26 December 2007

What happens when folks "discover" that Bigfoot creatures exist?

Being considered a figment of somebody else's imagination is among the best defenses working to protect these creatures. Bigfoot is only considered real by a very small minority of folks who have made personal observations or had experiences that defy any other explanation.

It isn't very difficult to imagine how the general public will react to breaking information about the presence and proximity of Bigfoot creatures. Just consider what has happened during the past generation any time a rash of sightings or encounters makes news. Human nature is somewhat predictable; thus history tends to repeat itself.

For example, consider how the media and public responded to a series of incidents here in central Illinois. Over a period of a few months in 1972, a handful of credible eyewitness sightings of a single creature occuring here in the wooded ravines near my home in Tazewell County, Illinois (the creature was named CoHoMo by local reporters, short for Cole Hollow Monster) led to an organized sweep of Cole Hollow woods by dozens of armed citizens and law enforcement officers-- similar to what would be staged in the quest of a presumably dangerous fugitive. (For a summary of the 1972 reports, see http://www.geocities.com/bigfootman2320/cohomo.html).

Cole Hollow Woods occupies a series of steep ravines along Cole Creek with coal mine shafts (some once productive but now closed, some shut down before the laws were enacted requiring the entrances to be safely closed and others little more than exploratory holes) dug during the century preceding WWII. The effort was called off by the local sheriff's office when one of the participants was wounded by an accidental firearem discharge.

This was not some redneck "monster hunt" motivated by fear as described by some journalists, but rather it was a grassroots volunteer action by concerned neighbors trying to get to the bottom of whatever it was that was being sighted in these woods. Given what we now know about the elusive abilities of these creatures, I doubt whether any of the CoHoMo searchers in the summer of 1972 would have observed any evidence of the subject of their quest. But as a timely response to a local sighting report, it remains as one of the most ambitious Bigfoot search efforts when ranked by the number of participants (or "boots on the ground" in military terms).

When the Interstate 474 bypass was constructed in the late 1970s, Cole Hollow Woods became isolated from the network of wooded ridges along the east bluff of the Illinois River Valley. For the past decade or so, these woods have more or less become a playground for adults riding ATVs. These particular woods are no longer the same remote and inaccessible habitat area for woodland animals as they would have been back in 1972.

History will document the official re-discovery of Bigfoot as happening when somebody documents credible and verifiable evidence of the existence of these animals. The best evidence would of course be a body, but perhaps a high-quality video recording that shows one or more creatures in action doing something beyond the scope of human ability might be persuasive to many people.

When such a "discovery" takes place, we must anticipate the inevitable increase in fear of what is unknown among the general public, media, government agencies and leaders. Reporters will flock to outspoken Bigfoot investigators ranging from Eric B. to Tom B. and Matt M. for interviews and answers.

The survival of Bigfoot animals as a species will depend on how quickly fact can be sorted from fiction concerning these creatures.

21 November 2007

Hiking solo at my favorite research area on November 18

This past Sunday (Nov. 18) during the last couple hours of deer hunting season here in Illinois, I hiked alone into my favorite "research area." It is a densely wooded area on public property so I thought I would find where the deer were hiding out from the hunters.

It was late afternoon on a gray foggy day with a light rain. As I suspected, due to the inclement weather nobody else was parked along the dead-end access road so I had the woods to myself. My plan was to hike some 20 minutes east to the edge of the public property where it borders a private hunting club. My destination was where my kids and I were standing this past July 22 when we heard a series of wood knocks coming from the private hunting club area.

With most of the leaves down, visibility was now much better in the woods and I hoped to see and photograph deer along the way. I really enjoy hiking in the woods during a light rain and don't seem to get the opportunity often enough. As soon as I got out of my car, I started hearing the noise of a barking dog far off in the direction I was going to hike. I've heard a barking dog in these woods before but have not seen any dog tracks or a loose dog running around. I hoped the sound was coming from much farther away and was only carrying well across the quiet woods.

