Whitefish set netters spot Bigfoot

Two Bethel men checking on their whitefish set net sighted a Bigfoot-like creature walking through the willows on Taperrnaq Slough. Illustration by AI

by K.J. Lincoln

Two fishermen from Bethel saw a creature too tall to be a human walking upright while checking their whitefish net at the upper mouth of Tarperrnaq River.
Dana Kopanuk, was one of the fishermen who saw the Bigfoot-like being. He was with his nephew Paul Fisher when the sighting occurred.
It was the month of August in 2011. They went upriver from Bethel by way of the Kuskokwim and Church Slough seeking whitefish. They reached the upper end of Napaskiak Slough (also known as Tarpernaq Slough) where they decided to set a whitefish net at the mouth in a small eddy – a qamaneq.
After setting the net, the fishermen went on upriver to visit Kopanuk’s sister who lives in Kwethluk. Three hours of visiting later, the two decided to go check the net and head back home to Bethel after that.
As they were approaching the area where the net was set, they saw someone walking through the willows along the bank. Nearby there was a fishcamp so at first they thought it was a person and they were not in any way alarmed, surprised, or even excited.
But the “person” was grayish in color and walked slowly. Its head was taller than the surrounding willows that grew thickly. It looked like it had not much of a neck, said Kopanuk.
“It looked like a huge person,” he said. “The willows were tall but it was taller.”
If it were a person, he would have waited for us, said Kopanuk. But it didn’t, it just kept walking away, kelutmun (away from the bank). Kopanuk and Fisher watched the creature for approximately five minutes as it disappeared into the wooded terrain.
Kopanuk thought it would come back, as a person would, but it didn’t. So after pulling in the net and their catch, they drove back to Bethel.
Later, the two talked about what they had seen. They agreed it wasn’t a human because a person, especially in this isolated part of the river, would have said a friendly hello or waved. People also wear distinctive clothing – the creature they saw was all gray. It was also walking away from them, which was unusual.
Kopanuk also said that after seeing the Bigfoot and Hairy Man reports and illustrations in the Delta Discovery, he is now sure it was not a person.