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. 

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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 I scoured databases like the BFRO's (both our public reports, and ones that remain unpublished in our internal system), John Green's Sasquatch Database, The Bigfoot Casebook, Ray Crowe's "The Track Record", the TBRC database, Bobbie Short's Bigfoot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. 

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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