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==