The Teddy Roosevelt Bigfoot Story
Teddy Roosevelt vs. Bigfoot
There are quite a few odd myths surrounding Teddy Roosevelt and Bigfoot. One story is that Roosevelt killed Bigfoot during one of his hunting expeditions. Another says Roosevelt once had a face-to-face encounter with the creature, and some versions say he had to fight for his life.
If any of these things actually happened, there is no evidence. By all official accounts, Roosevelt never saw a Bigfoot, never tracked one, and never shot one. But he is responsible for one of the more interesting Bigfoot stories ever told, especially back in the pre-1950s era.
It’s tough to imagine a modern United States president discussing Bigfoot, at least publicly. But Teddy Roosevelt may have been more qualified than most presidents to weigh in on the big, hairy guy. Roosevelt was known as the conservation president, and he dearly loved all things outdoors. He was a naturalist, a hunter, and a student of zoology from a young age.
It really shouldn’t be surprising that such a man would entertain thoughts of a rare species of North American Ape living somewhere out there in the woods. He’d likely heard of such stories from Native Americans. Remember, back when Roosevelt was a young man the western states still had a great deal of mystery about them.
Did Theodore Roosevelt believe in Bigfoot? Might he have had an encounter that he never revealed to anyone? At the very least he told a great story, but to understand the full weight of it, it’s important to understand a little bit about Roosevelt himself.
The Teddy Bear and the Rough Riders
As a child, Roosevelt was weak, sickly, and suffered from severe asthma. But rather than allowing this affliction to sideline him, he embraced an active life. He learned to love exercise and fought to get stronger every day. He took up boxing and rowing at Harvard, in addition to hunting and hiking, and in spite of his doctor’s recommendation to avoid strenuous pursuits.
Roosevelt entered politics in his early 20s, and the legend of the Bull Moose began to form. During the Blizzard of 1888, when several feet of snow crippled New York City, Roosevelt stubbornly plodded his way across Manhattan to keep an appointment at the New York Historical Society. He became furious when he discovered nobody else showed the same fortitude in making the meeting.
Roosevelt’s leadership as Assistant Secretary of the Navy played a key part in preparing the U.S. for the Spanish-American War. But he wouldn’t sit on the sidelines as most politicians do and send troops into battle.
Wanting to test his mettle in combat, Roosevelt promptly resigned his post and formed a volunteer cavalry regiment. His force became known as the Rough Riders, and they helped to drive the Spanish from Cuba.
Roosevelt himself would earn the rank of Colonel, and be nominated for the Medal of Honor (though he’d receive it posthumously in 2001).
Theodore Roosevelt was indeed a tough guy, but he was also cerebral. While on a bear hunting trip as President, he and his party failed to land their quarry after several days. The hosts of the trip did not want to disappoint the President, so they managed to capture an old bear, cripple it and chain it to a tree for Roosevelt.
But Roosevelt felt sorry for the beast and refused to shoot the bear. This event was recounted by a political cartoonist and eventually led to the creation of the “Teddy” Bear.
More on Roosevelt's Naturalist Background
The Bauman Bigfoot Story
Looking back at Roosevelt’s life, he appears to have been a pragmatic man, not prone to nonsense himself and accepting little from others. He was an active outdoorsman and hunter, a student of nature, a combat veteran, a Harvard graduate, and a politician.
This was a guy who refused hospitalization after being shot in an assassination attempt, then delivered a 90-minute speech instead. While, by all accounts, he certainly knew how to spin a good yarn, he’d hardly be considered the type to give in to whimsy and fantasy. How is it, then, that Teddy Roosevelt is responsible for one of the more interesting Bigfoot stories ever told?
In his book The Wilderness Hunter, Roosevelt relays the story of a trapper named Bauman and his brush with what was apparently a Sasquatch. To be fair, The Wilderness Hunter was published in 1892, before Roosevelt was President of the United States. But he was still a professional man and politician with a strong reputation at stake.
