Springfield, Ore. - Bigfoot is no stranger to the Pacific Northwest: about a third of reported sasquatch sightings happen in Oregon and Washington.
The legend - or search - has gained new popularity from Finding Bigfoot
on Animal Planet.
"It won't take long, a few years tops," Portland native and bigfoot hunter Cliff Barackman told a Springfield High School club. "These things are real, and soon everyone is going to know about it."
Barackman admits to a lifelong obsession with sasquatch, an obession he now gets to indulge by traveling the country with three other bigfoot experts in search of 'squatch.
He is used to dealing with skeptics, but during a recent visit to Springfield High School, barackman was preaching to the choir at the Sasquatch Brotherhood, a school club.
"It's like religion," said Austin Helfrich of the Sasquatch Brotherhood. "You try to spread religion. Sasquatch, you try to spread it around, and have other people start to believe in it. And it just spreads like wildfire."
has helped fan the flames: 1.30 million people tuned in for the premiere of its third season.
"Certainly more people are becoming believers because of the show," Barackman said. "I don't encourage belief. I encourage weighing the evidence and coming to your own conclusion."
The Sasquatch Brotherhood's members have come to the conclusion that bigfoot is out there, and like many fellow enthusiasts, they feel there's a good chance he calls the Pacific Northwest home.
"Lots of forested areas, very wet, mostly lots of animals," Helfrich said. "I think it would be an easy location for sasquatches to live in."
Helfrich and his friends admit they get some odd looks from other students.
But the general public's skepticism doesn't seem to bother them - or Barackman. They are all convinced that sasquatch's days in the shadows are numbered.
"I don't have a PhD. I don't care what other people think of me," Barackman said. "Bigfoots are real. The evidence shows it."