Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year

I wanted to wish everyone out there a happy and prosperous new year. Here is to hoping that 2010 is the year that at least one major cryptozoological mystery is solved. I plan on enjoying the holiday and getting back to work this weekend.

Until then, my best to you all...

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I would just like to take a moment to wish everyone a merry and joyous Christmas. I pray it will be a blessed time for you and your family.

My very best to each of you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Lions, Tigers, and Bears...In Texas?

It seems that a lot of large predators that formerly called Texas home are making a comeback here in the Lone Star State. There is also a recent report of a non-native predator making an appearance.

Sightings of big cats continue to roll in from areas of the state where such animals have long been thought extirpated. Cougars and the ever-elusive black panther top the list of big cats spotted. Cougars are known to inhabit and flourish in the Trans-Pecos region of Texas and deep South Texas along the Rio Grande River. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department continues to take the position that no wild breeding population of cougars exists outside these areas. The black panther is not even discussed as a possibility in any official capacity despite a growing number of reports.

Now an even scarier cat has been reported stalking Southeast Texas. Police in the Brazoria County town of Oyster Creek have received multiple reports of a tiger prowling the area. You can read the story about the sightings in the Houston Chronicle here. The article claims that Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens have investigated the area but found no sign of a large cat of any kind. The TP&W must have taken the reports seriously as the article says they even broke out night vision gear trying to catch a glimpse of the tiger. If true, this would be an incredibly dangerous situation for the people of Brazoria County.

The black bear continues to make news as it seems to be finding its way back into the eastern portion of the state. Like the cougar, black bears are known to inhabit the rough and arid areas of far West Texas. Bears did formerly inhabit the piney woods and swamps of East and Southeast Texas but hunting wiped them out by the mid 1900s. Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana bear populations have exploded over the past decade and it has long been thought to be just a matter of time before they made their way into remote areas of Texas. That time seems to be now. Bear sightings, particularly in Southeast and extreme Northeast Texas, are on the rise. What is surprising is that sightings are beginning to be reported from areas in what would be considered Central Texas. There was a nice article recently published in the San Antonio Express News regarding the come back of the black bear in Texas. You can access that article here.

I would be greatly interested in hearing reports of any big cats or black bear sighted in Texas by readers.

So, keep your eyes peeled as you travel the rural roads of Texas this holiday season. You might catch a glimpse of a mountain lion, black panther, or bear. Of course, if you are really lucky, you might catch a glimpse of something even more unusual. I would like to hear about that as well.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Happy Anniversary

Today marks the one year anniversary of the Texas Cryptid Hunter site. It has been a great year. I have enjoyed having an outlet to post my thoughts on various cryptozoological topics. My interests in undiscovered animals and weird creatures is not exactly mainstream. Typically, it isn't a topic you can bring up at the company Christmas party or at the office water cooler without being chastised or thought of as a bit, shall we say, "eccentric." The blog site has allowed me to open up and say what I think whenever something of interest pops up. I have enjoyed writing it immensely.

It also seems that I have acquired a few faithful readers. While only three folks have signed up as official "followers" of the site I have noticed, via sitemeter, many of the same IEP addresses showing up almost daily. I really appreciate those who drop by regularly. I would encourage you to sign up as a follower to the site. That way you will be alerted to updates quickly. The statistics for the year are as follows:

Total Visits : 9,962
Avg. Per Day : 61
Avg. Visit Length : 2:31
Total Page Views : 18,845

I have no idea how good these numbers really are but I am pleased to think nearly 10,000 people stopped by, even for a little while, to see what I had to say. I'm sure these numbers pale in comparison to other more established sites but from what I can tell the 2:31 average length of visit is actually a pretty healthy number.

So, thanks to all those who drop by and read my thoughts from time to time. It is appreciated. Now on to year two.

My best...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Final Thoughts (Maybe) on the San Antonio Sasquatch Sighting

Two nights ago, at about 10:45pm, my cell phone rang. I answered only to hear someone already in mid sentence talking about bigfoot. This gentleman continued to ramble on about bigfoot and didn't seem to take much notice of me at all. The speech was slurred and sometimes hard to understand. It took a few moments for me to realize this was the husband of the woman who made the 911 call to San Antonio police claiming a huge hair-covered creature had walked through their makeshift camp (If by some chance you have yet to hear about this incident just skip down and read my previous entry for details). This gentleman continued to go on about the incident. He said if I wanted to see bigfoot he could make that happen but only for my "own peace of mind." He adamantly stated that I should stay home if I wanted to "take pictures, write a book, put it on the internet, or get on television." I tried to interject here and there without success. After a few minutes he said his throat was hurting and handed the phone to his wife.

At this point the conversation became easier to follow. She seemed lucid, her speech was clear, and I had no trouble understanding her. However, it was what she said that was a bit disturbing. She said she had had someone "check me out" by doing an internet search on my name. She said she just wanted to make sure she knew who she was talking to. If true, I guess I passed this test as she was calling to invite me to her camp for a few days so I could see what was going on. She said the bigfoot family had moved on to "another forest" and she no longer felt safe without them near. More claims were made about government vehicles emitting high frequency waves and interlopers traipsing through the area they considered their home. It was about this time the phone went dead. It could be the battery on their cell phone died. It could also be that their prepaid minutes were exhausted. In any case, the conversation, one sided as it was, ended abruptly at that point. I stayed up another hour or so to see if they would call back. They did not. I have not heard from them since.

So, what is to be made from this? This witness was very convincing during the initial phone interview. She said some things that I found very interesting and compelling. Not so much about the creature she claims to have seen itself but more about the area where she was camping (a dumping ground by county workers for dead, probably road-killed, animals), the behavior of the creature (freezing until it realized it had been seen), the hearing of bangs and knocks and the alleged discovery of a stump that held a beehive, etc. (Again this is all detailed below). As I mentioned in the initial write-up, she went off on some strange tangents that raised some red flags for me. Strange government vehicles emitting high frequency waves, feeling that the bigfoot creatures were trying to communicate with her telepathically, and being able to "sense" a female bigfoot presence to name a few. I leaned toward believing her story regarding the sighting itself. Personally, I don't fall into the camp of those who believe there is some sort of government cover-up regarding these creatures. Nor do I believe sasquatches are shape shifters, have telepathic or psychic abilities, etc. However, having different opinions on these subjects has no bearing on whether or not a sasquatch was present in these folks camp that night. Things have changed a bit for me, however.

Obviously the odd phone call did not help the credibility of the witnesses in my eyes but there is more. Rick Tullos of the San Antonio Texas Bigfoot Research Group posted a comment below my original write-up with a link to what he had on the story to this point. He and a fellow researcher named Ken Gerhard made their way out to the sighting location. They did manage to find the campsite the witnesses had been using. According to Tullos and Gerhard the site had been bulldozed and a fire lane had been cut through the area. All that was left were residual ashes from a campfire. They located what they feel may be some tracks but nothing else unusual. You can read their full account here. According to Mr. Tullos' write-up, the date he and Mr. Gerhard visited the site of the alleged encounter was the day before my phone conversation with the couple. During our conversation the witness never mentioned having moved their camp voluntarily or involuntarily. While the witnesses never specifically said they were still in the same location it was certainly implied during our conversation. I would think the destruction of their campsite by a bulldozer would be something important enough to mention. This, if Tullos and Gerhart were in the correct spot, further hurts the credibility of the witnesses in my eyes.

It has been suggested that the witnesses may suffer from some sort of mental illness. Certainly it is no secret that many homeless people are suffering from one form of mental illness or another. Paranoid schizophrenia seems to be by far the most common disorder found in the homeless. Before anyone gets up in arms, I am not suggesting that every person who finds themselves homeless is mentally ill. That is certainly not the case. More people than ever are finding themselves in this sort of situation due to the hard economic times we are currently experiencing. However, it is a possibility that I feel must be considered at this point. It certainly would explain some of the odd behaviors and theories being put forth by the couple. I have a good friend who is a long time police officer. He has had many dealings with the homeless over the years and he says, "Many, if not most, of the homeless I've dealt with have suffered from some form of mental illness or substance abuse problem." He went on to add, " Being a paranoid schozophrenic seems to be the most common ailment they suffer. Some of them have the most elaborate thoughts and beliefs on the federal government. The most common delusion is that they have had a chip implanted in their brain and are under constant surveillance by the authorities. However, you could discuss almost any other commonplace subject with ease and intelligence despite this fact." Interestingly, he said, "Despite their delusions this does not preclude them from being solid witnesses to a crime. Based on your report (blog entry below) it sounds like a very common scenario where they saw something real, were open and honest about it, yet are completely delusional in other aspects of their lives." I have no idea if this couple suffers from any form of mental illness. Due to behaviors exhibited and their circumstances it must be considered, no matter how politically incorrect it may be, as a possibility.

