Mistress of Death Review: ‘Monster Trek’ by Joe Gisondi

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cover73316-mediumWhat causes countless men and women to spend thousands of dollars and their free time hunting for Bigfoot? In the new book by Joe Gisondi, Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot,  readers are treated to the author traveling across the United State of America to spend time with Bigfoot Hunters of all skill levels. Gisondi isn’t afraid to get into the thick of things and camps along side Bigfoot Hunters in swamps, deep dark forests, and even almost got his rental car stuck in an area not designed for off-roading. The book definitely takes a hands-on approach to the hunt for cryptozoological creatures.

What I loved most about Monster Trek is that it highlights the fact that not all Bigfoot Seekers are the same. We aren’t talking about the stereotypical overweight white man with no teeth and a collection of beercan lawn ornaments just outside of his trailer. Monster Trek discusses men and women from all walks of life in their quest to find unidentified creatures in the woods. While the stereotype does have a few subscribers, there are hunters that come from illustrious day jobs, family obligations, and positions of power. However, just as discussed by author Tea Krulous in his book Monster Hunters, human beings are really their own worst enemies. While names like Matt Moneymaker, Jeff Meldrum and Cliff Barackman may be well known due to Discovery and Travel Channel TV Shows, they also get their names raked through the muck the most. Gisondi is quick to keep the balance between rumors and factual statements of his experiences with the big names.  Monster Trek was also quick to point out that just because women don’t always end up as hosts of popular Bigfoot shows, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t out in the thick of it experiencing Bigfoot for themselves. Sure, there are a smaller number of female Bigfoot Hunters out there, but they are right there camping out in the dark as well.

Before reading Monster Trek, I was unaware of a few typified behaviors that Bigfoot is said to exhibit and how many different types of Bigfoot and Sasquatch that are said to exist. For example, Native American tribes have various names for Bigfoot, and they range from region to region. Some of these creatures are said to produce a form of sound that can stun a human being or make them nauseous. Some are said to knock loudly on trees in what sounds like a baseball bat hitting a tree trunk. Some are even said to crawl stealthily on the ground and watch human beings walking through woods, and only a day later do those Hunters find the tracks mere inches from where they were camped.

Monster Trek leaves the reader feeling that Joe Gisondi likely believes in the creature at this point, but also allows the reader to make their own decisions in the matter. In one part of the book, his daughter admits to slightly more than 50% believing, but still having skeptical doubts. Gisondi describes hearing strange calls out during a nature visit, but unfortunately leaving behind his tape recorder so as not to have proof. Like so many Monster Hunters before, the tangible proof is sadly not forthcoming and many of the images other hunters have found are quick to be discarded due to blurring or tampering.  Still, all across the United States, men and women will use game cameras in their backyard, listen for knocks in the woods, and happily make plaster castings of large footprints they find during their treks.

Monster Trek: The Obsessive Search for Bigfoot by Joe Gisondi is available February 1, 2016 from University of Nebraska Press.

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