Sunday, January 18, 2009

Winter Bigfooting

Given the current break in the weather (featuring clear skies, and not-too-cold temps), I seized the opportunity to get into the woods for a night this weekend. Two friends and I explored a small section of Hamilton Creek outside of Jewell, OR.

Jewell is well-known for the Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area. (If you click on this link and read the article, think about how what is said about elk translates into possible bigfoot behavior... I found the "hunting" section to be interesting.) Elk are excellent indicators about the possible presence of sasquatches. I believe bigfoots eat not only the same vegetation as the elk, but they also eat the elk themselves. With several large elk herds in the immediate area, endless miles of rugged forest, few residents, and even fewer nighttime tourists, this area screams out as an obvious haunt for our furry friends.





While walking along the creek bed looking for animal prints (and finding elk, deer, coyote, raccoon, mice, and a weathered trail of boot prints), I thought about how bigfooting in the winter is in some ways easier than in the warmer months. First of all, the high waters make excellent sand and mud bars for finding well-defined prints. Often, flooding that occurs in sudden melt offs scours away much of the plant life found along the banks, thus increasing the size of many sand bars.




Secondly, it occurred to me how I couldn't even get to where I was currently standing during the summer because of a nasty plant native to the Pacific Northwest commonly called Devil's Club (Oplopanax horridus... note the word "horrid" is right in the name). Devil's club is covered with spikes that not only hurt, but sometimes leave splinter-like shards under the skin. During the winter months, devils club goes dormant which leaves behind a woody stem. The stem still has spikes, but they are not as devastating as they are in the growing season.




The downstream air currents soon brought the smell of something rotting to my nose. Of course, my first thought was that perhaps it was the smell of a sasquatch, but this was not the most likely option, so I put that thought on hold. It turns out that this creek is the target of an effort to revegetate the stream bed. The state has started leaving salmon carcasses along the river so the decomposing fish can replenish the soil nutrients. This will help the riparian plants, which will in turn give juvenile salmon not only more places to hide, but an increased food supply.



Several examples of the local wildlife were observed during the trip. Elk were recently in the immediate vicinity of camp, as indicated by their hoof marks and scat. Coyotes responded to our "bigfoot noises" nearly every time we broadcasted them throughout the night, though from different directions, possibly indicating multiple packs. I was lucky enough to capture a photograph of a coyote just outside our camp on a game camera hidden nearby.


Around the time when the coyote was captured on game camera, I was sitting on a large (10 ft tall) pile of gravel and scanning up and down a nearby feeder creek. This was another situation in which winter squatching is easier than the other seasons. The trees that live in the riparian zone are largely deciduous and shed their leaves in the fall. During this time of year, the trees are largely barren, enabling the thermal imager to see farther into the woods. I captured the following video from atop the gravel pile:


video


It is probably the coyote that was captured by the game camera, but I guess it could be another from the same pack. The video was taken just a few minutes after the photograph was. Interestingly, upon reviewing the video, I realized that I had recorded the animal at least twice while scanning the river area, but had not noticed it. I just looked right past it. That forces me to wonder if I've ever accidentally ignored a bigfoot while scanning too quickly.


Even though no bigfoot activity was observed nor recorded, it was a good trip with good friends, which is one of the real joys of going bigfooting at all. That, and creating amazing nighttime art show spectaculars.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Suburban Squatching


I found myself with a few free hours before dark, so I packed up some of my essential bigfooting gear (http://www.northamericanbigfoot.com/MyResearchPages/articles/essentialgear.html) and drove east to Dodge Park at the confluence of the Sandy River and the Bull Run River. I spent the last few hours walking animal trails that parallel the Bull Run River and looking for footprints in the fresh sand bars made by the recent rains. No sign of passing sasquatches was discovered, but some thoughts came to me that I felt could be beneficial to share.

Depending on where you live, one can go bigfooting in as little as a few hours. There is no need to do two-week expeditions to the middle of nowhere to find possible bigfoot habitat, and thus possible signs of the animal. Bigfoots are literally right outside of town, if one knows where to look.

I'm lucky to live in Portland, OR, where the above statement about the proximity of sasquatches is obviously true. I have investigated sightings literally 13 miles as the crow flies from my doorstep. I would like to suggest that perhaps there are sasquatches a little closer to where you might live than you think. Even when I lived in Long Beach, CA, there were sighting reports less than 2 hours from my house in the Angeles National Forest.

To find where sasquatches might be in your neck of the woods, look for greenbelts and rivers that provide a corridor of travel from one wooded area to another. Go for walks in the public land that might lie outside of town. Use Google Earth combined with Mangani's Bigfoot maps (http://penn.freeservers.com/bigfootmaps/). When using Mangani's stuff, it's not important to know the exact location of sightings. You are looking for approximate locations and the greenbelts and river systems that connect the areas that serve as choke points.

Something to look for to see if you are in a potentially good area is evidence of other animals. If I find no sign of deer or elk, I don't spend a lot of time in the area. Coyotes and bear are other excellent indicators of good bigfoot habitat. Animal trails, bedding areas, and sand bars give a lot of information on the passage of animals, and how recently they have been by. Today's trip found ungulate scat less than a week old, but no fresh footprints on the pristine sandbars.

