A Bigfoot hunting season in Oklahoma? Lawmaker files unusual bill
State Rep. Justin Humphrey admits his legislation to establish a Bigfoot hunting season is primarily intended to draw tourists to southeast Oklahoma and not to bag the fabled creature.
Humphrey, R-Lane, told The Oklahoman on Thursday that he is not a Bigfoot believer but keeps an open mind.
"I have been in the woods all my life and I have not ever seen any sign of Bigfoot," Humphrey said. "I have never heard Bigfoot, but I have some people that I know that are good, solid people who I will guarantee you 100% have said they have had experience with Bigfoot. So, I know there are people out there that you will not convince that Bigfoot doesn't exist.
"There are a lot of people, who really, really believe in Bigfoot, and so it is going to give them the opportunity to come down. We want to make it a real deal. You can have a license. You can get out there and hunt this thing. I want to be really clear that we are not going to kill Bigfoot. We are going to trap a live Bigfoot. We are not promoting killing Bigfoot. We are promoting hunting Bigfoot, trying to find evidence of Bigfoot."
Humphrey's House Bill 1648 would direct the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation to establish the annual dates of a Bigfoot season and create any necessary specific hunting licenses and fees. Humphrey said he would like to see a $25,000 bounty for the live capture of a Bigfoot.
After news of Humphrey's bill broke on Wednesday, the lawmaker said he received calls from true believers who embrace the idea, as well as skeptics who think he should be run out of office for filing such a piece of frivolous legislation.
"I had one lady just scream at me that she is going to make sure I will get beat because of this and told me I've lost my mind," Humphrey said. "I don't think they (critics) understand what we are trying to do to promote our area."
Humphrey said he is just trying to capitalize on what merchants in Hochatown, a popular southeastern Oklahoma destination in McCurtain County, are already doing by selling Bigfoot to tourists. Bigfoot merchandise is a popular seller in Hochatown. Nearby in the town of Honobia, there is an annual Bigfoot festival each October, so the hunting season ideally would coincide with that, he said.
Humphrey said he has received numerous calls from people who already want to buy a Bigfoot hunting license just for a souvenir.
"They want to buy a license because they want to frame it on the wall," he said. "Anything that could be a revenue creator is something we ought to look at and definitely entertain.
Humphrey thinks the chances of passing HB 1648 are about 50-50.
"A lot of that has to do with how the media treats me on this," Humphrey said. "If I go getting beat up on this, then the legislators are going to be scared to jump on it. If most people understand it as a good tourist attraction, and if it is presented like that, I think most of the legislators understand that, and I think most of the legislators are humored by it . ... I think most legislators understand what I am trying to do and will give it a serious look."
Humphrey admits he has authored more serious legislation, but argues that bringing tourist revenue to southeastern Oklahoma also is important work for his district. Whether you believe in Bigfoot or not, people can have fun and enjoy the outdoors going on a hunt for one, he said.
"If we get this passed, I can promise I am going to be on one of the first hunts, and I guarantee you we will have fun, and that's what it's all about," he said. "That is what we are trying to promote."