by Steve Moon
Animals leave traces as they pass through a landscape. Look closely, and you will see indentations on the ground in the shape of the creature who made them. These indentations can tell us the type, size, and sometimes even the sex of a creature. Because “prints” are so specific in their appearance, they are the most interesting and compelling evidence that we have of Bigfoot. Bigfoot became part of our popular culture because Bigfoot prints were found and cast. Prints have an inherent authority that is tough to come by in the Bigfoot research world!
Print casts hold tremendous amounts of data. A creature’s weight can be estimated by the impact it makes in a certain type of matrix, and part of the matrix is often imbedded in the cast. If the print is in fine soil with just the right moisture content, it may be possible to record dermal ridges. Dermal ridges are what form fingerprints, and they are present on the bottom of a Bigfoot’s foot. Details about the animal’s movement are often evident in the shape of the depression the foot has made. On the back of a cast you can write information about where the print was found and the circumstances of its discovery, the date of discovery, the weather, people and events, and the direction the foot is pointing.
Below you will find an instruction sheet for casting a print that I developed over a period of several years for the print casting kits that I build. As my casting kits have evolved, the instructions have been continuously modified, and the amount of casting powder slowly increased. I have handed out a few hundred print casting kits to friends, witnesses, and as calling cards, but primarily at public and private BFRO expeditions. Why did I do this? Because of how powerful print casts are as data!
Building only one kit is great if you need to cast a print quickly or need one for a short outing. But it’s really nice to have a good supply of casting kits, and you can hand them out to others as needed. A 50-pound bag of USG UltraCal 30, or a similar high-quality casting powder in that USG family of products, will make about 22 finished kits. Each kit requires four rounded cups of casting powder, which is about two pounds. A two-pound kit is big enough to cast a very large Bigfoot print. Kits also include a 12 ounce plastic bottle of water, instructions (below) printed on a sheet of paper, three one-gallon sealable bags, and a pencil.
One-gallon sealable bags are used to build the kits. Powder goes into one one-gallon bag. That bag gets rolled tightly, sealed, and placed inside a second one-gallon bag. This is all folded over and put into a third one-gallon bag, along with a bottle of water, instructions, and a pencil. These bags are necessary for proper storage, for mixing the plaster, and for cleanup. You can get about twelve of these kits in one milk crate. Two crates will handle all of the kits from one 50-pound bag of USG UltraCal 30.
UltraCal 30 is used in orthodontics because it is capable of recording the most accurate detail of whatever you are casting. It does not shrink as it cures, so everything is recorded perfectly, and it’s also very hard. Some casting materials are plagued with excess chipping and breaking. If a portion of a cast is very thin, reinforce the thin part with wire or wood fiber.
If you need an alternative, easier-to-find casting material, you can use the FINE bagged concrete mix available in hardware stores everywhere. It will work! It won’t be beautiful, but it will be a record of the animal that made the print, and it will be time and place specific. Plaster-of-Paris is a very fragile material and will also work but needs to be handled and stored very carefully.
Enjoy reading and using the instructions below. Print the instructions two-on-a-sheet of regular 8.5-by-11-inch paper and put a copy in each kit that you build. Include directions in each kit so that everything is recorded properly and disasters don’t occur. For instance, it is very important that kit users understand that they DO NOT POUR WATER INTO POWDER! POUR POWDER INTO WATER!
How to Cast a Print
Prints in mud, sand, leaves and gravel can all make decent casts. Remove sticks or leaves only if they appear to have fallen into the print. Do not disturb the print itself. Cast a print in mud as soon as possible after you find it. A print casting kit is intended to stay in your vehicle. Make sure it’s in the vehicle when you go squatching!
Before casting photograph prints from different angles, close up. Photograph prints with a scale or object of known size like a soda can. Record print dimensions. Make notes on the back of the print casting instruction sheet.
For a large print impression pour about 6 oz. (small print) to 8 oz. (large print) of water into an empty bag. Pour POWDER INTO WATER and mix by squeezing bag until mixture is like thick pancake batter. NEVER POUR WATER INTO POWDER. Carefully pour mixture into print so that it spills over edges and gently wiggle the surface of the plaster with a stick to settle it. Mix more plaster and add it to the print if needed. Let set for 30 minutes to one hour, or until surface hardens. After about 20 minutes use a stick to etch an arrow into the top of the cast indicating direction of travel and front of foot, or end with toes.
Photograph the plaster cast in the ground from different angles and distances to show setting and landmarks. Photograph from all four directions. Measure the length of stride if two or more prints are found, measuring from toe to toe. Mark a stick and take it with you to measure later. Look for partial prints or other sign, such as matted vegetation, padded trails or tree structures. Write down details about the setting such as distance to water and roads or human landmarks, and lay of the land. Record date, time of day and any other relevant information. Draw a map showing the location of the print. Describe any observed activity.
Carefully dig out hardened cast, digging under the cast and pushing it upward while supporting its entire length, rolling it out. Transport to a safe place to cure. Brush dirt and debris away and clean with running water and soft brush after it has cured for two weeks. Write location and date of casting on top.
Steve Moon – Lowlands Bigfoot Research Group