Monday, September 27, 2010

McKenzie River Footage Investigation: Preliminary Report

On Saturday June 28, 2008 three men set out to make a fly fishing video on the Upper McKenzie River in the Willamette National Forest of Central Oregon. The three men either work at or are associated with a fly fishing shop called The Caddis Fly, located in Eugene, OR. They launched two drift boats from Olallie Campground in the late morning and started their float downstream. George R. was alone in one boat, and Chris D. and videographer Matt S. were in another.

As they rounded a left turn in the river, George's drift boat was ahead of the other one. Trailing in the second boat, Chris and Matt positioned themselves to film George's descent over the class IV rapids ahead of them. As the two boats' oarsmen navigated the treacherous rapids, Matt did his best to keep the camera steadily on George.

Soon the boats had cleared the rapids and the group floated on to shoot other scenes for their video. The video was posted to Matt's YouTube account on Monday, June 30, 2008. Click the following link to see the footage on Matt's YouTube page:

A stabilized and zoomed version of the footage.
Copyright Matt S. Enhancement by 
KatHouse Video Productions

The Discovery of a Figure

Over two years later, two employees of The Caddis Fly were watching the video at the shop. One of the employees noticed what appeared to be a large dark figure moving on the shoreline in one of the scenes. After reviewing the clip several times, they thought that the figure might represent a sasquatch. One of the men, Clay, called the BFRO and left a voicemail stating that he had some interesting footage that needed investigating.

The Scene of Interest

Though the film is quite shaky throughout the few seconds the subject is visible, a small amount of detail is evident. It appears that two dark figures walk behind a rock pile from left to right, then the leading figure ascends the rock pile. The leading figure can only be either a human or a sasquatch. It stands erect and two arms are clearly visible hanging to its sides. After a brief glimpse of the leading figure standing bipedally, the two figures are lost to view.

Bigfoot or Human?

Most pieces of footage purported to show a sasquatch are either hoaxes or are misidentifications. This footage had no signs of being a hoax. None of the men in the video knew the figure was even there. The clip was shot over two years ago, and most hoaxers want attention much sooner than that. To this day all of the men involved think that the clip is interesting, but don't really care much if it shows a bigfoot or not. It was clear from the beginning of this investigation that this was unlikely to be a fabrication. If it is not a sasquatch then it would have to be a misidentified human.

Due to the low quality of the YouTube footage, little can be determined by examining it. However, it has been discovered that the original footage could still exist. Matt, the videographer, uploaded his footage onto his iMac computer for editing after the men filmed that weekend. He later gave this computer to his brother, Nate, as a gift. I met Nate in person at the film site, and he told me that he has never erased anything off of the computer. He then told me that he would look into it. This was two weeks ago as of this writing.

The whole question of what the figure actually is could be solved by a quick glance at the original footage if its quality is good enough. No real detail can be objectively determined by what is currently available online, but this is likely to not be the case with the original footage.

I have called Nate several times, but he is a hard guy to get a hold of. To me, this is entirely understandable. Nate is a professional fisherman and spends much of his time in the field angling. When he has days off of work, he is also on the water. In fact, the day I met him he was to take his boat 20 miles offshore to fish for albacore and did not plan to return until late the following evening.

When I was young, I worked in tackle stores for nearly a decade. I had the same lifestyle, so I understand the angling life very well. It is similar to the bigfooting life in that one is always chasing their quarry, and spending a lot of time in the wilds doing it.

I will continue to patiently pester Nate for the footage and update this report as new information comes to light. Getting a hold on the original footage has been the sticking point with the publishing of this report. I have only recently decided to publish what I have as a preliminary report.

The Site

The McKenzie River has a long history of bigfoot encounters. The terrain is steep and wild. Few people venture far off of the roads and trails that criss cross the landscape. Food, water, and cover are all abundant, and in general this river valley is an ideal habitat for sasquatches.

That is not to say that this area is isolated. Several hikers and cyclists were seen on the roads while driving to the site, and one kayaker made his way down the rapids while we were there. The [wider] recreational corridor is well-traveled by sportsmen, tourists, and other outdoor enthusiasts.

The actual film site is accessible by turning off of the main highway onto a smaller dirt road. This road winds a short ways to a well-used campsite which is perched a short distance above the film site. From the perspective of the camp, the site is largely obscured by riparian foliage.

The view from the camp above the filmsite.

Much to my pleasure, there was a power line cut a very short distance from the film site. Many bigfoot researchers have long noted the correlation between sasquatch activity and power lines. Some hypothesize that it is easier to travel along these routes, but I find that not to be the case. I suspect that sasquatches frequent power line cuts because it offers one of the few places in the woods where sunlight reaches the ground, thus producing copious amounts of food for deer and other prey animals. It is thought by many that sasquatches not only eat the herbivores, but also their food. Either way, this spot offered easy access to a power line cut, which might offer any wandering sasquatch a steady food supply.

