Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Wisdom of John Dewey

"Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination."

- John Dewey

Thursday, January 8, 2015

My Story

I received an email this week in which I was asked, “How did you get interested in all this cryptozoological stuff?” It got me to thinking, always a dangerous thing, and I realized that I have really not discussed that here on the blog. I figure now is as good a time as any to do so.

I split my time growing up between the Piney Woods of what I consider true East Texas and the Golden Triangle areas of Southeast Texas. I clearly remember seeing the Patterson-Gimlin footage in a movie theater in San Augustine as a young boy. This would have been around 1972-73. I was absolutely mesmerized by what I saw on that big screen. I turned to my grandmother, who had brought my brothers and me to the show, and asked, “Maw Maw, is that real?” She simply replied, “Well, that’s what they are saying.” From that point on, the idea of giant hair-covered bipedal apes roaming the woods was never too far from my mind. I read every bigfoot book in the school library and then branched out to books about other ‘monsters’ like the yeti and Nessie. I wore those books out. It was not unusual to see my name three, four, five or more times in a row on the card of the books before any other name appeared. I remember my 3rd grade teacher making me check out books on something different from time to time so I would be “a well rounded young man.”

My formative years really were something of a golden age for the “big three” of cryptozoology. Despite only being able to receive the three major television networks (no Fox, no cable, not even the local PBS affiliate) there was no shortage of monster related programming. There were specials at least twice a year that documented the search for bigfoot, the yeti and Nessie such as ‘The Mysterious Monsters,’ narrated by Peter Graves. Weekly programs like Leonard Nimoy’s ‘In Search of…’ and fictional dramas like ‘Kolchak: The Nightstalker’ only fed the fire of interest I had in the subject. One of the big moments of my childhood came when Colonel Steve Austin, the Six Million Dollar Man himself, battled a sasquatch in primetime. Saturday morning serials also got in on the act. ‘The Secrets of Isis,’ starring Andrea Thomas had an episode called ‘Bigfoot.’ The kings of Saturday mornings in the 1970’s, Sid and Marty Krofft, produced a serial called ‘Bigfoot and Wildboy’ that was shown weekly on ‘The Krofft Super Show’ and later became its own weekly series. Whether it was the more serious documentary type of program or the campy Saturday morning fare made little difference to me. I ate it all up in equal measure.

As I got older, I began to hear more and more of what most would consider campfire stories. I heard tales of the rougarou from an old Cajun man who, along with a bunch of his friends, had coffee every morning at a local drug store. When I was in the fourth grade, my family moved to Silsbee, Texas. Tales of Ol’ Mossyback, the Wildman of the Big Thicket and Village Creek were regularly discussed in a most serious fashion while eating lunch outside under a large pine tree. I could go on but you get the idea.

My interests in the topic never went away but other things, mainly athletics, cars and girls, replaced cryptids atop my priority list. I was a decent basketball player and had the opportunity to play for a small Central Texas university. I still live in the area and this is the region where I first heard the tales of the Converse Werewolf, the Beast of Bear Creek, the Hairy Man of Round Rock and the Wildwoman of the Navidad among others. I found it fascinating that tales of these bipedal creatures were not limited only to East Texas.

Soon I was engulfed by the daily grind and family responsibilities that marriage, kids and a full time job bring. There was little time to pursue my interests in this particular area other than watching a bad cable special from time to time. Then one night I attended a Legacy Outfitters meeting. Legacy Outfitters is a Christian outdoors group made up of hunting, fishing, hiking and camping enthusiasts. Most chapters have a monthly meeting where the members get together, share a meal and hear a speaker who talks on some outdoor related topic. On this night, Daryl Colyer, then a member of the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy, was the speaker. He told us some amazing stories, showed us a few plaster castings of footprints and even played some pretty impressive audio. He presented the topic in a professional and scientific manner. To say my interest was rekindled would be an understatement.

