Never stop because you are afraid - you are never so likely to be wrong.
C. Leigh Culver
Copyright © 2010-2013 C. Leigh Culver. All rights reserved.
Before going out into the field there is much initial research that you can do that will help provide you with much insight in deciding when and where to do your field work. This article will suggest several such areas of research.
Investigating regional history is a good place to start your research. Sasquatch-like creatures have a long history on this planet. All you have to do is look at the ancient myths and legends of peoples all around the world and you will find descriptions of large hairy hominids. These historic references go back thousands of years up to the current time. North America is no exception. Myths and legends of Native American peoples abound with stories of sasquatch-like creatures. When early visitors first came to the New World, including the Vikings, they too, had their own encounters with these creatures. Such an example may be found in Morison’s book, THE EUROPEAN DISCOVERY OF AMERICA, THE NORTHERN VOYAGES, where Leif Erikson is said to have described these creatures as “horribly ugly, hairy, swarthy and with big black eyes.”
In North America the sasquatch is known by many names. The following are only a few such names: Sasquatch, Seatco, Bukwas, Cheye Tanka, Kecleh-Kudleh, Yamprico, Dsonoqua, Windingo, Ohmah, Shawanookchobee, Stick Indians, Wild Man, Yahoo, Booger and, of course, Bigfoot. Numerous books and internet websites describe the handed down stories of First Nation people’s, as well as, early settler’s encounters with the sasquatch. You will find that the many accounts presented by aboriginal peoples often have a unique perspective that is frequently disregarded by modern researchers. I will say, however, should you persist in your research long enough, you may find that such accounts contain more authority than you might expect.
LOCAL AREA KNOWLEDGE
There are many areas across North America with long histories of encounters with sasquatch-like creatures. It may surprise the reader that encounters with these creatures first appeared in the annals, records and newspapers on the east coast long before such accounts were described in the northwest. Often times these accounts are passed on only to family members, or close friends. Sometimes this information is passed down from one generation to another. For the field researcher, accessing such information may be difficult. More often than not, this type of information is closed to perceived “outsiders.” This is sometimes true with some of the Native American tribal communities, as well as, many rural areas across North America. Mutual respect and trust are the keys that will open these doors.
Newspaper articles can provide for a rich source of information and can provide much insight for locating areas for research. Many newspapers have become digitized, and they can be searched via several on-line internet archives. Such archives will often include newspaper articles going back to the 1800s. Many of these archives are free of charge, while, some require a usage fee. Searching for such terms as “wildman,” “wild man,” “bigfoot,” and “sasquatch” will present considerable useful information.
The following excerpt is an example of such a report, and is from a February 4, 1889 article in The Atlanta Constitution (Georgia) newspaper entitled, “A Wild Man in Walker.”
The wild man has again made his appearance. He was last seen last week near High Point by a reliable gentleman . . . his attention was attracted by thrilling screams on the side of the high spur that he had just passed along the trail below. He looked in the direction from which the noise came. What should he see but a wild man . . . he described him thus; was about 7 or 7 1/2 feet high, hairy as an old bear, and would weigh, from his looks, 400 pounds; had a pole in one hand that looked to be ten foot long, which he handled as easy as a stout, healthy man would a pipe stem. His name was asked, and the answer came in the shape of a large stone, which weighed at least 100 pounds, which was hurled at the inquisitive gentleman.
For a more time-consuming research option, many libraries still have microfiche files that may be scrolled through. As mentioned previously, though, most of these archives are becoming digitized.
There are several internet databases that are extremely useful. Most of these websites are run by various sasquatch research organizations. Probably the most well know one is operated by the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization which is directed by long-time sasquatch researcher Matt Moneymaker. The BFRO website contains an incredible amount of investigated eyewitness reports and is extremely helpful in pinpointing areas to research.
