Talking Bigfoot with Aleks Petakov – The Paranormal Podcast 834

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We talk about Bigfoot and other mysterious subjects with filmmaker and investigator Aleks Petakov. Aleks is a key member of the Small Town Monsters team and here is some of his work that you should definitely check out!

STRANGE PLACES (single episode of multiple) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfBKD_okVy8

BIGFOOT BEYOND THE TRAIL (single episode of multiple) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jHh8-gBAOA&list=PL4HBNQwYIBV_sXTX5dPqON5zXtGxIuXD_ 

MONSTER FEST 2 TICKETS: Get your tickets to this fantastic cryptid con in Ohio during late June. I will be there and I hope to see you! https://www.smalltownmonsters.com/stm-monster-fest-2024 

Thanks Aleks!

— 

JIM’S NEW CAMPFIRE BOOK! Get your paperback or eBook of Jim’s latest Campfire book, TRUE GHOST STORY: Jim Harold’s Campfire 6. Get all the links here: https://jimharold.com/campfirebooks/

PARABOX ParaBox Monthly is your source for amazing one of a kind paranormal t-shirts that will lead you into an online paranormal mystery. Head on over to https://paraboxmonthly.com and use promo code Jim20 to start your paranormal journey today.

TRANSCRIPT

Advertiser Narrator (00:02):

If you are fascinated by the darker sides of humanity, join us every week on our podcast Serial Killers, where we go deep into notorious true crime cases with significant research and careful analysis. We examine the psyche of a killer, their motives and targets and law enforcement’s pursuit to stop their spree. Follow serial killers wherever you get your podcasts and get new episodes every Monday.

Announcer (00:48):

This is the Paranormal Podcast with Jim Harold.

Jim Harold (00:51):

Welcome to the Paranormal Podcast. I’m Jim Harold. So glad to be with you once again. And some of my favorite people are from Small Town Monsters. Of course, I’m talking about that. I guess you would call it a supernatural paranormal cryptid movie studio, right smack dab in the middle of Ohio with the people working for it all over the country, all over the world, and just doing a fabulous job. And we’ve got one of those people with us today, filmmaker, investigator, seeker, Aleks Petakov, and we’re so glad to have him with us. Now, Aleks has always been interested in global events, history, the outdoors and adventuring, and he has his BA in communications with minors in History and Political Science, and he currently resides in New England. I hope that that’s still right, Aleksandar. But I understand you have a passion for the outdoors. You’re a hiker, backpacker, outdoorsman. You spend a lot of time in the wilderness, but don’t allow great work with Small Town Monsters these days. Welcome to the program.

Aleks Petakov (01:58):

Thanks so much for having me, Jim. Awesome to be with you here.

Jim Harold (02:01):

Well, first I want to get a few plugs in and talk about a few things you’re doing and then we can get into the conversation. First of all, I want to tell everybody to come to Monsterfest 2. Now, Aleks, you were there. You were there last year. I was there. What a great time it was, wasn’t it?

Aleks Petakov (02:16):

Oh, it was a blast. I mean, I got to meet you there. It was a great event. You never know with a first year event, how it’s going to go, and I think it was fantastic. We had so many cool things going on, live, podcasts, speakers, just people hanging out. There was a lot going on. So I think we’re really excited for Monsterfest 2. I’m super excited and I know you’re going to be there with a bunch of other cool people.

Jim Harold (02:39):

Now, this graphic says 29th, but it’s the 28th and 29th as I understand it, and you can go to smalltownmonsters.com, smalltownmonsters.com, and the links and everything are there, but very reasonable, extremely well attended last year. So I think you better get your tickets if you want to get in on this.

Aleks Petakov (02:58):

Yeah, we had people from all over the country, Alaska, Canada last year. I mean, it was amazing. 

Jim Harold (03:05):

The next morning, the morning after I stayed over and I was having breakfast, and there was a gentleman there who said he was going to drive all the way back home, and I thought, oh, where’s he going? Like Cincinnati or something. He said, Montana.

Aleks Petakov (03:18):

So yes, right.

Jim Harold (03:19):

People traveled far and wide to be there. I got to tell you, it was just a great event. I absolutely loved it. I told Seth I don’t go to a ton of conferences, but it’s the favorite one that I’ve ever been to, and I used to in a past life for a short amount of time, run a conference group, so I know how difficult that is. So hats off on a first year event. I can only imagine how much even greater it’s going to be this year. And then the thing about Small Town Monsters, Aleks, I find you guys are always up to something and a very popular YouTube series, Bigfoot Beyond the Trail. Tell us what you do with this one.

Aleks Petakov (04:01):

Yeah, this is a series I’ve been doing now since 2021 that kind of kicked off our YouTube channel. We didn’t have a lot going on YouTube. We were primarily putting films up on other platforms at the time, and we decided let’s start doing some YouTube stuff. It’s a little easier to produce, and Seth and I kind of came up with this idea to, we have a series called On the Trail of Bigfoot, and on the trail on various topics, we decided, well, let’s take that approach, but a little more extreme. I’m a huge backpacker, hiker, outdoorsman, as you mentioned in your intro there. And I just said, well, I’ve got all these personal investigations and cases into Sasquatch lore that I’ve always been interested in, stuff I’ve been doing for a while up here in the northeast in New Hampshire where I live. So I thought, well, wouldn’t it be cool to just do a series, kind of deep dive into some of these Bigfoot topics? And that’s where Beyond the Trail or Bigfoot Beyond the Trail, as we call it, kind of emerged in 2021. And it’s been really well received on YouTube. I think it’s upwards of 16 million views right now as a total for the series. So it helped kind of kickstart our YouTube channel in a lot of ways, and now we’re almost at 200,000 subscribers.