So, what is my final conclusion on this one? Initially, as stated previously, I was leaning toward believing the sighting was real. The account was truly convincing and I did not detect any signs of deception. However, as stated in the original post , the odd theories the witness put forth during that first discussion gave me pause. My doubts have only grown stronger for the reasons stated above. Is it possible these folks saw a sasquatch on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas? I absolutely believe it to be possible. Do I have enough confidence in this report to suggest publishing it on the TBRC website or to come out on this blog as believing it to be a legitimate sighting? I do not. There are simply too many reasons to have reasonable doubts on this alleged encounter.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The San Antonio Sasquatch Investigation

Last night I spoke to the lady who made the 911 call to San Antonio police to report a sasquatch sighting. I will go into some detail regarding that conversation but feel it would be beneficial for readers to hear the actual 911 call first. You can hear that call here. The witness sounds sober and coherent on the phone. She talks lucidly to the dispatcher and her request to have someone come out to the location to check things out seems reasonable to me. The witness did not want to meet an officer at that point in time. Some have criticized the witness for this or pointed to this detail as a sign the whole thing is likely a hoax. I am not so sure. As is clearly stated on the 911 call to the dispatcher, it was dark , raining, and the witness was too scared to walk through the wooded area to the nearest road where an officer could be met. This seems like a predictable and perfectly logical reaction to seeing something frightening, in my opinion. I also feel she must have been really shaken up to call the police as she and her husband would likely be forced out of their make-shift camp if police became aware of their exact location.

I cold called the witness and once she warmed up to me she rattled off details in a rapid-fire fashion that was sometimes hard to keep up with. I learned she and her husband are currently homeless and living out of a tent in a wooded area on the West side of San Antonio. They have been staying in this particular area for several years. The husband was talking at the same time in the background during the conversation in the same rapid-fire fashion, which sometimes made the conversation even more difficult to follow. However, I was able to glean some additional details not published, that I have seen, anywhere else. She claims not to have talked to anyone else regarding this incident and that no one has visited the sighting location. This would seem to make some of claims of other investigators who say they have found tracks, hair, etc. dubious at best.

The witness has a clothes line strung up that at her campsite that is, according to her, about five feet off the ground. She was walking near this clothes line when she noticed a large hair-covered upright creature staring at her from the other side of the line. She stared at it for a few seconds and then it bolted away from her, scooped up a deer carcass lying on the ground, and made its way into the brush. As it retreated, it let out a loud scream the likes of which neither the witness or her husband had heard before. The witness estimates she was no more than 30 feet away from the creature initially. The point at which she lost sight of it was about 50 feet away. While it was dark, she had, in her words, "a pretty good fire going." This fire lit the area up enough to get a good look at the animal. She added that there had not been a deer carcass in that location earlier.

She describes the animal as dark and covered in hair or fur. She is estimating the creature's height to be between seven and eight feet tall. She estimates this based on how much taller the animal was than the five foot high clothes line. It walked away very quickly on two legs. At no time was the animal ever on four legs. The deer carcass was picked up easily. The witness said, " It picked up that deer like it was nothing and tucked it under its arm like a football." She added, "It didn't even slow it down any." The husband corroborated everything she said. albeit from the background while she was trying to tell her story. The pair was very frightened by the idea something so large and powerful was in the vicinity and thought it best to call the police.

The witness described some things that intrigued me. The first was how the creature stood as if frozen in place for several seconds. This reminded me a bit of a fellow TBRC members sighting account. This gentleman was out setting up a game camera in an area where there had been several recent sightings. He looked up to see a large dark animal looking at him from a brushy area. He felt the animal must have thought he had been spotted. This "being seen" is what prompted the creature to run away. The San Antonio witness similarly said, "It didn't move until it realized I had seen it." She seemed to feel if she had not "gawked at it" it would never have moved at all.

The second thing I found compelling was the deer carcass. Sasquatches carrying deer, hogs, etc. have been reported before. What is interesting about this situation is that the deer was already dead and the location of the couple's campsite. According to the witness, dead animals are dumped in the area by, as she described them, "government trucks." If true, my best guess is that county or city workers are scraping up road killed animals and, instead of disposing of them properly, dumping them in this area. Why they would do this I cannot say. If true, this could explain why a sasquatch was in this semi-developed area to begin with. If these dead animals were dumped reasonably soon after being killed the area would be a continuous source of food for a sasquatch. It could stay hidden in this wooded area and wait for "deliveries" several times a week. Stories circulating about how the witness saw a sasquatch take and devour a live deer are not true, according to the couple.

The third thing that was very interesting was the scream the witness claims the creature made as it strode away. She said it was not a howl like a wolf would make but a scream. She had a bit of trouble in trying to describe it and instead tried to duplicate it for me over the phone. It may sound funny, and, no doubt, totally unscientific, but her mimicked scream rang true to me. It dawned on me that I had heard that before. The scream she made was eerily similar to the scream described by TBRC members heard outside their tent in the Big Thicket National Preserve during Operation Thicket Probe several years ago. At least it was very similar to these members best efforts at recreating it.

One more thing really made me sit up and take notice during our conversation. She claims, and her husband again corroborated, hearing loud banging sounds from time to time. According to the witness, they always seemed to come from the same direction. One day in the last week or so she and her husband decided to go try to find the source of the banging. She says they came across an old stump that looked like it had, in her words, "been beat to hell." Upon closer inspection, the couple found a hollow cavity at the base of the stump contained a beehive. She theorized that the creature was beating on the stump to get the bees to leave the hive so the honey could be accessed. I'm not sure about the validity of her theory but do know that chimpanzees have been documented beating on beehives for hours at a time in order to break through and reach the honey inside.

At this point, the witness really got worked up and went off on some tangents that raise some red flags for me. She claims that "government vehicles" have been driving all around the area since she called 911 and that sometimes they park for hours at a time. She says she has heard a very high frequency sound come from the vehicles during these extended stays. She feels that the sound is intended to flush the creature out of hiding. She also feels that there is a whole family of creatures in the area and that they are trying to "communicate with her by thinking" or, in other words, telepathically. She says she now can "feel" when one or more of these animals is close by and senses a "female presence" at times.

The witness was very convincing when discussing the actual sighting and the accounts of the banging and knocks heard over the last few weeks. After digesting her account, I am leaning toward believing her story regarding the sighting itself. I admit to being troubled by some of the theories she extolled on telepathy, government involvement, and habituation. However, whether I agree with the witness' interpretations of the events or not is not relevant to whether or not this person actually saw a sasquatch. I feel that is an important point to stress here.

I feel the monkey-like creature that visited a dumpster at a not too distant auto body shop is an entirely different and unrelated incident. By all accounts this small creature appears to be a macaque or similar small primate. I have no idea where this little guy might have come from but the location of his appearance and the timing of the incident appear to be entirely coincidental.

So, there you have it. The whole thing could be one elaborate hoax, I suppose. An on site investigation is going to be necessary before I can go any deeper on this one. I hope to have the opportunity to visit the sighting location in the next week or two. I will update things when, and if, that happens.

Friday, December 4, 2009

More on the San Antonio Sasquatch Sighting

I am endeavoring to look into the alleged sighting of a "bigfoot-like" creature seen on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas this past week. I have a friend in the area who is keeping me up on developments as they occur. I am also trying to get access to one of the witnesses who actually made one of the 911 calls. If I am successful in contacting this person I will likely be making a trip down south to visit the sighting location.

I will post updates here as I have them. In the meantime, Loren Coleman over at Cryptomundo has done a good job of documenting the events surrounding this sighting to this point.

More soon...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A San Antonio Sasquatch?

Here is a link to an article about several alleged sasquatch sightings in San Antonio, Texas.

