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August 23, 2016

Interview with Darren Lee, Executive Director of the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center.


I met the subject of this next article after dipping my toes into what was the premier site for bigfoot discussion the old Bigfoot Forums. A researcher and the person behind the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center out of Oklahoma, Darren Lee (a/k/a Darkwing),  has spent years and years doing "boots on the ground research" and talking to witnesses. I can't say we were fast friends right away but as time went on, and disagreements were had, a friendship did form, a friendship I have grown to appreciate and cherish.

Why do I bring this up? Because our friendship proves one thing - you can disagree and disagree strongly - but still remain friends and surprisingly friendships can form out of disagreements when both sides listen to each other. Darren Lee is one of a dwindling number of "old timers" in this community who has always been willing to share information and help other researchers, even when it might mean trouble for him. I have always admired that about him. Not many are willing to put their neck on the line for someone else. Sure he's been burned, and burned badly, by those he thought were telling the truth - but how many of us who work with witnesses haven't?

It's not the "burn" that matters, it's how you conduct yourself when you realize it.

Darren is a field researcher in the truest sense of the words. He spends more time in the field than most and works with new researchers all the time. His group, Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center or "MABRC" is filled with bright minds and people who are serious field researchers as well. The website forum is filled with interesting information and topics. If you've never been to the site you should give it a look.

As a woman in this community, I can tell you without a doubt, Darren will always treat you like "one of the guys" and show you as much respect as you show him. Although I have never spent any time in the field with Darren it is my hope one day to do just that.

So I won't keep you any longer with my thoughts. I hope you enjoy this article.
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 The Search for Bigfoot: Darren Lee

 
Melissa: Please tell the readers about yourself. 
Darren Lee: I’ve had a lifelong interest in Bigfooting since 1977 when a supposed Bigfoot attack happened in Adair County, the supposed attack happened about 4 miles from my house.  It turned out to be a hoax, but in 2004 I talked to one of the original researchers that investigated and he told me that it was based all on actual events, except it was the kid’s neighbors that was having activity.
I served in the U.S. Army as a Ranger, before coming home and learning everything I could about computers, eventually making a career out of networking and computers.  I learned how to analyze photos, video and audio from working with the software that continues to be made available to the public.
Being a former Eagle Scout, I’ve also an extensive background in wilderness survival nd woodcraft.  I use a lot of this in my Bigfoot research.
I’m currently the Executive Director and founder of the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center, one of the largest Bigfoot research groups in the country with 500 plus members around the globe.
I also just started expanding the Bigfoot Field Guide series of magazines, books, radio show, videos and more into its own stand alone brand.
Melissa: I know you have created an "Evidence Review Board," recently. Could you please explain what this is and the intent.
Darren Lee: With certain events that transpired a year ago in Texas, the MABRC decided that an Internal Evidence Review board would be in the best interest of the MABRC.  A board was formed in which I only acted in an advisory role, and the members put together a long list of protocols and procedures for the evaluation of evidence.  Currently, the Board only reviews evidence submitted by MABRC members who want to have the MABRC stand behind their evidence.  Eventually, the board would like to expand to include members from other groups, and begin evaluating evidence outside the MABRC.  Currently there are 5 regular board members, with 1 reserve member who can step up and help evaluate evidence should a board member wish to submit evidence to the board and has to disqualify themselves from the review.  The MABRC would like to see this become the standard for all groups, creating an Evidence Review Board if they don’t want to collaborate with the one the MABRC has put together, and they are more than welcome to use the current templates the MABRC Board has put together for their own groundwork.  Personally, I would love to see peer review or all evidence before it is made public, in order to weed out the weaker evidence and produce only strong evidence to the world at large.
Melissa: Are you a member of any Organized Group(s) or are you an Independent Researcher? Or both? 
Darren Lee: I am the Executive Director of the Mid-America Bigfoot Research Center, and I even when I go out researching, I do it as the head of the MABRC.
Melissa: Are you a "skeptic," or a "believer"? How would you describe your approach to this research/investigation? 
Darren Lee: I’m a skeptic/believer.  I do believe Bigfoot exists from my personal encounters and the evidence that I have got to look at.  But I also have a skeptical side on evidence that gets presented all the time.  I use a skeptical approach to research and investigation, even when the photo or video shows something clearly out in the open, I will not say it is a bigfoot, I will say “possible” or “probable”.  I will then work to debunk it, only when I can’t debunk it, I will still say “possible” or “probable”.  Never say it is a Bigfoot. 