One of the best sasquatch research oriented websites on the internet is Bobbie Short’s Bigfoot Encounters. It doesn’t contain the largest number of eyewitness reports; however, it is a virtual cornucopia of sasquatch related information. Bigfoot Encounters contains information on sasquatch biology, myths, legends, newspaper reports, magazine articles and more. If you want to know almost everything there is to know about sasquatch, this is the website.
Another useful website is Autumn William’s, Oregon Bigfoot. The website is a bit more oriented to the Pacific Northwest; however, there are sightings reports from all over the United States. This website also has a members only section filled with a considerable amount of information.
There are many organizations and research groups all over North America. Just about every state or province has a research group or organization. Indeed there are many such groups all around the world. If you are interested in working with a group it should be easy for you to find one in your area. A search on any internet search engine will provide you with a multitude of options. Such organizations can provide the beginning researcher with a solid foundation via working with experienced investigators.
INITIAL OPERATIONAL AREA ANALYSIS
Once you’ve decided on a research area there is still much work to do. You need to conduct an analysis of the area you intend to operate in. This may be accomplished by looking at maps, by using mapping software, and through the use of such online resources as Google Earth™. These tools are going to become the foundation from which you will build your research.
In the United States, United States Geological Survey (USGS) topographic maps are the best known resource from which to work from. In Canada, the Centre for Topographic Information is responsible for the acquisition, management and dissemination of topographic information.
The USGS initiated the project of mapping all of the United States in 1879. The 1:24,000-scale topographic maps (7.5-minute quadrangles) are the most well know and most used maps. In 1992 the USGS started focusing on the creation of The National Map. The National Map includes orthoimagery (aerial photographs), elevation, geographic names, hydrography, boundaries, transportation, structures, and land cover and it may be used for everything from recreation to scientific analysis to emergency response. The USGS still produces the 1:24,000 scale maps, and they may be obtained from the USGS website at http://topomaps.usgs.gov/.
There are several useful mapping software programs. National Geographic TOPO™ and Delorme Topo North America™ are both very popular. The advantage of using mapping software is that you can plot known historic references, sightings and vocalization reports, and track and sign indications found. These data may be plotted using various colored pins or flags. You may, also, color code your references based upon date/time or seasonal factors. You could plot all of this information on a USGS map; however, having the ability to do it in a digital format is very useful. Mapping software has been indispensible in our team’s research.
An outstanding internet based resource is Google Earth™. Google Earth™ displays satellite images of the Earth's surface in varying degrees of resolution and can provide the field researcher with a “bird’s eye” view of the intended target area. Available resolution varies depending upon the popularity of points of interest; however, most land images at around 15 meters of resolution. Images can be manipulated in various ways proving a very good perspective of the terrain being viewed. Combining Google Earth™ data with that of a good mapping software program can provide very good insight into the area you will be operating in.
AREA FLORA AND FAUNA
It has already been suggested that the sasquatch field researcher needs to become something of a naturalist. Understanding what game is in your operational area, and their habits, will be very important in pinpointing likely sasquatch active areas. Does your proposed operational area contain a large deer population? Considerable evidence suggests that deer is a primary food source for sasquatches. Understanding deer habits and behavior will go a long way in helping you understand sasquatch behavior.
Are there bears in your operational area? It has been suggested that anywhere a bear can live so can a sasquatch, and this might be true. Another reason for asking this question, however, is that bears can pose a safety issue for the field researcher. In North America there are four subspecies of bear and all four subspecies have different behavior patterns. Also, be aware of the fact that quite often bear tracks are misidentified as sasquatch tracks. This will be discussed in more depth in the article on tracking.
There are examples, to numerous to list, in regards to why you need to understand what animals are in your area. A few more examples of animals to become familiar with, depending upon your operational area are, cougars, coyotes, wolves, alligators, poisonous snakes, and owls to name but a few. What animals are roaming the woods at night? What sounds do they make? What type of eye shine do they exhibit? Did you know that many insects exhibit eye shine?
