Sunday, November 29, 2009

Baby 'Squatch

Will, my friend and field research partner, recently sent me a couple photos I'd like to share with you. Will's mother thought it was a good idea to make Will's son, Keegan a bigfoot costume for Halloween this year. I have to say, I wholeheartedly agree.

Will, with his littlefoot son, Keegan.

Well, Keegan didn't quite grow enough to fill the suit in time for Halloween, but these pics were taken a few weeks later. As you can see, he still has some growing to do.

Though I don't generally approve of people having fairly realistic bigfoot costumes, in this case I'll make an exception.

If I were dressed like that, I'd be smiling too (just not as cutely).

Under the tutelage of Will, Keegan will make a fine bigfooter someday. In the meantime, we'll just use recordings of him crying to draw in the 'squatches...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bigfooting is a pretty big part of my life, as you can probably tell. There are so many things about it that I just love. Since today is Thanksgiving, I thought it would be appropriate to make a list of things that I'm thankful for from the bigfoot arena. This list is by no means complete, as most days present even more opportunities for me to be thankful for something...

Some things I'm thankful for:

Going bigfooting with great friends:

Socializing with great friends out of the field as well:

Being at amazing places:

Physical evidence:

Businesses that respect the 'squatch:

Bigfooting in Florida:

Tattoos of bigfoots surfing on logs:

Wildlife close up:

Bob Gimlin and his and Roger's contribution:

Amazing art:

The Hersom Project:

There's actually a lot more I'd like to mention. I'm thankful for that, too.

A cool thing about being thankful is that gratitude eliminates desires. Being grateful for what one has brings a sense of "having it all".

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It Makes Me Smile

I have an impish sense of humor. I like to tease, joke, poke fun, and be mischievous. I always have. That's ultimately why I was kicked out of Boy Scouts. I don't think I'll ever outgrow it.

One of the ways this manifests itself is that I like to put my bigfoot business cards in places where other people will run across them. Sometimes I even hang out and watch people's reactions when they find and read the card, but more often than not I leave them there like paradigm-shifting landmines.

I put them in elevators, restrooms, bars, restaurants, or any other place that will hold them near eye level. I really enjoy putting them in places where almost nobody looks. That way, when somebody does find one, I know that person is likely eccentric and will probably take the time to check out the site.

Once, after dropping a few in a sporting goods store, I witnessed one of the employees go up to the manager holding my card. She was giggling heavily, but between breaths she asked the boss if he'd like to be a bigfoot researcher. They gaffawed and insinuated that whoever this Cliff guy is, he must be a total kook. I could hardly contain my glee at witnessing this exchange. I always remember that since sasquatches are real animals, the last laugh will be on them.

Additionally, I have a small army of volunteers doing this same thing for me across the country. I know that many of you have picked up one of my cards in airports or hotels throughout the United States. That was probably the work of one of my nameless minions.

More of a "me" than a "we". Still, have you seen one? Let me know!

Recently, a reader of this blog sent me an email with a link to a blog called PDX Occulture: Apparently this woman found one of my cards somewhere in downtown Portland and liked it. Thank you, "BeautifulPyre" for taking the time to share my card with your readers!

Besides the sheer coolness of having my efforts shared with another audience on this woman's blog, I think it's interesting to note that her brother saw a sasquatch in Skamania County. I'm often asking folks on the street if they, or someone they personally know, have ever seen a sasquatch, and here in Portland I get a "yes" about one time out of five. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but it probably averages out to about a 20% affirmative vote. This woman's blog entry on finding one of my cards just goes to affirm that.

If you found one of my cards somewhere, I'd love to know where. Feel free to post a comment below to share where you stumbled upon one.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Musings on Snoozing 'Squatches

Sighting reports are the bread and butter of bigfoot researchers. There are plenty of books that are basically retellings of the bucket loads of eyewitness accounts that have been reported and investigated over the years. Many websites feature sighting reports that have been followed up by investigators of varying abilities to certain degrees. I certainly have done my fair share of encounter investigations, though it's not where my main focus lies anymore.

Even though chasing reports is not what I tend to do, there are three things that I deem very important when it comes to sightings: the specific location, the time/date, and any interesting behaviors that were observed.

The location and time/date go hand in hand. By noting these factors, possible patterns can be hypothesized. This is what Peter Byrne was after when he looked for "geo-time" patterns while running the Bigfoot Research Project. Basically, where can these critters be found, and when? That's potentially useful stuff!

Peter Byrne and Cliff Barackman
August 2009

Besides the where and when, the other valuable thing in sighting reports is the observed behavior of the creature(s). These behaviors might shed some light on what we as field researchers could be looking for.

