Guest Post on Wildlife Viewing with Trail Cameras

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Nov 072017
 

3 Awesome Reasons Wildlife Monitoring Rocks

Searching for wildlife might sound boring, but it’s far from it. Wildlife viewing, or the act of spotting wild animals in their natural environments, can be the thrill of a lifetime! When combined with its other incredible benefits, it becomes clear that there’s no better way to spend a weekend.

What is Wildlife Viewing?

Also known as wildlife watching or monitoring, viewing can include using remote trail cameras in places national agencies don’t have the resources to get to, or it can include physically looking for wildlife, such as rare birds or even larger animals like bears. Wildlife monitoring can be done formally in a citizen-scientist collaboration, or it can be done on public or private land just for fun. You can even join the legions of people searching for legendary creatures like a sasquatch!

Here are three reasons we think wildlife viewing rocks:

  1. Wildlife Viewing Helps With Conservation Efforts

You might be tempted to think we know all there is to know about our world, but that’s far from true. Even tracts of land in the United States have new secrets to reveal; in fact, since 2003 more than 400 new mammal species have been discovered worldwide.

Amateur conservations help local land management and parks services make important decisions about caring for local wildlife. Discoveries about things like the presence of rare carnivores guides regional conservation programs and priorities.

The viewing of wildlife also helps develop in adults and children a passion for conserving the land, vital for the continued protection of over 600 million acres of nationally-owned wilderness in the United States alone. Wildland protects its natural animal habitats and is ecologically vital for clean air and water, and also acts as a natural laboratory.

  1. Physical Activity is Healthy For You

Wildlife viewing involves, at a minimum, trail walking. The best monitoring, however, is achieved via hiking or even camping in remote areas. Kids and adults alike benefit greatly from routine physical activity. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Lower risk of heart disease in adults
  • Greater bone strength in children
  • Healthy weight management for both kids and adults
  • Reduced depression and better quality of sleep
  1. Fun For All Ages

Children are naturally excellent at wildlife viewing. Not only are their young eyes sharp, but they’re naturally curious. They’re often usually lower to the ground, with gives them the advantage of a different perspective and less stooping to identify tracks and other signs of animals.

Learning together and hiking in the wilderness is an activity people of all ages can take part in, and a great way to bond together. Your kids won’t even realize they’re learning and might just forget to ask for their electronic devices! Many adults have fond memories of camping and outdoor trips as children, and your kids can have that same experience.

Whether you’re motivated by the rush of seeing an animal in its natural habit, or you want to take part of conservation activities, or you want to find a hobby you can enjoy with your family, wildlife viewing is great fun! 

 

This guest post was supplied by Sally Phillips who enjoys teaching her daughters about the wildlife around them with her husband.  Thank you for your contribution!  

Apr 172011
 

Bigfoot investigator and friend of the ‘squatch, Steve Kulls has given us the following photograph for our consideration.  It appears to be a sasquatch bending over to pick up apples.  Of particular interest is the possible juvenile creature clutching onto the larger one’s chest area.  Read about Steve’s ongoing investigation here.

May 312010
 



My schedule has been downright nutty lately.  School is winding down, time is short, and the smell of report cards is in the air.  My work day is a whirlwind of responsibilities and paperwork, both of which often eat up many hours after the standard work day.  Meetings, field trips, grades, paperwork, students, and more fill what seems like nearly every waking minute I have. After all that, I still try to have a little bit of “Cliff” left over at the end of the day for me.  It gets tough sometimes.

Still, a guy’s gotta ‘squatch…  So, I do.


Seizing the opportunity given by this holiday weekend, two friends and I set our course for adventure and headed to Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  Our ultimate destination was going to be one of several choices, all of which centered around the vast swamplands known throughout the bigfooting community as Skookum Meadows.  I was optimistic about the roads being relatively free of snow, which can be a real hindrance this time of year, but a combination of dreary weather, two-wheel drive, and icy patches thwarted our plans.


We initially tried to access logging roads to put us on the north side of Lone Butte, but were turned around by a fifty yard stretch of icy road.  I probably could have plowed through the snow drift, but the accompanying vehicle was only two-wheel drive, and would have most certainly gotten stuck.  No worries, though.  In zones of high ‘squatch-potential like Skookum Meadows, specific locations need not be committed to.  There are plenty of other spots close by.