Melissa: Have you found any benefit to being a skeptical researcher?
Darren Lee: The biggest benefit I have found is that I don’t believe anything is outright Bigfoot.  I would say about 5% of the evidence I see, I would consider credible enough to make a comment on that it could be legit.  I don’t embrace everything as being bigfoot related like a lot of others do.  I fully believe this makes me a better researcher, as I will try to debunk even my own evidence until I can’t debunk it even further, but still I will say “possible” or “probable”, never 100% Bigfoot.
Melissa: How long have you been active in the field of Bigfoot research/investigation?

Darren Lee: I’ve been researching actively since 1991, taking my first trip to Fouke looking for the Boggy Creek Monster.  Little did I know at the time, that I lived in an active area.  I had my first encounter in 1998, and that is when I founded the precursor to the MABRC, the Green Country Bigfoot Research Center.

Melissa:
Have you noticed any changes in this field of research/investigation over the years? 

Darren Lee: I have noticed a serious degradation of the research/investigation in the Bigfoot Community, in part due to the influx of people getting into it because of Facebook and the show Finding Bigfoot among other things.  When I first got into Bigfooting, it was tough when putting out evidence to the community, we learned real fast to have thick skins and we learned valuable lessons, taking them to heart.  Now, people post garbage and you will see multiple people jump up and say they seen all kinds of bigfoot in each and every photo, when it doesn’t have anything in it except matrixing/paraedolia.

Those who continue to try and do legitimate research are usually accused of being meanies when they tell the new folks that something has already been tried or proven to be a hoax.  Even with the insertion of thermal cameras in research, you would think that the research would progress in a more positive manner, but people do not want to use thermals as it shows that truthfully, nothing is out there where they claim Bigfoot activity.

Melissa: Do you think the research is headed in the right direction? 

Darren Lee: Research has taken a turn for the worse with the influx of so many new people who think they know everything just because they watched Finding Bigfoot.  There is a few still in the Community that continues trying to take the research in the right direction, but they are quickly being outnumbered and overwhelmed by those who want to take it the wrong direction.

Melissa: Do you find that because you are a "flesh and blood" bigfooter people believe everything you say?

Darren Lee: I would say that 90% of the time, new people to the community will tell me I don’t know what I am talking about, because they don’t spend the time to get to know the history of the Bigfoot Community and understand that I have been around for a long time.   I really don’t want people to believe everything I say, I want them to be skeptical of everything.  Question, question, question.  But I will say this, I wish many wouldn’t be lazy and actually would Google stuff before they ask questions.

Melissa: What keeps you asking questions? 

Darren Lee: I keep asking questions because I know Bigfoot exists, I have seen them myself on multiple occasions, I want to know more about these creatures, so that when they are proven to exist, we can be in a better position to discuss their behaviors and more.

Melissa: What do you think about the growing numbers of women becoming active in this field?  

Darren Lee: Personally, I think the number of women in the field is great, the MABRC has a large number of women that are in the group, and they share the same respect and experiences that the men get.  If the woman is in Bigfoot research to actually do research, I’m all for them being in the field.  But lately, quite a few seem to be getting into it expecting to become famous for being in it.  Many go to extremes to get their name and faces out there.  Those are the ones that I do not want to see in the field, as they will someday get someone or themselves hurt.

Melissa: Have you had a sighting? If so please explain. 

Darren Lee: I’ve been in the woods around 4000 times throughout my lifetime, and in that time, I have had 26 encounters that I can honestly say was a bigfoot encounter, and when you figure it up, that is .006 percent of the time, I have something happen to me.  I have only had two encounters where I was scared during the encounter, the rest I haven’t had fear in me.

Melissa: One piece of equipment you think is the most important? 

Darren Lee: Thermal camera, that is the single most important piece of equipment that I use.  Because of it, I can quickly rule out a bigfoot is nearby, and I can spot anything in the dark trying to hide.  My wife gripes about how the thermal takes all the fun out of Bigfooting now, because all the noises we use to hear, we can turn the thermal on and see that it’s armadillos or other animals.   The thermal is the go to equipment for research.

