Thursday, December 31, 2009

North American Bigfoot's Year in Review




Now that 2009 is all but dead, most media outlets are looking back and reviewing the year. This year has been good to me in many ways, and here are some of my highlights from the last 12 months:


January:

This blog was born. I wasn't sure I'd like blogging, but it turns out I do. It gives me a chance to share what I love with an audience, and hopefully "opens up" the bigfooting community a little. Besides, I'm a teacher and I like to write.

February:

This is traditionally a very slow bigfooting month, but I did stumble across some cool bigfoot art. I was at the Oregon Zoo to film the chimps and orangutans with thermal imagers for future comparisons when I ran across a sculpture by Richard Beyer. Cool stuff, and Mr. Beyer uses bigfoots in several of his other pieces.



A gathering of large mammals



Possible sasquatch prints were found on nearby Memaloose Road at the end of February, so I spent a fair amount of time in the area over the next few weeks. I even drove to the area to have dinner in the woods instead of eating in a nice warm restaurant. No activity was noted, but I froze my hiney off.

Later in March, I took a week-long trip to the Olympic Peninsula. Cultural signs of sasquatch were everywhere, but I found no indications of the biological reality. I did find new roadways to campsites that had been previously cut off, and I spoke to a number of excellent witnesses. The Olympic Mountains are probably the 'squatchiest place I've ever been. If you can get out there, do yourself a favor and go.


Big bigfoot art outside of Sequim, WA


Speaking of the Olympics, in March I was invited by Derek Randles to help him with the "Olympic Project". The OP is a multi-member effort that includes Derek Randles (co-owner and discoverer of the Skookum Cast) and Wally Hersom (who sponsors a small number of bigfoot researchers in an effort called the "Hersom Project") with the objective to photograph a bigfoot. Derek has placed numerous trail cameras on the ridges of the Olympic Mountains to capture images of apex predators, such as cougars and sasquatches. Derek and a small group of his friends (including me) hiked to a ridge outside of Forks, WA to place several cameras and to collect the memory cards from others that were left there six weeks before. We obtained great photos of cougars and bears, but no sasquatches on that trip. I suspect that Derek will be successful eventually. His plan is well planned, systematic, and fun for he and his colleagues.




Ridgetop camping in the Olympic Mountains


April:

Possible bigfoot activity was noted at the Sandy River Project Site #1. It is well-noted in the literature that sasquatches sometimes slap or pound on the outside of houses, and this is possibly what occurred in this case. At the time of this writing, the property owner is living in downtown Portland, so nobody on the property is up in the middle of the night. Due to this, little activity has been noted for several months.

This same property owner also obtained another parcel nearby. As the structures on this property were being renovated, possible sasquatch activity occurred. I have been monitoring the location ever since. As I write, I have three cameras at the site, which I refer to as the Sandy River Project Site #2.

A reader of this blog managed to get Jane Goodall's autograph for me. He even gave her one of my cards! I love Ms. Goodall. She has publicly stated that she believes that a combination of good photographic evidence combined with reputable scientists witnessing and studying the animal can prove the existence of the sasquatch without the need for a type specimen. This is where all of my efforts are now focused. I hope we can move past the Darwinian model of proving a species exists ("I've never seen that kind of bird before! Let's kill it to prove it's real!"), and into another paradigm. She's a pillar of compassion that we can all learn from.


I love her.


May:

Excellent footprints were found on the Olympic Peninsula at the end of April, and I had a chance to borrow the cast for copying at the beginning of May. The print had deteriorated badly by the time the witnesses returned to the site, but at least they tried to obtain a cast. Kudos to them!


Olympic footprint four days after its discovery



The big news for May was the Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up. I'll spare you a lengthy recap, but suffice it to say it was the bigfoot party of the year, hands down.

Dinnertime at the Bigfoot Round-Up

June:

After having seen Mike Greene's thermal video of a sasquatch from North Carolina, I thought that it would be a good idea to do some tests. I wanted to see what a human would look like in various clothing through a thermal imager, so I took it upon myself to get it done. A couple of my field partners and I went to the woods outside of Estacada, OR to film my running around. Below are the results.




Taking one for the team

July:

I love July. I always do great things since I'm out of school (work) and the weather's great. This year was no exception. I did some bigfooting in the Coast Range, checked out a sasquatch parade, followed up on some older reports up by Morton, WA, worked the Sandy River Project Site #2, and even did a week or so in Bluff Creek with a bunch of friends. Gotta love summer!