If anyone has heard anything about this please contact me.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Grieving Chimpanzees

I saw a photograph on the National Geographic website recently that I found quite interesting. The photograph was taken by Monica Szczupider and shows a group of chimpanzees watching from behind a fence as one of their own, who had recently died, was being wheeled away to be buried.

The dead chimp was named Dorothy and was quite a popular and beloved figure among the other chimps at the Sanaga-Yong Chimpanzee Rescue Center in Cameroon. Dorothy had been rescued eight years prior and had become a maternal figure to the troupe of chimps housed at the center which rehabilitates apes victimized by loss of habitat and the illegal bush meat trade. According to Szczupider, "As Dorothy's health improved her deep kindness surfaced. She mothered an orphaned chimp named Bouboule and became a close friend to many others, including Jacky, the group's alpha male." She added, "Her presence, and loss, was palpable, and resonated throughout the group. The management at Sanaga-Yong opted to let Dorothy's chimpanzee family witness her burial, so that perhaps they would understand, in their own capacity, that Dorothy would not return. Some chimps displayed aggression while others barked in frustration. But perhaps the most stunning reaction was a recurring, almost tangible, silence. If one knows chimpanzees, then one knows that they are not usually silent creatures."

I try very hard not to "humanize" animals and assign characteristics and emotional capacities beyond their capabilities. However, the more I look at the great apes, the more I begin to wonder just where their "limits" lie. It is impossible to look at this photograph and not sense that this group of chimps was experiencing feelings of grief and sadness. We have learned a lot about the great apes over the last couple of years. Some of these discoveries are detailed in the Great Ape Behavioral Parallel Series of articles I have been working on the last few months. With each new discovery we seem to find that these creatures are capable of much more than was ever thought possible. Maybe emotions like love, grief, loss, and sadness are not beyond them after all.

We who are actively trying to prove the existence of the sasquatch are often asked, "Why are they so hard to find?" The answer may be far simpler than most suspect. If the sasquatch is a great ape that makes it, by default, an amazingly intelligent creature. If, as I suspect, it turns out to be the most intelligent of the great apes then that may be all the explanation necessary to explain why these incredible creatures are so hard to locate and pattern.

The Coyote and Me

Last Saturday I went to service one of my game cameras in a fairly remote area here in Central Texas. Usually, it is a simple and quick process to bait the area with food or scent, change the batteries and film, and reset the camera. Usually, the entire process takes all of about 15 minutes. I try to get in and out quickly so as to minimize human scent in the camera location and let things settle down and get back to normal as quickly as possible. Once the camera has been taken care of I will usually hike the surrounding area looking for animal sign. Sometimes, when I'm not in a hurry, I will find a quiet and secluded spot and just sit quietly for a while. I am a teacher and coach and live with three women so silence is a rare and precious thing to me. Several times I have had animals walk out of cover very near to me while I sat quietly watching. This is precisely what happened to me last Saturday.

I had discovered the camera in this particular area had malfunctioned. So, I removed it and went for a hike. I walked to the end of a rutted and little used road and sat down on a fallen tree. I wasn't concealed very well. The tree had fallen across the road. I sat down right in the middle of the log in what would be the middle of what remained of the road. There was thick brush on both sides of the road, however. I really wasn't too worried about being concealed. I was more concerned with my malfunctioning game camera. I removed the camera from by backpack and began to fiddle with it to see if I might be able to get it working after all. I guess I had been at it for about ten minutes when a coyote walked out of the brush to my left about 30 feet in front of me.

The coyote was not a particularly handsome specimen. He was a bit ragged looking. He looked like he might have recently rolled around in something. He had unusually big ears and legs that seemed a bit long. I'm guessing, due to these characteristics, he was fairly young and had not yet filled out or "grown into" his ears. He was mostly gray with specs of black on his back and sides. He had a lot of reddish orange coloration on the back of his ears and his legs. While I'm guessing he was a juvenile due to his gangly appearance, he wasn't particularly small. I estimate that he was about knee high to me at the shoulder with his head higher than that. I'm a bit over 6' 3" tall and pretty long legged so he was decent sized.

The coyote stepped out of the brush and walked out to the middle of the rutted road. For a couple of seconds he was in full profile to me. He failed to notice me as I was, unintentionally, downwind from him. He stood there with his nose high for a couple of seconds, I assume, sniffing the air. When he did turn his head and noticed me he jumped almost straight up and slightly back. It was obvious he had not realized I was there and his reaction was pretty humorous. It was then his behavior got a little strange. He did not run away. Neither did he take his eyes off me. He simply laid down where he was with his head on his forelegs and paws. I just looked at him for a few seconds expecting him to leave but he didn't. I had a digital camera in my backpack and decided to try and reach it so I could snap a picture. When I reached for my pack he did not move but growled. I froze and watched. He just lay there. I reached for the camera a second time. Again, the coyote growled but remained still. I really wasn't sure what to do. He did not seem threatening but didn't seem to like it when I moved. I don't know how long I sat there, a minute or two, I suppose, trying to decide what to do. It turned out I didn't have to decide anything. For no apparent reason, the coyote stood up and trotted back the way he had come. I continued to sit there for a few minutes more before I, too, got up and started back to my truck.

The more I thought about the incident the more unusual it seemed to me. I felt like I had just experienced something special. Now, after reading about the fatal coyote attack in Canada (see post below) I wonder if that was the case. How long would I have had to sit there if he had not gotten up to leave? How would the coyote have reacted had I stood up and tried to walk away? Valid questions, in hindsight, for which I have no answers.

I would be greatly interested to know if anyone else out there has experienced anything like this. You can respond in the comments section below this post or email me at

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Killer Coyotes

I caught the following disturbing article by the Canadian Press tonight concerning a fatal coyote attack in Canada:

By staff writers
October 29, 2009 08:04am

A PROMISING young Canadian musician has been attacked and killed by coyotes while on a tour promoting her new album.

Taylor Mitchell, 19, was considered a rising star of the folk music scene, having just earned a Canadian Folk Music Awards nomination.

She was hiking alone on the Syline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park when a pair of coyotes attacked her.

Tourists rushed to her aid when they heard her screams and found Mitchell bleeding heavily from mulitple wounds "all over her body", according to The Canadian Press.

"She was losing a considerable amount of blood from her wounds," paramedic Paul Maynard told TCP.

One of the animals was later shot by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, but the other got away.

Park officials said it was highly unusual for coyotes to be involved in such an aggressive attack.

Mitchell was due to play at a concert after her hike and was on her first tour of the Candaian east coast.

This is an incredibly rare occurrence. Truth be told, I've never even heard of a coyote attack on a human. They are usually very cowardly when it comes to interacting with humans.

The whole incident goes to show that you must take nothing for granted when out in the field. Whenever possible, a partner should be present. The story really sent a shiver down my spine as I had a strange encounter with a coyote this past weekend. If you read down to my post from October 25th below you will note that I mentioned a very unusual and amazing experience in the last line of the article. The experience involved a coyote. I will write that up tomorrow. Once you read what happened, I think you will understand why what seemed to be a pretty cool experience now gives me a serious case of the creeps.

Until then...

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Camera Trapping Project Scrapped...For Now

I went out this afternoon to try to service two of the game cameras I have out here in Central Texas. It was a disappointing day. I went to take care of Camera #2 but discovered it was gone. I guess somebody came across it and decided to take it. I am a bit surprised as it was in a spot up on a bluff that is not too easy to access. However, in hindsight, it was just too close to an area where people hike and fish. Lesson learned.

I then proceeded to the other side of the county to check on Camera #3. This is the camera I feared had been stolen when I could not locate it last weekend. I remembered to bring my GPS unit this time and was able to locate the camera. Much to my chagrin, it had malfunctioned and would not operate properly. So, out of five cameras I had out, or intended to put out, in the field three are now broken, one has been stolen, and one just does not seem to take pictures of anything but scenery. I was quite bummed out but not too surprised. After all, these cameras were old 35mm dinosaurs with painfully slow trigger speeds. It would have taken a tremendous amount of luck to capture a big cat on film with these old cameras. So, it appears my camera-trapping project will have to be scrapped for the time being. I will have to begin the process of saving up for some higher quality digital cameras with quicker trigger speeds.