I discovered that the rain had softened the fallen leaves and that if I stepped carefully I couldn't even hear myself walking. As far as photographing any deer, it was a bust. I had seen none driving along the dead-end access road, and I found none hiding in these woods that afternoon.

About halfway back to my destination, I heard a single whack or clack to my right (south). I stood still for a long time waiting to hear anything else. All I could hear was the rain falling on the leaves. I eventually convinced myself that I must have imagined the sharp noise. I reached my destination on the bluff above a flowing creek and could see a long distance into the woods on the adjacent private hunting club. From my vantage point, I looked for tracks in the muddy banks of the creek. I saw nothing unusual and heard nothing more than the light rain and the water flowing in the creek below.

I returned to where I parked by continuing to follow the trail loop around. Halfway back to my car, I again heard a single whack or clack to my right (north this time). Both of the sharp noises had come from the denser and deeply ravined area encircled by the trail loop. It was now getting noticeably darker as I made it back to my car. At this point I heard 3 gunshots from the direction of the private hunting club-- somebody taking their last shots during the closing minutes of the deer season that day.

Thinking about this afterwards, I'm wondering whether the noise of a barking dog I had heard when I first got out of my car was a signal from a sentry creature up in a tree which either saw me or heard me close my car door. The first sharp noise (which I ignored and kept on hiking) could have been an alarm when I crossed into an area being defended and the second sharp noise could have signalled me leaving the area.

The absence of any deer, birds or even small animals throughout my hike should have also been a clue at the time. Usually when I hike in the woods during a light rain I get to see a lot more wildlife. (One time I witnessed a rabbit playfully jumping back and forth over a water puddle-- I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself.)

I now realize that the increased visibility in the woods works both ways. Whereas I thought it gave me an advantage of seeing a longer distance into the brush, likewise these creatures could keep track of where I was and stayed out of sight. I should have anticipated that they would have taken up temporary residence in the woods on public property while hunters were prowling around the private hunting club. They were probably keeping an eye on me the whole time.

I am glad I wasn't wearing "blaze orange" and carrying a rifle-- from the reports of hunters in such situations I may have been confronted or escorted out of the woods.

15 November 2007

Recent Bigfoot encounters in Illinois (of all places)

Whoever says Bigfoot creatures don't exist must ignore or discredit each of the witnesses who are encountering these animals.

Hairy hominid creatures matching the description of a Sasquatch or Bigfoot (whatever name you choose) are being encountered here in my home state of Illinois. Though not considered to be a "hotbed" of activity, folks are continuing to report encounters here in primarily rural areas. People from different walks of life who previously had no interest in such matters are coming forth with encounter reports. Nobody stands to gain by publicly admitting these experiences and if anything he or she risks being called a liar or considered crazy by their peers, authorities, the media and general public.

This is a summarized chronology of Illinois sighting reports during the past few years:

September 2007 - McLean County semi driver startled by sight and vocalization made by a pair of walking upright ape-like animals while fishing north of Mansfield; leaving his fishing gear behind. He directed a hunter friend to go back armed and retrieve his gear (see http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=1088)

January 2007 - Cass County horse rancher witnesses a silverback (black with gray highlights) upright ape walking through the yard at 10pm when she turns her outdoor lights on to see why her horses are upset (see http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=346)

October 2006 through September 2007 - Madison County couple report a series of sightings since June 2006 in the woods and fields around their rural home (see http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=56, http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=237 and http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=957)

October 2006 - Livingston County truck driver reports seeing a tall creature running on two legs crossing I-55 at night near mile marker 218 (near Dwight) (see http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=142)

July 2006 - Williamson County man reports sighting at Lake of Egypt near the Shawnee National Forest (see http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=15393)

June 2006 - Kendall County couple report a howling creature that damages their fence in rural Yorkville (http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=15019)

November 2005 - LaSalle County workers up on 300 foot cell phone tower report daylight sighting of tall creature crossing road in wooded rural area south of I-80 (see http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=143)

November 2005 - Saline County deer hunter has pre-dawn encounter en route to his deer stand (http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=13070)

October 2005 - Tazewell County homeowner reports strange vocalizations and large tracks in backyard (see http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=12836)

October 2005 - Vermilion County fisherman reports suspicious observations in Kickapoo State Park (http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=15844)

June through October 2005 - McLean County father and son report a series of sightings of two creatures in the woods along old Route 66 (http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=158)

June 2005 - Grundy County snake hunter reports a daylight sighting of a large creature in a wooded marshland near the Illinois River (http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=11831)

June 2005 - Grundy County men have daylight sighting of two creatures in the woods near the Illinois River (http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=12439). A sketch drawn by one of the men is shown above.

