Monday, December 26, 2011

It's Been a Great Year!

Folks,

2011 has been a 'squatchy year for me. I can't express how grateful I am to my friends, field partners, and loved ones for helping make this year a great one. Here's a recap:

January - After working closely with Matt Moneymaker and the BFRO in filming two separate pilots for a television series in 2009, I got the word that Animal Planet would be producing six episodes about the organization and its efforts. Even better, one of the episodes would be filmed in my hometown, and based on many of the reports that I had investigated. At the same time, a childhood friend of mine, Darla Allison, called to tell me that her husband had found large, human-like tracks while scouting an area to hunt ducks. These tracks would become one of the highlights of the series. Also, I appeared as a guest on the West Georgia Paranormal podcast.

One of the tracks that Jeff Allison found on Bull Mountain.

February - I drove to Georgia to work as a Field Coordinator and Local Fixer for the Georgia episode of "Finding Bigfoot". It was amazing and surreal to spend time in the field with my friends from around the country in my proverbial "back yard".

Matt Moneymaker and I singing "You Can't Always Get What You Want" at the wrap party in Helen, Georgia.

March - I started a small project involving Reconyx RC60 units on a tract of private land in Central Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the project was compromised when word spread among neighboring properties that I was actively trying to perfect techniques for photographing sasquatches. The experiments helped me develop a few new techniques (specifically with regard to IR illuminators), and also produced an interesting hair sample. Also, I was interviewed by Daniel Perez for his Bigfoot Times publication regarding an investigation that I did in North Georgia.

One of the bobcat pictures obtained by the Reconyx RC60.

April - I launched this blog! One of my favorite researchers and friends Cliff Barackman wrote a nice post about the launch of my blog. Thanks, Cliff! At the time of this writing, I've had over 10,000 page views! Many thanks to those of you who've read the blog, and sent comments and emails of encouragement.

May - I started receiving inquiries for my Oklahoma and North Georgia expeditions. Through that process, I made many new friends and field partners. I am very thankful to have gotten to know those of you who attended expeditions, and I am proud to be involved with your personal inquiries into this amazing subject. On May 29th, I watched with excitement as the "Bigfoot Crossing in Georgia" episode of "Finding Bigfoot" aired on Animal Planet.

June - I conducted a few on-site investigations into several reports, as well as other areas with a history of activity.

In the Wichita Mountains; Comanche County, Oklahoma.

Three pictures from our study site in western Oklahoma.

July - I was interviewed about sasquatch research by a contributing writer for Examiner.com. Unfortunately, I had to repost her article here on my blog to correct some of the misinformation in the article. I also appeared on Gia Scott's podcast, "Dawn of Shades".

August - I had a very productive scouting trip to the location of the Oklahoma expedition. In addition, my thermal imager/DVR combo was rebuilt for me. The unit was refashioned in a way that would allow it to record continuously for over 14 hours without interruption. This allowed me to completely change my surveillance methods in the field.

My new thermal imager/DVR combo.
September - I organized and lead three BFRO expeditions; one in Oklahoma, and two in North Georgia (EXP-1 and EXP-2). They were the most productive and enjoyable group efforts I've ever been a part of, and I am very grateful to those who were a part of them. It was truly an incredible few weeks.
High above the North Georgia Expedition base camp.
October - After returning from Georgia, I embarked on a trip to Michigan to see family and friends. Luckily, I still had a chance to see some active areas, and spend some "dirt-time" looking for sign.

November - Once the Michigan trip ended, I made a detour to northern Indiana to hang out with the "Finding Bigfoot" cast and crew for two days and two nights. Needless to say, we had a lot of fun during their days off. We had great fun exploring; not only the forested parks in the area, but the local karaoke bars and pubs as well.
Cliff Barackman (L) and Tyler Bounds (R) on the shore of Lake Michigan.
December - The end of the year is upon us! I've begun the early stages of planning my Arkansas expedition, as well as a private BFRO expedition in Oklahoma. It's really been a wonderful year, and I hope that 2012 is even better. My deepest gratitude goes to my friends and loved ones for supporting my passion. Happy Holidays!
This was made by one of my favorite BFRO members. This is in his yard.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 North Georgia Expedition (GA EXP-2)


PREFACE: There were two (2) separate BFRO North Georgia Expeditions this year: Sept. 22-25, and Sept. 29 - Oct. 2. They were conducted in the same location, but will be referred to as GA EXP-1 and GA EXP-2, respectively.

Read the notes for GA EXP-1 -HERE-

LOCATION: The North Georgia Expeditions were conducted in a remote section of the Chattahoochee National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The base camp sat directly adjacent to a small tributary of a large river situated in a north-south running river valley, which extends for several miles and connects to many other small valleys. The location was easily one of the more remote and beautiful places in North Georgia.


In total, there were 32 GA EXP-2 participants. The participants came from OK, GA, NC, FL, SC, AL, WI, MI, and TN. 

I arrived late Wednesday night with Jason Vogan (NC-BFRO). We were the only people in base for the first evening. 


-- DAY / NIGHT ONE -- 


As I had seen nearly all of the river valley that we would be operating in, I opted to stay in base camp and help other participants get oriented, and to discuss the previous week's expedition with the new arrivals. 


My plan for the first night was to head into the southern portion of the river valley; heading in through the same ingress as the previous week to see if the resident sasquatches would approach again. 


We dispersed participants in teams with the same designations as the previous weeks. The teams were as follows:


"Alpha" - Matt Pruitt, GP, SB, SB, GW (Southernmost)
"Bravo" - CP (NC-BFRO), JD, LD, EW, BC
"Charlie" - MB, RD, MK, JP, KH
"Delta" - Jason Vogan (NC-BFRO), MB, JB, JS, RI (Position at the "Approach Location" from GA EXP-1)
"Echo" - Joee Cuva (FL-BFRO), MH, CH, LH, CC, TA

Once the teams had reached their respective locations, various team members heard suggestive sounds in the environment around them. 

"Delta" team (in the original "Approach Location") had the most sustained and dramatic encounter of the two North Georgia Expeditions; an extended interaction involving rock-throwing, strategic stalking, and a Class A sighting through a night vision monocular. 


Watch the video below for Jason Vogan's account of what happened that night:



-- DAY / NIGHT TWO -- 


Day Two marked the arrival of additional BFRO members John Hall (GA-BFRO), and Mary Mallon (CO-BFRO).



Attempting to effectively cover each area that had yielded significant activity, teams were placed in both the "Approach Location", as well as the location where multiple vocalizations were heard and documented the previous week (further north in the river valley). 


The teams were as follows:


"Alpha" - MK, RI, RD, KH, Joee Cuva (traveling north in the river valley on foot from base camp)
"Bravo" - CP, JB, MB, JS, GW (walking a ridgeline above the river valley)
"Charlie" - Jason Vogan, SB, SB, EW, BC, GP (walking a different ridgeline above the river valley)
"Delta" - MB, Mary Mallon, LD, JD, TA (traveling south on foot in the river valley beyond the "Approach Location")
"Echo" - Matt Pruitt, John Hall, MH, CH, CC, LH


Very little was seen/heard on Night Two, and high winds forced the two teams on the ridgelines to head back to base camp early. 