According to Roosevelt, Bauman was a hunter, trapper, and frontiersman who had seen about all there was to see while living a life in the wild. In his younger days, Bauman and his partner had set out on a trapping expedition. After finding an area where they thought they’d have some luck, they set up camp and went off exploring for a while.
When they later returned, they found their campsite had been trashed. They assumed the culprit had been a bear, but upon inspection discovered by its tracks that this “bear” seemed to have been walking on two feet.
That night the men were awakened by noises, and what appeared to be a massive creature lurking in the darkness. They fired at it with their guns, but the creature ran off.
The next day they went out to check their traps, and once again returned to a smashed-up campsite. During the night the creature menaced them once more, and while it wouldn’t come near their fire it made a huge racket in the surrounding woods.
Deciding enough was enough, the men cut their trip short. Bauman went off alone to collect some of the remaining traps and returned several hours later to a horrible scene. His partner had been killed, and apparently flung around the campsite by a powerful animal. His neck had been broken and bitten, but apparently he wasn’t taken as prey as his body was still intact.
Bauman left the traps and supplies behind and immediately fled the mountain as fast as he could.
The full recounting of Teddy Roosevelt's Bigfoot story can be found in his 1923 book Whether or not Roosevelt really believed in Sasquatch, he thought the story significant enough to include in his manuscript. The Wilderness Hunter.
Does this Bigfoot Tale Make Sense?
Roosevelt never refers to the monster as Bigfoot in his book, but instead calls it a “goblin”. The name Bigfoot didn’t come about until the 1950s, so he wouldn’t have used that word. However, being an outdoorsman, Roosevelt likely did know of Native American stories of Bigfoot-like creatures.
Some Native American tribes even have stories of supernatural Bigfoot-type monsters that attack humans. The Wendigo is one such example. Did Roosevelt base this story around Native American legends?
Or, could it be an accurate account, at least in the eyes of this Bauman character? Aside from the alleged tracks that showed the creature walking on two feet, the beast that stalked these men may well have been a bear or a cougar. Is this just a case of an old trapper telling a tall tale, and Teddy believing it, perhaps simply because he wanted to?
Of course, the third possibility is that this story is true. But it definitely paints a different picture of Bigfoot than what we’re used to. We like to think of Bigfoot as some kind of gentle giant of the forest who would never harm a human. Truthfully, while they are very rare, there are accounts of Bigfoot attacks on people.
There are a few aspects of the story that line up better with our modern interpretation of Bigfoot. Bauman claimed the presence of the creature was accompanied by a foul stench, and that’s typical of many Sasquatch reports.
He also insisted the tracks were of a two-legged creature and there was no way it could be another human. Of course, if true, that rules out a bear or a big cat. The fact that his dead buddy appeared to have been thrown around the campsite might even be in line with what we’d expect from a Bigfoot attack.
Did Teddy Roosevelt Believe in Bigfoot?
Teddy Roosevelt was a fearless overachiever, a man who faced adversity with a certain kind of tenacity and never gave up. But he was also a dreamer who thought big thoughts. His progressive plans and ideals led to some amazing accomplishments in his professional life and the advancement of his country.
As an avid outdoorsman and naturalist surely he had notions that there could be undiscovered species of animals still lurking in the forests of America. During Roosevelt’s time, especially in his younger years, there was still much wild country left to roam.
While he prefaced his Bauman story with the appropriate amount of skepticism, Roosevelt must have thought the anecdote was fairly significant to merit inclusion in his book. But he never did come out and say he believed in Sasquatch, or the Bauman tale itself. After all, according to Roosevelt, Bauman was an old man by the time he recounted this event, and the attack had occurred decades before.
However, one more little bit of information makes this all more interesting: According to lore, Roosevelt may have had his own encounter in the mountains of California. While camped out in the depths of the forest one night he heard howls and growls which he admitted he could not attribute to any known animal.
According to the story, at the very least he appreciated the significance of these strange noises and recognized the possibility that they may have come from some unknown creature.
We’ll never know what Teddy Roosevelt really believed when it comes to Bigfoot, but his Bauman tale has gone down in history as one of the most intriguing Bigfoot stories ever told.