September 2004 - McDonough County homeowner has daylight sighting of a dark brownish gray ape running upright across the pasture adjacent to her home (http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=15007).

February 2004 - Madison County man reports seeing two "black naked apes" in the woods near his home (http://www.bigfootencounters.com/sbs/il.html).

One common thread woven among these recent sighting reports in Illinois is their proximity to a wooded habitat with fresh flowing water which both hides and sustains these creatures. The eyewitnesses are seeing creatures with a range of physical descriptions (size, weight and hair color) and in a few instances more than one creature is witnessed at the same time. The dates and geographic distribution of reports suggest that Illinois is home to several clans or packs of creatures living in certain vicinities on a year-round basis.

The same resources that sustained a large number of native American tribes for centuries in this region (and prior to that the primitive mound building people) are no longer being harvested by modern society. Edible roots, bark, twigs and fruit abound in the woodlands, grasslands and marshes that remain in the large stretches of untenable real estate along Illinois riverways. Thanks to clean water initiatives began 30 years ago, our rivers are thriving again with fishes and freshwater mussels. The populations of deer, wild turkey and other animals, both game and non-game, are rebounding.

Perhaps the population of these North American apes are likewise on the rebound.

01 August 2007

So science demands a body? Not in my backyard.

Before even the most open-minded scientists on this subject will empirically proclaim the existence of Bigfoot creatures, they demand "habeas corpus" proof (the Latin phrase literally means "to have a body" as physical evidence).

If a body must be taken so be it-- just not in my backyard.

Back in 2005, a Class B report (footprints) was published on the BFRO web site supposedly located on private property adjoining the woods near where I live. Before then I had little to no interest in this subject. Whether or not such creatures existed was OK by me so long as they remained in the Himalayan Mountains or the Pacific Northwest. However I rejected the notion that a reproducing population of large animals could be at large in my vicinity-- maybe in the same woods I enjoyed with my wife and children-- under the radar of human detection.

So I contacted the BFRO investigator who posted the report to discuss the footprints he found and find out what he suspected had made them. Instead of being a gullible kook (yes, I too shared the common preconceived idea of what sort of people might believe in Bigfoot), I found the investigator to be an educated and articulate professional man of high integrity. He was tight-lipped about the location of the findings to protect the privacy of the witnesses. He did tell me that he got back into the brush looking for soft ground before he found additional footprints, and he explained why he was confident in his findings.

Therefore I put on my "skepticals" and began hiking and poking around various wooded lands within a 30-minute drive of my home to either prove or disprove to myself that something other than known animals such as deer, bobcat and raccoons are living here. I have not yet found suspiciously large or barefoot prints in any of the woods where I've been looking. Most of the remote places where I've been hiking I find nothing unusual-- only deer tracks and coyote scat.

However, there is one vicinity where I have witnessed a handfull of suspicious daytime observations during the past 2 years. These include finding a trio of tree breaks (2" diameter saplings broken off 7' above the ground) forming a circular pattern at the end of a ridgeline within 100 yards of someone's house, hearing a series of tree whacks on 2 occasions (once in May 2006 and again just last week), and witnessing an echoing exchange of tree knocks and rock clacks (with the same tap, pause, tap, tap pattern) from two different locations over a 5-minute period. Sometimes while hiking in these woods it can be absolutely silent-- not even bugs or birds, only the sound of water flowing in the creek-- while at other times I can hear the noise of a barking dog or barred owl cries off in the distance.