-- DAY / NIGHT THREE --


A team was assembled to systematically occupy the "Approach Location" for the final night. I, and several others, moved in and around the location trying to elicit another approach to no avail. 


Meanwhile, there were several compelling incidents during Night Three that suggested to us that the sasquatches were approaching the base camp. This is consistent with suspected activity on other BFRO expeditions across the continent. 


Rather than try to paraphrase or recount those incidents, I will let the expedition participants who heard those suggestive sounds describe their experiences on the BFRO Public Forum thread dedicated to the expedition HERE.




Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011 North Georgia Expedition (GA EXP-1)

PREFACE: There were two (2) separate BFRO North Georgia Expeditions this year: Sept. 22-25, and Sept. 29 - Oct. 2. They were conducted in the same location, but will be referred to as GA EXP-1 and GA EXP-2, respectively.

LOCATION: The North Georgia Expeditions were conducted in a remote section of the Chattahoochee National Forest in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The base camp sat directly adjacent to a small tributary of a large river situated in a north-south running river valley, which extends for several miles and connects to many other small valleys. The location was easily one of the more remote and beautiful places in North Georgia.

In total, there were 22 GA EXP-1 participants. The participants came from OK, GA, TN, NC, VA, SC, FL, and OH.

I arrived Wednesday afternoon, as did Morris Collins (GA-BFRO), JE, JMc, JH, JH, GS, GH, SF, PV, RC, and LC.

After setting up camp, we made a plan to conduct a small night operation on the ridge to the northeast of camp. We didn't hear any responses during the preliminary operation.

-- DAY / NIGHT ONE --

On Thursday, Sept. 22, amongst several small rain storms, many of the new participants arrived. During a break in between the thundershowers, I lead a group north on a trail that paralleled the river. I was accompanied by JE, JMc, JH, GS, PV, RC, and LC. The area was dramatically beautiful, and the trail was conducive to sending one or more small teams to conduct night operations.

After our scouting exercise, LC used his mountain bike to explore another area. He had a wonderful find; a large meadow with an old, degraded road bed leading into a narrow section of the river valley south of camp. The road bed had been bermed years ago, and the old road bed had become an overgrown, narrow trail. He contacted me via radio to tell me about his find, and JE and I scouted the area with him.

After arriving back at camp, I conducted the first group meeting. I discussed LC's find, and began preparing for night operations. Unfortunately, more rain and thunderstorms were predicted to hit us sometime between 10PM and 1AM. JE and I made the drive up the ridge from base camp to the nearest cell signal every 30-45 minutes to keep an eye on the storms. We knew it would hit; but no one knew exactly when it would reach our section of the mountains.

The last thing that I wanted was to disperse people far away from base camp on foot only to have us all be caught in a heavy rain storm. I made the decision to stay in camp and wait out the storm. It certainly wasn't easy, as we were are very eager to head in to the woods. The rain hit us around 1AM, and it poured for almost five (5) hours.

-- DAY / NIGHT TWO --

Having lost a night to the storm, the expedition participants and I mobilized ourselves readily and energetically to scout the area that LC, JE, and I saw the previous day. A large group of us entered the area on foot and followed the degraded trail south until we hit a large, deep bowl in the terrain. We were very near the headwaters of the river that formed our valley. Now that most of us had seen the area during the day, we had a better understanding of how to move around in there at night.

During the second night's meeting we dispersed the participants into teams based on how far south into the river valley they would be placed. Since we would be strung along the same winding trail in a narrow section of the river valley, we used the NATO phonetic alphabet table to assign team names.

The teams were as follows:

"Alpha" - Matt Pruitt, MW, JE, RC, JMc (The Southernmost)
"Bravo" - LC, PV, DS, PC, BI
"Charlie" - KZ, JC, BC, KA, GH (The three females on the expedition were in this group.)
"Delta" - Morris Collins, CK, JH, JH, DH
"Echo" - GS, SF (The Northernmost)

After the teams arrived at their respective locations, we began coordinating sounds. The two northernmost teams ("Echo" and "Delta") could both hear sounds above them on the valley wall to the east. CK and DH briefly saw what appeared to be a large heat signature through CK's rented handheld thermal imager. The two southernmost teams ("Alpha" and "Bravo") could also hear faint, ambiguous movement along the eastern valley wall.

The most significant thing that occurred happened to "Charlie" team, who were situated on a section of the trail were a small feeder stream flowed out of the eastern valley wall, forming a small bowl in the wall itself. The feeder stream was lined with heavy rhododendron growth. From this point on, that spot will be referred to as the "Approach Location" in these expedition notes, as well as the GA EXP-2 notes.

Here is the narrative of "Charlie" team member KZ regarding the team's experience:

" 'Charlie' group arrived on scene with the following members - KZ, KA, JC, BC, and GH. Radios were insufficient, and the group quickly used three radios before selecting a unit that transmitted appropriately. During much of the event, 'Charlie' group communications were lacking and unable to be understood by nearby teams."

[Editor's Note - Matt Pruitt: This particular section of the river valley proved to be very problematic with regard to radio communications.]

KZ continues: "No noise reduction was practiced by the group, however red head lights were turned off soon after arrival, approximately 2300 hours. We were clearly in a most vulnerable position, having no clear escape route other than the way we came in.

After a short while, movement was detected on the slope above our location. The group heard very subtle shuffling, moist leaf noises, and very stealthy travel interspersed with an occasional small stick snap. The noise seemed to move back and forth, up slope, down slope, behind us and even appeared to cross the trail at one point. It became apparent to the participants that noises were coming simultaneously from different locations. This led the group to believe that big guys were circling the group, evaluating, yet maintaining ample distance. Matt Pruitt registered requests for female screams from 'Charlie' group, gladly provided and most sufficiently by KA. Repeated use of the thermal imager produced no heat signatures - it was the group consensus that this tool destroyed what night vision we had, might ruin the experience and revealed our locations, so its use was limited to the end of the mission. Three wood knocks were administered by JC, the girls sang some gentle lullabies, KA sang a song parody (much laughter by group) and I let out a whistle; none of these efforts initiated any noticeable response.

Most of the participants admitted to hearing movement in the forest; I mentioned to others the oddity of distinct/complex bird songs in the night, seemingly originating from the areas that produced the subtle movements and traveling sounds. At one point I mentioned that a larger object was heard clattering down thru the trees, finally to land on the wet creek bed behind me GH noted that she had simultaneously heard the same object contacting trees above and behind her head, potentially thrown from up slope and soon coming to rest behind the group. 'Charlie' group members continued to try to observe what other members were seeing/hearing, and thus a predictable cycle of standing/sitting ensued. KA reminded us to refrain from pointing/head turning or otherwise acknowledging specific sounds with conspicuous bigfoot recognition.