Following the meeting, a friend and I decided to go out and look around for this creature. We picked our search area by looking at the Texas Counties that had the most sightings. We chose a spot on the Montgomery/Walker County line in the Sam Houston National Forest. We made several trips and then caught lightning in a bottle. I won’t recount the entire story at this time (you can read the official report here) but, to summarize, we saw a very large, upright, hirsute, bipedal creature on a forest service road at approximately 3:15 a.m. in May of 2005. We were in the middle of nowhere and, in our minds anyway, felt the chances of what we saw having been a hoaxer in some sort of ape suit at that time and in that location were extremely low. I felt then, and still feel to this day, that what we encountered that night was the real deal.

The experience, though brief, changed the course of my life. I joined the TBRC soon after (now a member of the North American Wood Ape Conservancy or NAWAC). Daryl Colyer, the man I heard speak at the Legacy Outfitters meeting has become one of my closest friends and someone with whom I have shared many an adventure. I have seen and heard some very interesting things over these last eight or nine years.

About six years ago, I decided to start writing the Texas Cryptid Hunter blog. There was, and still is, so much garbage out on the internet regarding topics of a cryptozoological nature that I felt a voice of reason was badly needed. I do not pretend to be an expert on any of this but do feel I have brought a measured, level-headed and logical point of view to the topics of wood apes, black panthers, chupacabras and such. I wasn’t sure about the name for the blog initially. I couldn’t decide if it was silly or not but, for better or worse, it stuck and here we are today.

Well, that’s the story of how I got into all of this and began writing the blog. It may be more information than you ever wanted to know but that is ok. I decided to make this post not only because I was asked the question, but to show that I was a normal person going about the business of life when I had my encounter. I was an unextraordinary person who had an extraordinary experience. My story really isn’t much different than that of a lot of folks out there. I’ve come to realize that a lot of folks, more than most realize, have some kind of story that relates to my interest in this topic. I’ve heard countless statements like, “Well, I’ve never seen anything but my grandfather once saw…” or “I’ve never seen anything weird but there was this one time while I was hunting when…” Most people don’t talk a lot about such things but the stories are out there.

Mine is just one of them.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Sasquatch Classics: The William Roe Encounter

There are several accepted definitions of the word classic. One widely used definition is “something of enduring interest, quality or style.” Another meaning is “something honored as definitive in its field.” Still another definition is “something noteworthy of its kind and worth remembering.” When it comes to encounters with large, hirsute bipedal animals, the sighting of one William Roe certainly fits the bill as a classic. In fact, to many who follow cryptozoological matters closely, Mr. Roe’s sighting might very well be the most important bigfoot sighting of all time.

In October of 1955, William Roe, a highway worker and experienced outdoorsman was spending time near Tete Jaune Cache, British Columbia. Roe was part of a crew working on a road in the area. Roe found himself with a day off and decided to take a hike and scout out a good area for a future hunt. Roe carried his rifle but was not really looking to take a shot that day. He decided to visit a rugged and isolated area on Mica Mountain where there was an old abandoned mine. Roe had taken a grizzly bear in this area the year before. What happened next is best described by William Roe himself.


What follows is a sworn affidavit filed on August 26, 1957 by Mr. Roe regarding his experience. The affidavit was drawn up by the legal department of the City of Edmonton, Alberta, made up of Allen F. MacDonald, B.A., L.L.B., City Solicitor, H. F. Wilson, B.A., Assistant City Solicitor and R. N. Saunders, Claims Agent. The affidavit was in response to a request from John Green who had asked Mr. Roe if he would agree to make an account of his sighting while under oath.

I, W. Roe of the City of Edmonton, in the province of Alberta make oath and say,
(1) That the exhibit A attached to this, my affidavit, is absolutely true and correct in all details.

Sworn before me in the City of Edmonton, Province of Alberta, this 26th day of August, A.D. 1957.

(Signed) William Roe
(Signed) by W.H. Clark
Assistant Claims Agent
Number D.D. 2822

EXHIBIT A.
Ever since I was a small boy back in the forest of Michigan, I have studied the lives and habits of wild animals. Later, when I supported my family in Northern Alberta by hunting and trapping, I spent many hours just observing the wild things. They fascinated me. But the most incredible experience I ever had with a wild creature occurred near a little town called Tete Jaune Cache, British Columbia, about eighty miles west of Jasper, Alberta.

