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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Who is Wally Hersom? (and how can I get him to pay my salary?)

I am copying and pasting part 1 of a 3 part series.  It is quite interesting about how he funds the BFRO...

By GWENDOLYN DRISCOLL
Orange County Register


DEVIL PEAK, EL DORADO NATIONAL FOREST -- Wally Hersom is an intuitive man, with an instinct for when opportunity might knock.
It's not knocking now.
The soft-spoken, white-maned Hersom is standing in the dark on a remote mountaintop in northern California listening to the eerily quiet rustling of leaves.
"It's too quiet," he says. "It doesn't feel right."
Below him in the pitch-black hollows of this remote forest area, groups of men and a few women sit crouched, pointing $9,000 thermal imaging cameras at the darkness.
Every so often, one of them emits a blood-curdling shriek.
They are searching for a monster.
Hersom, 72, is the reason why. Over the past year the part-time resident of San Juan Capistrano has pumped tens of thousands of dollars into the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, an Orange County-based group of Sasquatch-hunters.
Hersom pays the salary of Matt Moneymaker, the BFRO's director. He has outfitted the group with ten thermal imaging cameras, as well as video recorders and night-vision devices.
Total cost: more than $100,000.
In the process, Hersom hopes to change the popular conception of Bigfoot believers from wooly-eyed weirdos to heroic hominoid hunters.
Hersom, like the more than two dozen people who joined him on this recent expedition to the El Dorado National Forest, believes that Bigfoot is a yet-undiscovered species of immensely strong, craftily intelligent and highly elusive great ape.
"I think the timing's right," Hersom says. "In the next 12 months, this thing is going to break wide open."
Moneymaker and Hersom speculate that Bigfoot has a nocturnal animal's acute night vision. The key to 'discovering' Bigfoot, if such a creature exists, is to mimic that ability.
"The only way we're going to (prove) it is if we can film in the dark," Moneymaker says. Wally has enabled the BFRO "to bring some technology to bear that has been out of reach of Bigfoot researchers."
Up on the mountain, Hersom stands silently while Moneymaker and his group of volunteers puts the equipment to use. Through the camera's glowing scope, the darkness transforms into a silvery landscape. But there is no Bigfoot to be seen.
Moneymaker tips his head and emits a piercing scream. Over the radio, the scattered group of BFRO members is instructed to do the same and to knock baseball bats against trees.
The screams and knocks are meant to mimic the alleged noises of a 'real' Bigfoot.
The hope, Moneymaker says, is to trick the creatures into coming within filming range.
Does Hersom ever feel ... er ... a bit ridiculous?
"I'm just going to play it by ear," Hersom says. "I'm going to go as long as it feels right for me."
Hersom says he has only heard Bigfoot, but many within the group report more intimate encounters.
They describe a giant ape-like creature that walks on two feet and appears to have its own language (called "Samurai" for its sing-song resemblance to undubbed ninja movies).
Bigfoot is also, some say, capable of projecting a paralyzing telepathic feeling of fear that stuns both humans and animals alike.
Moneymaker uses the term "infrasound" and calls the experience being "zapped."
Why then, would anyone pursue an encounter?
Moneymaker describes the discovery of Bigfoot as a "historical prize."
But for many members of this (mostly male) group of enthusiasts, the quest itself is the lure.
"Part of me really likes the mystery of it -- the not knowing, the seeking," says Robert Leiterman, who works as a park ranger in Humboldt County.
Leiterman is one of a half-dozen past and current Orange County residents who have joined Hersom and Moneymaker on this expedition to northern California.
Does it bother BFRO members that nothing will come of this night spent in the cold mountains of California?
"I'm a little bit discouraged that we didn't hear anything," Hersom says. "They're not everywhere all the time."
Good timing is Hersom's stock in trade. But even he admits "there's some luck involved."
"Some people say: Bigfoot will find us; we can't find Bigfoot," Hersom says.

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