Jim Harold (05:08):

That’s amazing.

Aleks Petakov (05:09):

So it’s been an incredible journey and it’s been ongoing. So it’s not like it’s seasonal. There’s not one season. I’ve been doing the series for a few years now and it ebbs and flows and I see where the journey takes me. That’s kind of part of the experience is the journey that the viewers get to join along with me for, which is obviously awesome in my view.

Jim Harold (05:31):

Oh, I think it is awesome. So when people tune into that, this show, again, I’ll put it up, Bigfoot, Beyond the Trail, what can they expect? And again, that’s the YouTube channel, youtube.com, at Small Town Monsters, what can they expect if they tune into that?

Aleks Petakov (05:46):

So Bigfoot Beyond the Trail, as I envisioned it was a following my personal investigations into some of these Sasquatch cases originally started in the Northeast, but we’ve expanded. We’ve been all across North America at this point. A lot of stuff in Alaska. I think that’s probably some of the more notable stuff. What you can expect is just a rational look at the Bigfoot topic, what real amateur research looks like. We try to link up with local researchers. Let’s say I’m going to the Rocky Mountains. I’m not from there. I’m not going to assume I know what’s going on in Colorado. Well, hey, with all this social media connectivity nowadays, I know a bunch of researchers that do Bigfoot stuff in Colorado. So I go there, I link up with them, they take me out to their spots, and we kind of see what happens from there.

(06:28):

So that’s kind of the general approach. We take a very rational and skeptical look at some of the claims. We don’t just claim everything as a Bigfoot, we don’t cherry coat anything. If I think something is not real, I’ll say that. And we just really try to keep it on the level I think that the subject needs in terms of taking it seriously and not sensationalizing it. And what you can expect is beautiful scenery, incredible kind of journeys into some of the most amazing wilderness. I mean, we did one video last year where I drove actually from Monster Fest all the way to Alaska right after Monster Fest, and that turned into a whole film. 

Jim Harold (07:06):

Yeah, I remember you saying that now that you mention it, I remember you saying, I’m going to Alaska. I’m like, whoa. So let me ask you, let’s backtrack. We’re going to get, there’s even more stuff. There’s a ton of stuff that Small Town Monsters doing, but I don’t want to just pummel people with what you’re doing. 

Aleks Petakov (07:23):

Other thing hard for even me to keep up with.

Jim Harold (07:24):

Let’s kind of back up a little bit. It’s very impressive. But let’s back up a little bit. I was reading your bio, I understand you were born in South Africa to folks who were from America. How in the world did you get fascinated by cryptids and the unexplained and all this? How did that happen for you?

Aleks Petakov (07:45):

I don’t know. I think it was just a curiosity from when I was young about wildlife and some of the mysteries. I was a kid of the nineties, so this was obviously a time period where you had lots of different paranormal programs. I grew up with stuff like In Search Of, Unsolved Mysteries. X-Files was huge in the nineties. So that was a big kind of cultural influence, I think, into a lot of these Fortean subjects that people are into. And then as I got older, the internet of course sparked that curiosity even more. There’s people starting to blog and write about these topics and one thing led to another then social media, and that obviously increases. I mentioned earlier the connectivity of people. People you probably wouldn’t have had the chance to know previously. Now you can just send them an instant message and it’s that easy.

(08:31):

So I think all of that sort of played a part into my fascination as well as my interest in the outdoors. A lot of these mysterious topics, these cryptids, things like Bigfoot, other creatures are reported in these wilderness areas in nature. So it kind of went hand in hand. And then I had an interest in filmmaking. So it’s sort of a good trio that you can combine the filmmaking side, the spending in nature and the year for mystery, especially cryptids. I think they all kind of go hand in hand, and that’s kind of been my approach for a while. But yeah, that’s sort of how it all began, was just interest from when I was young.

Jim Harold (09:07):

Yeah. Now, would you say that you’re more interested in the cryptid subject? I mean, obviously you do a lot of things in the cryptid areas, or you mentioned things like Unsolved Mysteries. You mentioned things like In Search Of, which covered a wider range. Do you say you’re mainly a cryptid guy or are you in for all of it?

Aleks Petakov (09:28):

I would say I’m in for all of it. I’m very fascinated. I think probably the most in the Bigfoot topic just because of the sort of anthropological implications of something like that. Very interesting to think about, and that’s what I probably spent the most time looking into. But I’ve had a very interesting UFO experience in Pennsylvania in 2019 that I just can’t explain that is hands down the strangest thing I’ve ever experienced. I wasn’t into that topic before. That has sort of opened my eyes to that and maybe some of the more high strangeness stuff. Why do people report to things they do? And just as a lover of history, I’m always interested in other mysteries as well. So as we’ll talk about in a different series that I’m doing as well, I kind expanding my coverage in terms of what I’ve covered. But up until now, I’d say primarily I’ve done cryptids.