Another person I've met who parks his car in the same vicinity during the wee hours of the morning told me he once heard something running through the woods at 2am then had a rock thrown at his car (he heard it skipping along the pavement), and a few days later listened to the screams of a raccoon in a fight the hour before dawn followed by four (4) apelike whoops that rose in pitch.

I realize none of these observations by themselves prove anything. But taken all together, something suspicious is certainly going on in this particular vicinity that I haven't before encountered anywhere else in all my years of fishing, canoeing, hiking, backpacking and camping. I am becoming convinced that something else does live in these woods and when I am hiking here I am a visitor in their home.

I've reached an admiration for whatever these creatures are that are managing to live, hide and forage in these woods. I hope to continue documenting my observations and-- who knows?-- maybe some day I will come across more compelling physical evidence.

In the meantime, I feel obliged to protect and respect the location of their habitat. I will not hunt these creatures nor will I help someone else hunt them. I firmly believe that we can learn so much more about how they live, hide and forage by observing living creatures in their habitat than we would ever learn from a specimen dead or alive.

If a body must be taken so be it-- just not in my backyard.

13 March 2007

WANTED: Dead or alive?

Even here at the threshold of the 21st century, the debate continues over whether mankind should or should not collect a "dead" specimen of any previously unknown animal. Until it is proven to exist and is recognized as an endangered or vanishing species, wildlife laws offer no protection to any cryptid from being killed.

For example, should scientists searching for the noted marine creatures seen from time to time at Loch Ness in Scotland or Lake Champlain in upstate New York hunt these animals and kill them on sight to prove their existence? More to the point of my interests, should field researchers be plotting ways to capture or kill a Bigfoot creature? Is the best aim for our research to collect a specimen; dead or alive?

Observations of Bigfoot creatures reveals that they are social animals that operate in groups and somehow communicate with each other. They watch human beings, especially hikers and hunters and people living near their habitat areas, and have proven themselves at being adept in eluding us. They have adapted to our modern technologies; exercising caution to avoid dangers posed by trains or automobiles or articial lights or cameras. They could prey on us, but for whatever reason they don’t. A peaceful coexistence is maintained– though for the vast majority of people, we as a race remain blissfully unaware of their presence and proximity.

Now if someone ever managed to kill and collect the body of one of these creatures as a dead specimen, we should not dare to presume it will go unnoticed. These creatures watch us; adapting and learning. Once we demonstrate our intentions and capabilities of successfully hunting them, we will become their enemy. The table is turned. How do you think this will change their apparent indifference toward people? Will they become more active in defending themselves and their habitat areas? Will they become offensive or aggressive?

This is certainly one species of creatures that no one would want becoming hostile towards people.

As a community of investigators who are developing field expertise and techniques for finding these creatures, our primary aim should be to improve our surveillance of the living animals. Observations of living animals in their habitat areas are the only way we will find out how many of them are there, how do they live, how do they communicate, and what behaviors can we expect from them. You cannot learn the answers to any of these questions from a dead or captured specimen.

27 February 2007

BEHAVIOR 101 - Curious and curiouser

I'll preface this discussion by admitting that I am a student of Bigfoot behavior. I avidly pore through one sighting or encounter report after another to glean clues from other people's first hand observations of these creatures. Observations from credible reports are needed to help investigators form a foundation for building a theoretical and working knowledge about how these creatures might be expected to behave. I expect that studying bigfoot behavior will be a lifetime fascination for me-- persisting long after the inevitable and sentinel moment in history when the existence of these creatures will be satisfactorily proven to the scientific community and general public.

I know I will not be content with knowing statistics about these creatures answering questions such as: how long do they live, how many of them are there, what is their range, or how do they survive? I must also seek to learn how they have managed to remain hidden for so long, how do they communicate with each other, what circumstances seem safer when we access their habitat areas and under what (if any) situations are we or they at greater risk and danger.

From what I've learned so far by studying witness reports and observations, the most reckless behavior being manifested by these creatures is their curiousity. It is this one behavioral trait that most often entices them to come out of concealment and into situations where humans can and do observe them. The old proverb says, "It was curiousity that killed the cat." From what has been observed with bigfoot animals, curiousity is not a fatal trait but it may well be the vulnerable Achilles heel that betrays them into revealing themselves.