After several hours of witnessing this behavior, the cold temperature began to play a detrimental role in the event. One member noticeably shivered as a result of this exposure. At 0130, I asked the group if an anticipated end was in sight and did we want to decide on a departure time. The group felt that 0215 was a good time to leave the site. The group continued to experience these local effects, and at approximately 0215, began loading up the gear to leave. Taking the first steps out were JC and BC, followed by GH, KA and lastly me. Suddenly, the group experienced a proximate explosion of large, snapping branches no more than ten feet to the right, in front of and up slope from the lead hiker. This dramatic display startled the group and BC/JC staggered backwards as the egress noises quickly ceased, moving away in the night. It was clearly a very much larger than human animal, estimated at well over 300 pounds, moving very quickly and with great agility. The group proceeded out, a bit shaken, however quickly met up with 'Delta' group up trail and passed along their findings."


When I returned to camp with my team, I was quickly filled in on the approach that "Charlie" team had experienced. A decision was made to return the following day to search for sign.

-- DAY / NIGHT THREE --

I interviewed the members of "Charlie" group to gain a better understanding of what occurred. After much discussion, it was decided that only a few people should return to the "Approach Location", while other should try to elicit responses from a different section of the river valley.

KZ and other expedition members returned to the "Approach Location" to search for sign.

More from KZ:

"Saturday 9/24/11, BFRO participant investigation of the approach area revealed 18" foot-like impressions in the forest floor, seemingly proceeding uphill and away from the trail area. Distance separating these impressions was measured at approximately 48" and assumed to be moving up the steep slope. A significant, well used game trail was discovered up slope and parallel to the main trail, potentially giving animals the vantage point with which to travel silently and observe trail users."

I explored a different section of the river valley to north with JE, JH, and JMc. The four of us found a strategically viable trail system that gave us access to the ridge above the western wall of the river valley, as well as a few smaller coves and hollows. It seemed that three (3) teams could spread out in the area and make sounds which would carry into the river valley in hopes of eliciting and documenting responses.

We met up at base camp and discussed the viability of the northern section, as well as the need to revisit the "Approach Location". We divided the expedition into two sections, "North" and "South".

The "North" teams were as follows:

"Alpha" - Matt Pruitt, GH, MW, JE, JMc
"Bravo" - DS, KZ, BI, JH, JH
"Charlie" - GS, SF, RC

The "South" team (who distributed themselves in and around the "Approach Location" members were as follows:

CK, KA, LC, MC, DH, BC, and JC.

The "North" teams coordinated sounds via radios, and after each coordinated sound, we heard (and documented) powerful responses from the river valley. The responses weren't consistent with known large mammals, but were amazingly consistent with purported sasquatch vocalizations and recordings. It was truly an incredible experience, and all of the expedition participants who heard the responses were very impressed. I am still in the process of going thru the hours of sound files to isolate and enhance all of the vocal responses that "Alpha" team's audio controller (JE) documented.

The "South" teams reported no activity.

---

I'd like to thank all of the first-time participants for being so cooperative and friendly (not to mention brave) on this expedition. It is my privilege to spend time with you in the field.

I'd also like to thank my close friends JE, JMc, and MW for helping me so much during the expedition. JE had high-quality audio recordings running every night, and took over 1000 photos during the expedition.

Finally, I'd like to acknowledge one of my favorite field partners, and one of my favorite friends Morris Collins for scouting the area, and for representing the Georgia Chapter of the BFRO on the expedition. I am truly grateful.



-- 


To discuss the 2011 Georgia Expedition (GA EXP-1), please visit this thread on the BFRO's Public Forum.

2011 Oklahoma Expedition

The 2011 Oklahoma Expedition was held in the Southeastern Part of the state in the Ouachita National Forest; an area with a rich history of sasquatch activity.

In total, there were 21 expedition participants. The participants came from OK, TX, AZ, CO, MO, and LA.

The expedition took place in a large valley containing several lakes of various sizes, and many large creeks (most of which yielded little water or were completely dry). Our base camp was located on the northern side of the valley, and was near one of the more sizable lakes. This proved to be quite a location, as the lakes provided some of the only water for local wildlife during this severe drought. During my first scouting trip with expedition participants JD and JT, we saw numerous turkey, deer, and one bobcat in the immediate vicinity of the lake.

I arrived on Wednesday, Sept 7th with LC, Gary Christensen (Texas BFRO Investigator), MG, TB, MC, CG, RD, and KB.

The first night we explored a location on the southern side of the valley where multiple witnesses had reported hearing characteristic sounds and camp stalking. This side of the valley was markedly drier than the north side. Gary Christensen and CG set up a small satellite camp in this area during daylight. Both men were equipped with thermal imagers, and were prepared to document any visitors that ventured near their camp. After dark, the remaining expedition participants and I parked our vehicles over a mile away from the satellite camp and headed to Gary Christensen and CG on foot. We spread out in small groups and made provocational sounds back and forth; coordinating via two-way radios.

Each group had an audio recorder running, but no responses were heard or documented.

Gary Christensen and CG reported no suspected visitors during the night.

--- DAY / NIGHT ONE --

On Thursday, Sept. 8th, the remaining participants began arriving one by one. I started coordinating scout teams and vehicles to drive the surrounding area east of the lake to look for strategic terrain and wildlife sign. Gary Christensen and CG coordinated scouting efforts to the west of the lake.

I scouted a particular area with LC, JT, and RD. We initially discovered a series of two large meadows which were bifurcated by what appeared to be concrete debris; perhaps the remains of a foundation. I have had success in and around meadows like these in other parts of the country, so I knew we could place a team there. Venturing further up the small dirt road, I immediately recognized several terrain features that sasquatches are drawn to and would likely frequent. There were two small spots that we could place team members: one was a small makeshift camp (nicknamed "Loop Camp") tucked in the forest just off the dirt road, and the other (and furthest in) was a small open spot with a ridge to one side and a dry creek bed to the other (nicknamed "Deep Spot"). This was to be referred to as the "East" zone.

The "West" zone consisted of two primary locations: an east-west running road to the north of the lake, and a north-south running powerline cut to the west of the lake.

After the scouting exercise, we returned to base camp for the first group meeting. After a round of introductions, I spoke to the group about why I had selected that particular valley, and what we'd be doing for the first night.

We divided the participants into two main groups: "East" and 'West".

The "East Group" had three locations to occupy. We distributed team members as follows:

"Deep Spot" - Matt Pruitt, LC, MC, BS, MS
"Loop Camp" - MG, TB, MC, RD
"Meadow" - JT, GN, VT

The "West Group" had three locations to occupy. Teams were as follows:

"Powerline" - BE, ME, Sandra MacLemore (Arizona BFRO)
'North Road" - RS, MS, KB
"Six" - JD, JD

Gary Christensen and CG stayed at base camp to survey the area with thermal imagers, relay radio transmissions, and monitor the central area for responses.

We dispersed ourselves quickly and quietly to our respective locations.

As my group arrived at our "Deep Spot" destination, I told the team to be very quiet and listen for subtle sounds. I typically begin my night operations by making very quiet sounds to see if there are any sasquatches in the immediate environment before we begin making loud sounds across the valley. I had instructed the other teams to do the same.