(10:15):

My first ever series with Small Town Monsters was on the Trail of Champ. There’s a poster for it right there, which was about the Lake Champlain monster. I did that back in 2018. That was the first On the Trail Of series with Small Town Monsters. And back then it was basically just Seth. I mean, it was him and he would bring people like myself on and other friends that would collaborate on projects. But STM was a very different world back then, and that was my first foray into it. I’ve done stuff on mystery big cats on the East coast as well. And then again, mostly Bigfoot, but I’m always looking to expand my wheelhouse and I’m just a naturally curious person. So I find interest in a lot of different things. And as you know, probably better than most, the world is a very strange and mysterious place, so there’s no reason to kind of box yourself into one area, especially if you’re constantly searching things like I am. I can’t kind of sit still with the amount of stuff I’m interested in.

Jim Harold (11:11):

We’ll be right back with Aleks Petakov right after this message. But first I wanted to let you know our new campfire book is out: Jim Harold’s Campfire Volume Six: True Ghost Stories, Jim Harold’s Campfire Volume Six, and 65 Spooky Stories so far on Amazon. It’s doing really well with 4.7 out of five. I’ll take that and please get your copy on Kindle or ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, wherever you get your books. And an easy way to get to all of the links, whether you are in the United States or you’re international, is go to JimHarold dot com and click the big green button at the top of the page and you’ll find all the links there. Thanks so much. 

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Announcer (15:09):

If you love the Paranormal Podcast, be sure to check out Jim Harold’s Campfire, where ordinary people share their extraordinary stories of ghosts, UFOs, cryptids, and terrifying encounters. Find it for free wherever you listen to this podcast. Tune into Jim Harold’s Campfire today. Now we return to the Paranormal Podcast.

Jim Harold (15:29):

Now we return to our chat with Aleks Petakov from Small Town Monsters. Yeah, I’m definitely kind of all for all of it. I do have my pet things. For example, the afterlife is like my favorite, then UFOs. But I mean, I’m in for all of it because when I started the Paranormal Podcast years ago when I said paranormal, now people think that means ghosts to me, the paranormal means all of it. It means like ghosts, UFOs, cryptid creatures, near death experiences, the whole gamut of it. So I love to get to talk to people like you who have an interest, and I think everybody naturally has their own pet thing that they like, but they’re open to the other things too. So I do have to ask you, you mentioned it, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask you about it, and then we can move on to some other things. You said you had a UFO experiences that something you’d be willing to share a little bit about with us.

Aleks Petakov (16:28):

Of course, and I’m actually working on a project about it. It’s something that I’ve been hoping to do for a while, but it’s a long story, so I’ll kind of condense it. And I do actually have footage of it on my website. I can probably send that to you if you want to link it or something like that. So long story short, a friend of mine who recently unfortunately passed a pioneer in the paranormal field, Paul Eno, who was somebody–

Jim Harold (16:53):

Oh, yeah, I know the name. In fact, I think I’ve interviewed him.

Aleks Petakov (16:56):

Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised. He’s been around since the sixties. I mean, he was somebody that trained under Ed and Lorraine Warren. He knew them back in the day. He was involved in a lot of very interesting stuff. And he was somebody that I got to know about a decade ago, and we started collaborating. Him and his son as well as some other folks, he was from the New England area like me. So they were working on this kind of, they called it a flap area investigation, an area, a window area. There’s a lot of these sorts of terms going around. Concepts like the Bridgewater Triangle, Skin Walker Ranch have popularized that sort of topic now, whatever you believe about it, regardless, it’s just there’s people looking into these kinds of areas. And there was one particular area in Pennsylvania that he had been looking into for a number of years, and he invited me along in 2018 to go to this place near Dubois, Pennsylvania, which is about northern central, a little bit to the west.

(17:49):

Very central though in Pennsylvania. And there’s just a long history of Sasquatch reports out there, other weird stuff. Pennsylvania has a lot of UFOs, a lot of lights in the sky, that sort of thing. So we went in 2018, it was very interesting. That was my first year going there. And we were investigating a particular property that had a history of, apparently there was a Native buriall ground there at one point. There was also some kind of meteoric crash there. At some point there was some debris from that. So it just seemed to be a hub of weird activity. I was not interested in that at all. I was Bigfoot at the time. This was 2018. We interviewed some locals there in 2018, and I heard some very fascinating Bigfoot stories. So we go back in 2019, about a year later in June of 2019, late May, early June, go there for a few days.

(18:35):

And we were doing our investigations. We had a guy there who was more into interviewing UFO people, abductees, that sort of thing. We had a guy who was more into the spiritual, the kind of ghost side of things myself as a Bigfoot guy, all always kind of trying to cover a bunch of different bases. Saying, Hey, let’s bring all these people together in one place. And to get to the encounter one night we were doing our investigation in separate locations and we decided to link up in this field that had a beautiful unobstructed view of the clouds or of the sky, and the clouds had all dissipated. It was completely clear. We’re watching planes and things go overhead. And at one point we noticed what looks like a, I thought at first it was the moon behind a cloud, but it seemed really low for the moon.

(19:19):

And we start noticing this, and I would describe it as an illuminated cloud or an illuminated haze sort of meandering through the sky in this weird slow motion leaf fluttering kind of in slow motion movement just, and we realized it’s some sort of, I don’t want to say craft, but something animate moving. It’s in the sky and wasn’t, we’re not talking about some distant star, little blip. This was within what we were able to see in our kind of atmosphere. We start watching this for a while, and then all of a sudden, and it’s a hazy object, it’s undefined. All of a sudden, a smaller brighter light flies out of it around it and back into it. I mean, we are freaking out at this point. Somebody was recording. If somebody is recording with their phone and you can hear the audio of us like children, like, oh my God, did you see that?

