
RH: We don’t have an official protocol, because, in the heat of the moment, I think we’re all so strong-willed that I can’t — You know, when I first came on in Season 1, I was like "We should have a protocol for these things." And they all just kind of looked at me and rolled their eyes. That ain’t gonna happen. So I think everybody maybe has their personal protocol. 

Because when we were filming the North Carolina episode – we’re not supposed to run at it. We have two teams, and we each have thermal imaging cameras. And Matt caught one, and he went running at it. And we were all frustrated, because we’re not supposed to do that. Because we had a camera, the other team, and we could have come around behind it and ruled out if it was a person or not. (I believe it was a person.) 

 

And so the question becomes not so much protocol, but what would I do? You know, what are the conditions? Here’s what people don’t understand: If you’re looking at something through a thermal imaging camera, and it’s dark, and you try to run at it, you can’t look at it and run. 

First of all, the thermal imaging camera messes with your vision. And then when you look up and you’re not looking at the camera anymore, you kind of have burns in your eyes a little bit. Because it takes about 20 minutes for your eyes to acclimate to the darkness. You can actually see surprisingly well. Even in pitch black, if you learn to walk the right way, you can actually walk around in the dark fairly well if you’re patient and you know what you’re doing. But if you have a thermal camera, and you’re looking through that and then you look up – you’re kind of blinded. So to go sprinting at it is not really — 

Let’s just say it were somewhat fortunate lighting conditions. If it were my personal call, I would go busting after it. Because I would want to run it down. I’d want to know! And if I got a swing, if I got a good grab at it, I’d try to yank at that costume. Or I would at least want a hair sample – try to pull it out just right so I could get the follicle attached and we could do some true DNA work on it. 

Oh, I’m going after it. There’s no way I’m not. I’m not going to get that close — I mean, if there’s an opportunity where you can go around behind it, and now let’s move in — but no way. Let’s just play devil’s advocate and say it’s real. It’s my one opportunity: Carpe Diem. I’m going. I’m going in. 

AE: If you did find something that looked promising, whatever area you were in would immediately be full of hunters, trappers, and aspiring dissectors. What would you do to protect it if you found something?

RH: Well, the one thing I’ve learned from my experiences here is that the Bigfoot community is a subculture in and of itself, and within that subculture there are all these different groups. And I intentionally stay removed, because I want to remain objective. I know the science part of it; I know people who believe. But I don’t want to be completely entrenched with them. Otherwise, I’m totally biased and have completely lost all objectivity. And then there are people in these camps who kind of attack each other. Some people think it’s an animal, some people believe it’s an alien, some people believe it’s a shapeshifter, it’s psychic — It runs the gamut. There are people who want to kill it, people who say they’ve killed it. 

First of all, I believe — If something were to happen and I believed this animal was real,  – If we’re just going to, again, play devil’s advocate: Bigfoot is real; it’s an animal – I would assume that it would be such a small population that you would need to protect it. I would not promote the killing of some endangered species. Let alone there would be the whole question of what exactly is it, and how close to humanity is that? The philosophical and sociological questions that spin off from there are innumerable. And so I would not believe in hunting them in a predatory sort of way. 

AE: But would you on the show have a plan to obscure where you had been to keep that from happening?
RH: Oh, I see! Yeah, we already are in that process lots of times. We had one witness who came forward, and we blurred her face because of her husband’s type of work. It was interesting to see in the media how they gave them a hard time. I completely understand that, and we’ve had people come forward – at times we’ve used full names, and I don’t think we should. People who want to don’t come forward, because they might say they have activity or things have happened on their property, and they get inundated. 

From a production standpoint, we’ve been trying to get feedback that we need to take – we need to be more proactive in protecting our witnesses. Because it already does exist to some degree. We definitely already go to lengths to obscure where we’re going for our night investigations. We want people to think we might be going to one location and we’ll go to another. People try to hoax us. We’ll get bogies in the woods. Everybody wants to hoax us. Which is kind of a double-edged sword – as the show gets more attention, we get more people are trying to hoax us, so that can be difficult. 

 

But, yes, we definitely want to protect our witness locations, and we want to protect locations where we’ve done work, and also where we’re going to be going. 

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