The news was not all bad today. I actually had quite an interesting and amazing, to me anyway, experience while out in the field. I will write about that very soon.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

MonsterQuest Yeti Expedition Special

I thought I would remind everyone that the two hour season finale of MonsterQuest will be airing tomorrow night (10/24). The episode features the expedition undertaken by Adam Davies in search of the yeti.

The expedition team was actually air lifted by helicopter to an extremely remote location in the Himalayas. They then hiked for several additional days to reach their target destination. This strategy hasn't been employed since the famous Tom Slick expedition many years ago.

Several stories have leaked out regarding the hardships and dangers endured by the team during their time in the Himalayas. It should make for some interesting viewing. Loren Coleman has posted a great write-up on the upcoming episode and has posted some exclusive photos over at Cryptomundo. You can access the write-up here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Patterson-Gimlin Film 42 Years Later

This week, yesterday specifically, marks the 42nd anniversary of the day Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin filmed a large upright hair-covered bipedal creature at Bluff Creek in Northern California. The film set off a firestorm that has yet to abate to this day.

I remember seeing the Patterson-Gimlin film for the first time at a small theatre in East Texas. I was spending a weekend with my grandparents at the time. My grandmother took me to a movie every day of that week. I don't know if she was spoiling me, just liked going to the movies herself, or a combination of both, but I digress. I do not remember what movie we went to see but I do remember a short documentary that was shown before the main feature. The subject of the documentary was bigfoot and the P-G film was the centerpiece of the production. This would have been in the mid 1970s so the P-G film was still less than ten years old. Needless to say, the film made quite an impression on me. I have since viewed the film many many times but I will never forget that first impression it left on me.

Many attempts to duplicate and/or debunk the film have been made through the years. Not one attempt has been successful in recreating a subject as compelling as the sasquatch in the P-G film. You will hear claims that the film has been proven to be a hoax. This is simply not true. An example of this would the National Geographic Channel's attempt to recreate a convincing ape suit for their Is it Real? program. The suit they produced and the video created at the Bluff Creek film site were a total joke. The suit did not look real, the actor's gait was unnatural and clumsy, and the net result looked nothing like the P-G film. However, this did not stop the producers of the National Geographic show from declaring that their experiment proves the P-G film to be a hoax. This is the sort of "proof" that has been presented as evidence of a hoax at Bluff Creek in 1967.

The fact of the matter is that the more the film is studied by open- minded scientists, the more difficult it becomes to write it off as a hoax. There is quite a bit of compelling evidence pointing toward the P-G subject being a real living and breathing creature. Check out Meet The Sasquatch by Chris Murphy, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science by Dr. Jeff Meldrum, and Bigfoot/Sasquatch Evidence by the late Dr. Grover Krantz for some fascinating reading along these lines. The evidence presented and the conclusions reached are fascinating. One of the best presentations I have heard on the likely validity of the P-G film came from the TBRC's Alton Higgins. The point is that there are many out there who feel the film does show a real animal walking across that sandy creek bed who back up their opinion with some very good research.

I, of course, can't say for sure that the film is legitimate. Something about it, and this is totally unscientific, has always rang true to me. There is something about how the creature moves that, while familiar and human-like, is alien. I have viewed a lot of alleged sasquatch videos and photos. There are only two other pieces of footage that I have seen that strike the chord within me that the P-G film hit and one photo that I feel might be the real deal. Again, my gut feeling does not prove anything. However, sometimes you have to trust what your eyes tell you.

I have always felt there was a very good chance the P-G film was legitimate. I felt this way even before I got serious about delving into this mystery. I feel even more that way now after having had the chance to meet Bob Gimlin. He is a gentleman and has spent a lifetime outdoors. He has worked with and around animals his whole life. This is a guy that knows how an animal moves, looks, and smells. I believe he is telling the truth about what happened that day. Certainly, my impression of Mr. Gimlin does not totally discount the possibility of a hoax. Simply, my gut feeling is that he is telling the truth. If the film was hoaxed, I believe strongly, Bob Gimlin was not in on it.

Are we any closer today to determining whether or not the film is real? I doubt it. I don't know how many more ways this footage can be dissected and analyzed. I do think one must bear in mind that there is no way Roger Patterson could have anticipated the advent of digital technology and the level of scrutiny his footage would undergo. The fact that, despite the best efforts of would be debunkers armed with technological tools only dreamed of 42 years ago, the film cannot be proven a hoax after all this time must say something about the chances it is authentic. If it is a hoax it is truly a great one. Are we closer to documenting the sasquatch as a real species? I think so but the progress is painfully slow. Sniping among research groups, charlatans looking to make a buck, lack of funding, a skeptical to openly hostile press, and worries about how looking into this mystery would be received from employers continue to bog the search down.

So, here is to that 42 year-old piece of film. Maybe one day soon all the speculation about whether the footage is or is not authentic will be moot. I certainly hope so.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Lost Weekend

It was a disappointing weekend on the camera-trapping front. I was way overdue on getting my cameras refreshed so I set out to take care of cameras #3 and #4. They are the most remotely placed of the four cameras I have out but are not too far from each other.

I hit camera #4 first. If you have followed this project you will recall that I wasn't too happy with the location of this camera. When I got to the camera it had fired 31 times. This was not too big a total considering how long the camera had been out in the field but, I reasoned, there are only 24 exposures on the roll of film anyway. I pulled the camera from the location as I located a much better looking spot not too far from camera #2 that I want to try.

I left the area and proceeded to the area where camera #3 is located. It was at this point that I realized I had pulled a real bone-headed stunt. I had left my GPS unit at home. The location of camera #4 is, in my opinion, the best location I have found but is difficult to locate. I know I was all around the camera but was unable to locate it without the GPS unit. This means one of two things. It could mean that the location is remote and not easily found. In other words, it is an ideal spot. On the other hand, the fact that I could not find the camera could mean that it was found and has been stolen. As I said, I know I was all around the cameras location. Hopefully, I will be able to get back out there next weekend with the GPS unit and locate it.

Well, I reasoned, at least I have the film from camera #3 to develop and check out. I was to be disappointed, however. Not a single animal was captured on film. I don't really understand it. I had 24 shots of scenery. No deer, no raccoons, or anything else. I can only assume that a slow trigger speed is to blame. I simply must bite the bullet soon and upgrade to some higher end cameras.

So, it was sort of a lost weekend as far as my big cat project goes. The effort was good, however. I will keep plugging away and eventually upgrade my equipment. Once that happens I should begin to see better results. In the meantime, I will just have to hope I get lucky with the 35mm cameras I do have.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Big Cat Sighted Near Lewisville...Again

A reader sent me an email a little while back detailing a sighting of a large cat in the Lewisville/Flower Mound area recently. His email, minus some details that might have compromised his identity, is below.

Good morning! I personally have seen a large cat in my neighborhood in Flower Mound.

I have dogs, so I am 100% sure that it was not a dog. The body structure was not a dog, and it ran completely different. It size was roughly the same as my lab/rhodesian mix. I cannot say that it was black. It appeared to be light colored, but it was at night. I live near Timbercreek. I have seen a coyote in broad daylight in my neighborhood.

This occurred earlier this year. I was driving home at night. I turned off of Cross Timbers on to Timbercreek Road. As I approached Buckthorn, a large cat ran across Timbercreek Road in front of my car. It took me a second to realize what it was and turned my car onto Buckthorn Court (to the left). It ran across Buckthorn in front of my car again and disappeared up in bushes in front of a home. I was not about to get out of my car, but I drove around Buckthorn and Timbercreek for about ten minutes after this happened. I did not see it again.

When the large cat crossed me the first time, it was coming from the right side of Timbercreek Road. The area has homes but it has a group of homes with acreage and most have horses. I know at least one also has chickens.

On the other side of Timbercreek Road is the creek. It is heavily wooded.

I am not sure if you have received any other feedback regarding the large cat in the area. I did find it interesting that your reader lives in Lewisville and had an experience at night as well. I live right on the border of Lewisville and Flower Mound.

The Texas Parks & Wildlife, as well as most wildlife biologists, scoff at the notion of large cats, like the cougar, living in such close proximity to a large urban area like Dallas-Fort Worth. Sightings continue to be reported from surprisingly populated areas.