Friends at the PG Filmsite

August:

Relishing my last month of summer, I took to the woods as much as I could. I spent time with Thom Powell doing some unconventional squatching, did some solo trips to out-of-the-way locations, and did some time in Gifford Pinchot National Forest.

A highlight of this month was "Beachfoot", a small informal gathering organized by Todd Neiss. It was a time to meet, or get reacquainted with many folks throughout Bigfootland. Some of my regular squatching buddies rolled up from California, as well as some that rolled down from Washington, and even others from back east.

Beachfoot: a who's-who of bigfooting

August was also the month were I entered Columbia's Pioneer of the Outdoors contest, in which I later came in second place. That was a fun project to dabble in, and thank you to all of you who helped me in this silly little endeavor.





Squatching with Cliff



September:

My website, http://www.northamericanbigfoot.com/ was chosen as "Bigfoot Site of the Day" by Linda Martin of Happy Camp, CA. She runs http://www.bigfootsightings.org/ out of her small home town. Thanks, Linda!

On September 9, two fishermen found possible footprints on the bank of the Sandy River, not far from SRP2. The prints were destroyed by an ATV before I got to the location to cast it.

Sandy River footprint

I spent the weekend with a number of bigfooters northwest of Yakima, WA. Not only did I find out that Bob Gimlin loves my mother's homemade cookies (who wouldn't?), but I was physically threatened by an ignorant tweeker on public land. That was a first, and hopefully a last.

October:

The beginning of October brought an excellent photograph of a footprint from northwest Montana. It is as clear as they come, and it even had a scale item in the photograph. Though the footprint's size is well within human range, the context of the impression suggests another source. We'll never know, but the important part is that the witness tried to document and share the data. We should all follow her lead and do the same!

Possible juvenile footprint from Montana

And of course, the PG Film anniversary was on October 20th. Where were you?


November:

The highlight for this month? One word... "Babysquatch".



Will and Keegan Robinson

December:

Despite "software glitches", voting irregularity, and numerical funny business, I was announced as Columbia Sportswear's Pioneer of the Outdoors runner-up. Thanks to both Columbia for choosing a bigfooter to represent them, and to you the bigfooting community for supporting me.

"We're number two!"


Of course, lots more occurred in 2009. Some important stuff, too. I barely touched on Mike Greene's thermal footage. The whole "Massacre at Bluff Creek" nonsense got a lot of momentum, unfortunately. There was that Kentucky bigfoot/crow photo that stirred some interest for a short while, as well as a small number of other hoaxed items.

The year 2009 is over. Time to move on. If you feel like dwelling, you can click any of the months above to see my overview of that month

I suspect 2010 will be a good one. Every year seems a little more interesting than the last, and I suspect this trend will continue.

I hope you get into the woods a lot, and if you do, please do me a favor. Bring back data, not just stories. Let's work together to solve this mystery.

Respect the 'squatch!


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Squatchmas!


December is a busy month, as far as holidays go:

Christmas (December 25), Hanukkah (starts at sundown on December 11), Kwanzaa (starts December 26), the Winter Solstice (December 22, the longest bigfoot feeding night of the year), Bathtub Party Day (December 5), Put on Your Own Shoes Day (December 6), Human Rights Day (December 10), Las Posadas (el 16 de deciembre), Boxing Day (December 26), National Bicarbonate of Soda Day (December 30), New Year's Eve (December 31), and Wear a Plunger on Your Head Day (Really! December 18). There are even more special holidays this month than I mentioned here, but these are the only ones I had to buy gifts for.

With so many festivities, how's a bigfooter supposed to decide which one to really go nuts for? Until recently, I had chosen December 4th: Wear a Beard of Bees Today Day. (I've often thought how cool it would be to extend the "beard of bees" idea into a whole suit to make a "bigfoot suit of bees.")


Beesquatch

Well, apparently I have to trade in my bee suit. Thanks to my favorite beef jerky company, we now have "The Twelve Days of Squatchmas." Finally, a holiday that is easy to carry the spirit of all year long!

I'm headed out of town today to visit family for the weekend. I'm planning to get into the woods when I return for some chilly winter bigfooting. Check back next week for updates on this and other efforts!

Merry Squatchmas, everyone!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Meldrum on Today Show

Cliff Barackman and Bart Cutino engage
Dr. Jeff Meldrum in discussion about footprint evidence.