Which brings me to the real point of this blog entry. I recently received an email from a witness who calls herself "Carol". The following is her email, edited only for punctuation:

"In 1968 I lived in the Bay Area of California. A couple of young men friends and I took a car trip to where I believe was inland from Highway 1 from the Monterey area. We hiked into a wooded area that had a deep bed of fallen leaves. I stopped and turned to say something to my companions when there was a shuffling, rustling sound right beside me. When I looked, I saw a (how can I best describe this...) maybe 4' tall, rounded stance figure as though almost crouching and hunched forward; a broad-bodied creature that appeared to have come up from under the leaves where it may have been napping, I thought. The head/shoulder differentiation was quite slight, though I saw it from the rear. I am assuming it was a juvenile, since it was so small, compared to the extraordinary size a mature adult is purported to be. This creature did not pause, but scuttled away from us, disappearing very quickly into the thickly wooded distance. It did not move like, for instance, a bear, but was upright as it ran. The back was covered with a medium brown fur-like hair that was very thick and long. The three of us who were observers were startled and amazed in the same instance at the brevity of this encounter. The only thing we could say at the time was... Sasquatch!? Well, I've not told many people of this experience, but it remains vividly in my memory. I don't know if there have been other sightings in this area, but I thought since there seems to be ongoing research on the existence of these creatures, my firsthand experience might be of some use."

First of all, thank you, "Carol" for reporting this to me. I appreciate all of the stories of encounters that I receive through my website.

This encounter report caught my attention for a couple reasons. First, I have done some work in the mountains south of Monterey, CA. There are some very remote areas that are next to impossible to penetrate despite the proximity to densely populated urban areas. Also, I personally know several investigators from this part of California, so I'm always looking for ways to support them, usually by passing along information, as they often do for me.

Secondly, what really interested me about this report was that the juvenile sasquatch was thought to be napping under a layer of leaves. It's probably a fairly safe assumption that juvenile animals mirror the behavior of the adults of their species (they are learning how to be adults, after all), so what can this tell us about the sleeping habits of sasquatches?

A snoozing gorilla in its nest.

I've heard of bigfoots making nests, bedding down in the open, and being found in the thickest cover one can imagine. All of these behaviors mirror the other apes' habits, including our own.

It might also be valuable to ponder where other large omnivores bed down in the same environment. I've looked into where bears bed down and have found they sleep in a variety of areas, usually under thick cover (but not always). A park ranger in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California once told me that bears often sleep in the tree tops in that particular area. I've also heard of bears sleeping out in the open near mature trees. That would be kind of like sleeping next to a fire escape for them...

A black bear sleeping in the tree tops

Perhaps sasquatches sometimes sleep in the tree tops? Certainly, bigfooters don't spend enough time looking up. Since sleeping sasquatches are rarely seen, they must hide themselves pretty well. I suspect (and this is only a hunch) that sasquatches sleep in the thickest, nastiest brush they can find, and probably on the steep slopes surrounding their favorite feeding grounds where human traffic would be least likely. These bedding sites would likely have commanding views of the surrounding area, and are probably close to a clean running water source. Of course, this is just a guess. I've also heard a tale or two of bigfoots sleeping out in the open. When I stumble on a sleeping sasquatch, I'll let you know where I found it.

"Carol's" report might shed some light into what some sasquatches do at least some of the time. It seems like a good strategy if the leaf litter is thick enough. Could the big ones do this? Probably not as effectively using just leaf litter.

If you have any thoughts on the matter, feel free to leave a comment below.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

One More Week!

As you probably know, I've been nominated for Columbia Sportswear's Pioneers of the Outdoors contest. I've rallied the bigfoot troops, and you came through for me. We shocked and awed the competition, drowning them behind nearly one thousand video views and half that many votes.

Then, all that effort was erased. All votes and views vanished.

Not being the kind of guy to throw my hands up and pout, I called on my community again, and once again you rallied for me. The numbers are not as high as they were when the "error" occurred, but they are high enough again to put me squarely back in the number one position.

Thank you!

The contest is slated to last until next Friday, November 13th. This is the last week we can vote for the video, so I will ask you to do so again, and again, and again. Click the following banner to vote:

Here are the important things to remember:
1. You can vote once per day, so you should. If even half of the readers of this blog do so once per day, I'll add many hundreds of votes to my count by Friday.
2. Give the video "5 stars". That's the highest rating.
3. Do it for the 'squatch.