I had been working on the highway near Tete Jaune Cache for about two years. In October, 1955, I decided to climb five miles up Mica Mountain to an old deserted mine, just for something to do. I came in sight of the mine about three o'clock in the afternoon after an easy climb. I had just come out of a patch of low brush into a clearing when I saw what I thought was a grizzly bear, in the bush on the other side. I had shot a grizzly near that spot the year before. This one was only about 75 yards away, but I didn't want to shoot it, for I had no way of getting it out. So I sat down on a small rock and watched, my rifle in my hands.

I could see part of the animal's head and the top of one shoulder. A moment later it raised up and stepped out into the opening. Then I saw it was not a bear.

This, to the best of my recollection, is what the creature looked like and how it acted as it came across the clearing directly toward me. My first impression was of a huge man, about six feet tall, almost three feet wide, and probably weighing somewhere near three hundred pounds. It was covered from head to foot with dark brown silver-tipped hair. But as it came closer I saw by its breasts that it was female.

And yet, its torso was not curved like a female's. Its broad frame was straight from shoulder to hip. Its arms were much thicker than a man's arms, and longer, reaching almost to its knees. Its feet were broader proportionately than a man's, about five inches wide at the front and tapering to much thinner heels. When it walked it placed the heel of its foot down first, and I could see the grey-brown skin or hide on the soles of its feet.

It came to the edge of the bush I was hiding in, within twenty feet of me, and squatted down on its haunches. Reaching out its hands it pulled the branches of bushes toward it and stripped the leaves with its teeth. Its lips curled flexibly around the leaves as it ate. I was close enough to see that its teeth were white and even.

The head was higher at the back than at the front. The nose was broad and flat. The lips and chin protruded farther than its nose. But the hair that covered it, leaving bare only the parts of its face around the mouth, nose and ears, made it resemble an animal as much as a human. None of this hair, even on the back of its head, was longer than an inch, and that on its face was much shorter. Its ears were shaped like a human's ears. But its eyes were small and black like a bear's. And its neck also was unhuman. Thicker and shorter than any man's I had ever seen.

As I watched this creature, I wondered if some movie company was making a film at this place and that what I saw was an actor, made up to look partly human and partly animal. But as I observed it more, I decided it would be impossible to fake such a specimen. Anyway, I learned later there was no such company near that area. Nor, in fact, did anyone live up Mica Mountain, according to the people who lived in Tete Jaune Cache.

Finally the wild thing must have got my scent, for it looked directly at me through an opening in the brush. A look of amazement crossed its face. It looked so comical at the moment I had to grin. Still in a crouched position, it backed up three or four short steps, then straightened up to its full height and started to walk rapidly back the way it had come. For a moment it watched me over its shoulder as it went, not exactly afraid, but as though it wanted no contact with anything strange.


The thought came to me that if I shot it, I would possibly have a specimen of great interest to scientists the world over. I had heard stories of the Sasquatch, the giant hairy Indians that live in the legends of British Columbia Indians, and also many claim, are still in fact alive today. Maybe this was a Sasquatch, I told myself.

I levelled (sic) my rifle. The creature was still walking rapidly away, again turning its head to look in my direction. I lowered the rifle. Although I have called the creature "it", I felt now that it was a human being and I knew I would never forgive myself if I killed it.

Just as it came to the other patch of brush it threw its head back and made a peculiar noise that seemed to be half laugh and half language, and which I can only describe as a kind of a whinny. Then it walked from the small brush into a stand of lodgepole pine.

I stepped out into the opening and looked across a small ridge just beyond the pine to see if I could see it again. It came out on the ridge a couple of hundred yards away from me, tipped its head back again, and again emitted the only sound I had heard it make, but what this half- laugh, half-language was meant to convey, I do not know. It disappeared then, and I never saw it again.

