How to Cast Footprints
“When in doubt, cast it!” - Cliff Barackman
1. Once you find a footprint, look around in the surrounding area for more signs of the creature. Look around the area in large circles for nearby impressions, tree breaks, foraged bushes, etc.
2. Before casting the track, document it as best you can. Place a tape measure next to the track and take at least 5 photographs (above, front, back, and both sides). Identify each footprint with note cards or other note pad. Take videos and photographs of the tracks and surrounding area. Where did it walk? Why did it go there? Document in your field notebook: the date, how old you think the footprint is, weather conditions, precipitation, characteristics of the track, GPS coordinates, draw a picture of the track(s), step length, straddle, depth, width at the heel and ball of the foot, food sources in the area, animals you saw that day, why was the Bigfoot or Skunk Ape here? Be sure to take your time with the track.
3. After thoroughly documenting in notebook, start thinking about casting.
Bowl, mixing container, or plastic bag (anything you can mix your plaster in)
Spoon or mixing stick
Plastic Glove (recommended)
Measuring Cup (optional)
4. Think about the elevation and inclines to decide if you need to make a dam around it in order to cast the print. Mound up dirt or build some kind of barrier around the track to prevent the plaster from overflowing out of the track.
5. Plaster hardens in an exothermic reaction so be sure to wear a glove so you don’t get burnt.
6. Add your water first (helps plaster mix better). 40% Water, 60% Plaster.
Add plaster until a small island of plaster powder is built up on the surface of the water. You want your mixture to be the consistency of Pancake Batter.
7. Carefully blow out small debris, but leave larger chunks for the risk of altering the footprint.
8. Use the splatter cast method. Get your hands wet with the plaster and dribble, splatter, etc. the plaster onto the footprint until you create a nice thin layer of plaster on the bottom of the footprint.
9. Pour the remaining plaster onto the top of the footprint. Be sure to get some of the area around the print so you can get some record of the substrate. If you have a bunch of prints and are worried about not have enough plaster, you can reinforce your casts with gauze so you won’t need to use as much plaster on each track. In this scenario, you put a
thin layer of plaster on the bottom, a layer of gauze in the middle, and pour a second thin layer of plaster on the top (chop sticks are not recommended).
10. Look around and take more detailed notes while you let the plaster dry for AT LEAST 30 minutes, preferably close to an hour if possible. The longer you wait the better.
11. To remove the cast, dig your hands straight down into the ground all the way around the print until you have a moat dug up around the casting. Pull your hands back at an angle in an upward motion until the soil is displaced. When it pops, go in carefully with your hands and gently cradle your casting like a new born child and take it to a safe place where it can further dry.
12. Don’t clean the dirt off yet. Leave a layer of dirt about an inch thick on your cast. DON’T BE IMPATIENT!
Take it home and put it somewhere that it can dry for 2 weeks so it can fully cure.
13. On a nice, warm day, take your cast into your yard in some grass and hose down your prints. Don’t use brushes because that could introduce new details into the casting(s) that weren’t on the original foot (i.e. dermatoglyphics).
SHARE YOUR FINDINGS! Contact other researchers in your area and share your findings with others!