Our next plan was to head to the trail head of Placid Lake.  We couldn’t even get close to that location.  The road was completely engulfed with snow, leaving us with little choice than to head somewhat back towards the direction we came.


We took a right at Lone Butte Snow Park and headed towards the gravel pit that so often is the campsite for bigfoot tourists wanting to camp near Skookum Meadows.  Many of these sight seers do not realize that this gravel pit is was the base camp for the expedition when the Skookum cast was obtained.  In fact, one needs to drive right by the actual site of the cast in order to reach the gravel pit.


The Skookum Cast site taken on 9/22/07,
seven years to the day after the casting event.


We almost got to where we were headed to, but again were turned around by snow.  I did notice a grouse, rabbit, and large blacktail deer all within a mile of each other.  Food was in the neighborhood.  It was time to do some exploring.  (My favorite.)


We drove back to road 3211 and did some scouting.  Before long, I saw a dark road heading into the  brush that seemed to call out to me.  Never being one to ignore a whim, I radioed to the other car to stay put for a few moments while I drove up the road a bit to see how it looked.


In a word, it looked squatchy.  The road twisted its bumpy way through a dark forest thick with brush.  Swampy areas were commonly seen where the plant life was not too thick to obscure the view.  Several times I found the vine maples on either side of the road making a veil through which I’d drive my vehicle allowing the branches to scrape across my truck’s already tattered paint job.  I eventually found the road to be blocked by a dead fall, and backed down to the only medium sized clearing seen, which was fortunately only 80 yards behind me.  I radioed to the other vehicle that I had found our campsite.


Home sweet home.


Before long, my friends arrived and we started setting up camp.  I placed my tent near the edge of the tree line in hopes of inviting a close approach by a nocturnal visitor, while Craig and Barney practiced their bush craft skills and set up temporary shelters in the trees nearby.


After my tent was ready, I soon got to work putting three trail cameras along the access roads leading to (or from, depending on one’s perspective) our camp.  I spent close to an hour finding appropriate locations to place each camera and meticulously hiding them under a layer of soil, ferns, sticks, and debris.


The night was spent walking, whooping, knocking, and recording until fatigue overtook us around 2 am.  The conditions for bigfooting were not optimal, either.  There was a steady rain that obstructed our hearing as it pitter-pattered on our tarps, hoods, and tents.  Having worked early that morning, I was ready to lie down at that point anyways.


Rising late the next morning, I found Craig making coffee.  He had been up for a while, and had gone walking to the southeast along a road to find a meadow just a few hundred yards away.  Having heard a chorus of frogs the wet night before, this made perfect sense.


The meadow was not on any of the maps nor GPS units we had with us.  Since we didn’t know what to call it, we dubbed the location “Flipy Meadow,” after Craig Flipy, who stumbled upon it that morning.  I don’t have any idea if that location has a proper name or not, but for now “Flipy Meadow” seems just fine.


Flipy Meadow


We circumnavigated the meadow that morning.  Elk and deer prints were plentiful, and one set of boot prints were found in the mud at the margins of the bog.  Our party split up at one point with Craig and Barney circling back downhill to the road while I continued my lap around the meadow.  I found two small streams trickling out of the meadow which presented me with some easy tracking, but for the most part the ground was covered in brush and gave few opportunities for decent impressions.


After returning to camp, Craig and I explored the far reaches of the many forks in the road we were camped off of for most of the afternoon.  When night arrived, we found ourselves again doing the bigfooting routine.  This night would not be as quiet as the last.


Soon after our calls started, we heard the sound of sloshing from down towards the meadow.  Listening closely, it was clear that a large animal was wading in the shallow water of the meadow.  I hurried to ready my thermal imager only to find out that I was unprepared to film.  One of my two power supplies was depleted.  I decided that seeing a bigfoot through a thermal imager without recording it would be an embarrassing blog entry, so instead of rushing down with the therm to do just that, I took an hour to charge the power supply off of my car battery before leaving camp.  Craig and Barney had already gone down to the end of the road towards the meadow, and we were in constant radio contact.