Don't pay too much attention to the number of views or the rating. They don't seem to mean much. Sometimes they don't go up at all, sometimes they actually go down after a viewing and a vote. (I don't know what's up with that, but I actually saw it happen.) I'm assuming it's a programming error...

When I wrote to the company about the discrepancies in voting numbers, they apologized and told me not to worry about the numbers because they will pretty much choose who they want anyways (and it says as much in the official rules, but is written in lawyer-speak). Therefore, I'm not worrying about the numbers. But still, they are significant in that they show a certain level of interest in the subject which should not be ignored.

Our job is to show them that everybody loves the 'squatch. With an avalanche of views and votes, this fact will be undeniable to their marketing department.

So, let's take this contest by storm. If they choose my video as the winner, great. If they don't, that's fine too. It was fun trying. It was particularly nice rallying the often factious bigfoot community to one cause, uniting us for a change behind something just for fun.

Thank you to all who participated! Keep your fingers and toes crossed, and I'll notify you when I hear something from Columbia.

In the meantime, continue to "respect the 'squatch".

Monday, November 2, 2009

Clapping Bigfoots Revisited, Again

Back in July, a group of bigfoot researchers and I went on an expedition to Bluff Creek, CA. The high point of the trip was an amazing wood-knocking event that lasted over six minutes and was recorded and posted on my website.

I saw this wood-knocking event as data to support my hypothesis that sasquatches often clap their hands to create the popping noises that are sometimes heard in their vicinity and often described as "wood-knocking". Being an amateur scientist, I am always looking for data to support my ideas, and these knocks fit the bill.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a friend and bigfoot researcher who I have a tremendous amount of respect for, and she suggested that the popping noises could have been deer vocalizations. Though I thought it unlikely, I opened my mind to the possibility. The researcher also sent me a link to a recording of a white-tail deer making huffs, though the deer doing the huffing was not visually observed, just recorded.

I started discussing this possibility with my peers, and I found some resistance to the idea, but the recordings made everyone involved open their minds to the possibility. Soon, another researcher sent me the following video of a deer making these same noises.

After hearing the deer recording and comparing it to the recording we obtained at Bluff Creek, I am now of the opinion that we recorded a deer, not a sasquatch. The valley we were in has excellent acoustics, and there was some reverberation happening that distorted the sounds slightly, but I am pretty certain of the deer identification.

This now brings up several interesting points I'd like to briefly discuss. First of all, this does not mean that sasquatches do not clap. It simply means that this recording cannot be used as data to support my hypothesis. There is still data to support it, such as a second-hand report of a visual observation of a clapping bigfoot from Klamath, CA, and another witness I personally spoke to who saw one clapping near Molalla, OR.

There is also the nagging question as to how bigfoots can answer my own knocks so quickly, even though it takes significant time to find proper sticks and trees for knocking. Knowing that other apes use clapping as a form of communication, it is still likely (in my opinion) that clapping bigfoots is the answer.

A PhD in wildlife biology told me that these deer huffs are made as a distress signal. I have to wonder what was distressing the deer at Bluff Creek. Cougar or bear might be a likely answer, but we did have other knocks (loud pops that were not repeated, and sounded much more like wood on wood than the later deer barks did) earlier that night, and a rock throwing event the next morning. I wonder if a sasquatch was causing the deer some concern...

Wondering about wood-knocking in general, I asked this PhD (who is interested in the bigfoot topic and aware of research methods) if deer are known to answer knocks, and the answer was "not to my knowledge". I have had knocks answered in the same number and rhythm as the ones I did myself. It seems unlikely that deer would exhibit this behavior. Only humans, or hypothetically bigfoots, would do this.

The last point I'd like to make about the changing of my mind on these recordings is an important one, and one that I think we should embrace more as amateur scientists: It is okay to be wrong. Yes, that's right, it's totally acceptable to be wrong about stuff. Being wrong about something like this does not mean that sasquatches do not exist. They do. It does not mean that one has been humiliated (drop the ego and we'll all be better off!). It means one has learned something. It does not mean that one is a bad researcher. It means that one is a good researcher. Scientists (amateur or professional) need to look at the data available and modify hypotheses accordingly. False leads often bring about new discoveries.

A flow chart of the Scientific Method

Even after fifteen years in the woods specifically looking for and collecting sasquatch data, I feel like I still don't know much. Really, if we're honest with ourselves, none of us do. Sure, I have some hunches about what might be going on, but knowing is an entirely different thing.

I'll leave you with a thought that might frighten some people, but I find comforting. It is also a good starting point for any bigfooter, no matter how many years you have under your bigfoot belt...

I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance.