Even a Bigfoot believer like Paul Freeman concedes the supermarket tabloids get carried away:

"HUGE BIGFOOT MONSTER TERRORIZES THE ROCKIES! It stunk like a sewer, roared like a lion and clutched the leg of an animal in its hand.""BIGFOOT ATTACKED US! Blood-Crazed Creature Savages Camera Crew and Pounds 2-Ton Truck into Junkyard Scrap."

Freeman smiles at the outlandish stories, which he collects in a cardboard box. "There are some crazy people out there," he says.

Freeman himself has been called the craziest of all.

But he knows otherwise. He says he has seen Bigfoot. Four times. He swears it's true, and he is out to convince a doubting world that the legendary ape-monsters, perhaps a thousand strong, really do roam the dark woods of the Pacific Northwest.

"I know they are there, and I know what I see," Freeman says. "Nothing has to be proven to me. But I'd like to prove it to the public, so they'll say Freeman's not really a kook."

Bigfoot - or Sasquatch, as the Indians called the beast - is one of the Northwest's enduring legends. More than 750 sightings of the creatures or their oversize footprints have been reported over the past century, mostly in the evergreen forests stretching from Northern California to British Columbia.

Yet no Bigfoot has ever been killed or captured. No carcass or bones have ever been found.

A few purported Bigfoot photographs exist, including a picture taken in October by Freeman's son, but they always seem to be out of focus, too dark, or too far away. What looks like Sasquatch could be a misshapen tree stump or someone in a monkey suit.

Skeptics point to hoaxes, like the time a Washington man created a whole Bigfoot family by stomping around with three whopping pairs of feet he had carved of wood.