The creature in the meadow could be heard moving about nearly the entire time the power supply was charging, giving us an opportunity to assess what it could be.  To me, it sounded like a creature trotting through shallow water.  We tried occasional knocks and whoops to see what affect this would have on the creature.  To our surprise, we had faint knocking replies from further to the south.  The creature in the meadow paid little notice to our sounds.  It seemed even less likely that this was a sasquatch at that point.


It turned out that I was correct, for when the power supply was sufficiently charged and I descended into the meadow I caught a glimpse of the trotting culprit.  As Craig, Barney, and I clumsily walked off trail through the dark without lights towards the meadow, I caught a the following footage on my thermal imager.



As you can barely see, there is an ungulate (probably an elk, based on the size of the creature and the distance from which it was shot) running from left to right soon disappearing into the woods.  Oh well.


Still, several knocking events were heard that night, as well as some branch breaking from a different direction.  I’m not positive that any of these were bigfoot related, but it’s possible.  To the south, where the knocking was heard, is a popular stretch of road for campers, so it’s at least possible that we were hearing door slamming or something similar.  So far, the review of the night’s recording has not turned up any knocks on the audio file, but they could have been too faint for the recorder to pick up.  I still have several more hours to review.


Before retiring, I made some “molisquatch cocktails” and put out an apple pile.  Molisquatch cocktails are rags soaked in anything smelly and out of the ordinary for sasquatches to smell.  In this case, I used orange-flavored mouthwash.  The cocktails’ sole purpose is to attract an sasquatch using their sense of smell and curiosity.


The next morning had me rising well before my companions.  I picked up the cameras, packed my gear, and hung out in the morning silence until they arose.  It had been since the Bob Saget gig that I had two consecutive nights in the woods, and I was very thankful for them.


When I checked the apple pile, I found the apples to be gone with nothing but small apple scraps left over.  Looking closely at the situation, I soon found the telltale tracks of crows in the muddy ground.  Crows and other birds are designed for flight, so they weigh very little for their size.  One can tell where birds have walked mostly from the marks their talons make as they hop around.  The area where the apples were had many small black holes in the mud indicating the sharp talons that made them.  They were not obvious at first, but it is our responsibility as amateur primatologists to spend the time to figure out what happened so we aren’t too quick to blame a missing apple pile on a visiting sasquatch.  Having “bigfoot on the brain” is a dangerous affliction, if we are to be taken seriously as investigators.


Upon my return home, I reviewed the game camera pictures.  I was pleased to find some nice shots of coyotes and crows, which I will share with you.





Having literally stumbled upon Flipy Meadow, I am positive I’ll be headed back there at some point.  It’s a super squatchy area, complete with food, wildlife, swamps, and heavy cover.  Small creeks permeate the landscape, and we even had some possible knocks to indicate that somebody might have been home.


Now, I’m off to the east side of the Cascades for the week followed by a couple nights in Big Sur, CA next weekend.  Neither trip is bigfoot related, but that flavor of thing seems to follow me wherever I go.  I’ll keep you posted.

Apr 192010
 
Trail cameras are a lot of fun. Every time I check a camera’s memory card, it’s like opening up a wrapped present. However, unlike opening a wrapped present, sometimes the box is empty.
Most of my trail camera efforts are short duration deployments, usually just a few days. This is partly because of the limited number of cameras I own, and partly because of the strategy I’m using with them. I usually go into a likely ‘squatch spot and make a lot of noise in an effort to arouse the curiosity of the local wildlife. I then place cameras to monitor likely avenues of approaching my camp.
Long-term deployments are a slightly different thing. The locations are usually chosen using strategic avenues of travel, often combined with scent attractants. The cameras are left from anywhere between two to ten weeks (or more), and are best placed well away from the normal paths of most humans.
I recently ran across some excellent Youtube videos showing amazing images of wildlife taken on trail cameras. The images were taken in the Teanaway Valley located east of Seattle, WA. Whoever made this video has several others, and they are all well worth watching. Enjoy!

Apr 092010
 

A few months ago I was contacted by a film student at the Portland Art Institute.  He asked if I could help him out with a project for his documentary film class.  Since I am a teacher in my non-bigfooting life, I tend to be very helpful to students, no matter what their age.  After meeting with the man, Jesse Larson, I agreed to help.

Craig Flipy, Cliff Barackman, and Jesse Larson on the Descending Ridge.