The rock pile that the figure is seen to stand on is at the upstream end of a small side run in the river. On September 11, 2010 when I visited the site, there was standing water behind the rock pile that was perhaps a foot and a half deep at the deepest point. On that day, the river was flowing at a rate of 744 cubic feet of water per second. At the time the footage was shot, the river was significantly higher, flowing at a rate of 1650 cubic feet per second. It is unknown how much higher that would put the water level behind the rock pile. This becomes significant when one considers the figures' movements behind the rock pile as the boats approach the rapids.

A view of the side channel from
the subject's position on the rock pile.

The rock that the figure is standing on was easily identified. It is the only place that a man-sized creature could possibly stand and be seen in that position from the boat's vantage point. The rock that the subject was standing on is four feet in diameter, and only two horizontal feet from the apex of the rock in front of it. Such small distances would not interfere with the very approximate measurements obtainable from this investigation.

A photo from behind the rock pile. The figure stood on
the rock to the right and below the backpack which is
marked with a red “x.”

Until the original footage becomes available, the best that can be done is to make some effort to determine the size of the film subject. I have determined two methods of getting an approximation of the subject's height. If the results of both methods converge on a certain height, then we can be reasonably sure that this is the approximate height of the figure.

Method 1
The most common method of determining the height of sasquatches in films is to put a person of known height in the same position and compare the two. This has been done for several pieces of footage (e.g. PG Film, Marble Mountains Footage).

Wearing waders, Will Robinson waded into the river to a gravel bar next to the left-hand channel that the boaters went down when filming. He then photographed me standing on the same rock that the subject was standing on. Though Will was not standing at the exact same place, nor was he taking photos from the exact same height as the videographer, the comparison photographs are close enough for our purposes.

A photograph of me taken from the
approximate position of the camera.

Below is a composite photograph made from a frame of the footage and the above still that Will took of me standing in that same location. The incongruence in the rocks' positions is at least partly due to the tilting of the boat as it traversed downstream, and also due to a discrepancy in the boat's position compared to where Will stood. However, it is clear that the rocks line up very well, thus indicating that our positioning was fairly good.

The two photographs superimposed.

The method I used to line up the rocks was to use the highest points of the rocks in the photo. Superimposing one photograph over the other, I lined up these peaks until their locations matched. I then verified that the rocks' sizes were the same, tweaking it as seemed reasonable. The vague outlines in the YouTube version were not very helpful in this regard, but similar comparisons will be made when the original footage becomes available.

As can be seen in the above composite photograph, the size of the subject is not much different than my own (I stand at 68 inches tall). However, the subject seems to be hunched over at this point since very little of its head is visible above the shoulders.

The footage frame used for the above
comparison. Note the stooped posture.

Method 2
Using measurements from the site, I found the difference in heights between two rocks visible in the footage to be 29 inches. Finding this difference in pixels in the photograph yields a total of 59 pixels. Dividing the two gives 2.034 pixels per inch.

I used this information to determine how tall the visible part of the figure is. Drawing a line from the top of the figure to where the figure becomes obscured by the rock gives a height of 79 pixels. Dividing this by 2.034 pixels per inch gives a result of 38.84 inches for the approximate visible height of the subject.

Using photographs of me standing in the same position, I found that approximately three feet of my height is behind the rock pile and is not visible. Adding 36 more inches to the above result for the hidden height gives 74.83 inches, or just shy of 6 feet 3 inches.

Tentative Conclusions
Using two methods to determine the approximate size of the figure, both seem to indicate a height of around six feet tall. It is possible that the figure is actually a bit taller than this because of the apparently stooped posture. While six-foot-tall sasquatches certainly exist, this happens to be a rather average height for most adult male humans.

The general size of the figure seems rather large, but not beyond the possible size of a human. It was noted that the figure seems to be much broader than myself, and I am a fairly broad-shouldered man for my height. The figure's general dimensions are certainly distorted due to the pixelization of the YouTube video. This might be contributing to its seemingly large shape, but this is uncertain.

The behavior of the two figures is also worthy of note. When I was at the site, a kayaker made his way down the rapids. When he came into view, a member of our party went to the very same rock that the figure went to in order to gain a better view of the kayaker. If a camper saw a couple boats floating down river heading towards these dangerous rapids, it is likely that he/she would stand on this same rock to gain a better vantage. However, in June when the water level is so much higher, I have to wonder if the area behind the rock pile would be possible to safely traverse. It's quite possible that the water level was 20 or more inches higher when the footage was shot. The fishing guides who met us at the scene commented at how the side channel would be heavily flowing and largely white water at that time of year.

Due to the behavior of the subjects, as well as the calculated approximate height, I believe that the footage most likely shows two human figures trying to get a better view of the boats as they headed down the rapids.

The first figure put itself into a position where it could easily be seen, coming from a place where it was hidden. This strikes me as unlikely behavior for a sasquatch in full daylight, but that is not to say that this sort of thing never happens. Sasquatches do very unexpected things, and indeed their very existence is unexpected. One should not be so quick to impose human expectations on sasquatches.

I could very well be incorrect in my assessment. There are things about the footage that look very squatchy to me. The width and girth of the subject seem pretty massive, even if it is only six feet or so tall. Also, its apparently stooped posture combined with the high shoulders looks very ape-like.

