Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Squatch Hunter Hunters: Hunting the elusive Squatch Hunter in an exciting new cable reality program

Squatch Hunter Hunters, Animal Discovery Channel (Sunday nights at 7, 8, 9, and 10PM Eastern; 6, 7, 8, and 9 PM Central)

In the zoological annals there is an alleged animal called the "Sasquatch," or, to use its more colloquial name, "Squatch." The Squatch is a large, hairy creature that supposedly lives in the woods and does unusual things, such as throw rocks at hikers, howl, and make knocking sounds. Very few of these creatures have ever been seen; in fact, they do not exist. As a result, many find it difficult to believe that anyone would actually spend any time searching for them.

However, there are those who do believe that people actually hunt these creatures. These people are known as "Squatch Hunters." The search for the elusive Squatch Hunter has been going on for decades. Now, Animal Discovery Channel has a new program that follows the exploits of an elite group of individuals who spends their massive amounts of free time investigating the Squatch Hunters.

"Squatch Hunter Hunters" features the three members of the Squatch Hunter Investigative Team (S.H.I.T.), a group of photogenic and compelling young men who investigate Squatch Hunter sightings. Each member has his own area of unique expertise: the leader of the group, Chris Gortz, is a crack fundraiser; Richard Sprague is the team's evidence generator; the mysterious Dan Hart is the team's resident skeptic and primary re-enactor. This group of true-believers will stop at nothing to get to the truth about Squatch Hunting, and follow the scientific evidence to whatever conclusion is most inevitable -- namely, that Squatch Hunters actually exist.

To that end, the group frequently heads into the woods, looking for evidence of Squatch Hunting activity. Such evidence includes: average man-sized bootprints left in mud, empty energy drink bottles, Cheetos wrappers, and occult books found in the backseats of unattended automobiles. In each episode, viewers are invited to follow the team as they search for clues that always bring them tantalizingly close to finding Squatch Hunters.

In the first episode the team heads out into the woods of the Pacific Northwest ("Prime Squatch Hunter territory," as Gortz says. "There's something about the attitude of these people that makes them especially open to the possibility of Squatch Hunters.") where, as they're setting up a shot in which Hart will re-enact a scene featuring a Squatch Hunter heading out into the woods of the Pacific Northwest, Sprague hears a noise: "Shhh... Did you hear that gasping and wheezing? It must be a Squatch Hunter!" As Hart explains, most Squatch Hunters are not physically fit, and become winded after only a few minutes in the woods. After following the sounds of heavy breathing, the team is disappointed to find a woman in running clothes, running. "Women don't hunt Squatch," Gortz says. "And Squatch Hunters aren't in such good shape."

Although the evidence for Squatch Hunters is shaky at best, the members of S.H.I.T. frequently make such bold pronouncements as if they were talking about non-mythical creatures, like Nessie, or Chupacabra. The team members boast of almost sixty years of Squatch Hunter hunting experience between them, and in that time they have amassed a wealth of knowledge that no one else seems to share -- including, controversially, other Squatch Hunter hunters. In the second episode, the team uses their expertise in the area of Squatch Hunter eating habits to stake out the candy and chips aisles of a Portland area Plaid Pantry. Using an infrared camera, they see a large yellow blob in roughly the shape of what they believe could be an overweight man in a flannel shirt, perusing the salty snacks. They follow the blob through the streets of Portland -- nearly losing him a few times in the sea of other large yellow blobs walking around -- to an "Art House" theater which is screening a Japanese animated movie. Because of restrictions on filming inside a movie theater, the team is turned away, and decides to go home for the night. Still, they are enthusiastic about the evening's efforts:

"This is some of the most compelling evidence I've seen in all my years of Squatch Hunter hunting!" Hart says. Gortz and Sprague both agree that the night has been a success, but the S.H.I.T. isn't about to rest on their laurels. "Where one Squatch Hunter has been, inevitably others will also be, another time," Gortz avers. "And we'll be back at that place where they've been, looking for even more evidence of Squatch Hunters."

The show represents a new era of expansion for Animal Discovery Channel, which has thus far found its biggest successes with programs that combine small animals with little people ("Tiny Jim and his Chihuahuas," "The Little Toy Poodle Breeders"), and programs about animal hoarders ("Animal Hoarders," "Never Enough Cats," "America's Best Puppy Mills"). Below are some clips from the program, which is set to begin airing next Sunday night. Take a look -- I think you'll be as enthusiastic about it as I am.

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