I brought Jesse on one of my trips to the Descending Ridge to deploy trail cameras.  He carried his fancy camera with him through some very difficult terrain, most of it off-trail and up steep inclines.  He later accompanied me to the swamps along the Clackamas River, and found out the hard way how brutal the cold and dark can be.  We met once more for a few hours at my home to film a short interview.

Jesse took the footage and produced a very well-made mini-documentary.  I love its quiet atmosphere, which to me conjures the feeling of being in the woods alone.  It does what it intended to do: to provide a brief glimpse into the life of a bigfooter.

Of course, he received an “A” on his project.  Everybody loves the ‘squatch!

You can view other films by Jesse Larson here.

Take a glimpse into my little bigfooty world.  Enjoy!

Mar 262010
 


On March 20, 2010 I made a short day trip to pick up the two trail cameras I had deployed three weeks previously on the Descending Ridge. I would usually have left the cameras out for another week or two, but I was leaving the next day for a four-night spring break bigfooting trip to the Olympic Peninsula (check back soon for details), and I wanted to have as many “eyes” with me on that expedition as possible.

I was intending to go alone into the wilderness area where these cameras were left, but on a whim I called Guy Edwards of the well-known bigfoot blog, Bigfoot Lunch Club, to see if he was up for a short hike. He was, so I picked him up and we were on our way.
Guy on the Descending Ridge
The day was just about perfect with temperatures in the 60’s and few, if any, clouds in sight. We arrived at the trailhead, scouted about for prints in the muddy areas adjacent to the parking area, and started trudging uphill into the wilderness area.
My GPS was having trouble finding satellites that day, but using some memorable spots in the environment, we veered off trail at the appropriate time and located the first of two cameras without too much difficulty. The batteries were dead, so I had no way of knowing how many photos it took. We rested a short while and headed off to the south to find the other camera.
The next trail camera was located at a choke point at the confluence of two small creeks that were fed by trickling seeps further up the mountain. This location was chosen not only because of the choke point, but also because of the possibility of finding footprints in the soft ground of the creek bed. When the camera was located, it also had dead batteries. I would have to wait until I returned home to see what treasures it held.
A view of our steep, overgrown path leading out of the wilderness.
We cautiously made our way down the steep slope to a nearby road, which we followed back to the truck. We enjoyed a burger and a beer in Molalla on the way home.
Later that evening I was disappointed to find that one of the cameras malfunctioned and recorded no images for the entire deployment. I had high hopes for that camera. I placed it on a ledge overlooking a wide area of heavy ungulate travel where any predator worth its salt would perch and observe for prey. I’ll have to try that location again in the coming months.
The camera located on the seep creek recorded a few photos of deer, one of which is shared below, as well as a number of false triggers set off by who-knows-what. This is another excellent spot for a camera, so I’ll likely try it again next time I’m up there.
Notice the other deer in the background to the left?
Mar 162010
 

