University Sasquatch Club Seeks Namesake
It’s existence has been denied by science, contradicted by logic, and rebutted by rationality, but that isn’t stopping Mark Kasting, a Penn State junior enrolled in the Eberly College of Science. He has been inspired, lured in by a fascination that was sparked by a popular television show on Animal Planet.
While watching “Finding Bigfoot” with a group of friends, Kasting decided that he didn’t just want to sit around and wait for evidence of the ape-like cryptid to fall into his lap, he wanted to be the one to go out and find it himself. Kasting and his friends were already spending a lot of time in the woods, both hiking and camping, and they decided that they could do something useful in the process.
“Making that transition into looking for Bigfoot was natural,” he said. “It’s a fun thing to do when you’re out in the woods, just making crazy calls.”
But after a few night investigations with his buddies didn’t pan out, Kasting, who has flowing brown hair and sports a tie-dye shirt, attire that could be expected from a true Bigfoot enthusiast, wanted to recruit more squatchers to join in on the hunt for proof, so he started the Penn State Searchers of Sasquatch.
“I was first inspired by Bigfoot this January or so, I just started getting an intense fascination with him,” Kasting said. “He or she or whatever it is, it’s not something that you grow up believing is a real possibility, but as you come into it you realize that people have claimed to have seen him, and nobody’s gotten any real proof.”
The group plans to search local areas such as the Rothrock State Forest and Allegheny State Forest for evidence of the beast. But they insist that northeast and northwest Pennsylvania are the most likely areas for a sighting due to the denser woods that exist there. “The deeper you go in, the more squatchy it becomes,” said Kasting.
The university has not yet officially recognized the PSU Searchers of Sasquatch, but they have started the process and already have 139 prospective members in a Facebook group that the devotees use to discuss everything Bigfoot-related. He is already laying the groundwork for the organization’s future, developing a “Book of Squatch” that includes everything from the “Tenets of Squatching” to sketches of the mythological creature.
Kasting’s eyes light up as he pulls the converted sketchpad out of his backpack, which features a watercolor painting of a Bigfoot on the cover. He begins by reading off the list of tenets, which include vague, transcendental phrases such as: “looking for sasquatch is always on your mind in some respect, for example, an unconscious urge to find sasquatch that becomes conscious only when triggered by squatching territory.”
As he flipped through the pages, pointing out the occasional unidentifiable drawing, he recites various Sasquatch-related lists and rules, such as a page on Bigfoot dream analysis, which might seem to some as the ramblings of a madman. But no, this is just an aficionado who has a true passion to one day find the great beast.
The typical night investigation includes building a nice campfire, perhaps having a few beers, cooking some bacon to attract them with the scent, and then breaking off for a hike while be extremely vigilant and observant. Kasting said that they call for each other when they hear or see something out of the ordinary, and then eventually reconvene around the fire to discuss what happened.
Kasting has high hopes for the future of the PSU Searchers of Sasquatch. He said, “In my wildest fantasies, I would love to rent out 100 Thomas and hold up the Squatch Flute and say, ‘Let us go out and search for the mighty Sasquatch,’ and lead this giant parade out of Thomas and squatch across campus.”
The Squatch Flute is one of the artifacts of Sasquatch-searching that Kasting invented while hiking the Appalachian Trial in Georgia over spring break. He and some friends met a local who went by the name Red Rider, and when they went to his house, Kasting found some pieces of dark-brown pipe amongst the various plumbing supplies that Rider owned, connecting them to form a device used to call the bipedal humanoids.
After wrapping up his explanation of the Book of Squatch, Kasting reached into his bag and pulled out the flute. He disassembled the three pieces of the pipe, which form a “T” shape when put together, and explained that you can blow through any of the parts individually or connect them in a total of 16 different potential assemblages, all which lead to unique sounds.
While the art of calling sasquatches is meant to result in the discovery and recording of proof that the animal exists, there are also moral issues that need to be considered when it comes to releasing photographs of one should that occur. For that reason, the organization is working with an ethics advisor who plans to deal with the issues that might arise if they’re able to record a Bigfoot on camera.
Jay Bagins, an esteemed squatcher with semi-long blonde hair and a short beard, is the man in charge of debating these principles when the time comes. “I think there’s a lot of ethical issues with bringing back evidence of a Sasquatch,” he said, “because once there’s proof that it exists, people are going to go out in huge numbers and try to capture one, and I don’t think that’s right for their livelihood.”
Kasting’s ultimate goal is to show the world that the Bigfoot is indeed out there, but he does admit that Bagins has a point. “They’re at peace with their environment and don’t feel like they need to interact with humans to have a good life,” he said. “Would it be ethical to bring them out of that life and open them up to the world? It would be like bringing King Kong to Manhattan, and we know that that kind of stuff doesn’t work out well for Manhattan.”
Believe it or not, squatching is becoming more and more popular as stories of sightings spread across the Internet. “A lot of people are interested in this kind of thing, Bigfoot is hitting a cultural crescendo right now,” Kasting said. “It may just appear to be a fad, but I believe there is something deeper to it. (‘Like the green movement,’ added Bagins.) I feel like now is the age of Bigfoot, the era of Bigfoot.”
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“Get your shit together. Get it all together, and put it in a backpack. All your shit.”
For seniors, spring semester means the end of an era. What’s on your bucket list?
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