I wanted to find out if it lived on vegetation entirely or ate meat as well, so I went down and looked for signs. I found it in five different places, and although I examined it thoroughly, could find no hair or shells of bugs or insects. So I believe it was strictly a vegetarian. (TCH note: It was assumed by both John Green and Ivan T. Sanderson that Roe was referring to fecal matter located in the sighting location. In my mind, this is obviously the correct interpretation.)

I found one place where it had slept for a couple of nights under a tree. Now, the nights were cool up the mountain, at this time of year especially, and yet it had not used a fire. I found no sign that it possessed even the simplest of tools. Nor a single companion while in this place.

Whether this was a Sasquatch I do not know. It will always remain a mystery to me, unless another one is found.

I hereby declare the above statement to be in every part true, to the best of my powers of observation and recollection.

Signed William Roe


The sighting of William Roe has, of course, been dissected seven ways to Sunday. Critics most often point to the appearance of the creature’s breasts as reported by Roe and drawn by his daughter at his direction. They point to the fact that no other apes have hair on their breasts. Roe’s description is that the breasts did have hair with the exception of the area immediately surrounding the nipples. It should be pointed out that other primates, including human females, do have hair on their breasts. The hair is typically very thin, downy, short and lighter in color than the hair on the rest of their body but it is there. Some feel that perhaps the hair of the sasquatch remains constant in thickness and color over a higher percentage of its body than does the hair on humans or even other great apes. Why this would be is, of course, subject to speculation. To others, the hair on the breasts is a huge red flag that could indicate a hoax.

The most common criticisms involving the details described by William Roe are actually not criticisms of his sighting at all; rather, they are criticisms leveled directly at Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin and the sasquatch they claim to have captured on film at Bluff Creek in October of 1967. Many who feel that the creature filmed by Patterson that day is nothing more than a man in a suit point to the similarities between Patty, as the Patterson subject came to be known, and the creature described by William Roe. The crowned head, the long arms that nearly reach the knees, the thick torso that does not taper from chest to waist and, yes, the hair covered breasts of the Patterson subject all are reminiscent of the creature described by Roe. Critics feel that it is likely Roger Patterson and any accomplices he might have had modeled their ape suit after the Roe creature. While there is no proof this is what happened (no ape suit has ever been found), it has failed to deter hardcore critics from making this connection.

Of course, there is another possible reason that the Patterson-Gimlin subject and the Roe creature look so similar. Simply, maybe this is what wood apes look like. Entertain the idea for a moment that William Roe, Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin encountered female individuals of the same species. Would it not be expected that they would share a great deal of physical characteristics? A female lion looks very much any other female lion. Are there small individual variations? Yes, but each individual lioness is easily identified as just that. Do sow grizzly bears look like other sow grizzly bears? Yes, and they are easily identifiable as such. Female gorillas? Orangutans? Chimpanzees? It is the same no matter the species. Individuals of the same sex and belonging to the same species look very much alike. In my mind, the fact that the subject filmed by Roger Patterson looks so much like the creature described by William Roe could just as easily be turned around and used by supporters as strong evidence that the footage is genuine.


Another aspect of the Roe encounter that fascinates me is the reaction of the creature once it realized it was being watched. Roe stated, “Finally the wild thing must have got my scent, for it looked directly at me through an opening in the brush. A look of amazement crossed its face. It looked so comical at the moment I had to grin. Still in a crouched position, it backed up three or four short steps, then straightened up to its full height and started to walk rapidly back the way it had come. For a moment it watched me over its shoulder as it went, not exactly afraid, but as though it wanted no contact with anything strange.” I have often wondered how the creature interpreted Roe’s grin. Did Roe show his teeth? In the primate world this is often a signal indicating agitation or aggression. Is this why the creature backed cautiously away? Additionally, the way it retreated is of interest to me. After shuffling backwards three or four steps, the creature began to walk, not run, back toward the tree line. The creature even looked back at Roe over its shoulder as it strode away. William Roe described the retreating behavior as “not exactly afraid, but as though it wanted no contact with anything strange.” Sound familiar? Indeed, this statement could have come right out of the mouth of Roger Patterson or Bob Gimlin as it perfectly describes the retreat of their film subject. Critics of the Patterson-Gimlin footage have pointed to the measured and, seemingly, unafraid manner in which Patty walked away as unnatural behavior for a wild animal. To them, this is another red flag. Again, I feel the similarity of the Roe creature’s retreat to that of the Patterson-Gimlin subject could just as easily be used to bolster the claims of the two men that what they filmed that day was genuine.

