29 July 2008

How do we convince the public that these creatures are not the "monsters" of our imagination?

Folks who have had sightings and encounters in both past generations and recent years describe sights, sounds, smells and activities of real flesh-and-blood creatures, so it should not come as a surprise to us that the day would come when somebody would stumble across physical remains. This had been one of the skeptic's strongest arguments against the existence of these creatures.

Considering the recent news of a "bigfoot body on ice" from Clay County, Georgia, we may well be on the eve of such physical evidence being made public.

With revelation day slated for September 1 (or has it been set back to October 1?), the serious BF community has several weeks remaining to establish our position statement for the court of public opinion. When the focus of the media attention turns to BF investigators for answers concerning the presence and proximity of these creatures in wooded and wetland habitat areas across North America, what message do we want them to hear?

Is it that these creatures are "monsters" to be hunted down and exterminated? Do we let B-grade horror films such as "The Legend of Boggy Creek" and scary stories told around campfires define the public's image and reaction to the reality of the existence of these creatures?

PHOTO CREDIT: Tahlequah Daily News, Cherokee County, OK (2004)

Or do we rally around the position that these represent one or more species of native primates on this continent which have eluded detection and escaped extinction to the modern day? These are North America's great apes which ought to be protected and observed and better understood. The facts demonstrate that these creatures do not pose a danger to human beings when left alone. For the continued protection of people, legislation should be written and passed which prohibit the hunting, harrassment, capturing or killing these creatures.

Our success in getting this message across depends upon integrity, trust, cooperation and unity among the community of BF investigators. We will have no such platform if the public limelight finds us bickering and squabbling amongst ourselves. Divided we fail.

Public proof that these creatures exist can either lead to a wide scale "monster" hunt or the study and conservation of these creatures.

What will it be?

22 July 2008

Bigfoot: widely popular but not credible

Actors wearing what appear to be "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch" or "Wookie" costumes have made these creatures among the most recognized images in modern society. Similar to how Santa Claus is perenially portrayed by scores of actors wearing what pass for "Santa Claus" outfits, the popular conception is that Bigfoot is also a singular and imaginary being. When people see Bigfoot (always a singular noun) then everyone else automatically processes and interprets this information into meaning that he or she apparently saw somebody wearing a costume designed to look like such a creature. For like Santa Claus, "everybody" presumably knows that Bigfoot does not exist.

That these creatures are a viable species of primates with exceptional survival traits inhabiting forested and wetland locations where they have so far eluded both scientific acknowledgement and extinction into modern times is a concept beyond the scope of reality for the media, general public and most everyone holding positions in government and science.

Modern society's perceptions about Bigfoot creatures are readily apparent on the Internet. Just Google-search the words "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch" and see what comes up. Besides the original monster truck with over-sized tires of the same name, Bigfoot as an icon of pop culture enjoys a level of name recognition on the North American continent which exceeds nearly everyone running for elected office this year. Bigfoot is widely popular but not credible.

The old adage says "Any publicity is good publicity." But for BF researchers and investigators, such a high public image does not help our cause. YouTube is littered with costumed hoaxes and pranks-- some with higher production values than others. The "Messin' with Sasquatch" ad campaign is an entertaining and successful vehicle for marketing beef jerky to the target audience for Jack Links. Bigfoot or Sasquatch have made appearances in board games, as action toys, in roles in television and movies and as sports mascots over the past 50 years. Try mentioning "Bigfoot" or "Sasquatch" in general conversation and see whether folks take you seriously.

Only after you have your own sighting or personal experience with one or more of these creatures, then you must decide whether to cling to the popular belief that such creatures don't exist-- or accept the fact that they do. Much like faith, this is a personal decision. It is futile trying to persuade anyone else to accept the presence and proximity of such creatures until he or she is ready to believe.

19 July 2008

Unidentified vocalization recorded on 12-Jul-2008

Wooded brush east of the house as seen an hour before the unidentified noise occured

Please listen to this inexplicable sound recorded during an on-site investigation in southern Illinois on Saturday, 12-Jul-2008. A recording is currently posted at http://www.stancourtney.com/sounds/07.12.08_1.mp3.

This audio clip is edited from near the end of a recording that lasted over 2 hours. The other investigator and homeowner are the first two voices being heard in this audio clip as they react to this noise which broke the silence that evening. They were perhaps up to 100 yards from the source location of the noise in an overgrown and wooded lot east of the homeowner's property. The end of the audio clip includes our initial reactions as the other investigator, homeowner and I share our observations and try to understand what we had just heard. Mine is the third person's voice you hear speaking near the end of the audio clip.

