For what it’s worth … Bigfoot doesn’t wear orange

While navigating around the internet last week, I happened to see a story on the Fox News website headlined “Hunter thought he was firing at Bigfoot, ‘victim’ tells police.” Now, I rarely pay attention to stories about Bigfoot, space aliens, wild mountain lions in Pennsylvania or the Kardashians.

That’s mostly because there really are no such things as Bigfoot, space aliens and wild mountain lions in Pennsylvania, and I truly wish there was no such thing as the Kardashians. But I had some spare time that afternoon, and the angle of a “hunter” mistakenly shooting at a Bigfoot somewhat piqued my interest.

According to the news story, a 27-year-old Montana man was preparing to do some target shooting near Helena last Sunday. While putting up his targets, he heard gunfire behind him, and two bullets passed within three feet of him. Fortunately, he was able to take cover behind some nearby trees until the shooting stopped.

When the victim finally encountered his assailant, the shooter told him, “I thought you were Bigfoot. I don’t target practice — but if I see something that looks like Bigfoot, I just shoot at it.” Although the report didn’t say why the victim may have appeared to look like a Bigfoot, the shooter also suggested that he should wear an orange vest in the future.

When the victim reported the incident to police the next day, authorities were somewhat skeptical about his story because he was unable to provide a physical description of the shooter other than he was driving a Ford F-150 pickup truck. After the story appeared on local media, however, a woman came forward, saying she also was shot at by a man driving an F-150. Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said, “We’re working to find this person. It is of great concern that this individual might think it’s OK to shoot at anything he thinks is Bigfoot.”

Even though I’m a devout Bigfoot nonbeliever, I know far more about this myth (and the Kardashians) than I wish to thanks to the relentless intrusion of pop culture into all aspects of the media. Because of that, I was under the impression that Bigfoot was a phenomenon of the Pacific Northwest. But according to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, 46 Bigfoot sightings have been recorded in Montana since 1978, the most recent in 2016. I’m not sure what is more unsettling about that fact, the 46 sightings or that there actually is a Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.

While perusing that Montana Bigfoot report, I also came across another bizarre news story about a Missouri poacher. David Berry Jr. recently pled guilty to illegally killing “several hundred deer” over three years and taking just the heads while leaving the bodies to rot. The Missouri Conservation Department called it one of its “largest conservation cases involving the illegal taking of deer.” Berry was sentenced to one year in jail in Lawrence County on Dec. 6 for the poaching violations, according to a news release. The 29-year-old was also sentenced to 120 days in jail in a nearby county for a felony firearms probation violation. In a peculiar twist, a judge reportedly ruled that as part of his sentence Berry must watch the 1942 Disney movie “Bambi” once a month while incarcerated. According to court records, Berry “is to view the Walt Disney movie Bambi, with the first viewing being on or before Dec. 23, and at least one such viewing each month thereafter” while he remains in jail.

Now I’m glad to see that Missouri is willing and able to throw the book at a serial poacher such as this person and that he certainly deserves every day of jail time for his crimes against nature. But making anyone watch that worthless, old Disney cartoon should be considered a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, which expressly prohibits cruel and unusual punishment. And nobody, but nobody, should be subjected to watching such a piece of useless garbage as that ridiculous, old animated movie.

I believe I saw that movie once as a child, and I hated it then because it was just plain stupid. I grew up in the country and literally had deer, rabbits, skunks and all sorts of other critters in the backyard. I had a burning interest in nature since I was old enough to walk and, grounded in that reality, never embraced the trivial delusion that animals are just people with fur on them. Even before I was old enough to hunt, I also understood the role hunting plays in conservation, so I grew to despise the overt anti-hunting tone of the movie when I became an adult.

I’m sure Missouri’s conservation agencies have all sorts of habitat improvement projects and other endeavors to benefit wildlife. Why not have this serial poacher work on one of those a day or two a month rather than lying around watching a useless cartoon? Or maybe we should make those nasty folks convicted of organized crime watch the “Godfather”?