The physical description given by William Roe of the creature he observed back in 1955 is one that has held up and been repeated time and time again by alleged sasquatch witnesses all over North America. The crowned head, thick non-tapering torso, incredibly broad shoulders, abnormally long arm proportions, wide feet and more continue to be described by witnesses today. Most of these people have never heard of William Roe. These similarities, reported over many decades, would seem to indicate that people are seeing real flesh and blood animals that belong to the same species.

To my knowledge the credibility of William Roe has never really been criticized. I have never read anything that would lead me to believe he might have been some sort of charlatan or hoaxer. Remember, this all took place almost three full years before the term bigfoot was used in a newspaper article describing prints found by Jerry Crew in Northern California and twelve years before the Patterson-Gimlin footage became an international lightning rod. Roe did some interviews regarding his sighting but later took the additional step of having a sworn affidavit drawn up detailing his experience for John Green. He simply did not have to do this. This, in my opinion, is not the sort of action a hoaxer would take.

It is my opinion that William Roe had the remarkable good fortune of observing a wood ape that October day back in 1955. It is also my opinion that people do not continue to tailor their descriptions of these animals today to fit some sort of template created by William Roe years ago; rather, the reason the description of the physical appearance of these animals given by so many matches that given by Roe years ago is simply due to the fact that this is what these animals look like. Obviously, I cannot prove it but I have always felt that the Roe account had the ring of truth to it.

Until discovery day truly arrives, that is about as much as we can hope for.


Sources:

Sanderson, Ivan T. "The Appearance of Bigfeet." Abominable Snowmen Legend Come to Life. New York, New York: Cosimo Publications, 2008 (originally published in 1961). 75-79. Print.

Green, John. "The Centennial Sasquatch Hunt." Sasquatch the Apes Among Us. Blaine, Washington: Hancock House, 2006. 52-57. Print.

Murphy, Christopher L. "The Sasquatch "Classics"" Meet the Sasquatch. Blaine, Washington: Hancock House, 2004. 36. Print.

"classic." Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. 01 Jan. 2015. .


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

I just wanted to pause and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas. I appreciate everyone of you who stop by to read my thoughts from time to time. You are much appreciated.

Things have been a bit crazy for me of late but I hope to get back to posting more regularly once the holiday season is over.

Until then, my best to you all.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Field Report: Ellis County, TX

Yesterday, I managed to make a long overdue trip up to my study site in Ellis County, Texas. I have had cameras on the property off and on for about two years now. The property owner originally contacted me after multiple family members had seen large cats on the property (one tawny-colored mountain lion and one large long-tailed black cat) and several of the horses on the property came up with injuries that resembled deep claw marks and puncture wounds on their haunches and necks. To date, I have captured one intriguing video of an animal I cannot identify but nothing else unusual. I have tons of photos of feral hogs, raccoons, opossums, coyotes and a few of bobcats. Interestingly, I have not one single shot of a white-tailed deer.

My arsenal of game cameras has become quite depleted over the last few years. Some have worn out and stopped working properly. Some have been destroyed in high water events. Still other cameras have been stolen. For the last few months I have had only one camera on the property, a Cuddeback Ambush model. I was several weeks past due on checking this camera and anxious to look at what it might have captured. Also, I recently had two older Reconyx cameras (an RC55 and an RC60) repaired and upgraded and was ready to get them back out into the field. All that being the case, I set out for Ellis County excited at the prospect of having better coverage of the property once the reconditioned Reconyx cameras were deployed.


