You've heard of animal magnetism? How about Bigfoot magnetism?
Ron Mower, a 40-year-old construction worker, seems to attract Bigfoot. He claims to have seen the legendary apelike creature nine times in Utah between 1968 and 1990."At times, I think I've been singled out," said Mower, who will speak this weekend at the International Sasquatch Symposium in Vancouver, B.C.
"Maybe I'm blessed to be able to have this happen. . . . People think you're crazy, but there's been a lot of activity."
Mower's closest encounter with one of the creatures, he said, was some 30 feet away and witnessed by his entire family of six on a remote highway. The encounter occurred on a winter evening in 1990 when the Mowers suddenly stopped their truck at the top of Fairview Canyon, north of Orangeville, to avoid hitting something in the middle of the road.
That "something" turned out to be a Bigfoot. The creature stood there - 30 to 40 feet away - for five minutes, clearly in the vehicle's headlights, Mower said.
Mower is not alone. Thousands of people across North America and other parts of the world have reported seeing tall, hairy bipeds roaming about the hinterland this century. In numerous cultures, stories have been handed down through the ages about a mysterious being known variously as Bigfoot or Sasquatch in North America, and as Yeti or the Abominable Snowman in the Eastern Hemisphere.
Bigfoot tracks were reported in the western United States as long ago as 1810 by David Thompson, a surveyor and trader who spotted giant footprints near the Columbia River Gorge. But nearly 150 years passed before the legend became prominent in American culture. The creature generated headlines in 1967 when Roger Patterson took what is still the most well-known film footage of an apparent Bigfoot, a one-minute segment taken in northern California.
More than 100 Utah and southern Idaho sightings have been documented since the 1930s, according to Bigfoot researcher Ryan Layton of Layton. But Layton admits the rest of the research community may not be aware of the creature's apparent presence here.
"(Utah) is becoming more and more known as one of the states that has a bulk of the sightings," Layton said. "There's been thousands of actual sightings that cover the Florida Everglades, the backwoods of Georgia and Alabama, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan, the Mountain West, the Pacific Northwest, Arkansas, Alaska and the swamps of Louisiana and Texas."
Many observations, footprints, hair and fecal samples, and unearthly screams in the night have been attributed to Bigfoot. But no skulls or bones have been found, at least none generally accepted as belonging to Sasquatch.
The creature has a reputation as a stealthy and elusive traveler. Some tracks have seemed to disappear in midstep. And some who pursue Bigfoot believe there may be a link between the creature and UFOs.
Jack Lapseritis, a Bigfoot researcher from Tucson, Ariz., has written a soon-to-be-published book entitled, "The Psychic Sasquatch, a UFO Connection." Lapseritis said he and others have communicated with Bigfoot telepathically and have watched the creatures "dematerialize."
Lapseritis said conventional Bigfoot investigators have not found the creature because they are limited in their belief that Bigfoot is "simply a relic hominid that never became extinct."
"That really may be true," Lapseritis said in a telephone interview. "But in addition to that, (Bigfoot) may literally be, as I've discovered, a paraphysical, interdimensional native people that have told me and other people telepathically that they were brought here millions of years ago by their friends, the star people."
Mower definitely believes there's a supernatural aspect to Bigfoot, and that this mysterious being is more than some gorilla-like animal running loose in the wilderness.
He also believes Bigfoot to be very intelligent.
"He, she or it are very perceptive," he said. "They know our intentions."
Layton said the number of sightings Mower has reported is incredible, but feels Mower is more than just lucky. Layton believes Mower has been singled out by the creatures for some unknown reason. He also says he suspects the creatures may be telepathic.
Much of the discussion scheduled for the fifth annual International Sasquatch Symposium will explore the creature's possible connection with UFOs, other dimensions and telepathic communication.
John Cotton, vice president of the Canadian Society of Questers, believes Bigfoot is from another reality - another dimension or parallel universe.
"They don't die here. They don't belong here," he said. "The Sasquatch come here because they are the teachers of the shamans. Wherever you find shamans or native people you will find Sasquatch. My title for them is `hairy angels.' They are purveyors of knowledge."
Mower, Layton, Lapseritis and Cotton will speak at the three-day conference, which began Friday and will end Sunday at Vancouver's Pacific Space Centre. Mower will recount his nine Bigfoot experiences in detail.
