Tom Stangl

We are near the end of January and the wheels of the federal and state governments are again turning. Lawmakers are deciding the best way to tackle the issues of the day: getting the economy moving, dealing with the impacts of the coronavirus, fixing roads, addressing climate change, systemic racism and Bigfoot.

Yes, Bigfoot. I should rephrase the last part of that sentence. It’s not that people are being racist towards sasquatches, quite the opposite. In fact, a lawmaker in Oklahoma wants to establish a very targeted hunting season for the shy creature of myth and legend.

According to news reports last week, Rep. Justin Humphrey introduced a bill to the Oklahoma legislature establishing the hunting season. Humphrey doesn’t have a bone to pick with Bigfoot, in fact, he doesn’t want the lanky fellow harmed. Humphrey hopes to have a $25,000 bounty for the first person to live trap Bigfoot.

“A lot of people don’t believe in Bigfoot, but a lot of people do,” Humphrey said in a news release.

The goal of the legislation is tourism, according to Humphrey.

According to a CNN report, Humphrey said “Tourism is one of the biggest attractions we have in my House district. Establishing an actual hunting season and issuing licenses for people who want to hunt Bigfoot will just draw more people to our already beautiful part of the state. It will be a great way for people to enjoy our area and to have some fun.”

The town of Honobia, Oklahoma, already has an annual Bigfoot festival each October, so Humphrey said he is hoping hunting season could coincide with the celebration.

“Again, the overall goal is to get people to our area to enjoy the natural beauty and to have a great time,” Humphrey said, “and if they find Bigfoot while they’re at it, well hey, that’s just an even bigger prize.”

I love this legislation. I think it takes a lot of courage for Humphrey to author the bill because he will pay a high cost. Judging from what I read online doing research for this column, he’s already being ridiculed for the bill.

I doubt there are many people on the planet who haven’t heard of Bigfoot. The mythical (okay, maybe just very shy) creature probably has a greater name recognition than anyone. There have been so many programs dedicated to the big guy and his maybe cousins, the Yeti, you could probably have a Bigfoot channel on a streaming service.

Honobia is located in the southeast corner of the state, near Arkansas and I’m guessing the forested area is part of the Ozark Mountains. According to tourism websites, the October gathering looks like a good time. 

One of the duties of elected officials is to advocate for the people in their home district. Humphrey’s legislation is no different than any proclamation declaring a community has the best of (insert product or person here). The intention is to raise awareness and hopefully attract some visitors. Visitors spend money and sometimes fall in love with an area and relocate.

It makes good economic sense for places to find their “thing” and promote it. Will some people think it’s stupid? Sure. Will it get lots of free publicity? The fact I wrote this column and you are reading it answers that question.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at tstangl@theameryfreepress.com, telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same. 

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