(20:08):

I mean, we’re talking, some of the guys with me there have been into UFOs for decades. I was not a UFO guy at the time. I didn’t really care. We’re watching this. And Paul actually ran to the house to grab some night vision binoculars. He had and recorded filming. I wish I had at the time a proper setup, but I was doing star photography or astrophotography. So I had a 10 millimeter fixed lens on my Cannon 70 D at the time. So it’s very wide, very wide. And the F stop goes down to 2.8, and that’s intended for, I was doing star photos and I just didn’t even think I should run back to the house to get a different lens. By the time thought about that, Paul was already back and recording it. So we have it filmed and we watched this thing as it kind of went over the horizon, but a couple other times there were some objects that flew out of it and kind almost orbited it, or it looked like they flew out of it and went back into it.

(21:01):

But I can’t say that with certainty, it just kind of circled it. But they were defined smaller objects as opposed to a larger mass. And we watched this object over the horizon, and then a few minutes later, just a blip of light go up into the sky, almost like in Star Wars where you have a hyperspace kind of thing going on. We were flabbergasted. At the time we sent the video over to a guy named Mark Dantonio, who was the former, yeah, he was the MUFON chief video analyst. He was actually supposed to be there with us, but he couldn’t make it on that trip, and he was genuinely stumped. He said, most of the time I’m able to dispel a video. It’s a common object people see in a strange light, and it just, they assume it’s a UFO, but this was genuinely weird.

(21:45):

So that was the first night. The second night we had an audio experience, which I can’t directly connect to that, but circumstantially, it was very weird. We were around the same time. We saw the object that the second night it was completely cloudy and we were standing in a basement, a few of us with a bunch of my camera gear, and this noise just started going, beep, this C tone noise started playing, and we thought it was something in the garage or equipment, and we’re trying to shut it off to make sure we don’t wake up the homeowners who were in a bedroom right above us in the place we were staying. And the sound then kind of sounded like it was outside. So we go outside and you can hear clearly above us, this sound and it’s moving through the sky. I mean, you can hear the sound move to different areas, and we are recording at this point.

(22:30):

So we do have audio of this, and it goes over this forested area to my left, and it just cut. I mean, it went from beeeeep to a hard cut. It wasn’t like it faded out or anything like that. It was very odd. Again, I can’t connect those two, but it was unusual. It was around the same area. We would’ve seen this thing in the sky. Obviously it was completely cloudy and very, very overcast that second night. But it was a very odd instance. Obviously the visual was probably more striking just because we were able to see it. And again, we have video of it that you can see and stills, and you can see in the video this hazy undefined object. And there’s a small defined object paralleling it the entire time, which to my knowledge is something very unusual for craft of this world.

(23:19):

I can’t say what it is, right? I don’t know. When I describe this encounter, I talk about it as a UFO by definition of the word: unidentified flying object. Obviously now there’s the UAP type label as well. Could it have been secret government technology? Sure. It’s nothing I’ve ever seen. I’m somebody who has flown his whole life. My grandfather was a commercial pilot for the Yugoslavian Airlines. I’ve been flying drones for a number of years. I’ve seen a lot of that sort of stuff, and I’ve never seen anything even close to this. So that was what brought me more interested into the UFO topic for sure. It was kind of a rude awakening.

Jim Harold (23:56):

Well, that’s why I was kind of going to ask you, I mean, even though you’ve always had this fascination and this interest in the unknown, the unexplained, was that kind of a sea change for you as it pertained to UFOs and all these other topics? Did it change you in some way?

Aleks Petakov (24:16):

Yeah, it definitely did. Again, because of the area we were investigating was labeled as a sort of flap area. I mean, people jokingly called it the Pennsylvania Triangle. I had been very familiar with the Bridgewater Triangle, having grown up in New England and been to that area, and that’s an area filled with urban legend and lore and Bigfoot and UFOs and heinous murders and a lot of stuff. So it kind of opened my eyes a little bit to that flap area sort of concept, but also, again, to the UFO topic. I mean, I grew up in the state of New Hampshire going up to the White Mountains, you pass the Betty and Barney Hill marker, which they have there. And that’s obviously a case that is so well-known in the UFO world. So I just never really paid it much attention. I had a slight interest in UFOs.

(25:02):

But as you mentioned, everyone kind of finds their pet interests and some things that they’re more fascinated by. And for me, cryptids were always more interesting than ghosts or UFOs. And I’m still not huge into ghosts. I’ve had some kind of interesting experiences, again circumstantial. But with the UFO topic, this definitely opened my eyes to it. And I’ve gone in that direction a little bit more, and I’m willing to talk about it perhaps more than I would’ve before, because I just didn’t have much of a commonality with it. I just didn’t identify with it very much. And I find a lot of times people that get into these topics, either they have an interest from when they were young or they’ve just been curious or they have an experience. So when it comes to Bigfoot, I’m the first category, I just always had an interest in it. I always had interest in crypts. I’m not one of those people that had an experience and went into it, whereas for the UFO topic, for me, it was an experience that led me more into that direction. So it’s been interesting to see the difference between the two, just for myself as an investigator.

