While the existence of Bigfoot is heavily debated and may never be solved – one thing is certain, Dallas Gilbert dedicated his life to the hunt.
Gilbert passed away on Dec. 9, 2016.
Gilbert’s story was introduced to the world when he was featured in the documentary, Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie, which followed the struggle of he and his best friend, Wayne Burton, as they attempted to capture evidence of Bigfoot around Portsmouth.
According to the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization, Bigfoot or Sasquatch, refers to a primitive type of ‘wild-man,’ thought to live in remote regions. Throughout the years, there have been thousands of sightings of Bigfoot across the country. The authenticity of sightings and the existence of Bigfoot is still debated to this day.
“Dallas was more than my best friend, he was like a brother to me. He’d do anything for anybody. My wife passed away Aug. 29, 2016 from cancer. He helped get money together to help me with my wife’s funeral,” said Wayne Burton. “I lost her, then I lost my best friend.”
Burton first met Gilbert in 1998, after a friend introduced the two.
“I was at the store one day and a friend of mine worked there and asked me if I’d been doing any Bigfoot stuff and I hadn’t really been doing anything but he handed me a card that had Dallas’ number on it,” said Burton.
Burton said he became interested in Bigfoot research after an experience with Bigfoot in 1978 in Kentucky, but never went about researching or hunting until Aug. 23, 1998, when he set out on his first outing with Gilbert.
“Most of the time we went out to Wayne National Forest. We’d get all our equipment together, a few coolers of food and gather wood up for bonfires at night,” said Burton. “I got a few screams that I do, Bigfoot screams. Sometimes they come around and holler back at us, sometimes they don’t. I’d do my thing, and Dallas would do his. We all have different ways of doing research.”
Throughout his lifetime, Gilbert worked to collect evidence of Bigfoot, combing the woods with Burton for hours. According to friends, the walls of his office were covered from floor to ceiling, with thousands of photographs he’d snapped of the creature over the years and shelves of VHS tapes filled with countless hours of field time spent in the woods.
Jay Delaney, the director of Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie, first learned of Gilbert in 2001, like Burton, through his business card.
“He left a business card that said, ‘Dallas Gilbert, Bigfoot Researcher’ at the bank where my friend worked. My friend passed along his card to me and I thought it sounded really interesting,” said Delaney. “I had no idea there were Bigfoot Researchers here in southern Ohio and I reached out to Dallas and met with him and his research partner Wayne Burton. I just remember Dallas showed up with a brief case full of Bigfoot photos. I was just really fascinated by it all.”
Delaney worked alongside Gilbert and Burton to produce a short-film about the duo, which would later lead into the documentary, Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie.
“The short film ended with me asking Dallas, ‘why do you do what you do?’ I was just really curious about that,” Delaney recalled. ” He mentioned how he’d never been able to take his wife on a vacation.” At his time of passing, Gilbert had been married to his wife Chris, for 39 1/2 years. The two had three children as well. “He always wanted to do that. I think he felt that if he’d be able to prove to the world that Bigfoot exists then he’d be able take her on a vacation, that he would have the resources to do that.”
Gilbert’s story stuck with Delaney and four years later, Delaney began work on the documentary. In 2008 the documentary played at film festivals across the nation, including South by Southwest, where it was picked up for distribution by Oscilloscope Pictures. It also streamed on Netflix and can be purchased today through Amazon, by searching “Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie.”
“The thing about Dallas was he had such a great heart. He really wanted to teach people about Bigfoot and share what he knew about them. He didn’t see Bigfoot as this sort of scary creature. I think he would say Bigfoot is a powerful creature, but he just really saw Bigfoot as more of a friend in a lot of ways,” said Delaney.”I made the documentary about Dallas and Wayne because I believed people needed to know their story. I am happy we were able to share it with so many people. While Bigfoot is the central thread of the film, at its heart it’s really a story of Dallas and Wayne as people, their friendship, and Portsmouth. To all of us who knew Dallas, he was and always will be a legend.”
Throughout his lifetime, Gilbert worked on several other projects, including a short web-series, shot by local photographer, Andrew Dodson in 2009. Dodson followed the pair on hunts, searching to capture Bigfoot on camera. When asked about whether or not they ever saw a Bigfoot, Dodson is unsure.
“We went out on multiple trips and as far as saying that I actually saw one, I won’t say that I didn’t but I won’t say that I did. I was with Dallas and Andrew Flanagan was with Wayne and they went off shooting footage for a while. At this point, Dallas had an oxygen tank so he couldn’t travel too far,” Dodson explained. “We were heading back towards the trucks and I saw Wayne across the field from us so I thought they shouldn’t be too long getting back. About an hour or so later, Wayne and Andrew come back and I realized that what I saw wasn’t Wayne, but it looked like a burly guy walking through the woods. Dallas said I saw a Bigfoot, but I don’t know, it could’ve been something else.”
Dodson recalls the good times he and his crew had with the duo.
“Wayne is one hell of a guy, you didn’t have to worry about being in the woods with Wayne because he could hold his own and he was going to make sure you were okay too,” said Dodson. “They were a lot of fun to hang around. They had an amazing relationship that drew a lot of people to them. Dallas was a really genuine down-to-earth guy, he took his work very seriously and really just wanted others to see what he saw in Bigfoot research.”
The videos can still be accessed via Youtube by visiting www.youtube.com/user/DallasAndWayne
Gilbert’s legacy carries on through his body of work and dedicated to the Bigfoot research community. Burton hopes to carry Gilbert’s work forward, continuing to search for answers about Bigfoot.
Although Gilbert dedicated his life to his work, he did not receive funding for his research and his projects did not warrant the amount of money necessary to sustain an income based solely in his Bigfoot studies. His family is seeking assistance with the cost of the funeral through an account set-up through GoFundMe, to make a donation, please visit www.gofundme.com/ud-funeral-funding
Gilbert’s funeral is planned for Monday, Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. at the Roger W. Davis Funeral Home in West Portsmouth. Visitation hours are 8-10 a.m.
Reach Ciara Conley at 740-981-6977, Facebook “Ciara Conley - Daily Times,” and Twitter @PDT_Ciara.