Scott Nelson says he was once the last person in the world who would ever have given Bigfoot a second thought.
So it is as much to his own surprise as anyone else’s that he — a retired Navy cryptologic linguist — should end up giving a presentation analyzing recordings of purported Bigfoot vocalizations at this year’s Nebraska Bigfoot Conference Friday at City Auditorium.
Now in its third year, the two-day conference features speakers, dancers and vendors carrying all things Bigfoot. Saturday’s lineup includes: Mike Johnson, co-founder of Sasquatch Investigations of the Rockies; Don Nedrelo, Northwest Sasquatch Sightings; Daniel Perez, Bigfoot Times; “The Braided Horses Are Coming” author Don Monroe; and headliner Jim “Bobo” Fay. Bobo will offer stories about his adventures on- and off-camera during his time on the hit television series, “Finding Bigfoot.”
Presenters at Friday’s event included Robin Roberts of Sasquatch Investigations of the Rockies; Canadian author John Warms; Nelson; Joe Taylor, curator of Mount Blanco Fossil Museum in Texas; and Canadian Indians Tom and Peggy Sewid.
Nelson, who first came to hear the “Sierra Sounds” recordings while helping his son with a project for school, is unwavering on three points regarding the content on the tapes: It is definitely a language, it is definitely not human in origin, and it could not have been faked.
“I’m not a Bigfoot guy, I never was a Bigfoot guy,” Nelson told the conference audience. “My son was 11-and-a-half and had to do a report and chose Bigfoot.
“So we’re Googling Bigfoot and he says, ‘Dad, what do you think Bigfoots sounds like?’ So I Googled this and literally typed in, ‘Bigfoot sounds.’ ”
What popped up in his search were snippets of purported sounds made by Bigfoot captured on tape by Ron Morehead during a hunting trip in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It didn’t take Nelson long to figure out that what he was hearing was, in fact, a language of some kind.
“My whole world changed,” he said. “It took me out of my paradigm that I was so comfortable in for so long.”
People since have inundated Nelson with recordings they’ve supposedly made in the wild, hoping to help either corroborate or disprove his findings. Those submitted that were faked are easy to identify, as are the sounds captured that were identifiable animals such as birds, bears, or coyotes.
Having never actually seen Bigfoots conversing, Nelson stops short of calling the recordings ironclad proof of Bigfoot’s existence. But he keeps an open mind as he continues to study and evaluate the recordings at various speeds with specialized sound equipment, hoping to learn more with each listen about the mysterious utterings he is certain are language spoken by a human-like creature in the wild.
He has made four different transcriptions of the recordings based on his evolving interpretations of the conversation sounds and can mimic them with reasonable accuracy — though human limitations prohibit him from reproducing frequencies he says can’t be duplicated by human vocalizing.
He has no idea what exactly is being said by what is believed to be three Bigfoot in conversation: An adult male, adult female and child. But he is convinced beyond a doubt that what is captured in the recordings is indeed communication.
“In order to call this an actual translation, to know what they were saying, we’d actually have to sit down with the speaker and verify word by word,” he said.
Nelson has since heard similar sounds during excursions into the woods with Morehead, but is no closer to being able to translate what he hears. But while he can’t say for certain what the creatures are trying to say, he is able to sense their presence in the woods, even when they’re not speaking.
“You can feel it,” he said. “There’s something about their presence that you can sense.”
Though snowfall and difficult driving conditions most certainly played a role in the conference’s diminished opening day attendance, those who did make the trip seemed enamored with the presenters.
Pat Schoone of Hildreth is an insurance agent who came to the conference with her handicapped daughter, Shelly Bible of Minden. It was her second go-around as a spectator and first as a vendor.
“Am I a believer? Almost,” Schoone said. “To see people who really believe, who really know that there is (Bigfoot), it is almost comforting to know there’s people behind all the beliefs that we hear out there.”
Bible came well prepared for her first conference, having painted several Bigfoot signs, buttons and other merchandise for sale. She said she is intrigued by the Bigfoot legend and enjoys hearing from those who say they’ve encountered one.
“I’ve never been on an outing,” she said. “I don’t think that they’re handicap-accessible ... so I can’t say I believe, but I can’t say I don’t believe.
“There are still a lot of people who really truly believe it and I believe them that they truly believe it. I’m a beginning to believe kind of gal.”