Jim Harold (26:05):

Now, the weird thing for me with Bigfoot is I am interested. I mean, in fact, you can see over there, if I can figure out, right there is the bottom half of the Bigfoot. I see big. Yeah. So I do have an interest, and I actually do for my Plus Club, a show called the Cryptid Report, where I interview people who investigate Bigfoot and other cryptids. And I’m definitely not a cynical skeptic. I would say I’m a vacillating believer. One day I will wake up and I’ll say, oh, that Patterson Gimlin film, that stabilized film that they did a few years ago, or video, well, it was originally a film, so it was shot on film. So I think 16 millimeter if I’m remembering correctly. But anyhow,

Aleks Petakov (26:48):

I believe so

Jim Harold (26:49):

They stabilized it and I see muscle tone. And then the next day, Aleks, I wake up and I say, well, nobody’s ever found a body. You’ve not found any DNA. Although I know some people say things have been found and they’ve been covered up, and that day I’m more on the skeptic side. Where do you lie in the continuum of believers, skeptic, open-minded in terms of Bigfoot, Sasquatch? What are your thoughts?

Aleks Petakov (27:22):

Yeah, that’s a good question. I would say I lean more towards, I do feel or believe, if we’re going to use that word, that there is some kind of unidentified hominid. I don’t know what it is exactly that exists in certain parts of the North American landscape. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people at this point that have claimed to have had sightings, and not every single one had a sighting. I mean, you can’t, none of these people I can really substantiate. I wasn’t there. I didn’t have that same experience. Well, I’ve never had a visual encounter. I’ve had a few experiences that are sort of on the side of, well, they fit the alleged behaviors of what these things are reported to do. I can’t say those are a hundred percent. Of course, I wouldn’t be honest if I was saying yes, that was definitely Bigfoot, but when you’re in the middle of nowhere Alaska, and it sounds like something is throwing rocks at you and wood knocking, you run out of possibilities.

(28:15):

Even though as an investigator, you should deduce. Okay, the last thing you should assume is Bigfoot. Always assume something first before you can kind of get rid of the other possibilities. So yeah, I mean, I’ve talked to a lot of people like yourself that they wake up one day, oh, it’s totally real, next day no., I would say I’m very skeptical of almost 90 plus percent of the claims, especially nowadays in 2024, what’s presented online, you have onslaught of AI, lots of fake stories. You’re inundated with podcasts and different things about the topics. So not everyone can be telling the truth unfortunately. So I’m very skeptical of some of those claims. I’ve spent a lot of time digging into the pre-internet stories and some of the stuff that vastly predates any kind of internet, modern social media shenanigans that I find very fascinating and hard to explain.

(29:05):

Some of the First Nations lore have traveled to just about a year ago, actually right around a year ago from recording this, in May of 2023, I was out in British Columbia and I visited a First Nations group called the Nuxalk Nation along the remote coastline of British Columbia. It’s a 12 hour drive from Vancouver to get there, very remote, hard to get to. They have 14,000 year old petroglyphs of what they describe as a sninik which is a hairy man-like creature that lives in the forest. And that’s very intertwined in their cultural beliefs and where they came from. So that’s something that’s very fascinating. Again, the witnesses, what I’ve noticed is I’ve talked to people that had sightings from years ago or recent sightings that live in completely different geographical areas, Alaska and West Virginia, for example. And they’re describing very similar behavioral traits that to me, speak to some sort of consistency that you’d find in a species.

(30:02):

You look at human beings, regardless of where we live, we have similar characteristics. We’re social animals, we’re primates at the end of the day. Everything else aside, we are still animals in some extent, to some extent. You look at black bears in North America, they live in extremely diverse habitats from swamps in Florida to temperate rainforest in the Pacific Northwest. They’re still the same species. They have regional adaptations. So a lot of the characteristics I see with some of these people that, especially pre-internet, they would’ve had virtually no chance to ever connect. And they are describing very similar things they’ve observed or experienced through a sighting and that sort of thing. That’s very fascinating. And just seeing the vastness of what’s still out there in North America is pretty scary. We talked about my drive from Ohio to Alaska after Monsterfest. I mean, you think you have an idea of how much woods and territory there still are in parts of Northern Canada and Alaska, and I don’t think most people do unless they’ve flown over it or drove through it.

(31:02):

There’s still parts of the lower 48 that are very, very  – like, places like Bluff Creek where the Patterson film was taken extremely remote to this day, perhaps even more dangerous today than it would’ve been 60 years ago when you had logging crews and more people in the environment. Now, very few people venture out there, and then you look into Canada and north of there into Alaska and the amount of space, it’s genuinely frightening. So yeah, I’d say I definitely lean more towards the possibility that it is real. Again, this is a lot of it’s based on my investigations, people I’ve talked to some of the experience that I’ve had. So that’s how I look at it. I think everybody should look at it from the way they look at, they interpret the evidence and the topics, but my journey has led me to that conclusion. And yeah, that’s been the joy of it, is kind that discovery along the way. And I had love to have some kind of experience, but I’m not going to hold my breath for it either. I’m just going to kind of try to be as rational about it. And as I mentioned, being skeptical of what’s out there online now, because I think the topic is in a worst place than it’s ever been, just because of the amount of, you can easily just drum up an image on AI in two seconds.

Jim Harold (32:14):

It’s like a signal to noise ratio. The noise has gone up and the signal is probably the same, but the noise has gone up. So how do you suss out the signal?

Aleks Petakov (32:23):

You have to dig through the muck. Exactly. Yeah. So that’s what we have to do as investigators. It’s tricky at times.

