Saturday, March 31, 2012

What is It? - Appearances can be Deceiving


Recently, a witness named Carl (last name withheld) came forth to share a photograph of what he thinks might be a bigfoot. The picture was obtained using a game camera which was deployed in the general vicinity of the Kettle River in Minnesota. This area is largely farmland surrounded by thickly wooded swamps. The farmlands not only produce food themselves, but attract a wide variety of herbivores on which large predators can feed. The surrounding swamps are nearly impenetrable, and even if you did get in them, you'd be eaten alive by mosquitoes and other bitey things. The area in question has produced a number of bigfoot encounters for a long time, and is excellent sasquatch habitat.

The picture, seen below, shows a black figure on the right hand side of the frame that seemingly has an ape-like face. The witness pointed out the two eyes, nose, and mouth, as well as what appears to be hair cascading downwards from the hair. It was assumed that the figure was leaning into the frame of the photograph, possibly to get a better view of the camera.

The original, uncropped photograph


After obtaining permission from Carl to study his photograph and share it on my website, he emailed me the picture, as well as several others that were taken with the same camera shortly before and after the picture in question. The first of these photos was taken a couple hours before the last three, which were apparently taken in sequence as this camera was set to take three pictures each time it was triggered.  The others are not included in this blog because of the time elapsed between the shots.

 How the witness interpreted the photograph


Clearly, this was not a typical amorphous blobsquatch photograph showing a bigfoot (or something vaguely bigfoot-shaped) standing in the woods, so I looked at the picture with an eye to see what other kind of animal it could show.  After determining witness credibility, the first lines of questioning should be directed towards exploring the possibility of a misidentification when dealing with photos. 

I needed to explore some other explanation besides the bigfoot hypothesis. I first thought it might be the rear end of a moose or other large ungulate, but I soon abandoned this line of thought.  I then considered the other animals visible in the photograph: crows.  I had to wonder if crows would be that comfortable in such close proximity to a sasquatch. It seemed unlikely.

What I believe this photograph shows is a crow in flight, facing to the right, and partially out of frame. Feathers can be clearly seen under its outstretched right wing. The color of the figure exactly matches the colors of the other crows in the photos. I believe I see the tail feathers of the flying crow extending downwards towards the ground, behind the wings, right where I would expect them to be. I might even speculate from the position of the wings, tail feathers, and head that the crow might have been flying slightly backwards or directly vertically, as if in reaction to something out of frame, perhaps another crow competing for a food item left as bait for the game camera.  The reason the crow seems so much larger than the others is that it is closer to the camera.

How I interpret the photograph


As ridiculous as it might sound, this isn't the first time a crow has been misidentified as a bigfoot. There was a widely circulated game camera photograph of a crow near a game feeder from Kentucky that made the rounds in the bigfoot community a few years back. That photograph, like this one, had a crow in the foreground that appeared to be a larger dark figure in the background. The crow had its wings outstretched in flight and gave the appearance of a large, dark, shouldered bigfoot in the background largely obscured by the tall grass in which it appeared to be sitting. Indeed, appearances can be deceiving.

The Kentucky bigfoot/crow photo


Carl still isn't sure what the picture shows. It should be noted that no matter what the picture depicts, Carl did the right thing by sharing his photograph with others. This type of peer review is absolutely necessary to find the truth behind any kind of evidence that comes in. Over the years, I have heard of countless supposedly great photographs of sasquatches that the owners have never thought to share with the public for a wide variety of reasons. However, having a photograph and not sharing it is functionally identical to not having that photograph at all (which might be just fine, depending on your goals). I want to thank and congratulate Carl for sharing his picture with the rest of us.

If you have a photograph of what you think might be a bigfoot, please share it with me. I realize that many people do not want their name associated with bigfoots in any way, and I also realize that there are people out there who do not want their local bigfoots bothered by researchers. I will always respect your anonymity, and will never publish your photograph without your permission.  

Sunday, March 25, 2012

"Whoop" Vocalization from Liberty County, FL


Liberty County, FL Vocalization
2/24/12 @ 12:45 am

During the last week of February I took a trip to the East Coast to do a newspaper interview. The reporter wanted to get a feel for what a bigfooting trip is really like, so Matt Moneymaker and I, along with a small number of local investigators and bigfooting newbies, took the reporter out for a night in the woods of Liberty County, Florida. The location was just a few miles away from where we did our investigation of the Bridges' property for the Florida episode of Finding Bigfoot.

We chose this particular location because of two recent events. In December, a group of witnesses observed a bigfoot for a few minutes through a thermal imager as it peeked out from behind a tree just a few hundred yards from where we were to camp. The witnesses weren't quite sure what they were looking at until the bigfoot wrapped its arm around the tree it was hiding behind, exposing its shoulders and head in addition to its arm. It played this peek-a-boo game for a few minutes (only looking out from behind the tree when the women were speaking, yet hiding when the men spoke), and then turned and ran with amazing speed up the hill behind it, exposing its full body to the witnesses. The second recent event was only from a week or two before, when a man and his children heard vocalizations from the same gully where the sighting occurred in December, and then encountered a large, heavily breathing creature. They saw eyeshine, but nothing more. Though this latter account is far more ambiguous, it was intriguing, and might have been a bigfoot.

