Casey Kedrowski said he's always considered himself a skeptical sort of person, but an image captured by a trail camera in the woods of northern Minnesota has left him scratching his head.
In October, Kedrowski, 20, and his brother Peter, 30, set up a motion-activated camera to take pictures of deer near their families hunting shack near Chippewa National Forest. But when they pulled out the camera's memory card and took a look at the images, they couldn't believe their eyes.
"This came up and we both kind of looked at each other and said, 'Is this you?'" said Casey Kedrowski, a sophomore at St. Cloud State University. Both brothers thought the other had staged a hoax.
"I thought it was him and he thought it was me," Casey said.
At first the brothers and their father Tim thought the dark, fuzzy figure was a bow hunter. But then they wondered why the figure wasn't carrying a flashlight or a bow and arrow.
Bigfoot Researchers Investigate Claim
They also asked their fellow hunters if any of them had been in the area at 7:20 p.m. on Oct. 24, the time stamp provided by the digital image. Everyone said they stayed out of the woods that rainy evening.
"Everyone that we know that hunts in the area was not there that night," said Tim Kedrowski.
Intrigued by the unfamiliar image, the Kedrowskis reached out to Don Sherman and Bob Olson, founders of the Northern Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team.
Since 2006, the pair has monitored and investigated Bigfoot sightings in northern Minnesota.
"My first reaction when I saw it was that it's a guy in a suit," said Sherman, 56, who is a hospital facilities manager. In the past three years, he said he and his partner have compiled more than 75 stories of Bigfoot encounters, sightings and sounds in the area.
Researcher Compared Minn. Bigfoot to Patterson Bigfoot
And the more he analyzed the photo and checked it against descriptions provided by others who claimed to have spotted Sasquatch, the more he said he believed it to be Bigfoot.
Sherman said he compared the Kedrowskis' picture to an image from a short film made by Roger Patterson in 1967 that famously purported to contain footage of a real Bigfoot.
Though that film has sparked much controversy over the years, Sherman said the body proportions of the alleged Minnesota Bigfoot, in particular the arm length, are very similar to the Patterson Bigfoot.
Sherman said he and his partner went out to the site where the Kedrowskis' image was taken and tried to recreate the image. And when his partner, who is 6 feet, 6 inches, walked by the tree in the picture, Sherman said, "There was no comparison."
Not only does he think the figure photographed by the trail cam is much taller, he said its arms are much longer than human arms.
"If somebody did hoax it, it'd be a pretty elaborate hoax," he said. "I am pretty convinced."
Hunters Still Perplexed by Image of Bigfoot-Like Figure
After hearing the researchers' conclusion, the Kedrowskis were still stumped.
"I still don't know what to think about it. I'm still not convinced. I'm still not convinced if it's Bigfoot or a person," said Casey Kedrowski.
But area wildlife experts are convinced. And they think the explanation is anything but exotic.
"We've all seen the photos in the paper and to us it certainly looked like a typical Minnesotan in a snow suit," said Tom Stursa, a wildlife technician with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. "If you look at the photo really closely, you can notice the gloves. You can actually see a line on the waist where the top coat would fit over the coveralls."
He said the figure resembled a bow hunter, who would not need to wear the blaze orange gear of a rifle hunter.
And though others have questioned the missing flashlight or bow and arrow, Stursa surmised that the hunter could have been scouting at the time or merely walking momentarily without his equipment.
Wildlife Expert: Where's the Muscle Definition
But the most telling feature, he said, was the lack of muscle definition on the figure.
"Any critter would have definite muscle definition," said Stursa. From his experience, wild animals that make their living running through the woods and ripping things apart would have noticeable muscle definition in its arms and legs.
And the figure in the Kedrowskis' image? "Stove pipe legs," he said. "Big, bulky stove pipe legs."