For many in Hoopa, Bigfoot is a reality of the inland valley -- one that several residents have experienced through first-hand encounters.

Those encounters -- profiled in David Paulides' “The Hoopa Project: Bigfoot Encounters in California” -- point to evidence bolstering the existence of the large human-like creature.

The book, a collaborative effort of the North American Bigfoot Search, is based on a numerous interviews conducted in 2004. But, the catalyst goes a bit further back.

In a telephone interview from his Los Gatos home this week, Paulides said the organization began when a group of business acquaintances were sitting around a table one day and began talking about strange occurrences in the woods.

”That was the catalyst for us to talk,” he said.

The search and the organization evolved slowly among the tight-knit group, the author said. With a combination of time, resources and well-honed investigative skills, the colleagues began by noting all of the Bigfoot sightings on a map of the Pacific Northwest -- a realization that led to the publication of a map showing those sites and noted that a predominant number of sightings had been reported from Northern California.

Those sightings, however, weren't enough to immediately sway the author, a veteran of 20 years as an officer and investigator with the Los Gatos Police Department.

”I was open to the idea,” Paulides said, “but I was



Even after the numerous interviews, Paulides said he couldn't swear to a 100 percent belief in Bigfoot's existence, but the scale weighs heavily in that direction. Paulides pointed to the time it took longtime resident Al Hodgson -- who has been looking into the existence of Bigfoot for some 60 years. Three years ago, Paulides said, a member of Hodgson's church, a woman he knew could tell nothing but the truth, confessed that she had seen Bigfoot. It was that confidence that swayed Hodgson.

That's not to say that Paulides doubts the words of those he interviewed.

”I believe everybody in the Hoopa project that was interviewed was telling the truth,” he said.

Each of those included in the book signed an affidavit attesting the truth of their statements.

Even those who held no cotton to the very tall biped's existence.

Michael Mularkey, then manager of the Ray's Food Place in Hoopa, recounted an early-morning sighting during the commute to work from his Willow Creek home.

”Michael was approximately 15 minutes into the drive when he entered Hoopa and an area of the highway that parallels Shoemaker Road,” Paulides wrote. “He had his headlights on and was traveling approximately 40-50 mph when he saw a huge creature standing on the roadway near the computer shop. He immediately slowed when he saw the hairy beast standing on two feet. Michael said the creature was covered in reddish-orange hair or fur, except under its arms, and was standing on two feet. He stated that the creature did not have a snout like a bear, but had a flat face like a human or ape. He said he saw the creature take two giant strides, 6-8 feet each time, as it walked across the roadway and attempted to partially hide behind a large tree on the eastern side of the road. Michael said that he continued to slow his vehicle to get a good view of the creature. He said that it could not get completely behind the tree, and appeared to be looking at him as he continued driving. Michael said that as the creature was looking at him, he could see that its eyes seemed to be almost glowing yellow. He continued his journey to Ray's and told a few friends about what had happened later in the morning.”

Thus a doubter was converted.

”Michael said he was the ultimate skeptic about Bigfoot being a living mammal,” Paulides wrote, “but no more. He stated, 'I know what I saw and it was not a bear, it was Bigfoot. Those eyes were unreal, I'll never forget its eyes or its size'.”

Paulides' book is full of illustrations of Bigfoot, drafted from discussions between those who reported seeing the creature and longtime forensic artist Harvey Pratt, who Paulides hired to visually chronicle the Bigfoot encounters.

Nearly all of those drawings share many similarities, although Paulides said none of the sketches were shared among those who were interviewed.

”Nobody saw anyone else's sketch,” he said, noting that all were kept concealed until the book's publication. The consistency is that all but one show a lack of facial hair.

”We never thought it would be like this,” he said, “We thought it would be more ape-like, more gorilla. That's completely not the case.”

For more information on the North America Bigfoot Search, visit the organization's Web site at

”The Hoopa Project: Bigfoot Encounters in California,” is available at the Bigfoot Museum in Willow Creek and the Bigfoot Bookshop in Salyer, as well as online through

 © 2011 North America Bigfoot Search LLC