I’ve been a big fan of the bigfoot phenomenon since I was a wee little lad in the backseat, watching out the window to see if I could catch a glimpse of that elusive creature. Missing link? Friend of Elvis and the Loch Ness Monster? Scary monster that chases you through the woods screaming? Yes I’ve got my field guide to identifying and reporting bigfoot. Movies with bigfoot in them? Check. Eaten a bigfoot burger in a northwest restaurant with a seven foot tall scale model greeting the customers? Uh, okay now I’m getting embarrassed. I won’t mention the tee-shirt.

So yes, I’m a Level 1 bigfoot hunter. And you know what we noobs at the bottom of the bigfoot searcher chain do to keep our miserable skills in practice? Yup, we do the “hunt for bigfoot”, 101 classroom style. It’s simple, really. You pretend bigfoot makes occasional pit stops in the wooded areas of your local neighborhood, because everyone knows bigfoot is sneakier than a master ninja, and he has to be pretty crafty to avoid all those higher level hunters jonesin’ to get Da Photo. You get that picture, I tell you, you’ve arrived. But I have to remember to carry a camera, doh!

Personally, I think bigfoot has hyper-dimensional powers, and has to teleport into wooded areas to recharge his batteries. So your best bet is to get him while he’s reloading the hyperdrive in his thalamus gland. Of course, there’s always the danger that you’ll run into a rogue bigfoot, one who has had enough of us humans destroying his beautiful migration corridors. Like Charleton Heston in Planet of the Apes, sometimes bigfoot loses it, and starts screaming, “It’s a mad house! It’s a MAD house!!!” You don’t want to be there when bigfoots go wild.

So, it’s a risky job, but if you want to get some experience points and move up to Level 2, you got to do it. I slap on my fatigue pants and desert storm boots – very handy for protecting you against thorns, bugs and general injury in the rough terrain. Plus they let your feet and legs breathe too! You need a walking stick to look official. A small pack with some water and snacks might not be bad either. But this is the super-duper preparation version. Sometimes I say, “let’s do this”, and step into the wilderness on a hope and a prayer. It’s only a fifty feet from the mall, anyway.

It’s also a great way to keep the young cousins occupied, and wear them out if you’ve been stuck with that wonderful family volunteerism because “everyone loves your zany adventures”. Grumble, grumble. Well, if we run into a rogue bigfoot, I can run faster than the cousins. Off into the woods! You’re looking for signs of bigfoot, because you’re only Level 1 and Level 1 hunters never find things like lairs or have encounters with bigfoot. At least, they won’t admit it, because the one thing higher level hunters hate, it’s a lucky beginner.

Signs include, but are not limited to: pieces of unidentifiable fur stuck on tree bark, patches of crushed plants, eerie sounds such as a lack of animal or bird noises (you’re getting close!), and the half eaten remains of berries or nuts. You pick up the trail, and follow it until you think you’re red hot, and big foot is about to burst out at any moment and begin chasing you. It helps if you’ve built up the paranoia in your mind, easy to do when you’re by yourself, or you act scared in front of the kids. “I hope we make it out of here guys” kind of stuff.

When the fear is so thick, you can taste the hot dog you had for lunch trying to come up for air, that’s when you flee for your life! Rogue bigfoot! Rogue bigfoot gunna get you! Aieeee! So you scramble out of the woods, and hopefully live to tell the tale of your near-fatal encounter with bigfoot. Time to pop open a soda and tally up the experience points. Think about hitting the big time, next time, and congratulate yourself on your efforts to push forward the field of bigfoot exploration.