I was hopeful for some constructive media attention when I saw this article:


Idaho State University associate professor of anatomy and anthropology Jeff Meldrum was interviewed about his sasquatch research this fall by a producer of NBC's "Today Show."
Meldrum's interview is slated to air Tuesday, Dec. 15, as part of a story on cryptozoology, the study of hidden animals, recognizing the public’s heightened interests in rare, elusive and mysterious creatures.


Jeff MeldrumAs a prominent researcher on the question of sasquatch's existence, Meldrum, author of "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science," was contacted to comment on the scientific evaluation of evidence of sasquatch, as compared with the activities of amateur "enthusiasts" interested in the subject.

The "Today Show" producer, Jennifer Long, asked questions such as "zoologically and evolutionarily speaking, could the animal people describe as Bigfoot exist in this day and age," "what is the most compelling evidence that sasquatch does or does not exist," and "what would be the implications of the discovery of Bigfoot."

The interview took place in Meldrum’s laboratory on the ISU campus, which houses one of the largest assemblage of hominid and reported sasquatch footprint casts. He also explained how the question of sasquatch, a supposed upright-walking giant ape, dovetails with his studies of the evolution of human adaptations for bipedal walking and running.

"My intent was to portray the science behind the legend, and point out the accumulating trace and physical evidence that a growing number of scholars and professional scientists are giving objective consideration, both publicly and privately," Meldrum said.



When the segment was televised, I realized that perhaps I had been too optimistic.

If you'd like to see it, click the footage below.



As is obvious by reading this blog you know that I don't mind a sense of humor about the bigfoot subject. I prefer intelligent discussion, or at least clever humor to accompany it.

They should have at least been funny. "Messing with sasquatch" got at least that right.

It didn't do the science nor experience justice. Not by a long shot. This might have made for a more interesting segment.

I guess the upside of this is that the 'squatch got national attention. Don Keating had a smile on his face for much of the segment, which played well for him.

I'd like to see some bigfooting on other media outlets, but perhaps with more of a focus on the possibility of these creatures' existence. Most folks don't know there is a substantial body of evidence to support the bigfoot hypothesis. I think the public deserves to know.

Also, at least the hosts got into the woods. Too many times the media criticizes bigfooters from behind a desk in NYC. These women went into the woods to scream and do wood knocks. I have to admit that was one step beyond what could have happened. Next time, perhaps they'd have better luck at night.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not offended by this. There's nothing to take personally. Their mockery is directly proportional to their own ignorance of the subject. As bigfooters, I believe we can educate the laymen on this fascinating subject to avoid the "laughing behind their hands" approach too often taken by the meda.

What do you think? Post a comment below.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Columbia Sportswear "Pioneer of the Outdoors" Update


As you probably already know, this past August I entered a contest to be a "Columbia Sportswear Pioneer of the Outdoors" by submitting a fun little video for voting and general perusal.



The voting went very, very well. Numerically, I clobbered the competition by a huge margin. There were some minor bumps along the way (or maybe two), but the bigfooting community rallied repeatedly behind the 'squatch to put bigfooting in its rightful place as the coolest thing to do in the woods. If you consider the "votes" and "views" that disappeared, the margin was incredible. That is a testament to the enthusiasm of the bigfooting community and the passion that burns in our soul for the 'squatch.

As noted in a previous blog (see links above), the voting didn't count for much as far as determining the winner of the contest, which is fine because it was still fun to see the numbers climb.

The voting was supposed to end on November 13th, but word only reached me a week ago as to the results of the contest:

"Hi Cliff,

First of all, thank you for participating in our search for pioneers of Columbia’s Greater Outdoors. No doubt, your passion for what you do is admirable and just the sort of thing we appreciate. Because of that, you’ve been selected as the runner-up in our Pioneers of The Greater Outdoors contest!

We’re planning on announcing the winner on our website around 12/15 but wanted to let you know in advance. Your video will continue to live within our pioneer archives on our site as an example of the kind of pioneering spirit we’re looking for.

For your effort, we would like to send you a $250 Columbia gift card. You can use it on our website or in any Columbia store. We just need your mailing address so we can drop it in the mail so please email us back and we’ll send it off.

Congratulations and thanks again for your contribution and commitment to the Greater Outdoors!

Sincerely,
The Columbia Marketing team"

Congrats to whoever won the contest!

I'm not bummed at all about not winning. In fact, I was very pleasantly surprised because I do not remember any language in the official rules that indicated there was a "runner-up" prize. I am wholeheartedly embracing my runner up status, and couldn't be more proud of this minor accomplishment.


This was a kind gesture by Columbia, and I would like to publicly and vigorously thank them for their generosity!

"We're number two!"