I selected the spot based on the immediate terrain features, and had predicted that if there were sasquatches in the valley, they might be in this spot based on two specific features (which I won't describe here).

As the five of us stood on the dirt road, I began mimicking sasquatch whistles. Within minutes, all five of us began hearing movement from the ridge behind us and the forest in front of us. The movements were methodical and deliberate. Each time, the two "somethings" would move in tandem, and then stop and wait. I'd whistle to them again, and they'd move closer in the same manner.

At one point, the individual in front of us began walking very loudly and directly toward our position. All five of us agreed that it sounded bipedal, and enormous. It was breaking a lot of limbs as it moved, and was certainly not trying to be quiet. When it would stop, I would whistle, and it would continue directly toward us. As it got within ~60 feet of us, I started to wonder if it were going to stop, or if it was going to confront us directly.

All the while, the movement of the second individual behind us continued. It wasn't nearly as loud as the movement in front of us; it was much more subtle and slow.

When the individual in front of us got within ~30 feet of us, it stopped. It is my opinion (based on our findings the following day) that where it stopped would have been the first place where it could have made visual contact with us. It also stopped responding to my whistles. I told the group that if this was indeed a sasquatch, it obviously knew that we were humans, and there was no need to be subversive with it. We had it's attention (and presumably the attention of it's cohort on the ridge), and we should try to hold it's attention. The thing wouldn't move at all when we would look in it's direction, or whistle/whoop to it. We decided to talk and laugh quietly with each other, as if we had forgotten it was there. Each time we did this, we could distinctly hear it moving and relocating.

One of the more dramatic moments of the approach occurred when a truck roared down the main two-lane road in the valley (nearly a mile as the crow flies). As the sounds of the truck echoed through the valley, the individual in front of us made several huge, heavy steps. It was obviously using the road noise to conceal it's movements. The steps were very loud, thudding steps. All five of us were very impressed by that point; whatever approached us was very large, and very heavy.

After spending several minutes trying to elicit responses to no avail, we decided to walk further up road in hopes that the stalking creatures would follow us. Just a few yards up the road, MS (the adolescent son of BS) stated that he was starting to get cold. We stopped in the road, and LC took off her pack to retrieve a thick shirt to put on MS. She stood up quickly to hand the shirt to MS, and a loud knock came from the ridge directly behind us. LC described it as sounding like "Babe Ruth hitting a home run".

At this point, all five of us were convinced that we were interacting with two sasquatches.

We continued trying to elicit more movement or responses, but didn't have any further success. We decided to slowly walk back to the meadow in hopes that the sasquatches would follow us.

The five of us were very excited, and I was hopeful that we could interact with the sasquatches in this section of the valley again.

-- DAY / NIGHT TWO --

The "Deep Spot" team members and I went back to the spot (which will be referred to as "Approach Location" from now on) to look for sign. We were able to competently ascertain the path that the approaching sasquatch took. It had apparently used the dry creek bed to approach us. There were subtle signs of movement, as well as an older tree-twist which was very interesting. My friends in the research community will tell you that I don't put much stock into "stick-structures" or "forest manipulation", but this twist was very compelling. It was not created by snow or ice load.

Gary Christensen and CG lead a group from base camp into the "East Zone" on foot following a separate dry creek bed. They located a large pond surrounded with fresh wildlife sign.

My group eventually met up with them in a small meadow just to the northwest of the "Approach Location". The meadow was adjacent to a series of horse trails which provided excellent paths for us to move along quietly at night. We had seen several intriguing spots within the zone where we could place teams.

The previous night's events, coupled with the compelling sign we found during the day suggested that we use all of the available expedition participants to conduct operations in this "East Zone".

The teams for Night Two were as follows:

"Meadow/Horse Trail" - Matt Pruitt, JT, RD, KB, ME
"Pond" - Gary Christensen, CG, GN, BE
"Female Team" - Sandra MacLemore, RS, MS, VT
"Mobile Team" - JD, JD
"Creek Crossing" - BS, MS, MG, TB, MC

The teams heard and recorded several interesting (but distant) responses. The responses were of an ambiguous nature. No participants were approached, and no definitive sounds were heard or documented.

-- DAY / NIGHT THREE --

Fearing that the first night's encounter had encouraged the resident sasquatches to move to a different section of the valley, I decided to scout to the west of our initial location for any potentially viable locations.

JT, BS, MS, MC and I found a beautiful remote lake in a different section of the valley. The lake was large and creek-fed, surrounded with smaller ponds. We saw an abundance of wildlife sign there. Moreover, there was an intersection of horse trails nearby that allowed us to access the surrounding forest.

The expedition participants focused our efforts there for the final night. Upon arriving and dispersing, we heard a few ambiguous (and suggestive) sounds. As was the case on the previous night, we weren't able to elicit any approaches or responses. Constant scanning with multiple thermal imagers showed no signs of large mammals either.

---

There were a great many lessons learned on the expedition, and I'll be adding to these notes in the future. There are several interesting sound files that participants captured, and we're all still in the process of reviewing them and preparing them for release online.

The weather was wonderful, and the location was truly gorgeous. This was the fifth BFRO expedition that I have organized, and I was very impressed by all of the first-time participants. I certainly feel like I have a new batch of friends and field partners.

I'd also like to express my tremendous gratitude to Gary Christensen and Sandra MacLemore for traveling from out of state to help during the expedition. You are both incredible researchers, and the BFRO is lucky to have you both involved.



--


To discuss the 2011 Oklahoma Expedition, please visit this thread on the BFRO's Public Forum.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

My BFRO Investigations

I have been an investigator for the BFRO since May of 2007. This responsibility entails thoroughly investigating certain reports that the BFRO receives related to sasquatch observations and encounters.

The majority of reports that I have investigated have come to me through channels other than the BFRO. Most of those reports haven't been published online or in any print media. However, there are a number of reports that I have investigated for the BFRO which are publicly available on the BFRO's website (http://www.bfro.net)

There are also many reports that I have investigated for the BFRO which remain unpublished, for various reasons, which are as follows:

- The submitter of the report specifically requested that the report not be made public.
- The principal observer of the report was unreachable, but the other principle witness(es) who submitted the report have corroborated the story. (The BFRO only publishes first-hand accounts; second-hand reports are classified as "Class C" reports, and are left unpublished but remain in the internal database for future reference.)
- The report contained elements that left the incident open for misinterpretation or misidentification.
- The report was an obvious or admitted joke.