The subject of this lesson in Bigfoot Behavior 101 is the following daytime encounter report made by a dump truck driver on July 1, 2005. This eyewitness was charged with the task of delivering gravel to improve the access road for a landowner's remote camping location in Pennsylvania.

Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Chip Beam (posted 7-5-05):

Witness’ boss asked him to deliver stone to a very old campsite. The first day he was shown where the site was. It took two days to deliver the stone. One pile delivered one day and the next day’s delivery was to be spread on the road by a process called tailgating where the bed of the dump truck is hoisted into the air and the stone is gradually poured while the truck slowly moves forward. The second day was when the sighting occurred.

The witness had to go to the campsite to turn the truck around due to the width of the road. He turned the truck around and prepped it for the dumping process, during this time he felt like he was being watched as he unsecured the chains to the tailgate, but when looking into the woods he didn’t see anything. Being a hunter most of his life, the witness has never felt scared or uneasy in the woods and has hunted by himself many times. He climbed into the truck drove to the spot where he was going to start the dumping about 150 yards away. It took several tries to get the bed up and the truck into gear. This created a pile of stone about two feet high in the road. He started moving the truck but decided the chains weren’t set right and made the decision to back up to the pile of stones where he initially started. In the mirror he noticed what he thought was a cinnamon bear on the pile of stones. The witness was puzzled that the bear would not move or even look at him as he backed up because the back up alarm was blaring. About five or six feet from the pile he hit the breaks on the truck and the animal stood up on two legs. He could only see the belly of the creature and still not clearly from the effects the vibration of the truck had on the mirror. At this point the witness saw something in the mirror run across the road. He checked the passenger side mirror and saw nothing. When looking back to the driver’s mirror the other creature was gone as well.

The witness then got out of the truck and adjusted the chains. He said that most bears will run from you then turn to look back. He found it strange that he couldn’t see anything where he saw the animal run to. The trees are thick, but not thick enough to where he wouldn’t be able to see a bear that had just ran away. The witness climbed back into the truck and started the dumping process again. After about forty yards he saw two of the creatures in the driver’s side mirror. One was much bigger than the other. He estimates the creature to have been about nine feet tall because of the clearance to the height of the dump truck to the tree limbs. The truck with bed tilted made the cab protector about nine feet above the ground and this brushed a large branch of the tree. The larger creature had to duck its head to clear the same branch. The color of the fur was a red orange color that he compared to an orangutan color. He said the creature was a duplicate to the Giganto on the web site but he cold not see the face clearly because of the vibration of the mirror. The second animal, he stated, was about his height, a little over six feet tall. They paced the truck from several yards back. They had long arms and a very long stride. At this point the witness became scared and left the area so quickly he forgot to drop the bed of the truck.

When he got to the gate at the bottom he said he had to stop to collect himself for about a half-hour. At this point he went to his boss’ house. His boss said he looked as white as a ghost. He asked him to go back to the campsite with him with a firearm. As they went up he described what happened. When they got to the spot they saw footprints. The witness’ boss is a large man who wears a size thirteen boot and it was much smaller than the footprint. At this point they got another friend to come up with them. The friend told them that his buddy’s dog got loose and was never seen or heard from again. The friend’s own dog, that is quiet all the time, had raised hackles and barked into the dark woods from his porch for a half-hour the night before.

The men went to the site and measured the footprints with a tape measure. There were many prints, although many weren’t clear a couple were distinct enough for a measurement. The larger set was about seventeen inches long and deeply embedded in the loose stone. The smaller were about ten inches. The witness said his boss was not having much of an impact trying to make footprints, he estimated the boss’ weight at about 450 to 500 lbs, so they said the creature must weigh much more than him. He also said the stride between the footprints was large enough he had to leap to cover the same distance.

He said his whole outlook on the forest has changed and he will never go hunting again without constantly looking over his shoulder.

