To be honest, I still haven’t quite decided how I feel about the whole thing.

This proposed “Bigfoot Hunting Season” legislation that’s been filed at the state capitol, I mean. 

For those of you who may have actually missed the news (it seems unlikely, I know; but you’d be surprised, there’s always one or two): Oklahoma House Bill 1648 - filed last week by State Rep. Justin Humphrey (R-Lane) - seeks to establish a Bigfoot hunting season. The bill would direct the Oklahoma Wildlife Conservation Division to promulgate rules establishing the annual dates of the season, as well as creating any necessary specific hunting licenses and fees.

In a press release my newspaper - the Johnston County Sentinel in Tishomingo, Oklahoma - received on the matter last week, Humphrey (whose District 19 includes parts of nearby Atoka and Bryan counties) explained that he sees the proposed legislation as a means of bringing additional tourism, and therefore additional revenues, to this area of the state. 

“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,” Humphrey was quoted as saying. “It will be a great way for people to enjoy our area and to have some fun… Having a license and a tag would give people a way to prove they participated in the hunt.”

I guess taking selfies just isn’t enough anymore...

He also suggested that Oklahoma’s Bigfoot season should ideally coincide with an annual Bigfoot Festival that is already being held every October in the town of Honobia. You learn something new everyday; until Humphrey’s press release, I had not been aware that there is a Bigfoot Festival held every October in the town of Honobia. In fact, until Humphrey’s press release I can’t honestly say that I had ever heard of the town of Honobia. That’s not meant to be an insult, by the way. I think it’s relatively safe to assume that, among all the fine people in Honobia, there are probably two or three who may be completely unaware of the existence of Ravia. (Maybe if Ravia were to host an annual Feral Hog Festival…)

And lest the folks at PETA launch a crusade protesting the bill in anticipation of Sasquatch heads being mounted and hung on walls over hunters’ fireplaces in Oklahoma and elsewhere, it should be noted that Humphrey does NOT want people to actually kill Bigfoot. According to his press release, Humphrey said he wants to work with the state wildlife and tourism departments to craft final language for his bill that specifies only the TRAPPING of Bigfoot. 

I don’t mind admitting that I found that aspect of the proposal to be something of a relief. Speaking as an unapologetic, lifelong card-carrying carnivore I’ve never had a problem with the concept of hunting for food - but the idea of going to the supermarket for Sasquatch steaks or heading to McDonald’s for a McYeti just doesn’t appeal to me. 

It’s almost as unappealing as the thought of driving down the street and seeing a dead Bigfoot hanging upside-down at some weigh station along the way… 

Still, even the concept of trapping a Bigfoot seems… well, problematic at best. Admittedly it’s been decades since I went through my intense junior high school “I Love Bigfoot” phase, but I don’t recall reading about anyone catching a live Bigfoot. Seems like there would be one in a zoo somewhere if they had. 

I’ve been to a lot of zoos in my life; the closest thing I ever saw to a Bigfoot at any of them was that tall, bearded guy who was mucking out the giraffe enclosure at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago when I was seven or eight years old. He seemed like a nice enough fellow but, boy, did he need a shave and a haircut… 

Humphrey also said that he hopes to secure at least $25,000 that can be used as a bounty for the first person to trap the creature. The promise of monetary reward is always a great incentive - but at those odds and with that kind of payout, you’re probably better off sticking with those Powerball tickets.

Perhaps my favorite quote attributed to Humphrey in his press release was this one: “A lot of people don’t believe in Bigfoot, but a lot of people do. Just like some people like to go deer hunting, while some don’t.”

Yes, you’re right. As syllogisms go, it’s a little on the clumsy side. (Feel free if you must to grab your dictionary and look up the word syllogism. Go ahead. I’ll wait.) But it’s also a marvelous example of the lengths people will go to in order to make a silly idea seem a little less silly. 

Imagine if some engineer at the Ford Motor Company back in the 1960s had turned to his boss and said, “A lot of people don’t watch The Jetsons, but a lot of people do. Just like some people like to go for a Sunday drive, while some don’t.” Heck, we might have had those flying cars by the time I took that high school driver’s education class in 1979.

Now I will admit that my initial reaction when I first heard about House Bill 1648 fell somewhere between bewildered disdain and self-righteous indignation. "All of the important issues we’re facing in Oklahoma today, and THIS is the legislation that’s being filed?” I said to my son Josh, who was still too busy recovering from the spasms of laughter the news inflicted on him to do anything more than nod his head inn agreement.

But I will also admit that the more I thought about it, the more my inner nerd took over and I began to see some merit in the idea. After all, I’m as much in favor of economic development and increased tourism as the next fellow. Humphrey says that was the motiviating factor in filing the legislation, so why not? Glorifying real-life country singers who live in the area has had some degree of success; maybe it’s time to take the next big step and celebrate mythical creatures. Look at what those aliens have done for the town of Roswell, N.M.

And if Bigfoot Season becomes the economic boon Humphrey is hoping for, it could be the start of something even bigger. Perhaps one day we can look forward to the arena at Murray State College playing host to a unicorn rodeo. What a marvelous Page 1 photo that would be!

Or perhaps we can send a scouting party over to Scotland in hopes of finding a water horse egg or two and bringing them back to Johnston County, so we can place them in the deepest part of Blue River and wait for them to hatch a couple of our own little Loch Ness critters. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I kind of like the idea of an an annual Blue River Nessie Tournament.

Maybe the wilds of southern Oklahoma will become the setting for a new Looney Tunes cartoon that opens with the familer sight of Elmer Fudd stalking through the woods. “Shhh... be vewy vewy quiet. I’m hunting Bigfoots. Huh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh-uh.”

And then, instead of Bugs and Daffy, two new humorously drawn characters show up and the familiar old debate resumes, albeit with a twist:

"Bigfoot Season!”

“Nessie Season!”

"Bigfoot Season!”

“Nessie Season!”

Heck, I’d watch it.

(Copyright © 2021 by John A. Small)