I spent this past weekend in one of my favorite places in the world: the Olympic Peninsula. Derek Randles invited me out for the weekend to participate with the Olympic Project in checking a number of cameras specifically deployed to capture images of sasquatches. While no bigfoot images were obtained, the time was well-spent.
I managed to escape with my frequent field partner Craig Flipy by 3 pm on Friday. We headed up Interstate 5 to the Olympic Peninsula, and arrived at Derek’s remote cabin shortly after dark. He purchased this cabin specifically for sasquatch research due to the large number of road crossing sightings he has personally investigated within a mile or two of this location over the last 15 years. (One such sighting had the creature walking onto this very property!)
Derek outside of the Olympic Project’s base camp.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by friendly and familiar faces. In addition to Derek, Paul Graves, Beth Heikkinen, and Bill Porter (brother of Michael Porter) were warming themselves by the stove and fixing a meal, which they graciously shared with us newcomers. The rest of the night was spent talking ‘squatch, enjoying yummy beverages, playing guitar, and catching up. Any one of these activities with any one of these people would have been worth the drive, but to have them all at once was akin to bliss.
The next morning greeted us with sun glistening off of a light layer of snow which fell during the night. The mountainous valley where the cabin was located stretched before us on two sides. Looking up the steep slopes of the surrounding mountains, Derek pointed to this ridge or that peak explaining that there are two cameras here and three there.
An hour or two later, we all piled into Derek’s formidable truck and headed up a nearby logging road. Coincedentally, this is the same road on which I filmed “Snowsquatch” one year previously.
We headed up that road through progressively deeper snow until Derek’s huge truck was slipping and sliding dangerously close to major vertical complications and possibly disaster. We opted to not even get out to hike a mile down the snowed-in skid road where the first camera was located, but rather to back cautiously down the road we just came up. After a quarter mile or so we found a suitable location to make a 9-point turn on the narrow road and come back down to less snowy altitudes.
The path behind the cabin.
The second camera we checked that day was located three or four miles from the cabin. We had a very nice walk to a nearby trail head, then headed uphill. The steep path eventually led through overgrown brush on an underused logging road to the camera location.
Paul Graves and Derek Randles checking the memory
card from the second camera location.
After what seemed like a much shorter walk back, dusk was settling in. Craig was wandering around in the twilight of the woods when he stumbled upon a game camera set just outside the property line. In front of the camera was a wide area baited with numerous apples. He reported his find to us, and Craig and I went into the dark to investigate, thinking this was a camera trap set for either spring bear season or a bigfoot.
Finding the camera was easy, even in the dark. It was locked in a bear case, so we knew it wasn’t one of ours. It was also a different brand than is generally used by the Olympic Project, though they do have about a half dozen of this particular kind.
Having had cameras of my own stolen from great locations, I had no desire to mess with the camera too much. Still, I see no problem with the motto “Mischief without harm.” Craig walked in front of the camera to the spread out apples, picked one up, and feigned immense gratitude for finding an apple. He immediately started running about picking up apples and shoving them greedily in his pockets, pretending to gather them like a starving man. I soon joined him in the camera’s field of view, gathering the spread-out apples into a single pyramidal pile. There were still plenty of apples spread out everywhere, and Craig emptied his pockets back into the grassy area in which the apples were found after our shenanigans. Whoever checks that camera’s memory card will either wonder what the heck we were doing, hate us, or laugh. I hope it’s the latter.
Sunday morning started as Sunday mornings should: with coffee and a great breakfast. After grub, we packed up our belongings and headed southwards to an area near Lake Quinault. There was a recent road crossing sighting not far from the lake reported by a [former] skeptic. Derek investigated this sighting and deployed a camera off that road near a creek. We were all excited to check this camera, not only for the possibility of that elusive image of a sasquatch, but also because the swampy ground offered excellent tracking conditions.
Nearby sightings and excellent
tracking… who can ask for more?
We parked on a nearby forest service road and walked into the brush near where the sasquatch was seen. In a short while, we located the remains of a recently deceased coyote, probably the victim of bad timing while crossing the busy nearby highway. Hiking further brought us to the swampy river bottom and Derek’s camera. The tracking was superb, and many elk had recently passed through the area. I’ve been in this general area many times, but never knew this kind of tracking was available right off the road. I will definitely frequent this location whenever possible.
Our next stop was the location of last year’s track find near Lake Quinault. Derek was the investigator on that footprint find which later made its way to my ears. I was lucky enough to get the witness contact information and make a copy of the cast that was made of the footprint. The cast is featured on the cast database on www.NorthAmericanBigfoot.com. Other footprints were found in the immediate vicinity on two other occasions.
An impression found by Beth Heikkinen
at the same location in May, 2009.
The narrow river valley in which the print was found is an excellent location to find footprints. Marshes line the trail which crosses a creek several times before emerging into a wetland teeming with life. Frogs, fish, birds, and other yummies were readily apparent as obvious food items. The area would be an obvious pathway to the nearby river bottoms where the elk go to calf in spring.
At one point along the trail, we stumbled across an interesting impression. It measured a little over twelve inches in length, and could very well be from a boot. Still, the leading edge seems to be a little funny looking for a boot. The print had obviously been filled in with water and soil leaving no topography, so any indications of toes, heel strikes, or pressure ridges were not discernible. While I suspect this impression was left by a hiker’s boot, it’s hard to be sure. It sure looks like it had toes…
The impression of unknown origin.
On the drive out, Craig and I were treated to the spectacle of two elk crossing the Quinault River. We were upwind about 100 yards from them, and they were visibly skittish. The cautiously crept to a spot directly across from us on the river over a period of perhaps 15 minutes, closely keeping an eye on us.
Two elk warily approach.
The way home is often a bummer when coming off of a great trip like this. Not only did we not want to return from this squatchy paradise, but we would not be arriving to Portland until nearly 11 pm. Both of us had to wake up too early the next morning, and we were exhausted.
But not too exhausted to stop for a great photo opportunity!
Mar 022010
 

The vertical ascent.