They also stated they heard whistles and a howl while looking at the area, but the sounds were not similar to the audio recordings on the site.

I worked in the office at a trucking company for 6 years and can attest to the details of this circumstance as being a credible situation. The Teamsters who drive dump trucks on construction jobs take pride in their tailgating skills for delivering a load of gravel along a stretch of roadway. And every experienced dump truck driver is conspicuously aware of the height of his overhead clearance before he raises the bed of his truck. Failure to remain aware of the ground level, bed clearance and other situational factors can cause a rollover or other damage when unloading a dump truck.

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Example of a smaller dump truck used by contractors for delivering rock

The truck driver who experienced this encounter would have made certain he had his necessary 9 feet clearance beneath the tree branches before he began to tailgate dump his load. Therefore, I do consider his sight measurement to be more accurate than most folks when he says that he saw the taller of the two creatures duck under those same branches-- indicating that it was more than 9 feet tall. Yes, of course "some objects may appear larger when viewed in the rearview mirror," but in this case the truck driver had a known frame of reference in sight for comparing the creature's standing height.

What amazes me most is that these two creatures, fully capable of hiding in plain sight while the truck driver got out to chain up his tailgate before dumping the load, could not contain their curiousity-- and broke cover during broad daylight. The subsequent track findings, length/depth measurements and vocalizations observed by the truck driver and his supervisor at that location only further reinforce the credibility of this encounter report.

As a nod to the comedy movie named, "Dumb and Dumber," I've named this post CURIOUS AND CURIOUSER to describe the two creatures observed by the truck driver. Who would have thought that unloading gravel at a remote location in the woods would both attract and entice bigfoot animals to come out of hiding-- even to the point that they walked behind and paced the dump truck; apparently fascinated by the sight of the gravel sliding from the tailgate?

And rendering credit where credit is due, my kudos to BFRO Investigator Chip Beam for writing the recap quoted above which clarifies the truck driver's original report. Read the truck driver's original report and Chip Beam's comments on their subsequent investigation at http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=12034.

26 February 2007

Do these creatures climb trees?

Given the reported strength and arm length of these creatures, I have no problem believing that they could shinny up into a sturdy tree without needing branches for hand and foot rests. Consider how a lumberjack or utility worker climbs a pole and you'd see how easy it would be for a strong creature with long arms to climb 20 feet or more.

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Finalists compete at the 2006 APF show

While hiking around the woods near my home this past spring and fall, I have heard branches breaking far up in the trees (30 feet or higher)-- one time up in a sycamore tree on May 7 and the other time up in a hickory tree on October 22. The location of both events is about 5 miles apart. In both cases, the tree trunks went straight up the first 25 feet or so without any branches and the trunks were massive (over 6 feet in circumference). In both cases, there was little to no wind so the movement high up in the trees was obviously discernible and suspicious. A dead branch (of good size, what folks call a "widow maker") fell to the ground from the sycamore tree. Only twigs and bark fell from whatever was making the noise up in the hickory tree.

Now I doubt whether a smaller animal-- such as a possum, owl, bobcat or raccoon-- would have had the body mass to break off the large branch. Perhaps an animal as large as a mountain lion or bear moving around up in the tree would explain the noises I heard and branch being broken up in the sycamore tree. But I'll concede that a smaller animal would have been capable of knocking down twigs and bark while moving around up in the hickory tree.

Now while I'm hiking around suspicious areas in the woods, I don't just watch where I'm walking on the path. I find myself stopping often to look up and down all of the sturdy "climbing" trees in the area.

19 February 2007

When seeing isn't necessarily believing

Until I worked for a roof testing company, I never gave a second thought to the roofs on buildings but you know every building has to have one. Next I worked for a trucking company, and all of a sudden everywhere I went I began noticing OTR tractors and the types of trailers they were hauling. Before then, I had a "blind spot" regarding trucks.

The same dynamic must be at work regarding BF animals. Some of us have spent most of our lives in or around the woods, but until being exposed to the possibility that such animals exist we had this "blind spot" regarding them. Even then, we must be intentionally looking and alert to perceive any physical evidence that they might be around.