Jim Harold (32:29):

And a couple points I wanted to make. First of all, when I talked about my potential skepticism, never would I discount storytellers because I think they provide some of the best evidence. Yeah, unfortunately, there’s going to be hoaxers people making stuff up. There’s going to be very good people of goodwill who are just mistaken. They saw a deer or a bear or something. Of course, they believe they’ve seen something and they did, but it wasn’t big. But then I think there’s that third category of people who are extremely credible. Maybe they’re forestry workers, maybe they’re lifelong hunters, outdoors, men and women, whatever the case may be. And they know when they see a deer, they know when they see a bear, they know the woods like the back of their hand, and they say, I’m telling you, I saw something unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and it stood on two legs. I find those kind of accounts very hard to reject. What are your thoughts about the importance of those people?

Aleks Petakov (33:34):

Those are the gold standard in terms of eyewitnesses. Somebody that is an upstanding citizen, right? Maybe they have some sort of a career where they’re very highly esteemed or they’re held in a high regard where for them making up a story about seeing a giant ape creature in the woods would probably only detract from their social standing or from their career possibilities. And I’ve talked to quite a few people like this, and you wouldn’t believe the amount who actually will tell you because maybe they feel comfortable sharing the story with you, even if it’s via email. But they will never go publicly on the record. They don’t want to be put in front of a camera. They just want to tell you the story. Hey, here’s this for your data. This is what happened to me. I’m still in disbelief and I don’t want to talk about it.

(34:20):

I just want to get off my chest. Something I’ve noticed, especially up here in the Northeast, we have a lot of forests up here in New England, Northern New England, specifically New Hampshire and Maine. There’s a long history of sightings, and the culture is a little bit kind of socially conservative, the Yankee kind of mentality. People kind of keep to their own. They don’t want to be seen as crazy or rocking the boat too much. So I’ve noticed over the years, especially 10 years ago when the topic wasn’t as widely received, it’s changing now that Bigfoot and other topics are more accepted. But in years prior, it was almost like pulling teeth to get people to tell you their stories. They’d admit, Hey, I had this happen. And then they really would have to trust you before they actually told you their encounter and they wouldn’t tell another soul.

(35:04):

I’m like, well, why would they make this up again? I imagine it would only detract from their credibility in general society. Oh, he’s the crazy Bigfoot guy, right? There’s loggers that worked the woods for decades. They don’t even tell their story until after they’re retired. They don’t want to be the Bigfoot guy on their crew and be the endless butt of jokes. And you run into that. I mean, I’ve talked to people, former military, former law enforcement scientists, lifelong outdoorsmen that maybe have no formal education, but they know the woods better than anybody, and they’re all describing similar things. And something I’ve noticed too, I’ve talked to people that probably would not agree on almost anything, whether it be politically, socially, I mean, we’re talking people from complete opposite spectrums, especially now with how polarized, they would never agree on anything. But the only commonality those two people share, one could be a super left-wing hippie type, and the other one is a super kind of conservative hunter type.

(36:04):

The only commonality they share is that they were in a wooded area, and they happen to experience something that we would now describe as a Sasquatch like creature. That’s probably the only commonality they share. So why would these people be making up something so incredibly consistent? So yeah, I think those witness reports are very crucial. I don’t think they obviously haven’t proven it because we wouldn’t still be having this debate. And I think a lot of people disregard eyewitness encounters, but I think once you pull them together and you get data together, that’s where you start seeing patterns. You have databases and stuff like something I like to use a lot is the Bigfoot mapping project. My friend Scott runs that. He aggregates reports from the BFRO, from the NAWAC from other organizations that collect sightings and put ’em in databases, and he puts it out there and maps it so you can start seeing patterns.

(36:55):

Well, it’s kind of weird that all these bigfoot sightings line up with a known wildlife corridor in this part of Georgia or whatever state you might be looking at. So you start drawing inferences based off of data. Well, okay, how many reports do we have where there’s wood knocking associated with a visual sighting of a Sasquatch? Oh, there’s 26 throughout North America. Well, that’s an interesting commonality. So you can start looking at that once you have a group of sightings, or even in areas, if you’re looking at particular geographical area or there’s sightings at higher elevations in the Rockies in the summer and lower in the winter, well, that mirrors the elk migrations. They go up in the summers and come down in the winters to feed. So you start looking at that sort of thing. I think that’s where a lot of these sightings come in handy.

(37:42):

And again, not all of them are going to be accurate. There’s a lot of people that might’ve mistaken something I think, especially nowadays, but when you read a report from somebody who’s trusted enough that local biologists look at their observations and say, this guy’s describing the antelope deer in this way, that it’s so trusted, and then this guy has a bigfoot sighting, well, why not trust that interpretation as well if this is somebody that’s so credible that they’re describing all the other things in their environment and just their pure observation. So yeah, I’ve had a chance to talk to a lot of very interesting people, some of which people would be surprised by their kind of credentials that again, want nothing to do with it publicly, but they will tell you behind the scenes because they have an interest in maybe getting that data out there.

Jim Harold (38:32):

What’s one of your favorite stories? Can you tell us one of your favorite accounts that you’ve gotten from somebody like that that you can share?