When this noise occured, my family and I had just come out of the homeowner's house and were walking out to our car. The events in the audio clip occured at 9:20pm, around an hour after sunset. The other investigator, the homeowner, my youngest daughter and I had been outside talking and touring the vicinity around the house since 7:00pm. At sunset, we hiked about one-third mile east through the woods which run behind the homeowner's house, stayed put and talked until 9:00pm when the moon was bright and started heading back to the house. My daughter and I walked on ahead (needing to get back and use the restroom). The other investigator and the homeowner were still on the trail back in the woods when my family and I came out of the house. As the 6 of us we were standing within the circle of light from the house's front porch, this loud sound erupted from the lot east of the house in the direction where I expected the other investigator and homeowner to have been.

From our position, the noise was much louder than it sounds on the audio clip. I was feeling the amplified pulse of each grating hiss and popping squeak striking my body as if we were standing too close to the percussive bang of an M-80 firecracker. Yet we did not see any fire, pyrotechnic light or sparks. I had to raise my voice and shout to assure my family that the noise was either fireworks or something being blasted over a loudspeaker. As it was happening, my guess was that either the other investigator or homeowner were broadcasting a recorded sound over a megaphone to see what kind of response was returned. (I hadn't been around another investigator who did "sound blasting" before so it seemed the simplest explanation at the time.)

When the three of us met immediately after the loud noise, I learned that the only equipment they had with them was the recorder and microphone being used to capture this recording. This had not been a "sound blasted" noise as I originally thought. From their vantage point, the source location of the noise was up to 100 yards south in the direction of the house. From our vantage point at the front of the house, my family and I heard it coming from very close range to the northeast in their direction back in the woods on the trail. This pinpointed whatever it was that had made the sound as being located in the wooded brush of the lot east of the homeowner's house (this lot is pictured at the beginning of this entry). They were looking south from the north end of this lot, we were looking northeast from the south end and none of us saw any lights, flashes or sparks associated with fireworks. Nor did we hear any movement in the brush. Otherwise it was too dark to have seen anything.

We've been reviewing the audio clip for a week and so far have been unable to identify with any certainty whatever it is that made this sound. We had eight people witness the noise-- myself, my wife, my four children, the other investigator and the homeowner. My wife described the noise as sounding like somebody playing with a Mr. Microphone toy on high volume. Our unanimous consensus is that it was not fireworks.

The repeated pattern does bear similarities to one of the calls made by southern leopard frogs which are common in these woods-- except for the sheer volume of the noise and that popping squeak at the end of each grating hiss. The one theory that makes more sense than anything else is that the noise then is actually an imitation or mimicry of the frog call being made by something capable of mimicking other animal vocalizations with this demonstration of both volume and lung power.

Rolling field and distant woods as seen looking south from the house

The reason for our visit that evening is the history of sighting reports and other suspicious observations made by the couple living in this home spanning the past year and a half. It was the wife who actually was the first to see a grey lanky figure standing in the bushes just west of the house as she drove home after working second shift a year and a half ago. When her 6-foot tall husband stood in the same location, she said the figure she saw was easily a foot or two taller than he was. Subsequent sightings (including descriptions of other individual figures of different hair color, physique and size), unusual noises and tracks were observed on and off through last fall. New observations were reported for the first time this year beginning a couple weeks ago-- as it appears a clan of individuals is again visiting this vicinity.

Branches in the homeowner's backyard are thick and woven together to block access

The homeowner is unable to enter the brush in the back half of his lot adjacent to the woods. When he first moved here five years ago, he had plans to clear this land. During these five years, he has not even been able to walk on this portion of his property. Adjacent lots have a similar jungle of undergrowth (refer again to the first photograph showing the lot east of his house). When we asked him why he was piling up branches in his backyard, he said he wasn't. Not all of the windfall branches are from nearby trees. Some of these branches seem to have been brought in from elsewhere.

One of the reasons cited by the homeowner for inviting the other investigator and me to visit his house last weekend was that a green apple had been thrown at him while he was in his backyard from within this jungle of branches and brush. Something like that had not happened during the previous year and a half of suspicious activity on and around his property.

The investigation of reports from this location which began a year and a half ago is ongoing. The unidentified audio recording made on 12-July-2008 is among the first pieces of physical evidence to be documented by someone other than the couple living in this house.