FORT WORTH (CBS 11 NEWS) – Stories of giant, apelike creatures are emerging from the woods and converging on Fort Worth for the Texas Bigfoot Conference.

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“I’ve seen the Bigfoot, yeah,” said Brian Brown with the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC), the organization sponsoring the event.

“We’ve endeavored to get good field data,” said Professor of Anatomy and Anthropology Jeff Meldrum, a leading Bigfoot researcher and speaker for the event. “So, I’ve had what I think are close encounters.”

“We were at our campsite and we heard some rustling in the bushes like someone walking,” Brown said, describing an encounter he had in Oklahoma. “And we looked over and saw two of them. They just sort of ran up that hill. Very fast. A very steep and rocky hill and they moved with incredible speed and grace. They were bent over at the waist and just charged up that hill. The whole thing took three, four seconds tops.”

“We’ve had things rifling through backpacks,” Medrum said. “We’ve had things throwing rocks at us. We’ve heard vocalizations. I’ve found fresh footprints.”

The Sasquatch seminars are Saturday at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

CBS 11's Joel Thomas holding a Bigfoot casting taken from Washington State. (credit: CBS 11 News)

CBS 11’s Joel Thomas holding a Bigfoot casting taken from Washington State. (credit: CBS 11 News)

The members of TBRC come from all walks of life.

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“You know, professionals, lawyers, doctors, scientists and we just want to basically establish the existence of this animal,” Brown said. “We want to see its habitat and the animal conserved. And we of course want to educate the public.”

The researchers have no problem investigating the lore and legend of what they believe may be North America’s only primate — or perhaps a missing link.

“This is the way early naturalists made new discoveries,” Medrum said. “They would act on the folklore, upon the stories of local hunters.”

Interest in Bigfoot has soared after a cable television shows about Sasquatch investigators gained in popularity. Brown said they now routinely have people e-mailing and relating encounters they had months, even years before but they just didn’t dare tell anyone until now.

“I mean, every little town seems to have their own monster,” Brown said. “And for us, as far as we’re concerned, its all the same type of creature. Its all the same animal.”

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