Published Sunday, November 29, 2009
By Jeff Bishop
The Newnan Times-Herald
The Belt Road Booger's fame has spread outside of Coweta County and is now beginning to attract the attention of Bigfoot researchers on other parts of the globe.
Thomas Finley, a Bigfoot researcher who lives in Essex, England, is the latest to become interested in the local booger tales.
"He sounds like such a magnificent beast!" said Finley.
Finley said he first became interested in the subject of "unknown animals" in 1968, after he and his brother attended the Olmsted County Fair in Rochester, Minn.
"There on the Midway we came across this sideshow with a strange ape-man-like creature frozen solid in a block of ice," he said. "I was only 8 years old at the time, and it really was the most frightening thing I have ever seen in my life.
"The creature was very muscular and looked very much like modern Bigfoot reports," said Finley. "I saw this same sideshow display in 1988, and it was not the same creature on display. I often wonder the fate of the original creature as it piqued the curiosity of the Smithsonian Institution and the FBI at the time."
He said his creature collection has been active since 1973, when he was in the eighth grade.
"I started to collect newspaper and magazine articles on sightings of these creatures -- not only Bigfoot, but other creatures such as 'Nessie,' the Loch Ness Monster of Scotland, and the Yeti."
He also became interested in reports of a "Lizard Man" in South Carolina in the 1980s.
"My collection contains a large number of Bigfoot memorabilia and footprint castings as well as a 23-inch tall sculpture of a female Bigfoot, and a large bust of one as well," he said.
With the growth of the Internet, Finley began to collect first-hand accounts and historical data on these creatures.
"I call this ARCHIVE: X, and have been working on this since 1999," he said.
Now Finley hopes to add the Belt Road Booger to "Archive: X." He is looking for anyone who may have first-hand accounts of encounters to share.
"If any of your readers would like to share a report to be added to the archive, please send me an e-mail at email@example.com and send me a brief account and I will post them and report pack by airmail," he said.
"I will also include a signed Bigfoot painting for all who write. If you have anything paranormal, UFO or weird in general, I encourage you to share this with me," said Finley.
Finley said he has "branched out" into collecting and researching not only "unknown animal" reports, but also paranormal events, UFOs, ghosts, and other mysteries."
Finley said he is trying to overcome what he calls "The Giggle Factor" in the media when it comes to "reports of the paranormal, UFOs and Bigfoot."
"I think it is one of the most unprofessional ways to deal with a subject such as this," said Finley. "If it is to be taken seriously, this should be reported in a different way.
"With some recent UFO sightings, the press has taken a more serious tone with these sightings, as law enforcement professionals had been witness to these events, so perhaps in time attitudes will change when it comes to this subject," he said.
Tales of mysterious creatures in North America date all the way back to the days of the Indians, he said.
"When it comes to this question I always like to go back to the oral history of first nation peoples all across North America," he said. "They have had a close connection with the Bigfoot first-hand, and if you take the time to read a little on this subject you will find vast numbers of references to Bigfoot in many tribal accounts.
"I personally believe that they do live in remote areas around the world," said Finley. "Even in Australia there have been sightings of a creature there they call the 'Yowie.' An Osage elder once said to a disbeliever that, 'Just because you cannot see it in the woods, doesn't mean it isn't there.'"
Finley encourages people to keep an eye out for the Belt Road Booger, but he also cautions them to refrain from becoming overzealous.
"There is a growing controversy among numerous Bigfoot researchers on the implications of shooting one of these bipeds just to prove it is a real animal," he said. "I find this totally inhuman and an act of murder.
"I do not recommend that untrained persons to go into the wilderness looking for Bigfoot, because it takes many years of constant hard work to understand the nature of these beings.
"They are very clever and intelligent and have the ability to cause confusion and panic to those in pursuit of them," he said. "Millions of dollars have been spent over the last 30 years looking for these giants, and only small pieces of evidence are found -- mainly hair samples and, most recently, a toenail in Arizona.
"Many trained individuals and even ex-Green Berets have gone looking for these things, and have only came back regretting they had even done so in the first place, not for the lack of trying but for getting too close to something that did not want them in their territory."
He said to make sure you carry a camera with you, if you do decide to venture out into the woods to look for the Belt Road Booger. But it may not do much good.
"They know when you have cameras or trailcams. It has to do with their acute sense of hearing," he said.
"If you do have a sighting, write it down and include everything you remember -- weather conditions, time of day and location. And draw a sketch of the creature."
He said Booger hunters may even want to consider bringing a child along.
"Having a child with you increases your odds as Bigfoot is very curious and will come closer to investigate," he said. "They also are intrigued with human females."
Meditation sometimes helps to attract a Bigfoot, he said, "as well as food offerings."
But Finley said that "it takes time to gain their trust."
Respect the land, Finley said, by asking for permission of a landowner before venturing out and by leaving the forest as you found it.
"And always show respect to the Bigfoot," he said.