Yesterday my videographer, Craig Flipy and I went shopping at the Columbia Outlet store and took advantage of their great sales prices. The $250 prize will go a long ways towards keeping us warm during our winter bigfooting trips over the next few months (even when that prize money is split between the both of us).

Good prices, great gear, and a whole lot of fun.

Lastly, I'd like to give a huge thanks to you, the bigfooting community. You rallied behind my silly little cause with enthusiasm and the appropriate sense of humor. You supported a fellow bigfooter, and more importantly our big hairy buddies by putting them in the eye of the general public in a prominent way (Columbia is a national brand, and now sasquatches will be a small, but visible part of their website).

I hope you had some fun with this. I know I did.

But now, what should I tackle next? If you have any ideas, contact me here: NorthAmericanBigfoot@gmail.com.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sandy River Project Update 12/09


It's been a while since I've posted an update on the Sandy River Project. It's still up and running, and I thought you'd be interested in what I'm trying now.

I removed all the cameras from the two locations in late August. Since I had been continuously monitoring this property since the previous Spring, I thought that it couldn't hurt to let the property "cool down" a little by removing all indications of my presence for a while. When dealing with sasquatches, the less I interfere with their surroundings, the better for them and the more comfortable they'll feel. As Autumn Williams says, let them remain in control.

Throughout the Fall, the many human homesteads in the area are a steady and bountiful food supply for all animals. Fruit trees are literally dropping pounds of food on the ground, and gardens are producing their harvests. Domestic animals and their food are easily found or stealthily stolen and consumed by the occasional cougar, coyote, or sasquatch. A missing house cat would be emotionally missed, but its disappearance would not be unusual for this rural area.

With the onset of Winter, food will be in shorter supply for sasquatches and their prey. It is my hypothesis that sasquatches largely subsist on an omnivorous diet, with a heavy leaning towards eating meat, especially in the Winter months. So, in order to attract sasquatches to a homestead, I will endeavor to attract one of their primary prey: deer.

One of the many deer in the vicinity of the SRP Site #2.


There is some data that suggests that I am on the right track with my above approach. The famous "Siege at Honobia" is probably the best known example of attracting sasquatches by attracting their prey. (While a footprint cast rumored to be from the area seems to be a fabrication (and not presented in my online database), it was found and cast after the story unfolded. My friend Thom Powell, who wrote details about this possible habituation in his excellent book says the actual encounters were the real deal, so I'll go with it.)

A photograph of a possibly fabricated
footprint cast from the area of Honobia, OK.

There is also a not-widely-circulated photograph from Wisconsin that was displayed by Wally Hersom at the Yakima Bigfoot Round-Up this past May. In that case, the property owner was putting out feed for the local deer herd and accidentally captured one possible image of a sasquatch on a remote camera.

The former approach will be mine for the upcoming months.

I have now deployed one 50 lb. bag of feed corn on site at the Sandy River Project Site #2. Site #2 is still uninhabited, and therefore I assume has a relatively high chance of having the occasional sasquatch wander through. My intent is to have a steady and nutritious food supply for the local deer herds, especially as the Winter becomes more harsh and food becomes harder to find. I will visit the property to check on the corn supply and to change out the cameras every two to three weeks throughout the season. One such check was done this past weekend.

The corn bag was put out on November 21st. I put it in the area where a foul stench and an ominous presence was felt last Spring by a contractor who returned to the site to retrieve his tools after nightfall.

This past weekend, when I returned to the site where I left the corn bag, I was disappointed to find that almost no corn had been eaten. I expected to at least have the smaller forest critters go to town on my offering.

I gathered my cameras, deployed a couple more, and headed back to town thinking that the deer had not found the bag yet, which is probably partially true. When I checked the memory cards in the camera, I found another reason that might interfere with deer hanging out: dogs.

Two of several local dogs on patrol. They frequented the
area for several days at various hours of day and night.

I now think that I need to move the food attractant to an area that is farther back on the property and down in the riverbed away from roaming pets. The target area is harder to get to, and more importantly farther from the neighboring houses, which are several hundred yards away. Down in the creek bed, I have also found many ungulate prints, and tracked a cougar for 30 or 40 yards before losing its trail. Both of these latter facts are good indicators that this area might produce better results.

So, that's the current status of what's going on with this property. No recent activity has been reported, but then again nobody lives on site. I still think this property has a relatively good chance of attracting sasquatches, but first I need to give them a good reason to pop by every once in a while. With a steady food supply for their prey, I hope to also ring the dinner bell for the big guys. Wish me luck.