I would encourage people living near riparian areas or on the outskirts of urban areas where big cats have been reported to keep a camera handy. It is going to take some pretty strong photographic evidence to convince the authorities that these cats have become acclimated to semi-urban living.

Friday, October 16, 2009

More Native American Perspective

"Nothing that is said, or accused towards the hairy brothers of the forests will cause them to leave their homes, they deal with the round eyes the same as we, they will kill the round eyes to protect their home."

-WarShield, Subchief of the Comanche under Quanah Parker

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Camera Trapping in Tanzania Proves Fruitful

There is an interesting article on the website about how leopards, and large carnivores in general, may be affected by conversion of forested land to agricultural land and other changing environmental factors. While the article itself is interesting to me it was the method by which the Zoological Society of London, Wildlife Conservation Society, and the Tanzania Wildlife Research Institute obtained their data that caught my eye. These organizations conducted the largest survey of Tanzanian carnivores ever undertaken using over 400 camera traps.

"Camera traps provide a fantastic opportunity to gain knowledge on habitat use and spatial distribution of otherwise elusive and poorly known species," said Dr. Sarah Durant from the Zoological Society of London. Dr. Durant went on to call camera trapping a "powerful tool."

In addition to the information on leopards collected by this camera-trapping project, data was collected on bushy tailed mongooses. In fact, the first documentation of this species in one of Tanzania's most populated areas was obtained.

This study further validates the use of game cameras as a viable method of documenting rare and elusive species in a given area. This is exactly why the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy has undertaken Operation Forest Vigil, their camera-trapping project, in an attempt to document the sasquatch. This is also the reasoning behind my, albeit much smaller, camera-trapping project by which I am hoping to document the presence of large cats such as cougars in Central Texas. I just do not understand how anyone can discount this method as a waste of time and money. Rare and endangered species such as the Sumatran rhino, Sumatran tiger, the snow leopard of the Himalayas, the Okapee, and many others have been documented in areas where it was feared they might have become extinct. A prime example of the latter is the documentaion of jaguars in Arizona. Camera-trapping is here to stay and has been proven effective.

The trick is having enough cameras in the field to saturate a large area. The organizations working together on the Tanzanian leopard project placed more than 400 cameras in the field. Having a large number of cameras in the field is critical. With only a handful of cameras it truly becomes a crap-shoot as to what you are able to photograph. This is precisely the difficulty individuals and/or private organizations like the TBRC face when trying to put together a successful game camera project. The high end cameras needed to do the job right can cost anywhere from $300-$600 each. Add in the cost of gasoline burned traveling to and from camera locations, batteries, memory cards, protective boxes, chains, and locks (needed to discourage bears and thieves) and a large scale camera project gets pricey very quickly.

Critics claim that camera traps have failed to produce any photos of the sasquatch therefore either the method is flawed or the species simply does not exist. I would counter with two simple points. First, nearly all game cameras in the U.S. are pointed at deer feeders. They are not placed out in the most remote areas of the country where the sasquatch is most often encountered. Secondly, there has simply never been a camera-trapping project anywhere close to the scale of the Tanzanian leopard study conducted anywhere in North America. It is my opinion that if a major university or private donor stepped forward with the funding the sasquatch would likely be documented within a 1-3 year period. I truly believe that.

Here's hoping that funding will become available for such a project in the not too distant future.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Giant Snakes in Texas?

This past summer several large Burmese Pythons were captured in South Florida. It is a well-established fact that many owners of these exotic serpents have turned them loose in the Everglades and other areas of Florida once the snakes became too large and too dangerous to handle. Many snakes have been captured over the last decade but all were identified as former pets that had been released into the wild by irresponsible owners. What caught my eye on this news story is that the 17 ft. 206 lb. python captured this past summer was wild. This confirms that these pythons have become acclimated to the swamps of Florida and have begun to breed successfully. A large population of Burmese Pythons in Florida could wreak havoc on the delicate Everglades ecosystem. You can access the news story here.

The article got me thinking about the similarities between the Everglades of South Florida and swamps and bayous of Southeast Texas. A little research reveals how similar these two areas of the country really are. For the sake of this article I compared Okeechobee, Florida, where the wild python was captured this past summer, and Beaumont, Texas, which lies just outside the borders of the legendary Big Thicket.

Beaumont lies at a mere 16 ft. above sea level. Okeechobee sits at a towering, by comparison anyway, 29 ft. above sea level. These two areas are also very close in latitude. Beaumont comes in at a latitude of 30.08 degrees North while Okeechobee sits at 27.74 degrees North latitude. This is a difference of a mere 2.34 degrees. Based on these facts, a reasonable assumption would be that the two areas would have similar climates. A little more digging reveals that to be the case. The following two graphs show the average temperatures of Okeechobee (top) and Beaumont (bottom).

Rainfall patterns proved to be similar as well. See the charts below showing annual precipitation in Okeechobee (top) and Beaumont (bottom).

The similarities between the two areas lead me to think that exotic snakes, like the Burmese Pythons being seen in Florida, would do just fine here in the Lone Star State. This could be an ecological disaster for indigenous species of our state. Everything from birds, to mammals (large and small), to alligators would be on the menu for these giant constrictors. I fear it is only a matter of time before reports of giant snakes begin to come in from Southeast Texas. It may become an even larger problem, however. The USGS recently published a graphic (below) showing just how much of the continental United States would be considered suitable habitat for pythons. The graphic is sobering.

I would ask any readers who sight what they believe to be one of these snakes or who come across any news articles documenting their presence in Southeast Texas / Southwest Louisiana to alert me. I hope I'm wrong but it is my opinion that we will begin having to deal with the problem of giant snakes in Texas sooner rather than later.

ADDENDUM - Ok, I had not seen the recent article from Texas Fish & Game about giant snakes in Texas when I wrote the above article. However, the article confirms my suspicions as it mentions a 13 ft. long Burmese Python captured in a ditch in Port Arthur, Texas. Give the article a look here.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Big Cat Project Update

I had a disappointing weekend in some respects in regard to my camera trapping project. I was due to refresh Cameras #1 and #2. Yesterday (Saturday) I was not able to get out at all due to some pretty heavy thunderstorms. This pretty much killed any chance I would have to get both cameras refreshed this weekend.

Today's weather wasn't much better but I was itching to get out and do something positive (watching the Cowboys on television sure wasn't a positive experience today). So, I loaded up with some fresh bait, film, and new batteries and set off to get Camera #1 refreshed. If you have been following this project, you will recall that the location of Camera #1 is very near my home. The location was chosen due to an alleged sighting of a large long-tailed cat crossing the road nearby. The camera is set near a dry creek bed and is usually not too difficult to access. However, today the "dry" creek was anything but dry. The creek was overflowing and the surrounding area was a virtual bog. I should have taken one look at this mess and turned around and gone home. However, I decided to plunge into the brush and get the job done. I slogged through the slop, at times sinking ankle deep in mud, and made my way to the camera. I was pleased to see that 20 shots had been taken. However, since the film I've been using has 24 exposures, I needed to manually rewind the film. The camera refused to rewind. I tried everything I could think of to no avail. So, I pulled the camera completely and trudged through the thorny brush and mud back to my truck.

I guess I will take the camera into my photo processor and ask them to remove it in their darkroom. This will probably not be a big deal this one time but will not be a practical solution long-term. It could be that this camera is done.

So, today there was a lot of walking, rain, mud, and frustration. Hopefully, the camera is not dead and will continue to be useful. If not, well, my birthday is coming up. Maybe I can upgrade to a digital model. I will update again once I have the pictures developed.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The "Hairy Man" of Round Rock

My friend, and fellow TBRC member, Jeremy Wells alerted me to an interesting article on the Texas Tripper website. The article discusses the legend of the "Hairy Man" of Round Rock. I live in Central Texas and try hard to stay up on local legends and folklore but this is one story with which I was unfamiliar. The legend goes that the "Hairy Man" lived along Brushy Creek and harassed travelers there until being run over by a stagecoach and its team of horses as he tried to block the road one fateful night. One version of the story claims the "Hairy Man" was an old hermit who, as a child of early Texas settlers, had been separated from his parents. He grew up alone along the banks of Brushy Creek and came to view that area as his own. Locals still claim the ghost of the "Hairy Man" is seen and heard from time to time along the lonesome stretches of the road adjacent to Brushy Creek.