For the night investigation, Matt took the reporter and a couple of network people up on a ridge above the Apalachicola River, while I took another group of participants down into the valley closer to the river itself. We spent several hours making sounds and listening to the dark, when around 12:45 am, we heard a clear “whoop” from a short distance away. The call was close and clear (louder and clearer than the above recording sounds), and the people I was with and I all verified that we heard the same thing from the same direction.

One of the men in my group noted that it came from the direction of the “primitive camps.” Primitive camps are basically another name for walk-in campsites with no bathroom facilities nor running water. These were about three quarters of a mile from the parking area where most campers would leave their vehicles.

Unfortunately, one of the primitive camps was occupied that night by a couple in their late 30's or early 40's. They had walked through our group campsite above the river on their hike down to the primitive camping area. Doubt rained on our parade as we considered the possibility that the vocalization was actually one of the campers messing with us.

As we weighed our thoughts about the source of the vocalization, we realized that there were some compelling things that pointed to it possibly being from a bigfoot rather than the campers. First of all, the vocalization came from a slightly different direction than the exact vector of camp. The camp was closer to the river than where the sound came from. Also, as the campers walked through our campsite earlier in the evening, one of the expedition participants spoke to them. The campers noted that they had never heard of Finding Bigfoot, and in fact didn't even own a television. One of the men with me noted that he thought it was weird that we got a “whoop” vocalization when Matt and I had been doing long howls all night. How would the campers know that bigfoots make whoop noises, especially when they didn't even own a television? Sure, they could have found that out on the internet, but in spite of what many bigfooters think, the vast majority of the population couldn't care in the least about bigfoots and know virtually nothing about them. Most folks don't look for that sort of info. We resolved to speak to the campers the next day as they hiked out through our campsite. It seemed that would be the best way to resolve the question about the source of the vocalization.

One of the expeditioners caught the couple as they hiked out the next day as I watched the interaction from nearby. The hikers were asked if they heard anything last night, and they replied that they didn't hear anything after we ran by camp. They were then asked about hearing us yell and howl, and they said that after we ran by camp they went to bed and didn't hear anything at all. They had already said it twice by that time, so the expeditioner asked, “What do you mean by us running by camp?” The couple replied that they saw two of us run by camp on the trail with our lights off at about 12:15 or 12:30.

When we told them that we didn't run by their camp, they said that they heard us and saw us. We then verified where they were camping, and told them that we were at the crossroads two or three hundred yards away. The campers then told us that we probably just got turned around in the dark and didn't realize where we were. Again, we emphasized that we never even started down the path that led to their camping area, and all of us stayed at the crossroads. Again, the campers said that we probably just got turned around because it's easy to do so in the dark. They didn't bother trying to explain away that there were six or eight of us in our group. Soon, looking slightly puzzled, the campers continued to their car.

Did we hear a bigfoot that night? I think so, but it's uncertain. I guess it's possible that the hikers were lying to us about making the noise, hearing and seeing two of us running by their camp in the dark without lights, not knowing anything about Finding Bigfoot (and thus knowing a bit about bigfoot vocalizations), and not having a television. Perhaps these two campers were in fact the source of the whoop, though based on the conversation I witnessed, and the campers' body language, I doubt it.

It's also possible that we heard one short whoop from one of the local bigfoots in Liberty Couty, FL.

The above recording was modified from the original.  Using Adobe Soundbooth CS3, I boosted the gain and eliminated some background noise.  Below is the original recording.  If you feel you are able to clean up the original better than I have, by all means feel free.  Just please email me at NorthAmericanBigfoot@gmail.com, and attach your version so I can hear it.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Cliff and Bobo on "The Soup"

I often get emails asking if the cast of Finding Bigfoot is comprised of real bigfooters, or just actors.  I think this clip will clarify for everyone that we clearly are not actors.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Finding Bigfoot - Kentucky Field Notes

A note from Cliff - I am on the road for a while, and am generally unable to keep up on my field notes and such in a timely manner.  However, I will be popping in with various bits of interesting bigfootiness now and again, so keep checking back occasionally.  I don't think you'll be disappointed at what you find!

Finding Bigfoot – KY Field Notes

I had been wanting to go bigfooting in Kentucky for some time, so when I discovered that I would finally get my chance I was elated. Years worth of rumors about the Erickson videos had made me curious about what sort of habitat would be found in the wilds of that state, and I was eager to explore them for myself.

