POCATELLO — Idaho State University professor Dr. Jeff Meldrum began researching Bigfoot in the mid-1990s, but it took almost 20 years before he would have a possible sighting of his own.
The well-known Sasquatch researcher said he might have laid his eyes on the creature during a 2013 trip to Canada.
In the later part of that year, Meldrum was invited by Todd Standing to visit an isolated area in Alberta called Nordegg, a location known for its high volume of Bigfoot sightings over the years.
The trip is featured in the documentary “Discovering Bigfoot,” which can currently be viewed on Netflix.
Standing is a controversial figure among Bigfoot researchers, with some praising him for his work on the subject while others call him a hoaxer. He is most well-known for his appearance with Les Stroud in “Survivorman Bigfoot,” and he has made headlines for petitioning the Canadian government to provide endangered species protections for Sasquatch.
Meldrum said he has received some criticism for appearing in “Discovering Bigfoot” with Standing. However, Meldrum said that it’s important to investigate and vet all possible sightings. He also said that appearing in the documentary is not indicative of an endorsement of Standing’s work.
“I make no apologizes,” Meldrum said about traveling to Nordegg. “That’s what investigative research is all about.”
But despite the questions over Standing’s methods and some of the more controversial scenes in the documentary, Meldrum said there were a couple intriguing incidents that occurred while he was camping in Alberta with Standing and fellow researcher John Bindernagel, Ph.D.
The first incident was Meldrum’s sighting of a tall, dark figure that emerged from the shadows near the group’s campsite.
At approximately 1 a.m. during one of the nights, the three men were startled by a high-pitched, avian-like vocalization near their campsite. They tried to follow whatever it was that made the sound, but Meldrum said it kept its distance.
“Whatever made this sound, it was stomping through the underbrush and it sounded like a bull elk,” he said. “It was cracking branches in our attempt to approach it.”
However, Meldrum said that during this incident, he had a possible sighting of the creature he had been studying for almost two decades.
“I could only see it from the waist up, and it was clearly an upright figure,” he said. “It was kind of intriguing. It was the closest I’ve ever had to a Bigfoot sighting.”
The sighting only lasted a few seconds and all Meldrum could see was its silhouette.
Later, Standing filmed Bingernagel walking the path that the shadowy figure followed. Then Standing sent this footage to Meldrum.
“The figure I saw was a foot and a half taller than John,” Meldrum said.
After Meldrum returned to Pocatello, he spent a lot of time researching night bird calls, but he could never match the eerie vocalization that he heard the night he saw the shadowy figure.
Unfortunately, the filmmakers did not get any footage of the figure that Meldrum saw, though the documentary “Discovering Bigfoot” does depict the aftermath of the incident.
“That’s the curse of Bigfoot,” Meldrum said. “Electronics aren’t working whenever there’s a sighting.”
The documentary also details an attempt by Standing to bait a Sasquatch with apples near a tepee-like structure made of deadfall. Some Bigfoot researchers believe these structures, which can be found in wooded areas, are created by Sasquatch creatures as some sort of trail sign or means of communication.
Meldrum is skeptical that Sasquatch creatures would build such structures. But he said in one instance the apples disappeared and there were distinct, deeply impressed 13 1/2-inch footprints left in the moss on the ground nearby. According to Meldrum, the footprints didn’t appear to have been made by a human.
“There were no signs of deer or elk,” he said. “Chipmunks and squirrels couldn’t get to the apples, and there were no signs of peels or scraps.”
In Meldrum’s line of work, he said it is important to be skeptical and objective about the evidence, and the scenes depicted in “Discovering Bigfoot” are no exception to this rule.
He says the jury is still out on the authenticity of Standing’s work researching Sasquatch.
Though Meldrum has only seen the documentary once, he said watching his adventure in Canada has made him eager to continue his research into the mystery of Bigfoot.
“Reliving those experiences up in Canada has gotten me very excited to get back into the field this spring and summer,” he said.