The "Hairy Man" was said to be covered in hair from head to toe. The locals seemed to believe this was an adaptation that became necessary as the lost child outgrew his clothing. To make the leap from hair covered hermit to the sasquatch is not too difficult. Could the early Texas settlers of the Round Rock and Brushy Creek areas have been seeing a sasquatch all those years ago? I guess we'll never know.

Apparently, this is a pretty big deal in Round Rock. There is a Hairy Man Road in Round Rock and a yearly "Hairy Man Festival" held in October. The article is really more about the festival than the legend but does give the basic background of the legend albeit in a tongue in cheek manner. You can access the story here. You can also access the "Hairy Man Festival" website here.

So, if you aren't doing anything this month and find yourself in Central Texas you might want to stop by and see what the "Hairy Man Festival" is all about. I might have to make that short drive myself.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Update on Orang-Pendek Sighting

Loren Coleman has updated the story of the orang-pendek sighting in the rainforest of Sumatra over at his Cryptomundo site.I will not summarize it here as you are all capable of reading it for yourself. It is quite interesting. So far, things look promising.

Check the story out here.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

2009 Texas Bigfoot Conference Wrap-up

I just returned from the Texas Bigfoot Conference in Tyler, Texas. I've got to say that the line up of speakers was sensational. Attendees were treated to a virtual who's who in the field of serious sasquatch research. Some of the highlights are summarized below.

Primate biologist Esteban Sarmiento gave a very informative talk on great ape anatomy. He discussed physical characteristics of chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans and then compared what is known about these great apes versus physical characteristics and locomotion demonstrated by the sasquatch filmed by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin at Bluff Creek in 1967.

Baylor University sociology professors Chris Bader and Carson Mencken presented the results of two different surveys they undertook regarding the demographics of those who casually believe the sasquatch is a real animal versus those who seriously research the sasquatch phenomenon. This survey will be available soon online at the TBRC website and, hopefully, here on this site. The results were quite interesting and in direct contrast to the way researchers are often portrayed in the media.

Wildlife biologist and naturalist John Mioncynzski spoke about the strategies he and Dr. Jeff Meldrum of Idaho State University are using in their North American Ape Project. He spoke about plant surveys which can help indicate if there is enough food in a given area to support an animal the size of a sasquatch, discussed advantages of gigantism for survival, and several other fascinating tidbits which really got me thinking about some ways to tweak existing research strategies. I was also privileged to hear about Mioncynzski's own encounter with what he believes was a sasquatch back in the early 1970s. This encounter was featured prominently on The History Channel's Giganto: The Real King Kong. His story of having his tent collapsed by the creature and then having pinecones lobbed at him from the brush for the rest of the evening was mesmerizing.

Maybe the true high point of the conference was the banquet that evening featuring adventurer, wildlife author, and naturalist Peter Matthiessen as keynote speaker. Matthiessen is revered by wildlife experts the world over for his research on the snow leopard of the Himalayas. Matthiessen held the audience rapt with stories of his adventures. He discussed his own sighting of what may very well have been a yeti in a remote and, at that time, previously unexplored Himalayan valley, his work with early bigfoot researchers such as John Green and Rene Dahinden, and his plans for writing a book on the subject of the sasquatch. It was truly a once in a lifetime chance to hear this man speak.

Other conference speakers were Daryl Colyer, Alton Higgins, Jerry Hestand, Bill Draginis, Dr. John Bindernagle, and Loren Coleman. All of these speakers did an outstanding job and only added to the professional and scientific nature of the conference.

One special treat was a guest appearance by none other than Bob Gimlin. Gimlin was present when Roger Patterson filmed what is generally considered the most compelling video evidence of a sasquatch ever captured. The film has been dissected ad nauseum over the years. It has supporters and detractors. For various reasons I've always felt it was likely genuine. Hearing Gimlin personally recount the events of that day was a once in a lifetime experience. I can also tell you that Bob Gimlin is one of the nicest people I've met anywhere.

The conference rejuvenated me to a large degree. It is so easy to become jaded and fed up with the shenanigans that go on in this field. Things like the Georgia hoax, negative media portrayals of the subject, and Biscardiesque snake-oil salesmen hoping to exploit the phenomenon for a buck all take their toll on those of us who try to go about documenting this animal in a serious and scientific manner. It is so easy to become discouraged. I find the fire in my belly rekindled. I can't wait to get back out in the field.

In addition, the conference gave me several ideas for future entries. I think, too, I will do a series of write-ups on "The Classics" of sasquatch encounters over the years. In addition, I would also like to do a series of write-ups on the most commonly used arguments used to dismiss the possible existence of this animal and my thoughts on whether said arguments are valid.

So, I guess I will be hanging around and doing this a little while longer. It continues to be a fun ride.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Expedition Sights Orang Pendek

The report below was posted by Loren Coleman at Cryptomundo.

“Yeti sighted in Jungle !!!! Two team members have sighted the Yeti while we were in the jungle. I heard a large animal moving towards us. Subsequently the creature was then sighted by team member Dave Archer and Sahar Didmus, a forest ranger. I have a sworn affadavit from Sahar to that effect. It hid from us by a tree, before moving rapidly and bipedally through the jungle. Dave describes the OP [Orang Pendek] as looking almost chimpanzee-like. Sahar was so upset and disturbed he began sobbing, and I had to comfort him. We have taken hair samples found at the site, and bagged some rattan which it was eating. We will have these analysed by Todd Disotell. Numerous tracks also found……………!!!!!!!!” ~ Adam Davies (enroute out of Indonesia via Singapore)

If true, this could be a ground breaking event which opens the door to more extensive research on cryptids the world over. Let's keep our fingers crossed that the evidence Adam Davies brings home is strong enough to prove the existence of these creatures.

More as details roll in...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Big Cat Project Update

I fought off some unseasonably hot September Texas weather and a stomach virus in order to go out check on Camera #3 this past weekend. I removed the old film, loaded the camera with a new roll, and refreshed the batteries. I had the film developed that afternoon and found I only captured photos of deer and a raccoon.

I was excited, however, by the fact that the camera fired 89 times. I am limited to only 24 pictures due to it being a 35mm film camera but the number of shots triggered tells me that I am in a good spot with this camera. I might have done better as far as the variety of animals photographed if bad weather had not come through the area two days after I deployed the camera. The severe weather, no doubt, caused a lot of swaying of vegetation and trees which triggered the camera quite a few times. Unfortunately, this ate up most of the 24 exposures on the roll of film. I am quite curious as to what I missed once the camera ran out of film. I plan on upgrading to digital cameras as soon as possible. This spot will be where I place the first upgrade.

The Top 5 Scariest Cryptids

I came across a fun post on The Gralien Report blog-site where the writer lists the five scariest cryptids in the world. None of the cryptids listed roam the Lone Star State but it is a fun post. I was especially interested in the "batsquatch" of Washington State. Supposedly, this creature was photographed. I will try to find online images of these photos.

You can check out the list here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Native American Perspective

"Why do you want to hunt the wild men? My children, they are a tribe even as are we. They have families, hunt, fish, and procreate. Leave them alone and they will leave us alone.”

- Chickasaw Chief Tishomingo

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Plano Panther Revisited

I received an email from a reader last night shortly after posting the account of a possible black panther sighting in Plano, Texas. The emailer lives in the Plano/Frisco area and had some great thoughts on why a big cat in this, seemingly unlikely, area might not be so far fetched. The email, minus personal information, is below:

A big cat in the Frisco area may seem out of place when you google the location, but Frisco is one of the newest suburbs in the country. Just a few years ago it was a rural area, but it quickly began to grow. It grew so quickly thet Frisco was recognized as the fastest growing city in the country.

However, there is one area of Frisco that would still make a good habitat for big cats. The location is called Brinkman Ranch, which is a several hundred acre area of land that also served as the original set for the television series, Dallas until the house burned and the set was moved elsewhere. However, this land is still private and unsettled.