Years ago when I first saw an upright standing, long-armed creature standing between the woods and the bridge at dusk, my mind immediately said "whoa, some ape escaped from a zoo" or "guy in a monkey suit" because I just didn't embrace the reality before my eyes. It wasn't until speaking about this with an investigator by phone last year that I realized what I had seen was in the right time and the right place to have been a real animal.

The old adage, "Seeing is believing" is not completely true-- instead, perception is believing. You believe what your mind perceives to be true.

There is so much truth to be learned from studies on the issue of inattentional or perceptual blindness. People cannot see what they are not prepared to perceive seeing. (Sort of reminds me of that dialog from "A Few Good Men" with Jack Nicholson, "You WANT answers?" "I want the TRUTH." "You can't HANDLE the truth.")

Consider that out of the hundreds of millions of people living in the United States only a few million people drive through the woodlands each year. And out of the hundreds of thousands of people who engage in any sort of outdoor activity, only some tens of thousands of people may actually spend at least one night soaking in the quiet of our nation's wilderness areas each year. How many of these people are intellectually receptive to perceiving evidence of the existence of BF animals?

Without being perceptive, informed and alert, so much observable physical evidence is being ignored, overlooked, misidentified, suppressed or erroneously attributed to other explanations. The vast majority of people-- even those active outdoors-- display inattentional or perceptual blindness about BF animals. They don't perceive the observations of their eyes, ears and noses because so much of the time (1) they are not alert, (2) they do not know what is significant, and (3) they are neither prepared nor equipped to perceive the reality of their observations.

I've been reading Jerome Clark's Unexplained, and found some comments he makes in the book's introduction to be insightful. Human beings abhor anything that is unexplainable the way nature abhors a vacuum. We must name it or label it or describe it as something other than being "unidentified." Our minds cannot grasp, perceive or accept "unidentified" observations. If we don't have some frame of reference for accepting it into our memory, we must ignore or block the observation. This is another way of understanding the concept of inattentional or perceptual blindness.

Therefore, we must learn to separate observations from explanations made by other people. Just because I might disagree with your explanation, it doesn't mean I should dismiss your observation. Whatever you saw or smelled or heard or tasted or felt remains an observable fact. However, your mind's explanation will be as personal as you are and is wholly limited by your knowledge, past experiences and imagination. What a person from one historical setting called a troll or an ogre, another person might label as a ghost, zombie, monster or werewolf. What a person in modern society might say looks like someone wearing a "monkey costume," others might know enough to name as being a Bigfoot, Sasquatch, Almas, Yowie, Yeti, Orang Pendek or any synonomous explanatory name.

We should be prepared for agreeing to disagree on the names that are used as explanations, but should not overlook the original fact of the observations. We do not have to accept the "explanation" as it so named by the observer to accept as being a fact (subject to verification, of course) that they made the "observation."

SOURCE: Originally posted as a discussion topic at http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=63

Are investigators doing something scientific?

Whether you consider yourself to be a searcher (someone doing primary investigative work) or a researcher (someone who studies the investigation work done by others), is what you do being done in a scientific manner?

The scientific method per se is simply an approach to problem solving in which (1) observations are documented, (2) a theory is proposed to explain the observations, and then (3) the theory is proven either true or false experimentally. The desired outcome is to develop a new theory that is useful in accurately explaining and predicting subsequent observations.

Most people working in research science remain stuck in steps 1, 2 or 3. Few scientists achieve the desired outcome of developing a new theory that accurately explains and predicts subsequent observations.

At the present stage in Bigfoot/Sasquatch/Yowie/Almas research, we do not yet have a common vision or understanding for judging our observations and defining explanations as being authentic and credible. What we do have is a wide spectrum of suspicious observations being documented and then explained in ways which any one person will disagree on the significance and labels attached to the same observation by one or more other people.