Recently, I went on a scouting trip to a ‘squatchy location south of Portland. I’ve been looking closely at this area since fall, having taken numerous day trips and even spending a few nights there. So far, I have little to show for the time I’ve spent there, but that’s not to say that nothing bigfooty has happened. While I do admit that almost nothing has happened, I did get return vocalizations from a nearby roadless area last October on one very chilly night. The recorder we had running in camp was too far away to pick up the sounds, so I have nothing to share from the event.

After pouring over topographic maps, I noticed that many of the area’s sightings happened in a natural choke point where a ridge line funnels down to a confluence of rivers. Following the lead of the Olympic Project, I decided to deploy trail cameras on this ridge line in hopes of capturing photographs of a sasquatch wandering its way down that route.
This spot has human pressure for a good portion of the year, and the local sasquatches have adapted to keep their presence generally unknown. Vocalizations are rarely heard, and the creatures are reportedly sneakier in their behavior. I do not want more human pressure to make the sasquatches even more wary around us. I’m going to keep this location a secret, at least for the time being. For now, I’ll refer to it as the Descending Ridge Location.
It’s always a little scary to leave game cameras out on public land. Unattended, they’re vulnerable to thieves. I’ve lost more than one of these expensive tools in my time. (Wanna donate?)
The area between the confluence of rivers is virtually roadless. There are a handful of gated logging roads and trails that are slowly being reclaimed by the surrounding woods. Not a lot of people walk deeply into this area, and even fewer of them go off-trail. This is especially true in the winter. I felt that these facts would help ensure my cameras wouldn’t get stolen.
I hiked up the ridge line and deployed two Reconyx trail cameras. They were positioned to monitor heavily used game trails near a steep drop off, thus funneling animals into a narrow gap making them easier to photograph. There was a human trail a few hundred yards to the south, so I spent a fair amount of time trying to camouflage the cameras with forest duff and moss.
The just-deployed Reconyx captures us as we leave the scene.
I put two cameras within a half mile of each other. They were left there for a month until I collected them this past Sunday on a solo day trip.
I took a different route up the mountain when I returned to retrieve the cameras. I utilized a gentler slope than had been hiked previously, though it was still a bit of a climb. Eventually, and only with the help of the GPS, I found the two cameras. After unlocking them from the trees, they were stored carefully in my backpack.
I brought another two units to deploy since I was up on the hill. Finding a precipice overlooking a shallow valley, I positioned one of them facing a game trail running along the overlooking ridge. Sasquatches, like mountain lions, use the surrounding terrain strategically, and this location would be an excellent one from which to locate prey.
Having retrieved both cameras, and still having another to deploy stowed away in my backpack, I headed south. On the previous trip, I found a seep that trickled down into a narrow ravine. My intention was to travel down the seep to inspect the boggy spots for footprints.
A flat spot off to the side of the seep.
The ground alternated between a wet carpet of moss and a narrow stream with a gravel bed. In some places, the slowly widening creek disappeared underground. The gurgling of the unseen creek escaped through dark holes in the ground.
You hear what’s right under your feet, but don’t see it.
The hike down the ravine was fun and a little challenging. Nothing that I would call dangerous, but I did lose my footing and slip on the steep muddy walls a couple times. (Remember, when doing this sort of trip alone one should not take unnecessary chances! It’s a long walk out, and an even longer one with a broken femur!)
I found an excellent choke point on which to train the other camera. Lots of deer and elk had been moving through this spot, and it was only 20 or 30 feet wide. It will be interesting to see what utilizes this pathway after I pick up the camera next month.
A decent (but not good enough)
job at camouflaging a camera.
I continued down the ravine. Its sides were quite steep now, and through the trees I could just make out a logging road a couple hundred feet below. I closely inspected flat spots where water had gathered, but for the most part I stuck to the creek bed and banks examining the soft substrate for signs of passing animals.
Eventually, I made my way down to the road, hung a right, and walked back to where my truck was parked. Some local kids in a car rolled down their windows to yell something unintelligible at me as they passed, to which I smiled and nodded. It’s always good to be friendly, even when drunk kids yell stuff at you. Perhaps especially when drunk kids yell at you. I was alone, after all.
I made it home a little after dark and checked the cameras’ memory cards. The short version of my photographic results is that I got a bunch of deer pictures. Of course every bigfooter would want a photograph of a sasquatch, but based on previous results that seems to be very unlikely. Possible, but unlikely. (It’s the “possible” part that keeps me going.)
What I did get was a decent amount of information about what’s going on in that area. There seems to be a good number of deer in the area based on both the photos obtained as well as the spoor seen on the hike out and back to retrieve the cameras. Based on footprints, elk had also walked through the area, though no photographic evidence of them was captured on this deployment.
A curious blacktail deer, up-close and personal. Do you see the
other one in the background? It’s right in front of the close deer’s
nose. It’s easier to see in a larger version of the pic.
Another from about a week later. Note the time stamps to the upper left.
Having deployed two more cameras, I’ll be heading out there again in about a month to pick them up. I’m hopeful for some interesting shots, and maybe even a picture of a bigfoot if I stick with this spot long enough. The more I get to know the area, the stronger that possibility will be.
It’s a promising location at a promising time. The animals are starting to move back into the area, and more are expected with spring just around the corner. There are nearby ponds, numerous rivers and creeks, and a long history with many sasquatch encounters from all sides.
Frequenting this spot, and keeping you posted on any results, seems like a good use of my time.
A beautiful example of Fomitopsis pinicola.
Feb 242010
 