It would have been a likely location for any wild animals to flee to as residential neighborhoods sprung up all around the ranch. What throws a kink into this is the fact that a guy in a white truck patrols Brinkman Ranch every night, with a spotlight, and shoots at coyotes with a rifle. I have personally seen coyotes fleeing the ranch and heading into the suburban neighborhoods. So, with the only suitable habitat for coyotes and potential big cats being a kill zone, the animals have no choice but to move into the suburban areas which are a safer place to be, in this case, than the open fields and woodlands of the Brinkman Ranch. So it does not surprise me that a theoretical big cat would be seen in such a location as it was. The growth of the city from a rural area into a sprawling suburb has outpaced the average life expectancy of these animals. Therefore, there technically could be these types of animals that never made it out as the city grew around them. I've seen coyotes as far south as the north Dallas area along railroad tracks and running through neighborhoods at night.

I think this reader makes some valid points as to how big cats, as well as other species, might find themselves "locked in" and surrounded by suburban sprawl. I think this is clearly a contributing factor in sightings of big cats in urban areas. I do think there may be more to it, however. As I stated in the original post on this subject, I believe that big cats may be making the same adjustment that coyotes have made so successfully. Namely, they are learning to live in close proximity to people. For example, a report of a 60 plus pound black cat was received by police in Wheaton, Illinois on September 9. Wheaton is a suburb of Chicago, one of the largest and most heavily populated cities in the country. A woman jogging in Northside Park with her large dog allegedly spotted a large long-tailed cat that, other than its black color, resembled a cougar. The woman judged the size and weight of the animal by comparing it to her 60 pound dog. The woman said the cat was bigger than her dog but fled when said dog approached it. According to the report, Northside Park is largely surrounded by homes but does connect to a swampy area called Lincoln Marsh. This incident shares much in common with the sighting my reader reported of a black panther in the Plano, Texas area.

So, keep your eyes open and your cameras at the ready when out on those evening or early morning walks. You just never what you might come across or, as the case may be, what might come across you.

Friday, September 11, 2009

A Plano Panther?

I received an interesting email from a reader a couple of days ago. This gentleman claims to have spotted a large black cat off of highway 121 in Plano, Texas. The email, minus the reader's contact information, is printed below:

Last night I was walking my dogs (we walk around midnight where I live in Lewisville, TX) and they let me know that there was something else nearby. I looked along the creek bank that was maybe 30 feet away and clearly some some kind of feline, maybe the size of a coyote, furtively running back the way we had come. It was lighter in color, so I'm guessing a bobcat or something.

Anyway, it reminded me of an incident 2-3 weeks ago that happened when I was driving to work in Plano at around 9:00-9:15 in the morning. I had exited Hwy 121 and turned South onto Parkwood Blvd (East of the Dallas North Tollway - if you want to map it), and in the field to my left (now facing South), I saw a large, sleek charcoal-colored cat with a long tail running across the field toward the tree line that separates it from the field next to it. This thing was easily the size of a large dog (labrador, doberman, etc.), and while it was "galloping", it was covering significant ground without noticeable strain. I only saw it for maybe 10 seconds or so before I lost sight (I was going about 30mph Southbound).

I was looking around to see if I could find out what it might have been and came across your site. It looked a lot like the large black cat shown on this page:

Anyway, I don't have any evidence or anything more than what I've told you, but thought you might be interested all the same. Seems a bit of a populated area to be spotting something as elusive as a black panther, but then, for a couple of weeks we had a coyote couple hanging out in the field just SE of the intersection of Parkwood Blvd. and Tennyson Pkwy. in Plano (the field is a building now, but my office is on the 3rd floor facing it, so we had fun watching them in the tall grass before they cleared the field).

I checked the area of the sighting out via google maps and it certainly seems an unlikely spot for a big cat sighting of any kind. However, the area is a bit unique in that there are fairly large tracts of what appears to be farm land interspersed among the many building and roads. I am assuming the tracts of land are being used for agriculture as when I switched to the "satellite" view of the area the land appeared to have been recently plowed. This sort of situation is becoming more common in Texas as urban areas sprawl outward. Some long time farmers in my area, for example, are completely surrounded by strip malls or housing developments yet refuse to sell and continue working their land.

In any case, it has become clear that some predators have adapted better than others to living in close proximity to people. Coyotes are probably the most successful in this regard. Bobcats also seem to be making this adjustment. I have a theory that the larger cats have learned to do the same. Being solitary animals, large cats like cougars, jaguarundi, etc., could remain hidden fairly easily even in a somewhat urban setting. Creek beds, canals, drainage ditches, and riparian green belts could all serve as "highways" for these cats to move about. If they are moving primarily at dawn, dusk, or at night they are even more unlikely to be spotted. This is the hypothesis I am trying to verify with my current camera trapping project.

Recently, the show MonsterQuest did a show on feral dogs called, I believe, The Real Cujo. The show centered around a pack of wild feral dogs living in abandoned buildings in a rundown section of St. Louis, Missouri. It made me wonder if large cats might not be able to do the same in some urban areas. Again, just a theory but it could explain at least some sightings of big cats in areas where they should not be. Many would consider this hypothesis, at best, highly unlikely. However, people are seeing big cats and they have to be coming from somewhere, right?

My thanks to this reader for taking the time to contact me. I would be very interested in hearing from others who have seen big cats or other strange and/or unusual animals.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Big Cat Project Update

I thought I would provide an update on my camera-trapping project...

I managed to get out and check Cameras 1 and 2 this past weekend. Camera 1 performed well. The entire roll of film was used giving me a total of 24 pictures. Unfortunately, no cats were photographed. While nearly all the pictures were of deer, I was encouraged to get a good photo of a coyote. The photo, below, clearly shows the coyote sniffing a tree, which I had sprayed down pretty good with some scent bait. This would seem to indicate that the scent I have concocted does appeal to predators. I will continue to experiment with different scents and food baits until I get something that appeals more to my feline targets.

The results from Camera 2 were a huge disappointment. I failed to get a picture of any kind of animal at all. You may recall, if you read my post after setting this camera out, that I was very excited about the location of this camera. I was really anticipating some good shots of local wildlife. I would have thought the camera was not functioning properly except it did snap several photos. Mostly, I got photos of the trail with no animal in sight. Whether these photos were the result of false triggers or near misses due to slow shutter speed I can't say. I was shocked to get a series of photos of a couple of hikers. I would not have guessed I would get any human activity in this spot at all. Fortunately, the hikers did not take the camera. As a matter of fact, judging by their position in the pictures, they never even saw the camera.

I left Camera 1 in place with new batteries and film, as it has been very productive. I refreshed the batteries and film in Camera 2 and left it in place as well. Despite the lack of productivity it really seems like a perfect spot. If it produces nothing after four more weeks I will relocate it. I have found some great looking spots for future camera deployments in the same area.

Camera 3 is due to be refreshed in two weeks. I really liked the spot where this camera was deployed. I hope it works out better than the location of Camera 2.

2009 Texas Bigfoot Conference

I just wanted to remind everyone of the upcoming Texas Bigfoot Conference coming up on Saturday 9/26 in Tyler, Texas. The conference will be held at the Tyler Caldwell Auditorium located at 300 South College Avenue. The contact number for the Caldwell Auditorium is 903-262-2300.

The TBRC has lined up a very impressive group of speakers featuring wildlife author and naturalist Peter Matthiessen, artist Robert Swain, primate biologist Esteban Sarmiento, wildlife biologist John Bindernagel, Baylor sociologists Chris Bader and Carson Mencken, wildlife biologist and naturalist John Mioncynzski, video developer Bill Dranginis, and cryptozoologist, author, and zoologist Loren Coleman. TBRC members who will speak include Daryl Colyer, Alton Higgins, and Jerry Hestand. TBRC member Brian Brown will emcee the event and host a roundtable discussion Saturday night featuring all the guest speakers and TBRC chairman Craig Woolheater.

General admission tickets will be sold for $15. Educators and students of the Tyler ISD will receive $5 off the price of admission with a school ID. The conference is truly a bargain for anyone interested in the subject of bigfoot.

The conference is sponsored by the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC). The TBRC is funded by membership dues, fundraisers, this annual conference, donations, and grants. The TBRC desires to enhance the credibility of bigfoot/sasquatch research and facilitate a greater degree of acceptance by the scientific community and other segments of society of the likelihood of a biological basis behind the sasquatch mystery. The TBRC is a registered non-profit organization with the Internal Revenue Service.