Along with understanding what animals are in your area, it is necessary to know something about the plant life as well. Knowing what plants are food sources, and for whom, in invaluable. A good example of this would be, understanding what food sources do local deer like to eat, and knowing when and where these food sources are available. Knowing when certain plants bloom and which plants produce fruit can not be underestimated.
Field guides can be a rich source of information regarding the flora and fauna of your region. Probably the best known guides are the Peterson Field Guides™ published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. You will find guides on wild edibles, mammals, birds and animal tracking to name but a few. Such guides may be found in area book stores and libraries.
Knowing the weather pattern and history for your intended operational area can be very important as well. One of the best sources for this information can be found on Weather Underground™ located on the internet. Weather Underground™ can provide both weather forecast and weather history information for your operational area.
Weather forecast is obviously invaluable so that you know what to expect, weather wise, once you are in the field, but knowing weather history can be just as important. Knowing local weather patterns can help you with understanding game patterns and quite possibly sasquatch patterns as well. Weather history information can be, especially, useful for field researchers who are trackers. Let’s say you have received a sighting report and you want to go investigate the area. Knowing what the weather has been the past several days prior to the sighting, up to the day of your field investigation, can be very important. Weather is a very important factor in track and sign aging and knowing the recent weather history will help you in that regard.
Simply go to www.wunderground.com and click on the “History Data” button and then input your location information. You can configure your data into daily, weekly and monthly formats. An alternate way of doing it is to input your location information first, then click on the “Weather History for This Location” button then configure how you want your data formatted from there.
OPERATIONAL AREA ANALYSIS
You’ve completed your initial research; now it is time for the analysis. When conducting your terrain analysis, factor in key locations such as forest roads, foot trails, game trails, streams, springs, game grazing areas, caves, old mines, natural barriers, power line cuts, nearby human habitation, farms, ranches, chicken houses. Once you have done this, ask yourself, “how would I survive in this environment?” “How would I avoid humans?” Think in terms of economy of energy. How would you survive on the most primitive level? Think in terms of your having parachuted into enemy territory and you now have to live off the land. This is the world of the sasquatch--every day.
If the sasquatch mystery can be solved, it is my personal opinion that it will occur on the east coast. At least, this will be true for North America. My reasoning is that the east coast has seen much more population growth and development. Forested areas in the east have become virtual islands surrounded by human development. Sasquatches are forced to take increased risks when conducting their travels, or when they hunt. The western half of North America contains much more habitat with less human intrusion.
APPLYING SOLUNAR DATA
Once you’ve completed the initial work for determining where to conduct your field work, you might consider using this research tool for determining when to be in your target area. This tool utilizes “solunar” data. The word solunar is a combination of the words solar and lunar. Solunar theory postulates that fish and game will be most active at certain times and that these times are predictable.
The theory grew out of the work of John Alden Knight. In 1926 Knight, who was very familiar with the hunting and fishing folklore of South Georgia, attempted to find correlations presented by the folklore with actual fishing and hunting results. In his book, MOON UP - MOON DOWN, Knight summarized his theory in the following way:
Other conditions not being unfavorable, fish will feed, animals will move about, birds will sing and fly from place to place, in fact, all living things will become more active, more alive, during Solunar periods than at other times of apparent equal value.
Whenever you are watching the weather report on your local news channel, and the meteorologist presents the peak fish and game times for that day, that information is based upon the work of John Alden Knight. Knight initially came up with thirty three possible factors influencing fish and game activity; however, with time and research, he narrowed the factors down to just four:
It seems logical that should solunar theory be correct in that fish and game are more active at certain times, then sasquatches might be more active at those times as well. Our team has applied this theory to our field work; however, we do not have enough data to suggest whether or not our hypothesis is correct. There are numerous resources for obtaining solunar data for your operational area. In fact, some GPS units have built in solunar applications, and there are almanacs, computer programs and numerous resources on the internet.
SCOUTING YOUR TARGET AREA
You’ve conducted your initial research. You’ve taken that information and conducted your area analysis, now it is time for you to go out into the field and do some area scouting. Scouting will be covered in another article.
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