Aleks Petakov (38:38):

Oh my gosh. Yeah,

Jim Harold (38:39):

There’s a lot. Just one. Just one. Just one. Sure,

Aleks Petakov (38:41):

Sure. Well, one, this is just a personal favorite site because I don’t know how to place this or how to even really interpret it, but it was somebody I got to interview quite a few years ago. In 2016, actually, this gentleman who was from Maine, he was backpacking and hiking in an area of the Ossipee range in New Hampshire, which is just south of the White Mountains. It’s a geographic circular mountain formation, just a small mountains, 3000 feet under that as well. They were rock collecting. It was 1979, and they came upon this weird stone stack structure with rock stacked and a hemlock roof, basically a hemlock branches stacked, and it was in this little area. They had bushwhack there again, there was no trail to it. They found this structure and there was some kind of a creature sitting inside of it with what he described as its back was turned toward them, but it had matted hair and they could see things hang out. It was massive. Apparently the dog kind of started noticing. It started growling, and this creature let out some kind of a guttural, very strange vocalism, very strange guttural vocalization that sent them running the other direction. They were really freaked out by what they saw. Halfway down the mountain, we have a camera, but they couldn’t muster up the courage to get back up there. And they ended up going back down the mountain and, 

Jim Harold (40:06):

Well I don’t blame ’em. I’d be doing my, I’d be doing my Shaggy imitation, geez, zoinks Scoob, what’re we doing here.

Aleks Petakov (40:14):

Zoinks Scoob, yeah! And what was interesting was I tracked him down. So this was a story. It was in an article that had been posted in a North Conway Sun, I believe, one of the local newspapers in the White Mountains. And they talked about some of the weird stories from the oes, and they mentioned this story, and I tracked down the editor and I said, Hey, do you still have this guy’s contact info? And he said, here you go. He doesn’t like to talk about this story very much. I really had to get him. It was hard to even get him on the record to tell me this. And so I managed to call him and I said, Hey, would you be interested in doing an interview before I could record the interview? He said, I wouldn’t really. I’ll tell you my story in detail, and then you can take your notes, do whatever you’d like. And of course, I respected that. And so I interviewed him and took notes, and I’ll never forget it. It was just interesting because he mentioned he didn’t know what it was that he saw. It was some kind of strange creature. He didn’t know what this structure was. It was just there. And he actually went back there about a year later to try to (sneeze), excuse me.

Jim Harold (41:12):

Bless you. I’m sorry.

Aleks Petakov (41:13):

That came out of nowhere. He went back to the area about a year later to try and find where the structure was. And when he got to the location, it was completely gone. Whatever was there was wiped clean. And it’s just a weird story. I mean, could you say that’s a Bigfoot encounter, a classic one? Maybe, maybe not. The presence of the structure is what really intrigues me. Was that something that was just there? Was this creature using it? Did it create it? There’s a big debate in the bigfoot topic about structures and tree structures and nests. We’ve been out to the Olympic project nest sites they found out in Washington state. So this was a very interesting sighting. I mean, there are so many I could think of, but that’s one for me that kind of sticks out because it was one of the earlier eyewitness interviews I did over the phone when I was first getting into the topic here in the local area in New Hampshire, and it’s one that’s always stuck with me. But since then, there’s been so many. But that’s one that just kind of, I think the uniqueness of it is what’s interesting.

Jim Harold (42:11):

One other thing you mentioned, and I think that’s a really great point. You talk about how vast the wilderness is here, for example, in the United States, and people don’t realize how much of it there is. Is that basically the reason you think Bigfoot or Sasquatch is so good at hide and seek?

Aleks Petakov (42:33):

I think that’s part of it. Yeah. I think the fact that there is all this wilderness, again, I mean, just going through Northern Canada, there is a frightening amount where you’re driving through the Alaska Highway and you can step off and walk a few miles out and probably never be seen again in the amount of wilderness that’s out there. I think that’s a big reason why we don’t have this thing documented. I mean, there’s a lot of theories. I don’t subscribe to one particular theory. I lean more towards some sort of relic hominid type creature. There are obviously paranormal sides that people talk about. There’s so many different theories, right? I don’t know who’s right or who’s wrong. We haven’t been able to determine that. But I do think the amount of wilderness in North America just speaks to just the amount that’s out there speaks to the wild nature of this continent still.

(43:18):

I mean, there are parts of lower 48 that have been logged and decimated habitat, everything, and it’s been a tragedy. But even here where I live in New Hampshire, 200 years ago, this was all basically clear cut, and now it’s habitat that’s regrown. Moose are back, bear are back. A lot of the big creatures are coming back to these areas where they maybe were excerpted from or kind of kicked out of at one point due to habitat loss. There’s less people now spending time in these really deep wilderness areas. People are living more urban and suburban lifestyles. And there still is a lot of habitat loss going on, don’t get me wrong. But I think there’s still so much out there that it’s absolutely mind blowing. And yeah, I think there could be something like this out there in small pockets, existing. And the ill inclusivity of it, I think is what probably keeps it from ultimately being discovered if that is what’s going on, which is to be determined, I suppose.

Jim Harold (44:17):

Well, I guess that open-ended question is one of the reasons you do something like this, Strange Places. So tell us about this project that you’re doing.

