A gumshoe is looking for a Bigfoot.
The creature also goes by the aliases Yeti, Sasquatch or Skunk Ape. Skeptics have added monikers such as "pure fiction" and "rubbish."
To longtime private investigator David Paulides, the legendary creature is yet another case to solve.
Four years ago, the 1974 graduate of Monta Vista High School and a 20-year Santa Clara Valley detective, got bored and wanted to combine his love of outdoors with a good mystery. So he decided to go in search of the elusive simian.
Paulides is the director of the North American Bigfoot Search. He claims it is the only group in the world researching and studying the subject full time.
"No one has ever given 100 percent of their time to this," said Paulides, citing the lack of serious and credible efforts put into tracking Bigfoot.
This first batch of research is detailed in Paulides' new book "The Hoopa Project: Bigfoot Encounters in California." The book describes Paulides' search along with eyewitness accounts and sketches of the creature. The book, due for release Aug. 1, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the creature receiving the name Bigfoot.
Paulides set out to find consistent patterns, so he and his organization did an exhaustive search of the Western United States to determine the optimum location. They studied accounts, times, dates, seasons and elevations coinciding with sightings. He analyzed 350 sightings since 1861 and plotted the data.
"It all came back to Hoopa," said Paulides of the Native American tribe that inhabits an area in northeastern Humboldt County. "The Hoopa have been dealing with Bigfoot since early times. They run into it regularly; they just don't talk about it."
Paulides then spent every other week for nearly three years in and around the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. He spoke with the elders and many in the tribe as he dug deeper for Bigfoot-related clues.
"After a year I had the complete trust of the tribe," he said.
Paulides and the organization wanted to add credibility to a search for what many believe is a creature that exists only in the imagination of popular culture.
"We wanted to hold witnesses accountable for their statements, something that is rarely done by (Bigfoot) authors and researchers," he said.
Paulides developed a system where the team investigated sightings only if the witness signed an affidavit. If no affidavit was signed, no investigation was pursued.
"The witnesses appreciated the professionalism," Paulides said.
To add to the professional and investigative nature, a forensic sketch artist who has worked with the FBI was brought in. Muscle structure, facial features and closeup accounts were sketched in detail. The full-color sketches are in the book.
Paulides was astounded to discover that 90 percent of the sketches looked similar to each other, but do not conform to what Paulides feels is a mainstream depiction of Bigfoot.
"If you're gonna fabricate an account, you're going to make it look like what everyone is familiar with," he said, citing the famous Patterson-Gimlin film footage.
"The consistency can not be argued," he said. "Most went against the grain of common knowledge."
Paulides has enjoyed his time researching and writing about a subject he is convinced is the real deal. He and the organization will continue to keep searching.
"The evidence is overwhelming," he said. "There is a lot more that needs to be understood. The puzzle will be solved."
Credit to: By Matt Wilson of Cupertino Courier