All of Mower's sightings, he says, have taken place in two basic areas - the High Uintas (south of Kings Peak) and the Manti-LaSal Mountains (about 25 miles from his Orangeville home).
Layton hopes to venture with Mower and professional photographer Larry Jones into those areas later this year. Layton admits they may see or find nothing but hopes Mower's presence will coax Bigfoot out of hiding.
"Other folks down here have seen things too, but they don't want to talk about it," Mower said.
He said a former game warden in the Orangeville area saw plenty of Bigfoot evidence during his long career but didn't talk about it much for fear of ridicule.
Mower is calm, conservative and factual when he talks about his Bigfoot experiences. He recently recounted his adventures to a dozen people gathered at a "Bigfoot party" in Liberty, Weber County.
While all nine experiences have been startling for him, some were more frightening than others. He believes some Sasquatches radiate evil. Others just appear curious.
Mower said his companions have been more frightened by Bigfoot. Some of his relatives have trembled during their joint sightings. His dog cowers and hides, while his horses stand there and shake, he said.
If you see a Bigfoot with red eyes, Mower advises, it's best to stay away. Those are the ones he believes may have less-than-peaceful intentions.
Mower has been armed with a rifle during most of his Bigfoot experiences, but he said he's never considered using it. The creatures haven't directly threatened him, he says.
Mower is an avid hunter and fisherman, hobbies that have contributed to his many encounters. Still, he says, he doesn't find Bigfoot. They seem to find him when he's least expecting it.
"They choose the time for when you can see them," he said. "I've never really hunted for one."
Cotton, who believes in reincarnation, said Mower may have been a shaman in a previous lifetime and has retained that connection with Bigfoot.
Mower is not sure but suspects there may be some kind of barrier that prevents the creatures from being seen. "It's a veil. When it opens, you'll see. Out of the blue he'll be there and just as quickly he'll be gone."
He said he's watched Bigfoot cover steep ground gracefully, like big game animals, and usually the creature vanishes into the cover of the forest.
Lapseritis, however, said Big-foot can literally disappear into thin air. He said he has documented no less than 69 eyewitness accounts of Bigfoot's vanishing act.
"You'd think after 40 years with all these people (searching) and hunters trying to shoot Sasquatch that they would have found it by now," Lapseritis said. "The established science says that's because it doesn't exist. But there is an interdimensional aspect to Bigfoot, and it's not something that's hokey. It's the answer."
As luck would have it, Mower has never had a camera with him during his nine Bigfoot sightings, although he now carries one with him more often.
"Maybe with a camera I'd never see him," he offered.
Mower describes Bigfoot as very tall, 7-foot-plus and more slender than most artists' conceptions. They're black in color, sometimes with a hint of red. They have a very humanlike face, although it is thick with hair, Mower said.
Most of the creatures Mower has seen have looked back at him with what he calls a "What-do-you-want?" stare. And while they've watched his every move, Mower said they otherwise don't seem all that concerned with his presence.
"You parallel each other," Mower explained. "When I'm with them I want to learn more, not run or hide. . . . For that bit of time, you're content with what you've got."
He said he's hunted bear, cougar and other big game, but there's nothing like a Bigfoot - nor the overwhelming body odor that accompanies them.
Despite the fear associated with the sightings, Mower said the experiences always make him want to seek after the creature. It's a mixture of fright and curiosity.
"I'm not afraid to go into the woods," he said.
Mower hasn't seen a Sasquatch for seven years now. He attributes the lapse to various circumstances. His wife, Diane, died in January, and Mower spent less time in the mountains during her long battle with cancer.
Mower, however, believes the creature has been nearby on several occasions and at least once came close to his home. In those instances, Mower's dog behaved the same way he did when the two encountered Bigfoot in the mountains.
Mower lives in an Orangeville neighborhood near the foothills of the Manti-LaSal Mountains. Has Bigfoot followed him home? Mower thinks so, but isn't sure how.
What's Mower's best advice for getting your own glimpse of Bigfoot? He recommends being very observant and listening to your feelings in the woods.
"I believe some people may see Bigfoot and not recognize him," Mower said. "They shrug it off."