It will be very interesting to see the original footage. It is quite possible that it will be good enough to see clothing, or even facial features, clearly indicating that these figures are human. It is also possible that a close examination of the original footage might show two hairy bipeds doing something unexpected. I, like you, can't wait to see it.

My Thoughts
This investigation and the time it took to do it was well-spent no matter what its conclusions or what the eventual viewing of the original footage determines the figures to be. Good times were spent with great friends in a beautiful place, but even more importantly, we were doing amateur science by obtaining data.

All compelling evidence should be closely examined using whatever means one has at his/her disposal, and an effort should be made to bring back some form of data to share. That is the very nature of science: to look into things to see what seems to be the truth, then to share it with others for review.

Until more professional scientists step up to the plate, whatever science that is possible in bigfooting must be executed by amateur scientists like us. Bigfooting is a form of field primatology, yet one in its infancy. Its our job to help it mature.

This article can be permanently viewed (including downloadable photos) on my website by clicking this link.  



  1. Interesting read, Cliff. Thank's for posting it! The figure looks to me kind of stationary. My first thought was that it could be a tree stump. Look at the "left arm", it seems to move - but at the same time it seems that not the arm is moving but the filmer. Do you see what I mean?

    I don't know what to think about it. I hope there's a better version...

  2. At the 16 second mark you can clearly see that the figure to the left, as it moves towards that on the right, has on khaki colored pants with an olive colored shirt and dark hair. It's even more clear at the 53-54 second mark of the 25% slowed version. This figure also appears to possibly slip on the rocks or is in need of help as the larger darker figure to the right reaches out to lend a hand. That hand is then taken by the figure that appears to need assistance.
    This video is clearly not that of a Sasquatch but merely spectators on the rocks watching boats pass by.

  3. Thanks for the great investigation and time you took in going over this video. I would like to mention a few major and huge clues you did not mention...that will help you with your current investigation. These new clues are major and make it more complete.
    Even on the BFRO sight...they barely mentioned this and it has been left out but are major clues and facts.
    What most people DON'T realize is that there is a LONGER MacKenzie video..I think it it posted on either the BFRO site or elsewhere...its over 4 minutes long. Why is this important? Because the boats make a SECOND run down that section and more clues and objects can be scene!!! So...find and look at the extended version.
    Clue 1#: More of a 3:17 the boat passes UNDER the powerlines which can be seen overhead. The boats are MUCH closer to the the shore where the first object were scene giving YOU and anyone else a better look at the shore, vegetation, rocks, size comparison etc etc.
    The camera at 3:27-3:34 shore the area really well...much slower pan of the area the first objects were seen BUT they are gone...but you can see the large rock for comparison much better!! THERE IS ALSO A NEW DARK OBJECT that was NOT filmed in the first run...but is NOW visable! What is it? Look low and close to shore...almost as if something is sitting in the grass at the waters edge...doesnt look like a stump and since it was NOT in the first part of the video but is now present adds the the mystery.
    Again at about 3:43-:47 the boat goes really close to shore giving you a better indication of size of the rocks, trees, grass etc etc. These are all helpful in making the investigation MORE complete and I am surprised nobody has mentioned these clues before.
    A few other observation that I've noticed that can help your great web page study too are; The waves are very large and if you've ever boated you will know and understand that the angle of YOUR view changes as you rise and fall with each new wave THUS making objects far away appear different sizes. If YOU rise up three feet higher that means the object away may appear smaller as you are looking more DOWN at them...same goes for when you go down in a tough of now are looking more UP at an object...making it appear larger...this up and down motion can and will also make stationary object appear to be moving or moving more than they are actually are...something to consider.
    Also with 40 years of boating experience....boaters DONT drop their oars, paddles in order to use their hands to "wave" at a person on shore. Paddlers nod! OR they raise the paddle in the air as well as the arm...they dont let go...especially in rough water. Also you are so focused on the current, the "v" line, eddies, hydralics, stainers or anytihing else in the water that can become a hazard for you. The boats would NOT be looking at the shore anymore than you would in rush hour traffic going thru a busy downtown street and being focused on someone walking on the sidewalk, an "open" sign on a store and any details....but your would be focused on the front of your car in relation to objects..i.e the cars in front of you.
    My two cents...hope this adds to the ongoing investigaion...I'll leave that up to you guys...I just wanted to provide some major clues that were overlooked. Hope you can add the extended version of the film too so others dont have to look for it elsewhere.
    Thanks and keep up the interesting work.

  4. i have seen many A big foot over my 63 yrs,, i have analyze this film with all of my friends, we are all woodsmen,,,it appears to be a young black bear standing and looking at the fishermen--then the camera lost him---sorry just my opinion---

  5. Does nobody see that this is some guy in a black tshirt? When he's walking away and walks into more light his head (bald?) and his arms (from just above the elbow down) become much lighter in color. Hence black tshirt and bald as his lower arms and head become the same lighter color than the shirt.