Aleks Petakov (44:28):

Yeah, Strange Places is a new project I’ve just started. We’re only about two episodes out so far, just kind of from the start of this year up until now, working on a third and fourth, fifth episode now. There’s just a lot. So basically the idea is I’ve done so many Bigfoot documentaries. I love the topic dearly as you’ve just heard me kind of talking about it. But creatively, you’ll get a little bit burned out, kind of covering the same sorts of things. And I cover a lot within the Bigfoot Beyond the Trail. If there’s other stuff that comes up, we’ll talk about it. But something I wanted to look at was just Strange Places. Now that’s sort of a blank check in terms of how there’s a lot that fits into that Strange Places category. So my general approach was mysterious regions. So the first episode I did was about the land between the lakes, which is an area of infamy.

(45:20):

There’s the beast of LBL stories. There’s a lot of weird stories out of that area. So you’ve got places like that Bridgewater Triangle, certainly one of them akin to Skin Walker Ranch sort of stories where you have a region that’s known for a lot of weird stuff in one place. So that’s part of the coverage. Also abandoned locations. I’m really into some of the urban exploration type stuff. There’s a lot of really strange, creepy, spooky abandoned places that have unusual histories to them. Why did they become abandoned? Why did everyone just pick up and leave this whole town? And now it’s been rotting and it’s a place that weird stuff happens in cult worship, all kinds of things. And forgotten history is another aspect of it. So there’s really a lot that I’m covering within this series. But just in the first two episodes alone, as I mentioned, episode one of the Land Between the Lakes, episode two was about these two abandoned fortresses along the Mississippi River in South Louisiana that were involved in numerous battles throughout history and now are semi abandoned.

(46:20):

And I just thought those are very interesting to cover, that you just don’t hear about that sort of stuff. There’s a lot of forgotten and unusual history. There was even a cult living in one of the fortresses up until the eighties. And so that was kind of an interesting angle to cover. And I have a few episodes now that I’m working on that are very interesting, one that’s focused on UFO history up here in the Northeast and some locations that I think will surprise people that are connected to this, as well as stuff about coal mines in Pennsylvania and some of the strange abandoned coal mines. A lot of this series is about exploration and adventure. So a lot of what I’ve done in Bigfoot Beyond the Trail is it’s a personal journey for me. You’re following me along for the journey. And that’s also what Strange Places is. Yes, it covers a lot of the weirder spookier history about these locations, but also just going there, exploring it, seeing what they look like, showcasing, well, what is, what people used to pour their life energy into building this place. And now a hundred years later, it’s in total disrepair. It’s almost post-apocalyptic looking. It kind of gives us a glimpse into what a world post humanity would look like. So yeah, Strange Places. There’s a lot that kind of is entailed in it, but that’s the sort of general kind of synopsis of the series, I suppose.

Jim Harold (47:43):

Sounds awesome. I’m going to be tuning in, and I’m also going to be tuning into this. This is coming up later in the year at some point. I’m not exactly sure when, explain what Unexplained TV is because, man, this is exciting. I mean, it’s kind of like having your own little network on television. That’s amazing. Tell us about it.

Aleks Petakov (48:01):

Yeah, so as we’ve talked about extensively throughout the interview here, we’ve got so much going on with STM. I’ve got my personal projects. I just talked about two of ’em that I focus a lot on, but we have so many other people at STM. Seth is doing his own projects. We’ve got other people doing other series, other films on Bigfoot and other topics, all kinds of topics. So we kind of thought, well, we need need a place to kind of congregate all this stuff. So that’s where Unexplained TV comes in, and it’s a kind of a fast channel or a smart TV sort of channel that you might akin to something on a Roku or something like that, where Samsung tv where you can check out, Hey, there’s this channel and Unexplained TV is going to be all STM content. So what that allows us to do is completely create the programming.

(48:49):

So a lot of people watch our YouTube channel, A lot of people watch stuff on Amazon or other platforms that we’re on. But this is going to be, let’s say you tune in on a Monday and we’re doing a Bigfoot marathon, and it’s all some of my Bigfoot films. We’ve got Seth’s Bigfoot films, other Bigfoot films that are all within the STM universe. And then you tune in on Tuesday and it’s UFOs. So you’ll watch On the Trail UFOs, some of our UFO related projects, so we can kind of program it for however we like. And I think that’s going to be really cool. And that’s again, still in the works, but it’s going to be really cool because it’s going to obviously expand the audience and we’re going to have stuff coming out just for that platform too that you won’t be able to see in other places. So we’ve always got many different eggs in the various baskets, so to speak.

Jim Harold (49:37):

Very exciting stuff. Small Town Monsters is always at the forefront of creative thinking and putting out great content for these subjects we love. Again, I hope everybody joins us at MonsterFest 2. It’s June 28th and 29th, SmallTownMonsters.com. And a major part of Small Town Monsters is Aleks Petakovf, and we’re so glad we got to spend some time with him. Aleks, thank you for joining us. Any last words for our audience today?

Aleks Petakov (50:06):

Oh, just thank you for having me, Jim. And I think people, when they’re looking into these topics, again, keep an open mind, but don’t be so open-minded that your mind falls out and you accept everything. Be skeptical.

Jim Harold (50:19):

Said that for many years. That’s so true. Have an open mind, but not so open your brains fall out. Well, so glad to have you and look forward to seeing you at Monsterfest in a couple months here. We’ll see you there. Sounds good. Thank you, man. And thank you for tuning into the program. I certainly appreciate it. And if you enjoyed it, please subscribe and follow this YouTube channel. It’s a burgeoning effort. Most people listen on the audio podcast. Of course, if you’re listening on the audio podcast, thank you so much for that, and we’ll talk to you next time. Have a great week, everybody. Bye-Bye. And stay spooky.


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