The video that brought Finding Bigfoot to the Bluegrass State was the “Kentucky Eye Shine Video,” obtained by Charles Bowles using a Sony DCR-TRV480 camera on the night of June 14, 2008. Many more details of the circumstances surrounding this video can be read in this BFRO report. Having seen this video, but not knowing much about the location, I was looking forward to going there and doing some measurements for myself.

Click play to see the Kentucky Eyeshine Video
 from Daniel Boone National Forest, KY


The film's location was up on a ridge overlooking a well-used campground. Charles was not there alone, and a woman named Pam saw a bigfoot at that location, but in the opposite direction from the eyeshine, that very night. Pam allowed me to interview her extensively about her sighting, and I have no reason to doubt Pam's account.  However, Charles did not catch Pam's bigfoot on tape.  He saw and filmed something else.

The video itself only shows a dark location, a couple trees, and two glowing eyes. It was filmed in "Nightshot" mode, which is a Sony feature in many of their video cameras where an infrared illuminator is used to create limited night vision that is invisible to the human eye.  This is why the film seems to be almost in black and white.

It would be the context of the clip that would be most telling about what is in the video, so going to the site was of the utmost importance to me when determining for myself what was in the video.  What I found at the site was the video was obtained from the top of the ridge looking down the slope. There is a road at the bottom of the hill, but the two glowing eyes are not headlights, as some have suggested. They seem to be eyes, but it is unclear what those eyes belong to.

The film site, three years later, and during the day.
This photo was taken from the exact same place
as the original video.


There is a tree that is immediately to the left of the two glowing eyes in the video. This tree is directly next to a rock formation on the hillside. It is my opinion that the rock is the only place that the creature (if it was a sasquatch) could have been standing. If the sasquatch was standing behind the rock, it would have had to be at least 12 feet tall, and more in the range of 15 to 18 feet tall. I see this as incredibly unlikely, so I assume the sasquatch was on the rock itself. Based on our reconstruction, the eyes of the sasquatch would be at least eight and a half feet off the base of the rock. That would make this bigfoot a nine foot (or more) tall creature.

However, it is my opinion that a nine foot sasquatch would be at least three feet wide, from front to back, and possibly much wider than that. Bigfoots are often decribed as “barrel-chested,” or being as wide as they are thick from front to back. It doesn't make sense to me that since the tree to the left of the eyes is visible, the massive body of a bigfoot standing at the same distance (and probably a bit closer because of its body's thickness) would not be visible. The tree in question, and thus the rock on which the bigfoot must have been standing on, was only 24 feet away from the camera, and was well within the range of the infrared illuminator.

Bobo measuring the tree next to the rock where
the sasquatch would have had to be standing (in my opinion).
Note that Bobo's body is actually closer to
the camera than the tree itself.


At the film site, I determined the tree next to the rock to be four inches in diameter. By counting some pixels on a still from the video, and using this horizontal measurement with a little basic algebra, it can be determined that the distance between the two eyes in the video is just under three inches. I used the centers of the two glowing eyes for this measurement. If I use the outside edges of the eyes, it only increases the distance to four and a quarter inches. I do not know the distance between the eyes of a sasquatch, but I would think that a nine foot bigfoot would have eyes a bit further apart than that. My own eyes (measured at the center of my pupils) are about 2.6 inches apart. I do not know how wide apart various owl species' eyes are, but I would be very interested to find out.

Measuring the tree in question.


As I see it, in order for the video to show a bigfoot that is NOT standing on the rock, the creature would have to be well in excess of 12 feet tall. This is pretty much outside the range of all but the largest of size estimates by bigfoot witnesses. Since bigfoots of this size are either extremely rare, or their size estimates are exaggerated due to seeing conditions, distance, or fear, I see this possibility as most unlikely. If this video shows a bigfoot's eyes that is standing on that rock, then we run into the problem of why the rest of the body isn't visible in the film, when the tree at its side (and in the same film plane) is easily visible. It has been suggested to me that the bark of the tree is very reflective to infrared light, and sasquatches have somehow developed fur that absorbs these wavelengths, rendering them practically invisible in infrared illumination. I suppose this is possible, but I see it as pretty unlikely.

My conclusion on the film is that it probably does not show a bigfoot, though I could be wrong. I suspect that it shows the eye reflection of an owl sitting back on a branch that has broken off sometime in the three years between the filming and my on-site investigation. If I had more information about the distance between the eyes of owls, I would be a bit more sure in my assessment, but at this point, the sasquatch hypothesis seems less likely than other explanations.

But, of course, I could be wrong.  That's part of the fun of doing these investigations.  I get to find out what could be possible, what couldn't, and then come up with my own opinion on things.  Sharing my conclusions is simply part of the process of the scientific method called "peer review."  If new information comes to light about my conclusions which proves my conclusion to be incorrect, it doesn't make me a bad investigator or a stupid person.  It makes for better science.  Amateur science, I admit, but science nonetheless.