Upon arrival, the first order of business was getting the two reconditioned cameras set out. I found two locations that I am very excited about. Both cameras will be overlooking spots where well-worn game trails intersect. The trails run very close to a major creek in a heavily wooded section of the property. There are ample food sources and several dens, belonging to several different species, were found while scouting the potential camera locations. I anticipate getting some nice photos of whatever roams around those woods. Once the two Reconyx cameras were placed, secured with camouflaged steel cables and padlocks and activated, we moved to the location of the Cuddeback Ambush camera in order to download what photos and/or video it might have captured over the last two months.

I was disappointed in the number of events the camera was able to capture. The spot over which the camera watched, apparently, is not the busy animal thoroughfare I thought it was when I placed it. Even so, I got some nice shots of a couple of very large feral hogs and some coyotes. One of the hog shots is interesting as it shows this very large pig leaping into the air. I am not sure why it was doing so as there is no debris in that spot that could not be negotiated simply by stepping over. Maybe it was feeling its oats that night. In any case, it is a fun photo. A couple of the coyote shots interested me as the animal(s) photographed is travelling with its tail straight out behind it in a horizontal position . This is a characteristic of wolves, not coyotes, which usually travel with their tails down below the level of their backs. Do not misunderstand me, as I am not claiming the canid photographed is a red wolf. I do feel, however, that it could be a sign that the coyotes in this particular area have some red wolf lineage to them.


By far the most interesting item captured by the Cuddeback is a short video showing an animal of some kind in a tree. The animal is a rusty color and, though mostly obscured by foliage and branches, clearly negotiating a tree branch in the upper right hand portion of the video. There appears to be the flip of a tail, or some other appendage, toward the end of the video. The tail, if that is what it is, appears too thick and puffy to be that of a cat, in my opinion. The animal is close to the same color as the coyotes photographed. Could a coyote be up in this tree? Not impossible, I suppose, but not the likeliest of explanations either. I feel a red fox is a possibility. I know foxes have a limited ability to climb trees and they are native to the area. Admittedly, I have never captured a photo of a fox (red or gray) on the property and the animal in the video seems a bit large to be a fox (you’ll have to take my word on this as I am familiar with the tree in which this animal is moving). It is a bit of a head scratcher but enjoyable to ponder. Maybe the culprit will return now that the leaves have dropped and it would be easier to identify. The video is below. Again, keep your eyes on the upper right hand quadrant of the video.



Overall, it was a very good trip. The property owners and I have become good friends and it is always nice to visit with them. Time outdoors is always a good thing as well and does more to recharge me than just about anything else. The only negative I took away was the quality of some of the video shot by the Cuddeback Ambush camera. The video of the last few events captured was of very poor quality. So much so that it was hard to tell what you were looking at on the screen. I am hoping this is a result of the batteries having been very low (I was more than a month overdue in changing them) and not some flaw in this almost brand new camera. Time will tell, I suppose.


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Robert M. Pyle, PhD on the Sasquatch

I am having trouble finding the time necessary to write any in depth posts (basketball season) so I have been posting some quotes that I like or feel are relevant to the cryptozoological field. I should have a "real" post up soon but, in the meantime, enjoy this quote from Robert M. Pyle, Phd in regards to the possible existence of the sasquatch or wood ape.

“There is no prevailing model of anthropology and zoology, I would suggest, that eliminates the possibility, let alone the likelihood, of bigfoot. Not on an evolutionary ground, not on a bio-geographical ground, not on an ecological ground, not on a metabolic ground. The only thing that keeps scientists, I think, from putting their necks out and saying this is something worth our looking into is their own fear of ridicule.”

- Robert M. Pyle, PhD

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

For Your Consideration...

I thought I would share a couple of my favorite quotes with you. Both of these quotes were made by noted researchers of cryptozoological phenomenon concerning their particular areas of interest; however, I have always felt these quotes were applicable in a much broader sense. Current events have only strengthened that sentiment. I present them for your consideration below.

“Most of us dislike having to change our opinions. So, while facts are facts, objectionable ones are often deliberately misinterpreted."

- Ivan T. Sanderson

“Everyone has a right to their own opinion, but no one has a right to be wrong about the facts. Without the facts, your opinion is of no value.”

- Rene Dahinden