---

Many people ask about reports that I have investigated and published, so I compiled a list for reference here:

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=19421 - Nighttime sighting by truck driver near Red Top Mountain

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=7356 - Two servicemen from Hunter Army Airfield describe tent stalking incident on uninhabited Little Tybee Island

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=28982 - Wildlife enthusiast records moaning howls near Bainbridge

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=8454 - Multiple witness sighting on Hwy. 16 near the Emanuel/Candler county line

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=7575 - Military man and wife experience loud howling and shaking of mobile home near the Ohoopee River 

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=6097 - Man describes childhood sighting at rural property on the outskirts of Atlanta

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=8405 - Early evening road crossing sighting by motorist on Jekyll Island

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=17957 - Mother and son experience multiple incidents in the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=27197 - Adolescent child has early morning sighting near Chatsworth

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=23911 - Nighttime sighting by motorists north of Canton

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=25574 - Witness spots sasquatch approaching camp near Warwoman Dell

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=23701 - Vocalization heard at close range on Appalachian Trail (Gooch Mountain Shelter)

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=25693 - Husband and wife hear characteristic vocalizations in the Sautee-Nacoochee Valley

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=22852 - Hiker hears possible vocalizations on Appalachian Trail outside Helen

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=7237 - Evening sighting by motorist on Hwy 75 near Duke's Creek

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=28637 - Two fisherman recall a daylight encounter north of Helen

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=23978 - Possible encounters near the Upper Chattahoochee River Recreation Area

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=19100 - Hikers hear characteristic vocalizations on Fiery Gizzard Trail

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=6267 - Two young men are confronted in broad daylight by a large creature near Falcon

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=4236 - Man recalls a possible encounter as a teen at Fort Gordon

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?ID=29326 - Memory told of a nighttime encounter at close range near Blairsville

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?ID=30063 - Man recalls nighttime encounter near DeQueen

http://www.bfro.net/gdb/show_report.asp?id=36006 - Man recalls multiple experiences (including a daylight sighting) as a youth near Gainesville

-- I also serve as one of several proofreaders for the BFRO, as all investigator comments, date, time, coordinates, etc. are proofread before reports are published. Occasionally, I will add my own notes to the report. Here are the reports which include my "Editor's Notes":

http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=18680
http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?ID=25704
http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=25531


I will be adding to this list as I publish new reports.

Enjoy.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

A Busy September...

Sorry for the delay in publishing new posts, folks. I've had a very busy month.

Here's the breakdown....

I organized and led 3 public BFRO Expeditions in two states (Oklahoma and Georgia).

I spent a total of 15 days and 12 nights conducting field operations and coordinating efforts to document whatever we could.

There were a total of 75 expedition participants. Attendees came from OK, GA, MO, TX, AZ, LA, CO, TN, NC, VA, SC, FL, OH, AL, MS, and WI.

There were multiple Class B encounters during all three expeditions, and one extended Class A encounter during the second North Georgia Expedition.

I will be posting full expedition reports (complete with pictures, videos, and sound files) in the following weeks.

Thanks for staying tuned, and thanks to those who helped make these expeditions some of the best.

Matt

Friday, August 12, 2011

Have Sasquatches Already Been Discovered?

I spend a lot of time speaking with people about my involvement with sasquatch research. Nearly every day I respond to emails, phone calls, potential expedition participants, witnesses, enthusiasts, skeptics, etc. As you can guess (and as many bigfooters can relate to) I answer a lot of the same questions each time.

By far, the most commonly asked question is: "Why haven't sasquatches been discovered yet?"

---

dis·cov·er

–verb (used with object)
1. to see, get knowledge of, learn of, find, or find out; gain sight or knowledge of (something previously unseen or unknown)
2. to notice or realize
3. Archaic . to make known; reveal; disclose.
---
Sasquatches, by the above definitions, have been "discovered".

- Indigenous North American People Describe Sasquatches - 
  
One of the primary focuses of many individuals and organizations since the dawn of "bigfoot research" has been the wealth of knowledge that indigenous North American people (Native Americans, First Nations people) have about sasquatches. There are numerous examples of native knowledge and awareness of these animals. 
  • Many tribes have unique names for them.
  • Tribes from across the continent have detailed, consistent descriptions of the physical morphology, behavior, and ecology of these large primates.
  • Sasquatches are depicted quite consistently in the art of indigenous peoples.
  • Native people named certain places after these animals, presumably because they encountered them in these specific places. Many of these places yield consistent observations of sasquatches in modern times. 
  • Some tribes have deep cultural connections to sasquatches in their belief systems and creation myths.
- Early Settlers (Pre-1900) Describe Sasquatches -    
  • Since the establishment of European settlements in the East (and later through Westward Expansion), early European settlers have described observing and encountering sasquatches. 
  • These early settlers had regional names for these animals, and named specific places or terrain features after them. Often times, these were the same places that indigenous peoples had previously assigned sasquatch-related names to. Sightings of sasquatches in these places persist to modern day.
  • Early settlers' descriptions of sasquatches are incredibly detailed and consistent across the continent. They describe the physical appearance and behaviors of sasquatches. These descriptions are consistent with many of the Native descriptions, as well as the modern descriptions.
- Observations and Encounters Continue into Modern Times -
  •  As print media became more prevalent, more accounts of observations are circulated throughout the continent. 
  • In the Pacific Northwest, the anglicized word "sasquatch" became a blanket term used to describe the creatures. More observations and encounters are reported.
  • By the 1950's, interested individuals began gathering and compiling information related to sasquatches.
  • In 1958, the word "bigfoot" was coined. The American media obsession with bigfoot was born.
- The Current State of the Bigfoot/Sasquatch Related Data and Evidence -
  •  Thousands of purported sasquatch tracks have been reported. Hundreds of those have been photographed and/or cast. Many of these tracks have unique and consistent morphology, and have convinced a growing number of scientists the sasquatch is an extant species.
  • Dozens of hair samples have been collected and analyzed by modern scientists. Many of the samples have a consistent and unique morphology, and have convinced a growing number of scientists that the sasquatch is an extant species.
  • Dozens of photographs and clips of footage have been obtained documenting sasquatches. Several of these pieces of data have been meticulously studied, and have convinced a growing number of scientists that the sasquatch is an extant species. (Anyone seeing the pattern here?)
  • The number of reports of observations, track finds, and encounters is in the thousands, and continues to grow. Hundreds of people report observing and encountering sasquatches and their sign across North America every year.
  • Over a hundred books about the sasquatch phenomenon have been written and published. 
  • Dozens of documentaries about the phenomenon have been produced and circulated worldwide.
  • Television series about the sasquatch phenomenon have been produced and aired worldwide.
  • Sasquatches appear ubiquitously in different types of media advertising. 
  • Many small towns across North America base a portion of their local economy around the area's sasquatch activity, exploiting the interest of travelers and tourists.
  • Regardless of whether they believe the species exists, the majority of Americans know what a "bigfoot" or "sasquatch" is.
Sasquatches are a species of mammal that has been described and encountered by people living on this continent, from as far back in time as we can look, right up to modern day. They have been seen, heard, smelled, tracked, pursued, filmed, and photographed. In essence, they have been discovered.

While mainstream science has yet to recognize the sasquatch as an extant species, many amateur scientists, researchers, and enthusiasts continue to stand at the vanguard of science working to collect data and evidence, and experiencing varying degrees of their own personal "discovery".

In my opinion (and in the opinion of many others), discovery has already happened.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Sasquatches in Central Oklahoma?

The Cimarron River, seen from an airplane.
At first glance, the open expanses and arid prairies of Central Oklahoma don't seem like viable sasquatch habitat. Having spent the bulk of my time conducting field research between the Southern Appalachians and the Pacific Northwest, Central Oklahoma provided a stark contrast to the wet, lush, forested mountains that I was used to exploring.

