Friday, October 31, 2014

Rustlin' ...

Boo! A doe gets busted ...
     Happy Halloween, y’all!  Not everything that goes bump in the night is scary ... even in the deepest, darkest woods.  Now, I ain't one of them "Bigfoot" researchers that are goin’ to claim that every friggin' shape & shadow caught on my cams could possibly be a wood ape.  Nope!  As a matter of fact, since my son and I had Our Encounter … we’ve come up zero as far as findin’ any definitive evidence of the animal that we saw waltzin' away from us back in Smith’s Slough.  The followin’ images are cropped from several trail-cam photos that our cameras caught at night out in the Caddo Lake Wildlife Management Area.  And out of the thousands of images & videos I’ve reviewed on our SD cards, these are just a few that might explain what makes some of that rustlin’ folks tend to hear out there in them woods at night.
     From coons to coyotes, I've caught all kinds of critters on film that have triggered my trail-cams.  Since it's Halloween, I'll quote Bela Lugosi from Universal Studio's 1931 classic film, Dracula; "Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make."  While the character Count Dracula was referrin' to wolves, this reminds me of similar sounds I hear at night on a regular basis.  Most folks who camp, hunt or live in rural (or now, even urban) areas are used to hearin' coyotes.  I've actually even had them come right into our camp site on occasion.  Though they yip, howl and growl they are actually pretty stealthy while movin' through the leaf-litter at night.  Foxes make some pretty eerie sounds at night as well; but like the coyote, they creep around undetected.  Other critters aren't so quiet ... such as hogs or armadillos.  The mink in the montage below obviously wasn't bein' quiet, as it seemed to be attackin' another critter!
A coon, a coyote, a mink, an armadillo and a buck in velvet in caught on trail-cams in the Caddo WMA ...
     I've read on some sites where researchers were abso-friggin'-lutely fascinated with eye-shine.  I've spent a bunch of time out there in them woods at night; and in my experience, the only eye-shine I've seen was caused by a light-source illuminatin' an animals eyes.  I'm pretty sure that if I ever came across a critter who's eyes glowed without me shinin' a light on it ... I might just squirt a friggin' grape!  Here is a great example of eye-shine that was caught by one of my game-cams through time-lapse on several frames, from dark 'til light.  This buck was bedded-down in thick foliage, while you can see the antlers of another buck in the daylight shot, which was right in front of my 5th trail-cam "Mini-Thing".  By the way, this model of Moultrie trail-cam was supposed to be infra-red.
     As cooler weather approaches, I'll hopefully be doin' a bunch more campin' and huntin' out there in them woods.  I'm sure that I'll hear some pretty peculiar things while I'm out there on a few of them brisk, fall nights.  But, unless I hear an animal doin' somethin' a little more substantial than just rustlin' ... I'll be sure to keep the safety on.  Y'all be safe out there, and have a Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Arguin' ...

     Howdy, y’all!  47 years ago today, on October 20, 1967 … Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin rode into Bluff Creek and filmed an animal that has yet to be properly scientifically documented.  Fact is, folks have been arguin’ for almost half a century as to what they had actually filmed.  Now, I don’t wanna insult anyone’s intelligence, but almost any outdoorsman who has seen this film should be able to distinguish the difference between a live animal and a man in a friggin’ costume.  Period.  I ain’t goin’ to beat a dead horse for this entry by postin' my personal opinions as to why I deduce that this film was of a real, livin’ critter.  What I am goin’ to suggest is that for anyone … especially the skeptics, to read the book When Roger Met Patty by William Munns.  Afterwards, if skeptics still wanna do some arguin’ ... I would in all probability conclude that those individuals might just be friggin' remedial.  Please excuse my tone, y’all; I'm not tryin' to be mean, but ... I just calls ‘em likes I sees ‘em!
     I received this folio on July 30 of this year and have read it twice … as in all 476 pages of it, includin’ the other 15 pages of citations, index and bibliography, etc. thereafter.  If you haven’t already done so, please check-out this fascinatin’ book!  Munns has painstakingly and thoroughly covered all of the bases, while not crossin’ the line with any bat-sh¡t crazy theories or conjectures.  So whether you are a bona fide skeptic or just sittin’ on the fence about the validity of this historic piece of film footage, this casebook is a must-read.  Maybe then, folks who have actually read his analysis might do a bunch-more researchin’ and a lot less arguin’ … so please give it a look-see, and y’all come back now, you hear?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Reckonin' ...

