(Editor’s Note: This is the third story in a series of articles pertaining to the 2017 ParaMountain Lecture Series.)
The existence of Bigfoot remains a mystery to most, but for 20-year cryptozoologist veteran researcher Thomas Marcum, the hunt for this elusive creature has become a passion.
The Hulen, Kentucky resident has spent countless hours in the forest, taken hundreds of sighting reports and conducted hundreds of witness interviews. His tireless efforts to track the creature and to prove its existence hasn’t waned over the years, either. As the years pass, Marcum is driven more intensely to expand his knowledge about Bigfoot and to determine just exactly what is the legendary beast that supposedly roams the forest lands of North America, including the rugged terrain of the Appalachian Mountains.
“Most people like a good mystery, and Bigfoot has been a mystery for a very long time,” Marcum said. “The mystery is like a large puzzle to me, and I just want to keep adding in the pieces, even the very small ones.”
For Marcum, the hunt for Bigfoot is much more than chasing a popular American legend. It’s about piecing together fragments of information pertaining to hidden and unknown animals, and proving there are creatures out there that are real and are just not myths.
“There are just so many questions about their behaviors and social structures that need to be answered,” Marcum said. “The curiosity and the desire to know more about Bigfoot is what keeps me going, and some answers are only going to come from doing actual field work.”
Marcum spends plenty of time in the woods conducting field work. He is closely attuned with the forest lands, and is educated and highly skilled in wilderness survival. Marcum’s passion for hunting Bigfoot is perhaps only matched by his deep love for nature. He’s an outdoor and wildlife enthusiast with many years of hunting and fishing experience. He’s a trained wildland fire fighter who has traversed the rugged landscape of the Appalachian Mountains, but he’s also a poet, photographer, videographer and author who has several books and films to his credit.
Marcum will be one of the eight lecturers scheduled to speak at Saturday’s ParaMountain Lecture Series to be held at the Harlan Depot from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Marcum’s time behind the speaker’s podium will start at 11 a.m.
In his lecture simply titled “Bigfoot,” Marcum plans to present video and other evidence concerning the creature, as well as sighting reports, behavior patterns, and his personal accounts in his pursuit. Many of the Bigfoot cases Marcum will present will be from Harlan and Bell counties.
“There is a section on Bigfoot tracks that I feel can be very educational,” Marcum said. “Almost everything I present is from my personal research or from one of our team members.”
Marcum founded and heads up the crypto and paranormal research team known as “The Crypto Crew,” which is comprised of Bigfoot researchers and trackers from across the nation. His team stays actively involved in the study and documentation of Bigfoot along with other cryptozoology cases. They have received numerous awards for their fieldwork including Paranormal Awards.com’s Investigator of the Year, Researcher of the Year, Picture of the Year and Film of the Year. Marcum is not only a researcher, but he directs, produces and edits films about Bigfoot and other paranormal fields of interest. He is a highly popular author on Amazon. His as well as his team’s accomplishments validate that Marcum and his “Crypto Crew” are serious researchers who have made beneficial contributions in the field of Cryptozoology, especially concerning the existence of Bigfoot.
“For the naysayers out there about what we do, you will always have them, and some are just not going to believe,” Marcum said. “If you would just get people to look at the overall body of evidence, I think they might see that there is something more to it.”
Cryptozoology is the study of unknown animals, and according to Marcum, the research field is much more than chasing legends — it’s educational and even helpful with safety and survival skills in the outdoors. He points to the return of the cougars in southeast Kentucky. Although they are not considered cryptid, they are in fact elusive, and many people have never encountered them.
“The more people know about these wild animals, the better they can be prepared if and when one crosses their path,” Marcum said. “One of the best things about community education is that we can share helpful tips about the great outdoors. When it comes to Bigfoot, community education helps establish dialogue and helps bring witnesses forward to tell about what they saw, and what we can learn from each other in this pursuit.”
There are many theories surrounding the identity of Bigfoot. Some researchers believe it to be more ape than man, and others believe it more man than ape. There are those who even think Bigfoot is an ancient Earth spirit or extraterrestrial. Marcum tends to be more academic and scientific in his identification.
“It’s not any type of missing link, in my opinion,” he said. “It’s all theory at this point, but in my broad opinion, Bigfoot is some type of primate — a very intelligent subhuman if you will.”
While Bigfoot’s existence is still discounted by scientists, and is considered to be folklore, more proof is surfacing every year through the work of such researchers like Marcum and his team that make the described large, hairy, simian-like creature more believable.
Individuals claiming to have seen Bigfoot describe it as muscular, bipedal, black or dark brown, with a pronounced brow ridge. Most Bigfoot sightings have taken place in the Pacific Northwest, but there have been numerous documented cases in central Appalachia as well. It is interesting to note that sightings have been documented and date back to Native American days when Columbus explored the new world. It was customary for Native Americans to pass down their history through stories, and some of these stories later related to the white man included accounts of a big, hairy creature in the forest lands.
Marcum said he hopes his lecture on Bigfoot Saturday will open more people’s minds to its existence.
“For those on the fence, I hope they walk away Saturday with more of a desire to actually study the subject in detail before they make up their minds,” he said. “And for those who do believe, I hope they walk away with a better understanding of the type of things I do and that the dedication and research is real. It’s tireless and it’s ongoing. The quest for truth in any field never really stops.”
Besides lecturing, Marcum will be set up all day at Saturday’s ParaMountain Lecture Series with his “Crypto Crew” information table, which will also have his books and films available for sale. Marcum will join several other regional groups, organizations, businesses, authors and artisans, who will be set up at the Harlan Depot.
For more information about the 2017 ParaMountain Lectue Series, contact event organizer Tony Felosi at 606-273-9925, or Jennifer McDaniels at 606-573-4223. You can also access complete event information by logging onto www.harlanhauntfest.com and clicking on the 2017 ParaMountain Lecture Series link.
The next series article will feature ParaMountain lecturer Lucas Wilder, who is an interpretive park ranger at Cumberland Gap National Historical Park. Wilder will be speaking on “Strange Occurrences In The Gap.”