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What Does Bigfoot Smell Like?

And why are some trying to attract him with musky, woodsy scents?

If you have a single American (or Canadian) bone in your body, you know with total conviction that Bigfoot exists. Maybe you prefer the term Sasquatch. Maybe you think there’s a whole species of the bipedal cryptid, not just a lone representative. In any event, it must be acknowledged that Bigfoot is real, and strong, and maybe our friend.

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With the understanding that Bigfoot is out there, we can make some other basic assumptions: He has a specific diet. He sleeps and shits in appointed areas. He can probably make some interesting sounds. Most importantly, he gives off a particular scent. In a tautological way, it could be argued that Bigfoot smells like Bigfoot and nothing else. But that doesn’t tell us much. We need an olfactory investigation.

This is my takeaway from an article in the Charlotte Observer about Allie Megan Webb, a North Carolina woman who has invented “Bigfoot Juice,” a kitchen-made spray that allegedly attracts “any Bigfoot within a mile and a half.” Although it was originally sold at $7 a bottle and is now going for $12 through Webb’s Facebook store, Happy Body Care, I choose to believe that this is not a novelty scam. As Webb pointed out to the Observer when asked how she knows the product works, “I guess I could ask how do you know it doesn’t work?” This circular logic is the essence of every great modern innovation.

Webb is understandably cagey about revealing the ingredients of her scientifically proven Bigfoot lure. Still, we know what the juice smells like, and why: “To attract a Bigfoot, you need a smell that is woodsy enough to keep from scaring him off,” she has said. “But slightly different enough to make him curious, and come to investigate.”

That something different could be elements of the less “feminine” bug spray Webb was concocting for her husband when she stumbled upon the Bigfoot formula; she had worked to create “a more musky, outdoors smell” for the insect repellent he wore on his Bigfoot-finding expeditions with other locals. Soon after, the group reported a sighting.

Are we to assume, then, that a Bigfoot is attracted to this forest-y melange of odors because it smells like another Bigfoot? Definitely not. If Webb’s husband is willingly putting this stuff on himself, I bet it carries rather pleasant earthy notes. The accounts of Bigfoot witnesses, by comparison, tend to agree that the creature smells terrible. The hunters of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot, for example, say that “about 10 or 15 percent of witnesses report a smell associated with Sasquatches; a lot of times it’s described as ‘rotting meat.’” Just watching them get a whiff of their quarry is enough to make you a little nauseated. “The smell of death is in the air,” one of them reports.

People living in the Pacific Northwest can buy a pine-scented air freshener shaped like Bigfoot to combat the “incredibly rank” smell of the actual thing. Stinking “like Bigfoot’s dick” is supposedly a measure of unholy stench. Yet surely if Bigfoot reeks, it is no accident, which is why some have theorized that the animal uses scent to communicate (an exception would be Bigfoot’s southland cousin, the Skunk Ape, which presumably smells like “rotten eggs or methane gas” because of its swamp environment). Reddit user winkingcatanus brought this up in discussing an unusual aroma he and his girlfriend experienced while hiking at night:

“The best way I can describe what we smelled is… horse shit,” he wrote. “Fresh, steaming horse shit, but with a pungent smell like I’d associate with a predator. (Before anyone asks, yes, I do know what horses smell like — we have two — and we did look for horse dung, since it’s a riding trail, but there was nothing, let alone anything fresh enough to make that smell, and no hoof prints.)… It was a really distinct, digested-plants-and-gland-secretions kind of odor, strong but not really unpleasant, at least to someone who doesn’t mind horse odors.”

This links up nicely with a hypothesis put forward by a “Dr. W. H. Fahrenbach” — who I’m sure is every bit as real as Sasquatch — on the website Bigfoot Encounters: “It is likely that we, as primates, react particularly to primate aromas” such as those secreted by Bigfoot, they propose. “I have personally smelled two individuals with intense goat and horse aroma at a few feet distance, respectively (both female).”

The good doctor, unlike our Redditor, insists that the Bigfoot stench can be “unbearable and overpowering,” like “being wrapped in dirty diapers,” but lends credence to the idea that the beast controls this via axillary organs in the armpits. It may secrete a fluid that gives off the odor when fleeing potential predators or preparing to confront one — a kind of adrenal fight-or-flight response. Nonetheless, the stink lingers. “A sample of purported Sasquatch bedding material that I smelled reminded me of preputial gland aroma (penile glands under the foreskin),” Fehrenbach claims, “a smell that would most certainly be perceived as ‘gagging’ in any concentration.” Nobody said field research was fun.

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So how do we reconcile Bigfoot’s appalling musk with its interest in Webb’s Bigfoot Juice, which is inoffensive enough to wear for an evening of cryptozoological investigation? I’m of the opinion that, like humans, Bigfoot is a hominid intelligent enough to be repulsed by its own foul emanations. Just because it smells to high heaven doesn’t mean it likes going around spreading a fetid tang of decay. Webb’s signature scent is akin to an intoxicant — the promise of a pleasing fragrance that may cancel out Bigfoot’s own malodorous bouquet. Therefore, I would advise her to leave an entire bottle of Bigfoot Juice out in the woods, unattended, but where observers can wait and see if a Bigfoot approaches, picks it up, and applies it to their fur as cologne. In which case she will have made the single greatest leap in Bigfoot science to date, confirming that our legends are true — and that anyone can get a little self-conscious.