Yours truly openin' The Bowman Lodge gate ...
     Howdy!  My wife and I just got back from a 1,000 mile round-trip to attend the 2014 North American Wood Ape Organizational Retreat, held at the exquisite Bowman Lodge in northeastern Oklahoma!  The retreat was a recap of the North American Wood Ape Conservancy (NAWAC) field investigations over the past few years, which gave new members like myself some insight as to the depth of our study and the direction we will pursue in the upcomin’ year.  While I won’t ever divulge any information here that might compromise our study, y’all can visit the NAWAC Web siteFacebook page or listen to Brian Brown’s upcomin’ podcast on The Bigfoot Show Blog for more details.  Now a few months back ... I was asked by a NAWAC board member to write an article concernin’ why I had decided to join a group; specifically, why I chose the NAWAC … and to further explain my personal conflict with the kill/no kill stance and the reason that I now fully support the takin’ of a type specimen.  Any of y’all who have read this blog know that it details my personal accounts and the experiences that I’ve had since actually havin’ an encounter with an animal that has not yet been properly scientifically documented.  What follows is the meat from the article I’d submitted to the NAWAC … with a few taters thrown-in along the way!
     Growin’ up in the south, huntin’ and fishin’ has always been a big part of my life.  I reckon that I’d much rather spend a day in the woods or on a body of water than almost anywhere else.  I also grew up readin’ about paleontology, archeology and anything concernin’ wildlife biology.  And I can remember seein’ the Patterson Gimlin film on the national news, as well as readin’ about it in several publications, such as my uncle’s February 1968 issue of Argosy or my grandfather’s January 1969 Reader’s Digest.  I can also remember watchin’ several documentaries and movies in the early 70’s on the subject.  However, due to my personal outdoor experiences, I pretty-much well dismissed the fact that there could be an actual animal such as this in my neck of the woods.  I reckon that I fell into skepticism; but only to the point that, because I personally hadn’t ever encountered such an animal, it probably wasn’t very likely that our local flora & fauna supported them.  Wow … how blind, ignorant, arrogant and absolutely wrong I was!
Our gracious host Paul Bowman addresses the NAWAC members and
guests after breakfast, which began our day of recap and plannin' ...
     My son and I had our encounter in June of 2009 and much has changed since then.  I immediately tried to read and view everything that I could on the subject, even reviewin’ the publications and documentaries that I had already seen many years in the past.  I’ve found that the internet is hit and miss; I’ve learned that much of what is posted on the Web is exaggerated and even those stories that I had read in the past were overly-elaborated to the point of bein’ over-dramatic.  I had found several Web sites where there were groups of amateur researchers; some looked legitimate while some preyed upon the novice, and others just flat-out breached beyond the boundaries of the mentally stable!  But upon viewin’ an episode of MonsterQuest, I remember seeing a group called the Texas Bigfoot Research Conservancy (TBRC) who appeared so professional and sincere about their field research that I actually contacted a member via e-mail, and can remember tellin’ him that I thought they were “the real deal”.  Upon further investigation, I decided to attend a conference in Tyler, Texas in September of 2010.  That conference opened-up a new door for me.
     By that point, I was already investigatin’ the area of our encounter.  I had become so obsessed with tryin’ to find out what this animal was that most of my normal outdoor activities were ignored.  I started purchasin’ equipment and game cameras, as well as spendin’ an inordinate amount of time burnin’-up the highway between home and the area of our encounter.  By this time I had made a few acquaintances over the internet, and had hoped to network with these folks to find out if I was approachin’ my amateur research properly.  This is when I started to find out that there are no experts in this field.  Period.  And this is when I learned that there were basically several different species of folks in the “Bigfoot” community.  I had pretty-much well decided that if I wanted to learn anything, I might be better-off goin’ solo.  In several months of communications with one member of the TBRC, I had considered becoming a member at some point in time, but my personal life wouldn’t allow me the time to commit.  I don’t believe in doin’ somethin’ half-assed, so I did not pursue the issue any further.
Daryl Colyer converses with NAWAC team members about past events
and future strategies concerning our ongoing study of the wood apes.
     My main goal was to photograph the animal that my son and I had encountered.  I wasn’t lookin’ for fame nor was I lookin' for any financial gain; I simply wanted to know exactly what type of animal that we had encountered.  I began to photograph and document our trips to the area, but soon realized that I was spendin’ more and more time away from home, and money that could’ve been used for family needs.  My son and I had decided to sleep out in the area of our encounter, with no fire and all of the recordin’ equipment that we owned at the time.  Even though we shared a very interestin’ night with the barred-owls, coyotes and somethin’ unknown that had passed through our camp site, we had nothin’ definitive to show for it.  Afterwards, I spent even more time out there alone; I would scout durin’ the day and roam the sloughs & swamps at night via my bass boat or my kayak.  I went to a second TBRC conference in Tyler, and again had the urge to soak-up anything that this group had to offer.  But somethin’ didn’t feel right on that trip; I felt more like an outsider or some rabid fan that was shunned by the stars.  I had gone as far as to prepare a booklet and CD full of photos and audio documentin’ our encounter as well as my amateur research for one of the keynote speakers, but heard nothin’ further from that person for my efforts.
     It was about this time that I started hearin’ the rumblin’s of the pro-kill/no-kill controversy.  I was raised a hunter and an angler; so if I was going to harvest an animal, it was for food.  Period.  Even though I was a more of a sport angler … practicin’ catch and release long before it became chic, I was not by any means a trophy hunter either.  I thought that if this animal was so rare, why kill it?  Just document it.  Surely if one were to get a good enough photograph, the proof would speak for itself; but in these days of digital photo manipulation and rampant hoaxin’, maybe not.  Bein’ a graphic designer and bein’ very proficient in Photoshop, I could analyze most photos both visually and digitally and immediately decide if somethin’ was real or not.  So in a way, it made perfect sense to harvest a type specimen.  And after readin’ John Bindernagel’s The Discovery of the Species, it seemed that the only way to prove to the masses that this animal is real was to give the scientists somethin’ definitive … as in a body.  And afterwards, maybe the remainin’ population of this animal could be protected.  But, could I pull the trigger if I was blessed enough with another encounter with one of these animals?  For example, if I felt threatened?  Absolutely.  But to hunt this animal just to prove it was real?  That was a very hard question for me to ponder.  Could I look an intelligent being in the eyes and end its life?  Obviously, this animal is very intelligent to have evaded all of us for so dang long.

