Look, that’s what it says:
Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey (R-Lane) filed HB 1648 on Wednesday. Humphrey represents District 19 in southeastern Oklahoma, a district that includes Atoka, Bryan, Choctaw, and Pushmataha Counties. The district is roughly centered on Antlers, Pushmataha’s county seat. According to Wikipedia, Antlers contains about 2,300 people and “the only two traffic signals in the entire county.” Lane, where Humphrey is based, is an unincorporated community in Atoka County that may contain as many as 400 people, and based on a look at Google Street View it neither has nor needs a traffic signal, which is good because it might not have the electricity to run one. Interestingly, most if not all of Humphrey’s district, like most of eastern Oklahoma, is in fact still “Indian country” in which the U.S. and state governments have somewhat limited powers, as the U.S. Supreme Court held to Oklahoma’s great surprise just last year. McGirt v. Oklahoma, 140 S. Ct. 2452 (2020); see 18 U.S.C. § 1153(a) (governing offenses committed within “Indian country,” which is Congress’s term, not mine).
Whether Humphrey consulted the Choctaw before purporting to exercise jurisdiction over the area’s Bigfeet, or those who plan to hunt them, anyway, is unclear. But it looks like he is trying to help them out (the Choctaw, that is). In a press release, Humphrey said that the goal of the legislation was to boost the local economy by providing another reason to visit the area.
“Tourism is one of the biggest attractions we have in my House district,” Humphrey said, though he did not list the others. (Logging is probably one, because much of the area is wilderness.) “Establishing an actual hunting season and issuing licenses for people who want to hunt Bigfoot will just draw more people to our already beautiful part of the state,” he said. “It will be a great way for people to enjoy our area and to have some fun.”
As I have suggested elsewhere, it is debatable whether having a bunch of probably not sober but definitely armed people stomping around in your forests looking to kill something shaped like a human being is a good idea. Luckily, Humphrey clarified in the press release that he doesn’t actually want anyone to kill a Bigfoot, so he will be “working with the state wildlife and tourism departments to craft final language for his bill that specifies only the trapping of Bigfoot.” He also hopes to add a provision that would offer a $25,000 bounty for the first person to trap one. That would presumably be funded by license fees, although how to pay this bounty is probably not something the legislature needs to decide right now.
“Having a license and a tag would give people a way to prove they participated in the hunt,” Humphrey continued. “Again, the overall goal is to get people to our area to enjoy the natural beauty and to have a great time, and if they find Bigfoot while they’re at it, well hey, that’s just an even bigger prize.”
If that makes it seem like Humphrey is a little skeptical that a Bigfoot will actually be found, he is. He told The Oklahoman that he is not a believer, but is keeping an open mind.
“I have been in the woods all my life,” Humphrey said, although he evidently came out for a while in order to run for office, “and I have not ever seen any sign of Bigfoot” or even “heard Bigfoot” from a distance. “But I have some people that I know that are good, solid people who I will guarantee you 100 percent have said they have had experience with Bigfoot. So, I know there are people out there that you will not convince that Bigfoot doesn’t exist.” Or, as Humphrey also put it, “A lot of people don’t believe in Bigfoot, but a lot of people do, just like some people like to go deer hunting, while some don’t.” Well, the evidence that deer exist is actually pretty compelling, so I’m not sure that comparison is right on target, but I get what he’s trying to say.
Of course, some people would surely do this just for fun, not because they actually expect to trap a Bigfoot, however one might go about doing that. And as for the people who cannot be convinced that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, well, if they want to pay for a Bigfoot trapping license I don’t have a problem with the locals agreeing to take their money. They are already doing so (for both reasons), apparently, because according to the reports “Bigfoot merchandise is a popular seller” in places like Hochatown, Oklahoma, and nearby Honobia, which has an annual Bigfoot Festival (canceled in 2020, like so much else, because of the virus).
While this might seem like it’s a little out of Bigfoot’s traditional range, most commonly believed to be the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot reports have been received from pretty much everywhere. Or at least everywhere that has a significant amount of wilderness left in which Bigfoot could theoretically hide, and that includes eastern Oklahoma.
The Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, for example, has a lengthy report on what it calls “The ‘Siege’ at Honobia,” referring to a family’s claim that a group of evil-smelling hominids had been hassling them at night. While this supposedly went on for two years, the “siege” was a January 2000 incident in which the family’s menfolk “armed themselves with assault rifles and prepared to defend the homestead against the nightly prowlers.” One was pretty sure he had hit a Bigfoot, but the researchers decided the resulting blood trail had come from a deer. There were lots of deer around, and also lots of dead ones, because apparently these guys would just sit on the porch and blaze away at any deer that came within range. The researchers decided that if Bigfeet were attacking, they were probably after the deer carcasses, so maybe don’t kill so many deer from your porch, they suggested. The family agreed to stop doing this, although it sounds like they may have been motivated not so much by Bigfoot attacks as by the state fish-and-game wardens who showed up and told them to cut out all the random gunfire. Either way, once the family “could no longer do ‘hunting’ off the back porch or shoot fairly indiscriminately into the night,” both sets of hominids eventually left them alone.
Given this background, it seems extremely important that Rep. Humphrey follow up on his pledge to add language clarifying that this would be a license to trap Bigfoot, not kill it. That seems likely to save lives, and maybe those of more than one species.
And as long as they’re amending it, I hope they’ll take the opportunity to change “big foot hunting season” to “Bigfoot-hunting season.” Not the same thing.