Unbeknownst to many, there is a family harboring Bigfoot in a pole barn off of North State Road 11 in Seymour.

A local artist with a creative imagination is not trying to find Bigfoot, but rather he built one along with its child.

It all began four years ago when David Auleman’s then-10-year-old daughter, Madison, wanted to watch a television show on Animal Planet and asked him to watch it with her.

“The show was ‘Finding Bigfoot,’ and it was the first time I’d ever seen it,” Auleman said. “I thought it would be kind of cool to make one, so I got out my sketchpad and started drawing.”

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Inspired, he first sketched Bigfoot leaning against a tree, and then thought of ways he could perhaps make it bigger and better. Auleman decided to also create a juvenile, add running water and implement a voice recorder with Bigfoot sounds.

Auleman’s sculpture of Bigfoot and the juvenile stands about 9 feet, 6 inches tall. It is built upon a dissectible 4-by-8 pallet sheet with caster wheels attached to the bottom for mobility.

To help design the smaller Bigfoot, he traced around Madison on an OSB sheet and cut out around the tracing. It is covered by foam and used for stabilization.

“At the time, my father saw me as the perfect height. Of course, he added the pointed head,” Madison said.

“About 90 percent of the structure is built with recycled foam,” David said. “Tractor Supply and Orscheln sell trailers outside that have white blocks of foam in them. They let me have some because the foam just blows around outside.”

He then glued the foam blocks together and used a hot wire foam cutter to shape his creation. The faces were done in foam but had to be covered by an epoxy clay to get the right look.

The eyes are wooden knobs he bought at The Home Depot and then painted, and the two Bigfoot creatures are covered with synthetic fur.

The project took four years to complete because in the winter it was too cold to work in the pole barn.

“During the time when it was too cold out, I would work on some of the smaller parts in the house,” David said. “I made his head while indoors and worked on the hands and then attached them out here.”

Shortly after he began his project, David was in the library on a Sunday afternoon when a book caught his eye. It was titled “Enoch, A Bigfoot Story,” by Autumn Williams. The front cover featured a hairy-faced creature.

He contacted the author, who was a researcher in Oregon, to ask if he could name his Bigfoot creations Enoch and Shelby because those were the names of the Bigfoot and daughter from her book.

“I never received a response back from her,” David said. “I recently emailed her again with pictures of the finished sculpture, thinking maybe she could use it for free publicity for her book, but I’ve still not heard anything back.”

The idea of the positioning of the Bigfoot and his daughter are that they are either hunting or hiding. He has his right arm on hers as though he wants her to hold still since David wanted a more realistic look.

“Speaking of realistic, I got the greatest compliment I could have gotten from anybody,” he said. “I had a woodpecker come in and try to finish that hole in the foam tree.”

When David first said he was going to build a Bigfoot, some of his family members were skeptical, but they later changed their minds.

“I thought my dad was kidding, but four years later, he finally finished something incredible,” Madison said. “I think my dad’s sculpture is amazing. I’m so proud of his accomplishment.”

Another of David’s daughters, Lauren, contacted the newspaper about her father’s Bigfoot display because she thought his talent and creations were newsworthy.

Ultimately, the artist hopes to sell his work of art and has contacted several different venues, including Bass Pro Shops. He approached them about doing a Bigfoot tour and also has been in touch with Ripley’s Believe It or Not to see if they might have an interest in it.

“I sent pictures of Shelby and the tree to a museum out in Maine called the International Cryptozoology Museum,” he said. “The curator, Loren Coleman, said it was excellent work and to contact him again when it was finished, and I did, but they can’t afford it right now.”

He sent pictures to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, too. The representative there was interested in finding out more about the creation and told him that his work was exceptional. Cryptozoology, however, was not in their five-year plan, but David said he would like to keep the lines of communication open.

“I might just have my own Bigfoot tour because a lot of people have wanted to stop by and see it,” he said.

This is not Auleman’s first three-dimensional work of art.

A few years ago, he built a food pantry mascot in the form of a giant piggy bank for Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry. At the time, he was working at The Home Depot, one of Anchor House’s partners.

“One of the board members came up the idea of using a sewer tank as the body,” said Deb Bedwell, executive director of Anchor House. “We purchased Styrofoam, and David sculpted her (Angel’s) head. We have been using her for several years, transporting Ms. Angel as needed to garner attention for our pantry and encourage cash donations.”

David crafted Angel, the piggy bank, complete with wings and a bow from insulation foam and other materials. Angel has a curly tail and a back-end trap door with a small padlock, where the donations were collected after being dropped in.

“We also took her to Pig in the Park,” Bedwell said in reference to an event conducted by the Seymour Noon Lions Club each summer. “She brings a smile to all who see her. Not many places keep a pig in their house like Anchor House does.”

David also was able to use his creative talents when Henryville was rebuilding after the town was ravaged by a tornado in March 2012. They were in need of an artist to paint the Henryville Junior-Senior High School mascot on a wall of the new gymnasium.

“I painted the state of Indiana and the Hornet mascot,” he said. “I was honored to be a part of that project.”

David said he plans to create another three-dimensional sculpture. He already has several ideas, including one of a UFO that looks like it has crashed into the ground with an alien standing next to it.

“If he does make another sculpture, then I hope that my sisters, Amy, Lauren and Chloe, my brother, Isaac, and myself can help like we did on the Bigfoot,” Madison said. “Whatever his project is, I know it will be amazing.”

Auleman file

Name: David Auleman

Age: 59

Hometown: Lifelong Seymour resident

Education: 1976 graduate of Seymour High School

Occupation: Artist

Most recent work: Bigfoot and juvenile display

Notable quote: “I just like making things. It’s a God-given talent.”

Family: Wife, Eva Auleman, owner of The Chocolate Spoon; children, Lauren, Isaac, Amy, Madison and Chloe

At a glance

“Finding Bigfoot” is a documentary series on Animal Planet co-starring Matt Moneymaker and a team of top investigators from the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization.

Moneymaker is the founder of the organization, and on the show, he and his team travel across North America and the world to search for the mysterious creature called Bigfoot.