Our gorgeous view of an Oklahoma sunset as seen from the back porch of The Bowman Lodge ...

     I then read on another Web site that someone from the TBRC had shot at and possibly wounded one of these animals.  The “Bigfoot” community was up in friggin’ arms, and I soon learned from this situation where the term “Bigfootery” had most probably come from!  I couldn’t believe some of the things that were said; but soon after, the TBRC posted a rebuttal to all of the drama that most of the “Bigfoot” community was stirrin’-up over this incident.  I was very impressed by the way that this matter was addressed by the group, and it really opened my eyes to how frenzied the masses became over this animal that has not been proven to even exist.  Hell, I know it’s real!  So close … and yet, instead of realizin’ that this group has been tryin’ to provide definitive proof, they are persecuted by their so-called peers.  I removed quite a few sites from my favorites after that fiasco, and it made me realize that some folks are really both paltry as well as petty.  Sad …
     I continued to socialize with a few folks in the “Bigfoot” community, but in time that bit me more times than steppin’ on a cottonmouth.  The last straw was early in 2013, and I decided to quit interactin’ with “Bigfoot” groups in general.  The last thing I wanted was to be sentenced to death by association with folks in the lunatic fringe.  I did continue to correspond, however with someone who was a great help in the beginning of my amateur research, and actually listened or answered questions when I was in need of advice.  This person was also a member of the TBRC, now known as the NAWAC.  Shortly thereafter, I started this blog … which is my creative release and an escape from my daily grind.  I turned my amateur research documentation into somethin’ fun, but kept on a straight path and didn’t exaggerate or overly elaborate.  Even though I tend to stray from the subject from time to time, I promised myself I wouldn’t delve into the world of “Bigfootery”.  It was through my correspondence with this member and surfin’ through the NAWAC’s Web site that I stumbled upon an event that I decided to volunteer for.
     Through that day of volunteer work, I really began to feel the true worth of this group.  And afterwards, I got to socialize with a few of the members and share some experiences out in the field … which I like to call “doin’ my time in the grime!  I listened to their accounts as well, and was amazed at what-all we had in common.  I seemed to kind-of just fit right in, and realized that these folks actually were the real-deal.  They were genuine, organized and were truly on a mission … not some pipe-dream.  No arm-chair researchers or wannabes; this was an actual team.  Soon after, I mulled over whether or not I could add some worth to their effort.  It didn’t take long for me to realize, well … of course I can, because we share a common goal.  We all just want to know more about this animal that is now bein’ referred to as the North American wood ape.  So I decided to contact the buddy that I had corresponded with over the last couple of years and join.  And I’m very confident that I’ve made the right decision!

The NAWAC Training Camp held in Gilmer, Texas back in March.
     I reckon that the real deal-breaker for me was attendin’ the group’s annual training camp last March; I learned so much in such a short period of time.  It was such a wonderful experience being with like-minded individuals that all worked together as a team.  I was absolutely humbled by the variety of professionals who came from so many different backgrounds to attend this event.  And after hearin’ some of the accounts from the other members, I cannot begin to tell y’all how strongly I feel that this is one of the most important things that have happened to me since becoming involved with this phenomenon.  Please realize that I didn’t choose to have an encounter with this animal, but I chose to become a member of the North American Wood Ape Conservancy.
     I now recognize that this group will most probably be responsible for (finally) properly and scientifically documentin’ this mystery species.  And I now understand that to do this, it will take harvestin’ a type specimen.  Period.  As a member of this team, I reckon that we may finally get some closure on exactly what this mystery animal is, and then move on to the next step … which will be the protection of this species and its habitat.  I now strongly feel that this will be the right course of action; because, if the goal of this group was just to “bag one” for “braggin’ rights” … I reckon that y’all wouldn’t be readin’ this-here entry.  Period.  So until next time, be safe out there in them woods ... and, y’all come back now, you hear?