Melissa: Most researchers have one report that "stands out" in their minds. Is there a report that still "stands out" for you?  

Darren Lee: The one that always stands out in my mind is one of the earlier reports that I investigated when I first started researching.  A chicken farmer, the kind that has large chicken houses for the poultry industry, was noticing that the number of chickens in his chicken houses was decreasing.  He thought someone was sneaking up at night and going in and stealing them at night.  One day he was walking down the length of one of his chicken houses, and as he turned the corner, he ran smack into a Bigfoot carrying a large number of his chickens.  The collision caused the Bigfoot to drop the chickens while it put the man on his butt.  The Bigfoot and the man looked at each other for a second or two, then the Bigfoot reached down and scooped up several chickens before walking away.  The man was so terrified of the encounter that he sold the property and left it behind.  But it appeared that the Bigfoot had watched them open the doors of the chicken house enough times that it knew how to open it, and also that it had to close the doors to make sure that the chickens didn’t get out.  When the landowner told me about it, you could see that the terror in his eyes were still there, even weeks after it happened.

Melissa: What questions would you like researchers/investigators to ask witnesses? 

Darren Lee: Wow, that is a big question, I can say, that I would like to see them ask the same questions that John Green would ask, his interview sheets were very encompassing on all levels.  And the main question I would like to see asked, is how much Bigfoot on TV they have watched, as that seems to influence most witnesses into forming their opinions about their encounters, and this has been a big drawback to the research.

Melissa: Do you think we give away too much information thereby making it easier for the next hoaxer? 

Darren Lee: At times we do give too much information away, but that is the catch 22, if we don’t tell newbies how the hoax was done, so they can be educated, then we continuously end up having to go through it all over and over again on trying to make them understand it was a hoax.  Once that information is put out there in the public domain, of course hoaxers can use it to make their hoaxers better, so the catch 22 surely hits us no matter what we do.

Melissa: If there were one thing about this field of research/investigation you could change what would it be?  

Darren Lee: I would get rid of Facebook and YouTube, as that has become the biggest detriment to the field of research.  It lets anyone get involved to the point that they can create a following of people, whether it’s the right ideas or not, and can eventually lead to someone getting hurt or killed because of bad information or directions.

Melissa: What you would like people to know about you. 

Darren Lee: That I do not sugar coat anything, not even to the MABRC researchers, they know that I tell them what the analysis shows, and that I am very critical on the evidence presented to me.  I myself, run my own evidence through stringent protocols because I want to dot the I’s and cross my t’s because if I am not critical of my own evidence first, I will get roasted by the old timers that I do respect.

Melissa: Do you have any advice for the new researcher? 

Darren Lee: Several things that I would say, for one, use common sense, that is the most effective thing for a researcher to have.  The second is not to go into the woo side of Bigfooting.  It truly contradicts the common sense advice, if you believe in woo.  Bigfoot can’t cloak, can’t dimensional shift, doesn’t mind speak, or anything else that the woo crowd believes in.  Common sense dictates that no known animal on earth has any of these capabilities, and neither does Bigfoot.

Melissa: Do you think this mystery will be solved in your life time? 

Darren Lee: I honestly believe it may, as more people build houses out in the country and encroach more upon Bigfoot’s habitat, the conflict is potentially there where someone may end up having to shoot one for being aggressive towards the people that suddenly pop up in their woods and drop a trailer.  Or some kid will be out deer hunting and drop one in its tracks.  The more people in the woods or living in the country, the more chance it will happen.  It may happen in the twilight years of my life, but I do believe it will happen.

Melissa: Do you have any regrets? 

Darren Lee: My biggest regrets is listening to people who put their personal agendas ahead of the MABRC’s agenda, this has lead the MABRC down some rough roads in the past.  Those folks have since left the organization and I think the MABRC is a better group because of it.  Also, that I didn’t have a GoPro camera with me on the majority of my encounters.  But that problem is now fixed. 

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If you want more information on Darren Lee or his Organization visit his website. Click on the MABRC link below. 

MABRC

1 Comments:

  • At 3:50 PM, Blogger Henri Edge said…

    Nice article Melissa. D.W. & the MABRC is so unique, I have never been treated as anything but a researcher. I take great pride in that.

     

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