By all appearance, Jen and Larry Dopke are a normal couple that lives out near Eagle, Wisconsin. Jen works in the legal department for a corporation and Larry works in technology for their local school district. The couple has been married for 16 years, after meeting at a wedding. They now have four children. But the Dopkes have an unusual pastime: in between their busy family schedules, you’ll find them trekking through the woods trying to spot the elusive entity known as Bigfoot or Sasquatch, the world’s reigning hide-and-go-seek champion. Commonly associated with the Pacific Northwest, Bigfoot has been spotted across the country, and there is a long history of reported sightings in Wisconsin.
“We’ve always been interested in the paranormal, and Bigfoot more specifically. When the show Finding Bigfoot started, we became even more interested,” Jen explains, citing the long running Animal Planet reality show that follows members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO), the world’s largest group of Sasquatch specialists. “For Father’s Day a few years ago, the kids and I purchased an expedition with the BFRO for Larry. I thought that he would take one of his guy friends, but he took me instead. We have been hooked ever since.”
The couple eventually became BFRO Wisconsin field representatives and lead investigations into Bigfoot sightings around the state. They organize expeditions into Squatch hot spots like the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The number one question they probably field: have they ever spotted the big hairy guy strolling through the woods?
“We have never had a daytime Class A sighting, which would be the dream of most Bigfoot researchers, but we have had some unexplainable things happen in the woods,” Jen says. (A Class A sighting is when you have the Squatchy experience of coming face-to-face with a Bigfoot.) “On our first expedition, something walked behind my tent, as well as the two tents of the people camped next to us. The expedition group searched the camp with thermal imagers and flashlights, but we couldn’t find whatever was responsible for the footsteps.”
Jen adds that after everyone returned to their tents, the mystery visitor walked back the way it came, and this time dragged its hand along the side of her tent. Yikes!
Finding Bigfoot has travelled around the country (and the world) to film episodes; Wisconsin was chosen as a show destination for an episode titled “Brews, Brats And Bigfoots.” The Dopkes spent about 10 days with the cast and crew searching the state’s northern woods. The Dopkes say a confidentiality agreement means they can’t reveal any surprise revelations that may have happened during the filming, but Jen says, “We can tell you that it was an incredible experience. Everyone in the cast and crew was friendly and knowledgeable. It was the opportunity of a lifetime.”
The “Brews, Brats And Bigfoots” Finding Bigfoot episode airs tonight at 8 p.m. on Animal Planet.