The Origin of the Bigfoot Discovery Project
As a child, Rugg spent many weekends and holidays on fishing, camping and hunting trips with his parents throughout central and northern California (his father once owned a lumber mill in Garberville). His first Bigfoot encounter may have happened on one of those occasions. He has been collecting information and artifacts--while studying unknown bipedal primates--since the early '50's, when the first photos of Yeti tracks on Mt Everest appeared in Western newspapers. Starting as a scrapbook of clipped articles, it grew into a collection of related books, images and miscellaneous memorabilia. Rugg has lived in Felton, next to one of the last stands of first growth redwoods left in central California, since he was 13.
While an undergraduate at Stanford he delved further into his bipedal primate research via the microfiche and dusty old stacks of the university library. In March of 1967, he wrote a paper for an anthropology class (at that point, a culmination of 16 years of study) stating that the "Abominable Snowman Question" deserved further scientific research, accompanied by a map highlighting Bluff Creek as the place to find one of the "unknown" primates right here in California. The professor was not convinced, but did give him a "C" rather than the "F" that he had promised when Rugg first told him the paper's subject and intent. (Note: the Patterson/Gimlin film was shot just seven months later right where the map predicted.) Unimpressed with academe and the closed-minded attitude of his would-be mentor, Rugg abandoned his plan to pursue a second major in Paleoanthropology, left school, and opened an art studio next to his brother's wood-shop in the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Working in collaboration, he and his brother provided creative services ranging from antique restoration to graphic arts and photography starting in March of 1969 under the name CapriTaurus. The mixture of fine and applied arts had evolved into a full-fledged cottage industry when the Rugg brothers "discovered" the Mountain Dulcimer and began manufacturing the instruments fulltime in 1974.
Michael Rugg stayed in the folk music business until the early '90's as an entrepreneur, performer, columnist and recording artist. Introduced to the Macintosh computer in 1985, Rugg was also working as a part-time digital graphic artist, freelancing for clients such as Apple, Atari, Time-Warner and Hallmark by the end of the '80's.
During the '80's, Rugg split his time between learning computer graphics and stepping-up his study of the "paranormal." He attended conferences, workshops and symposiums. He joined organizations like the Society for Investigation of The Unexplained, Mutual UFO Network, the International Society of Cryptozoology and the Society for Scientific Exploration; he stayed up late communicating and researching on Paranet, Compuserve and so forth, delving into all manner of Forteana from Cryptozoology to Ufology. He gave lectures and presentations on Bigfoot at service clubs, helped organize a public forum on UFOs in Santa Cruz and lectured on the subject of Bigfoot, crop circles and UFOs at clubs and at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Then, in 1994 he became a family man for the first time, joining up with Paula Yarr and her two youngest children. With a family came more financial responsibility, so Michael left the mountains to seek his fortune in Silicon Valley. This was lucrative until the bottom fell out of the dot-com boom and his job at a downtown branding agency came to an abrupt end along with the year 2002. Returning to his original studio in the mountains, he again had time to spend on his favorite obsession-- Bigfoot. He caught up quickly with the "state of the quest" by perusing the countless websites that had popped up while he wasn't paying attention, and came to the realization that Western Science is at last on the verge of "discovering" Bigfoot. In September of 2003 at the International Bigfoot Symposium in Willow Creek, Michael Rugg and Paula Yarr launched the Bigfoot Discovery Project.
Michael felt that the time was right to bring his spin on this quest into public view. After 50 years of pondering the question and ten years of kidding about opening a "Bigfoot Museum for his retirement"---with Paula's encouragement and help---he has decided to bring his research, library and collection together with his and others' talents to create images, words, music and exhibits that will educate and entertain the public during their discovery of Bigfoot. Thus the BDP was manifested in the form of analog and digital art (drawings, paintings, etc.) sculpture, multimedia, memorabilia, games, music and a museum. His library of paranormal, art and anthropology books, periodicals, videos and audio tapes was made available to other questioners/researchers and Bigfooters. He and Paula characterize the project as being in support of efforts to ensure that the Bigfoot and other such forest people are guaranteed their equal rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness (as for Mike and Paula, they're just following their bliss.)