Also, we do not yet have a consensus on what constitutes a valid observation. Should our attention be directed toward tracks? Or vocalizations? Or nesting sites? Or odors? Or habituation stories? Or accompanying manifestations of mysterious light? Or clues from the folklore of indigenous people? Or scat? Or photos, film, videos or eyewitness descriptions of sightings? Searchers and researchers are splintered into various factions, alliances and interests. We favor those which coincide with our own and dismiss the others.

Scientific study by its very nature and function will be as diverse as the people who do it. All of our background experience, education and belief systems form the basis for the unique explanations we attach to our personal observations. We tend to align ourselves into polarized groups of conflicting interpretations between the flesh-and-blood camp of believers and the camp believing in supernatural or alien entities, between the creationists and the evolutionists, and between those whose focus is on killing a creature to have a specimen to study and those who would do anything to avoid killing specimens so they can be observed in their natural state.

Meanwhile, many of us searchers and researchers will continue to make our own observations and discuss our explanations and theories in forum venues such as this on the Internet. It may not be the most scientific process, but it is a pragmatically efficient process and somewhere along the way we will become better focused on what works and what doesn't work.

Perhaps we'll find that high-tech analysis of vocalization recordings is the best way to distinguish and identify between the sounds these creatures produce when they mimic other animals and the normal animal sounds. Or maybe something as low-tech and mundane as scat tracking will prove to be the most successful means for locating these creatures. Whatever it turns out to be, the community of searchers and researchers will follow the flow of success to become focused and more effective in our scientific pursuit of understanding these creatures.

SOURCE: Originally posted as a poll question and discussion thread at http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=79.

Choosing location(s) for field research

There may well be potential "hot spots" all across the country. Although some states have more documented sighting, vocalization or activity reports than others, this should not be seen as indicative of how many BF animals may be living in that state.

I personally suspect that wilderness areas in the northern Great Plains and Great Lakes states might be populated with more BF animals than would be suggested from the BFRO database, but because of minimal human activity and access to potential habitat areas (including floodplains, bottoms, swamps, ravines) such locations have fewer documented reports.

Pick someplace with a history of what you consider to be credible sightings, foot prints or other evidence (the more recent the better) and that fits the description of a likely habitat area (that is, a place with ample food and water, hiding places and most importantly, minimal human activity). Determine which "hot spot" is closest to you so you can monitor the vicinity periodically. Then make a point of going there-- the best intentions of doing field research aren't enough, you have to physically do it.

I personally think multiple visits over time will probably be more productive than one long visit (such as a weekend campout). Also, repeat visits to the area are necessary to notice and identify any recent changes in the vicinity-- such as large branches being moved, possible nest building, fresh tree breaks or other physical evidence. Try different access points and different times of the day.

If you aren't finding or observing anything suspicious after several visits, move on to another potential "hot spot." Over time, you will develop a handful of locations within reasonable range of where you live that you are monitoring on a regular basis.

Someday and somewhere somebody with a working knowledge of what to be observing in the field is going to be rewarded with a sighting or encounter. Hopefully, you'll have the audio, video or photographic equipment-- and luck-- to document it. If I had to choose between skill and luck-- I'd rather be lucky any day.

Please don't think I'm making this all sound easy, but I do hope to encourage more people to get out in the field and be alert. Not all BF enthusiasts are living in "prime" BF territory like the Pacific Northwest-- but don't overlook the credible reports coming from potential habitat areas in the eastern United States from Texas to West Virginia to Wisconsin and many points in between. To some extent, those of us residing near geographically smaller habitat areas may have the advantage because we can focus our attention in the field to pockets of land measured in dozens of square miles rather than the hundreds of thousands of square miles of wilderness in so-called "prime" territory.

For example, Midwest states like Iowa, Illinois, Indiana or Ohio may indeed be as much as 90% agricultural or urban landscapes-- this only helps limit our investigation efforts to the remaining 10% of forests and waterways. For someone with a working knowledge of the behaviors and physical evidence thought to be indicative of these animals, the odds of tracking them has to be better in a more confined area.

SOURCE: Originally posted on 1-Jun-2006 as a discussion thread hosted at http://www.stancourtney.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=4&highlight==