Over the last several years of traveling around the country interviewing witnesses, investigating sasquatch-related incidents, and conducting field research, I've learned a very valuable lesson:

Never make uninformed assumptions about where sasquatches might or might not occur. 

---

I'm usually involved in multiple sasquatch-related projects at any given time. I organize public expeditions for the BFRO, and I also investigate, proofread, and publish reports for the website. I worked on the first season of Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot", and will be working on the second season as well. I'm working on developing a few different innovative strategies for obtaining images and video of sasquatches utilizing Reconyx cameras and thermal imagers. Moreover, I've been accumulating material for this blog (which I've sorely neglected for the last few weeks). I digress...

One of the many projects that I try to work on the most often is a maintained field effort in my immediate area. I sincerely believe that one of the most important things that any researcher should do is spend as much time in the field as they possibly can. One of the best ways to keep yourself in the field is by maintaining a study area as near you as possible. If your primary study sites are hours away, you're going to have a difficult time maintaining any kind of active research in those locations. Time that could be spent in the field is spent driving to and from these places, and money that could fuel more field research ends up fueling the commute.

Central Oklahoma Study Area
Once I had established myself here in Central Oklahoma, the first thing that I did was to create a data set of sasquatch-related information for my immediate area (a 50-mile radius from my residence). I scoured databases like the BFRO's (both our public reports, and ones that remain unpublished in our internal system), John Green's Sasquatch Database, The Bigfoot Casebook, Ray Crowe's "The Track Record", the TBRC database, Bobbie Short's Bigfoot Encounters website, news/media archives, etc. I plotted all of the sighting/track find/encounter locations (over 50) in a Google Earth file. I created an Excel sheet with the names and numbers of the various witnesses, investigators, researchers, etc. connected to these reports.

After creating my initial data set, I was frankly astounded at the amount of activity that occurs so close to (and in any direction from) Oklahoma City. Central Oklahoma was proving to be a viable area indeed.

The area boasts multiple close-range sightings (many of which are daylight observations), track finds, repeated visits to homesteads, and compelling encounter testimonies. 

There are many interesting consistencies; seasonal patterns, behavioral patterns, etc. There are also interesting connections to certain human food resources.

I'll be expanding on these consistencies in future posts and videos, as I attempt to document confirmation of these emerging patterns.

The next two layers of data that I'll be incorporating into my study consist of factoring the population densities of other local fauna (specifically deer and feral hogs), and their relationship to the waterways in the region.

-Waterways-


Oklahoma Rivers and Lakes

There are four major rivers (Canadian, North Canadian, Deep Fork, and Cimarron) which flow through Central Oklahoma, all which have yielded sightings and encounters.


Understanding these major waterways (as well as their tributaries and streams) is extremely important when trying to document the presence of local sasquatches. The USGS WaterWatch site is a useful tool for tracking the streamflow of the rivers and streams in a given area.   

-The Protein Factor-

Oklahoma hosts a deer population totaling over 500,000 individuals. It also has a large population of feral hogs in the area. These animals both occur in Central Oklahoma, and undoubtedly serve as important protein sources for the resident sasquatches. 

---

Now that I have a data set to start with, I'll be systematically narrowing down areas to focus on based on many of the aforementioned factors. I also hope to bring in a few other people from the area to assist in this effort in the following months.

All in all, I am incredibly excited about the prospect of studying a new and different habitat. There will certainly be inherent challenges and unique advantages that this region presents, but I am certain that thoroughly investigating this area will be rewarding and productive.

I'll be posting updates as time allows.

- Additional Information - 

One of the most fascinating and well-documented cases of sasquatch activity in Central Oklahoma occurred in the early 2000's outside the towns of Concho and El Reno, west of Oklahoma City. Multiple witnesses saw and encountered the resident sasquatches, tracks were found and cast, a handprint was collected from the roof of a vehicle, hair was collected and studied, daylight photos of a possible sasquatch were obtained, and a stunning bit of surveillance footage was captured. For the best presentation of information related to those incidents, please listen to the "Sasquatch on the Oklahoma Prairie" episode of Brian Brown's excellent Bigfoot Information Project Podcast series.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Examiner.com Interview

I was recently interviewed by Anna Marie Jehorek, a contributing writer for Examiner.com about my personal research into the sasquatch phenomenon in North Georgia, as well as my involvement with the BFRO and Animal Planet's "Finding Bigfoot" series.

I had a 48-minute long conversation with Anna about various aspects of the subject, and about my own experiences and background. Anyone who knows me well knows that I have quite a bit to say regarding those matters.

I think the article turned out very well. There are a few minor details that I would like to address here for my readership, but I will also include a link to the original article.

Is Bigfoot living in North Georgia? by Anna Marie Jehorek

In 1999 Matt Pruitt was in the woods with friends outside of Helen, Georgia when they encountered a large, ape-like creature. [Editor's Note (Matt Pruitt): There were actually two sasquatches on either side of our group of five hiking up that mountain in the dark.] The creature was covered in hair, howling and throwing rocks. [MP: None of us made visual contact with the sasquatches.] Having grown up in the area, Pruitt knew this was no bear.  He and his friends managed to record the intimidating figure on video but it was dark and difficult to see. [MP: The video captured the majority of the sounds we heard around us, as well as our reactions, but not the sasquatches themselves. At one point, large and reflective eyes are seen very close to us, accompanied by the pushing over of a large snag. One day, that entire video will be uploaded online for interested viewers to see.] However, it is a night that changed Matt’s life and ultimately led him to start the Georgia chapter of the Bigfoot Field Research Organization.  (BFRO) [MP: I didn't start the Georgia chapter of the BFRO; there were a few volunteers in the state before I became fully involved. I was the first investigator to organize public expeditions there, and have been organizing public expeditions there for four years. The previous Georgia expedition was lead by BFRO Director Matt Moneymaker.] 

After his experience in the woods Matt was left with questions.  Could Bigfoot live in North Georgia?  Raised in a family of medical professionals and scientists he set out to find a logical, scientific explanation for the unusual encounter, even hoping to quell or disprove what he had seen. Matt’s research led him to literature and folklore of Southern Appalachia and of the Cherokee natives detailing discoveries of large tracks and sightings of hair-covered monsters by local inhabitants throughout the centuries.  Cherokee names of locations translated into English such as Devils Courthouse, NC, meaning the devil holds court in the cave, also indicated evidence the beasts had been in the area for generations.  Today Pruitt dedicates his time to research and education about these elusive creatures.

The name ‘Bigfoot’ was coined in 1958 when tracks were found in Bluff Creek, California by a bulldozer operator named Jerry Crew. Later in 1967 a famous sighting was captured on film by Roger Patterson and Robert Gimlin and widely reported in the media. But Sasquatch, a Salishan name from southwest British Columbia, was known long before that footage was captured and not just in the Pacific Northwest. Tsul ‘Kalu, the Cherokee name, has been part of local legend in the southeast for centuries. According to Pruitt’s research there are at least 37 recorded sightings prior to 1900 in Northeast Georgia and sightings continue today.

