Podcast 11: I see DEAD BIGFOOT


In October of 2010, Justin Smeja and a friend were out hunting in the Sierras near Gold Lake, California, when suddenly they saw a seven foot tall creature they could not identify.  So they did what any highly intelligent hunter with a semblance of restraint or common sense would do in this situation – they shot it. Then, after giving chase to the mysterious creature, they encountered a couple of young’uns and did what any hunter who’s thinking rationally would do in the same situation – they shot one of them too.

Now, to be fair, it wasn’t “they” who did the shooting, just Justin, as the friend claims he tried to tell him not to do it.  But then he also says he would have done the same thing if he were in Justin’s position, hence, the they.  Can’t have it both ways.

In 2012, filmmaker Ro Sahebi decided to interview Justin about his alleged shooting, and the response was successful enough to prompt him to go on and make a full documentary about it. Released in 2013, Dead Bigfoot: A True Story features interviews with Justin and his a friend, a polygraph examination, and an investigation into the controversial story that reveals some surprising and unexpected results.

This documentary chronicles the events of hunter, Justin Smeja after his alleged shooting of 2 bigfoots in October of 2010. The filmmaker embarks on an investigation filled with witness interviews, an intense polygraph examination and a long hard look the evidence collected.

So, are Justin and his friend telling the truth?  Or is this just another elaborate hoax in a long line of hoaxes (here’s looking at you, Rick).  Join us as we delve into this fascinating story, as well as engage in a lively discussion about the legend that is Sasquatch.


Okay, first of all, this story really pissed us off.  It has all of the elements that make one enraged, reminding us there are people out there who seem to have very little respect for animal life, crypto or otherwise: yahoos with guns, a willful disdain for nature, and a seemingly complete lack of awareness of one’s actions, are just a few of the things that come to mind.

That said, this documentary is absolutely fascinating.  If you can get past the initial rage at Justin’s claims, as well as his insensitive demeanor about said events, you’ll discover (as we did) a fascinating story that, when looked at as a whole, surprisingly rings true.

Justin Smeja

Justin Smeja

As difficult as this may be to admit, there’s something authentic about this case that can’t just be dismissed out of hand.  The initial fear and confusion at seeing something abnormal, and the matter-of-fact way both he and his friend recall the actual shootings, appear unscripted and brutally honest.  The fact that Justin didn’t exercise restraint in this situation says more about his flawed character traits, than any deliberate cover-up.

And speaking of cover-up, the way Justin describes hiding the juvenile’s body after the shooting is equally revealing, in our opinion.  A lot people take issue with this part of the story, as they question why Justin and his friend didn’t take the body as proof or evidence.  However, if you put yourself in the same mindset as someone like Justin (a man-child with a gun), you quickly realize that it’s consistent with everything else he’s done up to that point.  He’s acted impulsively.  The fear and confusion he probably felt in those brief moments shut down what little rational thinking skills he did possess, and he was operating on instinct and pure adrenaline.  And if your instinct is to shoot first, and ask questions later, then…

In short, he did what any kid would do if they did something wrong – he hastily hid the evidence so he wouldn’t get in trouble.  His fake bravado in retelling the tale after the fact, simply exposes his immaturity, not his mendacity.  The fact that he desperately needs to shoot another one to prove to everybody he’s telling the truth, in our opinion, shows a lack of ego awareness that’s consistent with everything else he’s done up to this point.

So, now that we’ve psychologically profiled our subject, where do we go from here.  Well, we continue the search.  By the way, if Smeja, Sahebi and company did concoct this story as some sort of hoax documentary (a thought that did briefly cross our minds), then bravo to everyone involved.  However, we seriously doubt this is the case. If it is, then everyone involved should be writing for Hollywood instead.  Hmm… kinda reminds us of another Bigfoot case where the participants should have been working in the movies.  Patterson *cough* Gimlin *cough*.

The bottom line is this a fascinating film, and the fact that this is Sahebi’s first effort makes it even more impressive.  There are a few minor quibbles, but overall it does a damn good job of telling its story.  So kudos to Sahebi for making it.

Evidence for the existence of this elusive creature abounds in the literature, and hopefully someday soon we’ll have some indisputable proof that even the most die-hard skeptics can no longer ignore. Unfortunately, that may require a body.  Let’s hope that the person or persons who acquire it do so ethically and in the interests of science, not sensationalism.

Postscript: If you’re interested in researching this topic further, we recommend Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science (both the book and documentary) as starting points.

In this landmark work on a subject too often dismissed as paranormal or disreputable, Jeffrey Meldrum gives us the first book on Sasquatch to be written by a scientist with impeccable academic credentials. He gives an objective look at the facts in a field mined with hoaxes and sensationalism. Meldrum reports on the work of a team of experts from a wide variety of fields who were assembled to examine the evidence for a large, yet undiscovered, North American primate.

Dr. Jeffrey Meldrum and company do a fantastic job of reviewing the evidence that does exist and, quite frankly, are some of the only legitimate researchers in this field who can be trusted.  So definitely check it out.

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