“Let’s go bigfooting!”
A week or so ago, I went scouting for a location to run a short mini-expedition. In attendance were some of my regular bigfooting buddies and some guests. Toby Johnson, organizer of the Oregon Sasquatch Symposium, came up from Eugene, OR with his son, Jude for a night in the woods with us. There was also a film student from Portland Art Institute filming the trip with his sound technician for a school project.

We all met at a coffee shop in Estacada, OR at noon. Once everyone arrived, we started down the Clackamas River Highway towards Ripplebrook Ranger Station. There were two large herds of deer sighted just north of Ripplebrook in the last couple weeks, and large deer herds are amongst the best indicators of the possible presence of sasquatches.
The target area for this expedition was a large swamp along the Clackamas River. I wanted to check out the swamp for prints. This was not only to give the guys something to film, but also to find out what kind of animals were walking around in the bottoms this time of year.
After turning off the main highway and into the woods, we found a site that could accommodate our four vehicles with a fire ring. It was hardly more than a pull-out, but behind some nearby boulders and tree stumps there was a forested path that led downwards into the swampy bottom lands. Disused trails of both human an animal origin snaked off into the woods on all sides, though only for a short distance before the surrounding foliage swallowed all trace of them. It was a perfect area to sleep in: sasquatches could approach from nearly any direction and still have plenty of cover to hide in. We pitched several tents separated by 75 or 100 yards. Two members of the expedition chose to sleep outside under shelters made only with natural materials, cool tarps, and fancy knots.
To help the sasquatches be curious enough to come in for a look, we hung several attractants nearby. Toby brought glow sticks, which he tied to apples and hung in trees across the road from our camp. We tied another to a dead shad and hung them both in a tree near our tents. Aimed at the fish was a heavily camouflaged Reconyx RC60 game camera.
Cliff, an eerily illuminated shad, and Jesse the Film Guy much later that night.
With a few more hours of daylight still available, we went for an off-trail hike through the marshes. Being winter, the formidable Devil’s Club (Opolopanax horridum) had gone dormant and exposed the water’s edge leaving plenty of mud, sand, and other substrate in which to record tracks. There were indeed many prints of deer and elk, but none of sasquatches. I will definitely make it a point to wander through here again soon. Considering how little of the forest floor actually records footprints at all, this seems like a promising area in which to stumble across some.
The marsh offered excellent substrate for tracks.
The night was spent knocking, calling, and walking. The acoustics were surprisingly good, and our calls could be heard echoing great distances up the canyon. They were easily heard back at camp and made poor 7-year old Jude a little unsettled.
It is interesting to note that our knocks were not heard back at camp, though they seemed plenty loud at the time. This was the case on every walk we took that night: the knocks were absorbed by the trees.
The only vocalization heard was that of a barred owl. It spontaneously called only once and would not respond to our noises.
Having stayed out late the night before celebrating a friend’s birthday, I started getting a little tired sometime after one o’clock. Besides, the temperature was 27 degrees and a warm sleeping bag sounded pretty good at that point. Saying goodnight to the others, I walked off into the dark to find where I pitched my tent. Lying down, I zipped up my sleeping bag nice and high and listened to the forest noises until I dozed off.
The film students left during the night because they were were a little unprepared for the cold, Toby took off at 3:30 am to drive to the coast for a geology class, and the rest of us went our separate ways before noon. On our way out, two friends and I walked in the swamp one last time before driving back to Portland. I found that fresh deer footprints from the night before crossed the tracks I had left on the previous hike.
I think this place will be teeming with game (and mosquitoes) in a few short months as spring gets a hold of things and food becomes more available. This area gets some human traffic when the weather starts warming up a bit, but very few people walk the swamps. No human trails nor trash was found on either of my hikes into the marsh. I think the vast majority of people stick to the roads and don’t drop down into the bottom lands.
Of course, there’s a reason for that. It’s not easy going down in the thickets. There is deep mud, thick mossy quagmires, and entangling bushes with pointy parts that gouge out chunks of flesh from your nose. Still, that’s bigfooting, and I love it.
A bloody boo boo.
Jan 242010
 