So, if you are in East Texas on September 26th drop on by the Texas Bigfoot Conference. It should be fun and educational. I will be there and would enjoy meeting and visiting with anyone who follows this site.

See you there.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mark Twain's Thoughts on Life

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

- Mark Twain

I think this is a great philosophy and one by which I try to live my life. It is certainly easier said than done but I don't want to wake up one day at 65-75 years of age and regret not having pursued my passions and interests as a younger man.

My thanks to my friend Alton Higgins for making me aware of this quote.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Sasquatch Caught on Kentucky Game Camera?

There is a new photo making the rounds on the internet that was allegedly snapped by a game camera in Kentucky. Many are speculating that it could be a photograph of a sasquatch. I must admit that, while inconclusive, it is a bit more intriguing than the usual "blobsquatch" photos that have become too common.

Below is the news story about the photo and how it came about.

I'm not sure what appears in the photo. It just isn't clear enough. I do feel it, once again, shows how game cameras could be used to eventually document this species. Assuming the sasquatch is real, and I believe it is, it is just a matter of time until a clear photo is taken. Now whether a photo will be enough for mainstream science to recognize the existence of this animal is another question.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Fourth Camera Trap Deployed

I just returned from deploying a game camera in a remote spot forty minutes or so West of my home. I now have four cameras out in the field in an attempt to document big cats here in Central Texas.

Things got off to a poor start today as one of the two cameras I had left to deploy would not work. So, instead of having five cameras out in the field it looks like I will only have four. I will not be able to expand the project beyond these four cameras for the time being.

I am not as pleased with the location of this camera as I am with the spots I found for the first three. The general area is a bit farther from a water source than the other three and more of a prairie than anything else. The area is dotted with stands of oak, mesquite, and cedar trees. This in and of itself isn't really a problem. I just couldn't find that perfect spot. When the area looked right I couldn't find a suitable tree. I hiked the general area for several hours and just never found a location I was crazy about. There are obviously some things to look for when choosing a spot for a game camera but there is also an intangible "something" that is hard to define. You just know the perfect spot when you see it. I never saw that spot today. I came close to not deploying the camera at all but figured I still had a chance of getting a good picture at this location. One thing I do know is that my chances of getting a good shot with the camera back in my closet at home are nil. I will give this location a month. If nothing promising develops I will pull the camera and relocate it.

I will post some pictures of the general area where this fourth camera is located in the next day or so. Honestly, I am just too tired to do it right now.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Delusions of M.K. Davis

I have listened to and read the theories of M. K. Davis now for a couple of years. I have watched his "documentary," Spotlight on: The Patterson-Gimlin Film, with incredulous bemusement. I found it unbelievable that anyone could buy into Davis' wild and unsubstantiated theories. However, I left it at that. I never bothered to comment, at least publicly, on Davis or his ideas. Davis was, in my opinion, just one of those people this subject seems to attract who was either totally delusional or an outright charlatan. Surely, I thought, no sane person would buy into any of the craziness Davis was promoting. Sadly, I was mistaken. That being the case, I can no longer sit idly by and say nothing.

M. K. Davis gained notoriety for his work in "stabilizing" the Patterson-Gimlin film. His work helped provide the clearest version of the Patterson-Gimlin film yet seen. However, the way he went about obtaining the images to stabilize should have provided ample insight as to what sort of person M.K. Davis would turn out to be. Davis used images illicitly obtained from well-known researcher Rick Noll to create his stabilized version of the film. Noll had spent countless tedious hours pouring over John Green's copy of the Patterson-Gimlin film. He photographed the sasquatch in each frame of the film using a microscope. The images Noll's efforts rendered were the clearest and sharpest ever seen of the creature that would become known as "Patty". Davis obtained Noll's images on the sly from a third party with whom Noll had shared the images. Without these images, the "stabilized" version of the Patterson-Gimlin film would not have been possible. The unprofessional and unethical method by which Davis acquired the images seems to have been forgotten, or forgiven, by most. Perhaps, most feel the end justified the means. I would simply say that, in my opinion, there is no right way to do the wrong thing.

Davis went on to make some outlandish claims based on what he was able to see in his new and stabilized version of the Patterson-Gimlin film. Here are a few of the claims made by Davis based on the "evidence" now visible because of his work: the sasquatch was obviously some type of human, a top-knot and braid were clearly visible on the top of the creature's head along with a bone hair clasp, the sasquatch was carrying a stick, thus, it was obviously a member of a remnant tribe of, in his words, digger Indians that still inhabited the Bluff Creek area, an anomalous bulging visible on the creature's thigh proved that it had been shot, and the way the sasquatch moved its head at one point in the film showed it was dodging a bullet or bullets still being fired at it by, presumably, Bob Gimlin. In addition, Davis claimed the shape of the creature's head in the film was the result of a head binding technique practiced by some Native American tribes in years past. Watching his version of the film, I was unable to see anything that justified these claims. Davis, in his documentary, went on to theorize that sasquatches were actually descendents of Asian yetis captured by the Chinese in ancient times. The Chinese, according to him, were exploring the world on massive junks and using the sasquatches as slave labor when some were released or escaped onto the North American continent. Are you beginning to get the picture here? This is stuff I could not make up if I tried.

As I mentioned before, I chuckled a bit, shook my head, and did not give M.K. Davis much more thought. After all, his theories did not harm anyone. The only person who seemed likely to be harmed by this foolishness was Davis himself. It was his legacy that he was endangering by promoting these wild theories. Now, I'm afraid, Davis has taken things to a whole new level. He has come up with a slew of new and increasingly illogical theories based on what he sees in a film he claims was shot at the same time as the Patterson-Gimlin video. Davis claims this film proves there was a massacre of numerous sasquatches at Bluff Creek and that well-known researchers John Green, Bob Titmus, and Rene Dahinden, along with Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin, were involved in a massive cover-up of the event. Davis makes these accusations based on "evidence" he found when he manipulated the film. It seems he intensified elements of red in certain spots on the film to reveal blood on the hands of those present and huge pools of blood on the ground. Davis even claims to have spotted a sasquatch skin and a ribcage in the film. The ribcage and skin I just don't see. The pools of blood and the red on the hands of the investigators? Well, I'm no expert, but photo-enhancing software is pretty standard on computers these days. You can toy with shading, spectrum, sharpness, and contrast to produce a radically altered image if you so desire. Anything with elements of red, orange, purple, tan, or brown can be altered to appear red quickly and easily. You can read more on the theories of M.K. Davis over at Cryptomundo. Loren Coleman has done a very good job of documenting all this nonsense in great detail.

So why do I feel compelled to speak out now? Several reasons, I suppose. First, and foremost, this newest round of foolishness impugns the character of others. No longer is Davis hurting his own reputation only. Now he is attempting to smear the reputations of others. It isn't right. Roger Patterson, Rene Dahinden, and Bob Titmus are all dead. They can't defend themselves. John Greene is one of the most respected researchers of this subject of all time. Bob Gimlin is a nice man who does not deserve this. He has endured more than his share of grief due to his being present that fateful day in 1967. Another reason I felt it was time to speak is that sometimes ignoring a problem does not make it go away. A cancer left untreated will spread and consume the entire body. The cancerous poisons that are the theories of one M.K. Davis need to be removed from the body of this community. Finally, and perhaps the simplest reason is that the greatest sin occurs when good men do nothing. I can do nothing no longer.

I think there is one more reason for speaking out. The field of cryptozoology is considered a fringe science at best. With people like M.K. Davis running around spewing nonsense we cannot hope for anything better. It is time for those of us in this field to say enough is enough and expel the whackos from out midst. No other scientific discipline would accept delusional rants as fact and not require some sort of actual proof beyond doctored bits of film and stills blown up so large they are just pixelated messes. If we continue to harbor the delusional and the charlatans the field will never be taken seriously. Our standards must be higher. It has been said that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence in order to be believable. Fair enough. I accept and support that in regard to proving the existence of these incredible animals. We must demand the same standard of proof of M.K. Davis in regard to his hurtful accusations and wild theories.

I am not a well known researcher or scientist. Probably only a few dozen people will read this entry. That is ok. I've now done what I can to alert people to the crazy snake oil that M.K. Davis is selling. I will not be silent while the reputations of good men are soiled by baseless nonsense any longer.

My conscience is now clear.