The West Virginia expedition was one that I very much looking forward to. I had heard numerous excellent accounts out of this state before, but had only had the opportunity to drive through its mountains on the way to other locations. I knew the habitat was excellent for bigfoots, and I was most anxious to give it a try for myself.
The evidence that brought us to West Virginia came in the form of a couple of photographs taken by a young man named David Stennes. Seven years ago when David was only ten years old, he was outside playing near the wood line. Some noises caught his attention a short distance inside the woods. David could see that the source of the noises was a very large man-shaped figure that appeared to be covered with hair. The creature was very slowly walking parallel to the clearing from right to left. He stared at it in disbelief for a few moments before running into his nearby house and grabbing a camera. This took only 30 seconds or so, and soon he was able to snap three quick photographs of the figure.
The photos are not the best I’ve ever seen, but they certainly aren’t the worst either. In fact as far as bigfoot pictures go, they aren’t half bad especially when one considers that David was only ten at the time he snapped them. In two of the photographs, what seems to be the head and shoulders of the creature can be made out. Unfortunately, they are pretty blurry. Our recreations at the location indicated that David could have very well taken a couple of pictures of a bigfoot that day. The context was even more compelling than the photos. We saw at least fifty deer over the few hours we were there, and David lives in a small private community mostly made of astronomers and physicists who work at the National Radio Telescope Observatory near Green Bank, WV. The likelihood of a hoax is miniscule.
Our first night investigation yielded little on Ranae’s and my end. Apparently the other team might have heard something, but I don’t know much about that. Hopefully they did, but mostly because I think it would be cool for David since he was out with them. However, at one point a branch fell from above Ranae and I and nearly hit us. It smacked into the ground only a few feet behind us as we passed. I have no idea why that happened. It is true that throwing branches and whatnot is a well-documented ape behavior, and I’m aware of bigfoots doing this same thing, but I thoroughly scanned our surroundings and saw no signs of any mammals. I believe it was just a coincidence, though a strange one.
The sightings that I investigated were very convincing. Bob, a retired sheriff, chief of police, and NASA employee had a multiple-witness sighting of a bigfoot running across an open field after it came up from a creek draw and made its way down into another. Where it ran across was the shortest distance from cover back into cover. It also headed down into the area on the private land that the owners call “Bigfoot Hollow,” for all the strange noises that come out of there.
James, the gentleman who saw a bigfoot through binoculars while crossbow hunting, had an experience that would make any bigfooter jealous. He saw the figure well enough that he could see it blink its eyes. The creature was probably coming around this location (which was only a mile or so from where Bob saw his) often because James hunts this property often. In West Virginia, one is allowed to harvest seven deer a year, and James never buys cow meat from a store. Most of the deer he kills are cleaned in the field, and usually the gut piles are left very close to where James witnessed the bigfoot. I think that this bigfoot, like many other bigfoots across the country, has learned to scavenge the gut piles on a regular basis, especially when clued in by the sound of James’ ATV roaring through the woods.
The last night investigation yielded some hellish noises. Down below from where Matt and I were standing, in the place called “Bigfoot Hollow,” came an eruption of probably coyote noises. What made these sounds so different was both the sheer number of coyotes that were vocalizing, as well as the intense reverberation caused by the noises echoing up the canyon. I have rarely heard anything so spooky sounding in the woods. I don’t think it was bigfoot related, but rather canine related. I only wish the recorders picked it up better.
Speaking of regrets, the game camera issue still haunts me. The game camera was set up to monitor a gut pile that we left out for several days in a likely bigfoot area on private property. Tyler Bounds, our outdoor technician and bigfoot production assistant was responsible for the camera deployment. Here is what Tyler has to say about the malfunctioning camera:
The cast had nothing to do with it. I went to a f**king slaughterhouse at 6am and got 10 gallons of cow and pig innards (remember, I’m a vegetarian) while listening to animals screaming. I schlepped that stuff way out to Bigfoot Holler, dumped steaming guts in a strategic location, and setup no less than 3 cheap trailcams around the gut pile. When I went back 4 days later, the guts were gone, and the cameras were registering several photos on each. But when I took the cams back to review pix, I discovered that they were saved to internal memory, and not to the SD cards. Myself and my tech manager both tried to pry the photos out of the cams, but we couldn’t. The lesson to be learned here: Never send a vegetarian/animal rights activist to a slaughterhouse to gather animal parts on Kill Day. Karma killed those trailcams, no doubt in my mind.
And obviously none of you have experience with the Bigfoot Curse. The batteries will always die at inopportune times. You’ll always hit the wrong button. The camera will run out of tape right when you need it most. The SD card that you swore was empty will suddenly be full. Spend a few years doing this with a shitload of gadgets than gobble batteries and film and gigabytes and you’ll eventually feel my pain. And you’ll learn that double-checking ain’t enough. Triple quadruple check that shit, then check it again. If you think you can do a better job, come do it. I’ll go home and enjoy having a life again.
Yeah, the solution was: trash those Moultrie POS’s and get better cams. I’ve always said, you get what you pay for. Trailcams, cameras, backpacks, tents, gear- buy the same cheap sh*tty tent at Wal*Mart 5 times to “save money”, or go buy an awesome Nemo or MSR or Big Agnes or whatever once and be dry and happy and sheltered for years.
I don’t need advice. It’s not like this was my first rodeo. I’ve set up hundreds of trailcams. Look at the pix here on my FB page. My Reconyx’s at home has taken thousands of great pix, but when the production company cuts corners in purchasing gear that we need, that gets frustrating.
Another element of the show that I found to be somewhat lacking was the hair analysis. After watching the episode (which I didn’t get a chance to see before it aired), I immediately contacted our supervising producer and tracked down a bit more information on the “inconclusive” results from the DNA lab. I was given a copy of the email with the results, and the pertinent parts appear below:
Unfortunately the first run through the system did not produce enough good DNA for further analysis. Going to try an alternative. Can say that the morphology of the hair looks more human like than previous samples (caveat – I am not a hair expert). I will see if I can get an opinion from someone who is a hair expert.
No further information has come from the analysis. Since learning about the results, I have taken it upon myself to push a bit deeper to see what I can come up with. Just yesterday I dropped a couple of hairs from this sample in the mail for Dr. Jeff Meldrum to examine. If anything interesting comes from his analysis, I’ll keep you posted.