Derek Randles on expedition in Southern Oregon

You probably have heard of Derek Randles. He is a co-finder and co-owner of the Skookum Cast, one of the most active sightings-chasers in Bigfootland, and is a key player in the Olympics Project. He was part of Dr. Meldrum’s North American Ape Project, and knows (or knew) many of the “names of bigfooting” over the last two decades. He is certainly one of my favorite field partners, and a good friend.

Cliff Barackman, Derek Randles, and Wally Hersom at the PG Filmsite.
Derek owns a business that I think any bigfooter would be interested in. He calls this endeavor “Ridge Walkers Unlimited.” Ridge Walkers Unlimited’s goal is to educate and prepare outdoor enthusiasts for whatever they might encounter while in the wilds. Their services include training in first aid, wilderness survival, off-trail forest navigation, and much more. Their services are custom-tailored for the needs of your expedition. Whether this would be your first foray into the world of backpacking, or you’re a seasoned veteran looking for a unique challenge, Ridge Walkers Unlimited would be an excellent choice for a guide service provider.
Of course, if you’re reading this blog then you are probably a bigfoot aficionado like myself. That’s where the extra value of Derek’s services comes in. Any bigfooter who takes a trip with Derek will benefit from his 20+ years of first-hand knowledge on the subject. He is familiar with all of the cutting edge techniques of locating and attracting sasquatches. He is also well-outfitted with the appropriate technologies to capture images and sound recordings of all large mammals.
A cougar captured on one of Derek’s remote cameras.
Derek lives on the Olympic Peninsula, which many consider to be the squatchiest place on in the United States. He is intimately familiar with his “back yard”, and is studying the likely paths of the various apex predators that live there. He knows the trails and the ridge lines that act as corridors of travel from one food source to the other. He knows how to get you close to the animals that reside in this temperate rain forest.
Having been in the woods with Derek on many occasions, I can personally attest that he is an extremely enthusiastic tracker. He has probably has found more sasquatch footprints in remote locations than 98% of the active bigfooters today. He fears no climb, path, nor mountain top. He will go where he says he will, and do so with a smile on his face. His love for the outdoors is contagious, and he is a man of the utmost integrity and honor. He can be a formidable hiking partner, but if bigfooting is the goal, I can honestly not think of anyone else I know that would be a better person to backpack with.
Obviously, I highly recommend Derek’s services. If you are a bigfooter looking to learn new skills and bigfooting techniques while hiking through some of the squatchiest places on the planet, then there is no other service that can offer what Ridge Walkers can.
(An invitation has been extended to me to accompany bigfoot-related trips. Who knows, maybe you’ll even get the added benefit of having me as a guest-guide on such an expedition?)