Many Sasquatch encounters that have been recorded occurred in the Chattahoochee National Forest.  The Chattahoochee National Forest in northern Georgia is a rich forest area filled with white tail deer.  According to Pruitt, the abundance of prey and thick woods makes the Chattahoochee National Forest the ideal habitat for these giant omnivorous bipeds.

So what exactly is a Bigfoot? The most accepted theory is that Sasquatch is possibly a surviving Gigantopithecus, an off-shoot of Asian apes and the largest species ever to live along side humans.  They are also considered by researchers to be the rarest mammal on the continent.  Bigfoots are nomadic like orangutans and because they move and live in small groups they leave no impact on the landscape. They are so rare, he speculates there may only be 6 to 9 living in the Chattahoochee National Forest, sightings and encounters are extremely uncommon. [MP: No one can reliably estimate the population density of sasquatches in a given region, but I speculated that there could be as few as six to nine of them in the entire Chattahoochee National Forest. However, I do suspect that there are more of them than that.]

When asked how he answers skeptics Pruitt simply says that most skeptics come from urbanized areas and don’t really understand nature so he spends his time educating. [MP: I said that many skeptics have an "urbanized perspective" of the natural world. The majority of critics and cynics that I have discussed this with have often had the notion that the North American wilderness was something like Central Park; manicured and tamed. Most sensible biologists, naturalists, and ecologists that I have spoken with are reasonably open to the possibility.] Education is the main purpose of the BFRO which was founded in 1995.  

Pruitt recently played an integral part in helping produce an episode of ‘Finding Bigfoot’ for the Animal Planet channel.  The program details Sasquatch activity and sightings in Helen, Georgia including dashboard footage taken from a law enforcement vehicle showing a large hair-covered being crossing a road at night.

There is renewed interest in looking for Bigfoot as a result of the program on Animal Planet, and the Georgia chapter of the BFRO is thriving.  Pruitt will conduct a public expedition in North Georgia this September 22-25th.  More information can be found on the BFRO website. As Pruitt puts it, his work with the BFRO goes ‘beyond verifying the existence of Bigfoot; it is to educate.’

Additional resources: Matt Pruitt assisted Jeffrey Wells in writing The History of Bigfoot in Georgia, Pine Winds PR 2010 [MP: I spent many hours on the phone with Jeff while he was gathering data and materials for his book "Bigfoot in Georgia", but I didn't assist him in writing the book. The credit goes completely to Jeff. You can read more about his book in an earlier post of mine here.]

I enjoyed Anna's article, and I hope it makes more interested people aware of the history of observations of sasquatches in North Georgia, as well as the modern research being conducted there.

You can read the original article here: Is Bigfoot living in North Georgia?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Dawn Of Shades" Radio Appearance

For those of you who are interested, I just wrapped up an interview appearance with host Gia Scott for her online radio program "Dawn Of Shades".

I will be uploading the various interviews that I have participated in to my Sound Cloud account as time permits, but for the time being, you can stream this most recent interview (July 12, 2011) by clicking the link below.

Enjoy!

Listen to Matt Pruitt on "Dawn Of Shades" July 12, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Common Misconceptions: The End of the Mystery?

When you're an advocate for the existence of the sasquatch as a real species, and you're an active field researcher who openly discusses the subject with the public, you answer a lot of the same questions and hear the same comments over and over again; seemingly ad infinitum. There are a few comments that I hear nearly every time that I discuss the subject with interested (but uninformed) people that I would like to address in a series of articles called "Common Misconceptions".

This common misconception is related to the aftermath of the official recognition of sasquatches, and the usefulness and relevance of amateur field researchers.  

Common Misconception: "Once bigfoots are proven to exist, the mystery will be over. Amateur field researchers like you will become obsolete."

Here lies the mystery?

I predict that this statement is absolutely false. The mystery of whether or not they exist dramatically pales in comparison to the mysteries of how they exist: the ways that they interact with their environment, their population, their distribution, their strategies for survival, their ability to avoid detection, etc.

Our goal is not only to validate the existence of sasquatches, but to thoroughly understand their ecology. The BFRO is the only nationwide organization of amateur field researchers that have been collecting and investigating observation reports across the continent for years, and has the largest database related to sasquatch observations and encounters (other than the work of certain individual researchers, like John Green). No law enforcement branch, nor media outlet, nor academic institution has come close to collecting this amount of data pertaining to these animals.

This collective of researchers already has a strong understanding of at least some aspects of their ecology, distribution, and history. The BFRO is constantly honing its methodologies of locating and documenting resident sasquatches in various parts of the country. Once we can demonstrate a perfected version of this methodology, interested institutions will certainly come to the BFRO (and other independent researchers) for information and answers about these animals, once it's obvious that they inhabit portions of the continent.

Sighting Density Map via History Channel

Understanding their distribution across the continent will take a very long time, as there will be no single event or piece of evidence that proves to the world that sasquatches occupy a good deal of the continent. Rather, it will be a wealth of evidence and footages from across the continent that eventually tip the scales for the aforementioned institutions. Sasquatch data and evidence always come in small pieces, and usually infrequently, due to the nature of these animals. 

Our widespread efforts across the continent have helped the data come in at a faster rate, but that rate will remain constant even after major institutions become involved. Even as we understand sasquatches and their ecology to a greater degree, they won't be any easier to predict, locate, pursue, or document. The BFRO will always have an important role in the study of these animals. That role will be emphasized to a greater degree once the animals are recognized, due to the public's inevitable overwhelming interest in them.

It will take many decades of study and generations of researchers to fully understand these animals. Sasquatches will remain one of nature's greatest mysteries, even after they are officially recognized.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Professor Jeff Wells and "Bigfoot In Georgia"

In late December of 2007 I received an email from Jeff Wells, a professor of History at the Georgia Military College's Atlanta Campus. He stated that he was working on the manuscript of a book about the history of bigfoot sightings and research in the state of Georgia.

Professor Jeff Wells

By that point, I had done a few years worth of gathering historical data related to the observations of sasquatches in Georgia, and had been doing field research with the BFRO for nearly a year. I felt that I had some unique insights into the local history of Northeast Georgia, and that I had personal experiences to offer as well. Professor Wells had heard an internet radio interview that I participated in with Robert W. Morgan where I spoke a little bit about a few of those experiences.

The bulk of our communication about sasquatches in Georgia didn't commence until the early summer of 2008. I had moved from Atlanta to Seattle, and was just settling in when we began to discuss at length the history of observations, encounters, research, evidence, etc. During that time, we must have logged upwards of 20 hours on the phone. As you can guess, there was much to discuss!

I finally met Jeff in person in September of 2009. We had dinner just north of Atlanta, and talked 'squatch for quite a while! I was allowed to see a portion of the chapter related to the Elkins Creek cast, and was excited about the pending publication.



"Bigfoot in Georgia" was eventually published by Pine Winds Press on January 1, 2010. I received a signed copy from Jeff, and eagerly read the book. I was grateful that he cited many of our conversations and mentioned me quite a bit throughout the text. It was vindicating to finally see a published work about sasquatches in my home state.