Today I chose to walk up the Bull Run River because it's largely off-limits to human visitors. Of course, I would never ever suggest that anyone break the law for any reason whatsoever, but lands adjacent to these off-limit areas produce a lot of sighting reports. Should one find oneself accidentally inside of one of these off-limit areas, don't waste the opportunity to look around and do a little squatching... It would be a good idea to look for such areas near where you live. These areas include private land, government land, watersheds, and game preserves. Please do remember that trespassing is illegal, and sometimes comes with stiff monetary consequences.

I have spoken to several rural residents who don't believe in sasquatches because somebody saw one close to their home. It is just unfathomable that they could be so close in. People tend to think that if bigfoots are real, then they must only live way out in places that nobody ever goes. This is partially true in that the most isolated habitats certainly hold their share of bigfoots, but don't underestimate the squatch... These elusive animals live just on the outskirts of town, but are very wary of being seen. They do in fact go where people go, but they go there under the cover of darkness, and are very careful to remain unseen. I would propose that the closer to town a bigfoot lives, the warier it should be expected to be.

When I was on a bigfoot expedition in Eastern Ohio a few years back, a local resident saw one of our group wearing a BFRO shirt. She asked the member of our party if we really thought bigfoots lived around there. We had heard one the night before, so he just smiled and said, "Oh yeah, they're here." The woman looked at us with wonder, picked our brain a little on the concept, and drove back to her farm with an added sense of wonder about her home. This was mostly cleared farmland with greenbelts a few hundred feet across separating the properties. There was a large state park and river system nearby through which the bigfoots move, but the possible sasquatch that was heard the night before was in the greenbelt outside of one of these farms.

I guess the whole point of this blog entry is to encourage you folks at home to get out to the local wild areas and look around. You cannot find new evidence by sitting behind a computer screen, and since bigfoots range continent-wide, there is likely some decent habitat near you no matter where you live. It's good for your health to take walks, and good for your soul to be in the woods. You can get away from that which irks you, and spend quality time with loved ones. You might get lucky and come across something of interest to bigfooters, too. Bigfooting is easy, fun, and just a few miles away from most people's doorstep. Get out there!


Saturday, January 3, 2009

A New Year, a New Blog

With the recent birth of my website, http://www.NorthAmericanBigfoot.com/ , I thought a nice addition to what I'm offering would be a research blog. So, here goes...

While in Southern California for the holidays, I visited with my good friend Wally Hersom. Besides just being a great visit, I took the opportunity to take a photograph with Wally's life-sized statue of a bigfoot that adorns the entryway to his home. I had only seen photographs of it up to this point, and I was blown away by the details and sheer size of this artwork. The chest girth is huge, it's hands are like dinner plates (the thumbs are anatomically correct, based on the hand casts that are available), and the idea that I'm trying to get close to one of these things makes me think that maybe I am nuts, as some others have suggested... Oh well. The sculpture was created by artist Michael Porter, with help from long-time bigfoot investigator Derek Randles. Michael's other work is phenomenal in its artistry and realistic depictions of wildlife. He will be featured prominently on http://www.northamericanbigfoot.com/ in the near future. Michael and Derek's company website for their artistic creations can be found here: http://www.metalworxcreations.com/index.html

Shortly after returning home to Portland, OR, I was called by a good friend who had made contact with a property owner on the Olympic Peninsula who has been having repeated visits by a possible sasquatch. The property owner reported possible footprint impressions, eye shine, branch breaking, and frequent vocalizations. My partner and I visited with them on 12/31/08.

We arrived on the property before dark, chatted with the property owners, and deployed eight game cameras on and around the location. We proceeded to do wood knocks (with no replies) and vocalizations. We received return calls to our vocalizations, which are very possibly canine. The four hunters who witnessed the return calls unanimously claimed that it wasn't a coyote, but could not rule out canine as the source. There were no homes in the direction of the return call, and the animal progressively got farther away as it vocalized over the next 15 minutes or so. The recordings are available on http://www.northamericanbigfoot.com/ in the sound recording section.

I retrieved my cameras two days later, and my partner's cameras will be deployed for two more weeks. My cameras only showed what we already knew by tracking in the area, which is that there are many deer nearby. The picture above was taken with a Reconyx RC60. The deer hung out for quite some time, which might support the "Wally Effect" that has been hypothesized by the BFRO.

While visiting on the Peninsula, I went to the Sports Authority store in Silverdale, WA. There is an original bigfoot footprint cast on display that was cast by an employee and her father nearby. I photographed the cast, and it will be added to the footprint database as it develops. Here is a picture for you fellow cast geeks that can't wait...
I will be updating this blog as I do more field work. Please feel free to check back often for updates, and please visit http://www.northamericanbigfoot.com/ to see how it is developing. Any suggestions would be helpful, and if you feel that you can lend a hand, feel free to contact me at NorthAmericanBigfoot@gmail.com .