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.