To purchase Jeff Wells' "Bigfoot in Georgia" from Amazon.com, please click HERE.

You can also follow Jeff by reading his blog, "Georgia Mysteries"

My deepest thanks to Jeff for writing and publishing this book. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in the subject to read it, especially if you're from Georgia, or have spent any time in the woods there. To return the favor, I'm hoping to coerce Professor Wells into spending a few nights in the Southern Appalachians of Northeast Georgia with myself and a few other researchers... Whadda ya say, Jeff?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Observation Vs. Interpretation

It is a fact that thousands of people have claimed to see/hear large, upright, hair-covered, manlike animals across North America and in parts of Asia. These observations have lead the witnesses (as well as the researchers, academics, skeptics, and journalists involved) to have many different interpretations about what was seen or heard.

This article is about separating the observations from the interpretations. I'll be examining a few different aspects of the sasquatch phenomenon, and discussing how different interpretations of the phenomena can become far-removed from the actual observations. I strongly feel that this occurs within the realm of research all too often.

- Observing Unexplained Phenomena - 

Paranormal phenomena is defined as phenomena that occurs outside of the normal range of human experience, or involves something that has yet to be fully examined and explained by mainstream science. Although many researchers feel that sasquatches have, in essence, already been discovered; they still fall into the category of paranormal or unexplained phenomena.

Like other paranormal phenomena, sasquatches are frustratingly difficult to document. As a result of this difficulty, rampant speculation about their true nature, origins, etc. abound.

Most observers get a fleeting glimpse of one; few are lucky enough to see/interact with one for any length of time. Moreover, most pieces of visual and audio evidence are quite brief; so brief that we are only able to gather a limited amount of data from them.

Nevertheless, these observations and bits of evidence occur frequently enough to fuel the speculative minds of researchers and enthusiasts alike.

Observing rare and unexplained phenomena creates a conundrum for many people, as we typically want a sufficient explanation for all things. There is a deeply ingrained desire to "fill in the blanks" of one's experience. There also seems to be a limitless number of "experts" who are willing to fill in those blanks for other people, too. As sasquatch researchers, we're often guilty of that. I know that I have been. It's simply in our nature to want to understand these mysteries thoroughly. 

- Interpretation - 

The interpretation of paranormal phenomena is a subjective practice. It is completely influenced by the interpreter's background, culture, religious or spiritual beliefs, personal experiences, desires, exposure, environment, geography, etc. It can have either a lot or very little to do with what was actually observed. 

Here's an example (albeit a broad generalization) of an observation/interpretation scenario:

Observation: Unusual lights are seen in the night sky. The lights move irregularly and then disappear from view.



Let's say that there are many different witnesses to this event. What will their interpretations be? How will they differ? One person might claim that they saw an extraterrestrial craft being operated by beings of a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe. Another might claim that it's a foreign military craft collecting intelligence and scouting for an imminent attack. Some might speculate that it's top secret US military technology being tested in the dead of night. Some might say it's being generated by a deity. Others might dismiss it as atmospheric light phenomena. The list goes on and on...

Truthfully, the only thing that was observed were lights in the sky. The interpretations are all the result of factors other than the observation itself. They can't all be correct in their interpretations, can they?

Now, on to the sasquatch...

Observation: A large, upright, manlike animal is seen in a remote river valley. It moves quickly into the nearest treeline and disappears from view.



Those who are reading this blog have probably heard that one before... but how does this get interpreted? Here are a few that I've heard (some more than once) over the years:

"It's a surviving gigantopithecine; a member of the Asian wood ape lineage."

"It's a racial memory; a vestigial genetic imprint of the encounters that humans had with large apes in our past."

"It's a hallucination/manifestation of the wild-man archetype; brought about by a deeply ingrained need for humans to reconnect with the natural world." 

"It's an alien/human hybrid created eons ago by visitors from outer space." 

"It's an individual from tribe of Neanderthals who evolved to achieve a tremendous size, and who've lost the need for tool use or fire."

"It's a dude in a gorilla suit."

"It's a bear on two legs."
 
"It's a projection from a machine that's buried under the surface of Mars, built by Martians. That's why no one can kill or capture one. Occasionally, the machine gets turned off, and that's why people see them disappear or tracks end abruptly." 

(That last one is my favorite. I heard that explanation during an episode of Coast To Coast AM.) 

Again, these speculations are being influenced by the variables that affect the interpreter. It is paramount that we (as researchers) separate these from the observation.

Please understand that I am not suggesting that we dismiss, ignore, or throw out the interpretation. In fact, the interpretation can offer invaluable insights into a witness, investigator, researcher, journalist, etc. I am merely saying that these things should be calculated and weighed separately from the observation.

Here's a more specific example. I recently interviewed one of the most compelling witnesses that I have had the opportunity to speak with. This witness had a fascinating story; a series of events at rural farm and homestead in central Georgia. He had one very good visual observation of a large male sasquatch at close range. He said it had large dark eyes that were wide open. When I asked him to elaborate, he said this: "Its eyes were filled with pure hate."

That wasn't the answer that I was expecting, but it certainly helped me to understand how it felt to this witness (as a young man) to have been face to face with a sasquatch. The emotion that he described is of course an interpretation of his observation, based on how he felt more than how the sasquatch may have felt. Could that look have been fear? Apathy? Disdain? Fascination? Confusion? Who knows... but it certainly gave me an important insight into the witness, and allowed me to make an emotional connection with him and his experience.

- Conflicting Descriptions? - 

Some sasquatch proponents make the assumption that there are different types of sasquatches based on the differing descriptions of witness. I suggest that we remain cognizant of the context of the observation/encounter when studying reports.

Again, context is everything when it comes to how witnesses interpret their observations. To illustrate with another example, I'll use the mountain gorilla.

Observer A: Observer A is watching a large male silverback though thick glass in a local zoo for over an hour. The observer has the opportunity to see many subtle and intricate nuances of the gorilla's behavior. The observer intuitively picks up on many of the shared primate behaviors between humans and the gorilla. At the end of the observation, Observer A is certain that he/she has just watched a very human-like animal, one of our closest living relatives.



Observer B: Observer B is walking alone through a thick jungle in the Virunga Mountains. He/she begins to hear movement just out view. There seems to be a large animal just behind the thick vegetation. Suddenly, the foliage bursts to life as a large silverback gorilla bluff charges the observer, screaming and baring its massive canines. Before the observer can react, the huge animal disappears into the jungle. Observer B is certain that he/she just witnessed a terrifying animal, a veritable monster in the jungle. 



In this example, both observers saw the same animal, but have different interpretations based on their experiences. Sasquatch researchers must be cautious when weighing observations against each other from people with different experiences and backgrounds.

- In Conclusion - 

Human nature dictates that we will always attempt to explain that which we experience; no matter how unusual or brief. These explanations can often reflect more on the observer than the subject being observed.

As dedicated researchers who have involved ourselves in an unexplained phenomenon, we must be aware of, and be able to responsibly separate the observation from the interpretation of witnesses, enthusiasts, and most importantly ourselves.