|Three frames of video captures obatined on the night of Dec. 30, 2000 near Onalaska, WA|
Rick was telling me that the bigfoots sometimes wake him up at night and bother him until he comes out to feed them. It's his own fault, he confessed. He was the one who thought it was a good idea to start feeding them in the first place. He said he would hop on his scooter and head up toward Mt. Mitchell on a remote road and leave them a warm pot of beef stew sitting on a turned off Coleman stove. The sasquatch appreciated this consideration and this led to some degree of on-going but sporadic communication. According to Rick, sometimes they were even a bit pushy about their desire to have him bring them food. At one point, he asked them if he could take their picture.
They said, "no".
He asked, "Why not?". They said it would create publicity and bring more TV cameras like the ones Ray Crowe had brought out there recently. I was amused to hear this. Ray Crow had been on a TV news segment recently about bigfoot sightings in the Ripplebrook area.
It was an improbable comment to attribute to the sasquatch. I was intensely skeptical but I kept listening, even though I was also having my doubts about Rick's sanity. I kept listening because I knew I actually had the means to refute Rick's claims of telepathic contact with the sasquatches.
At the time, I was working a 'habituation site' in western Washington where the residents were reporting multiple sasquatch sightings, disappearing livestock, and track finds. With their cooperation, I installed video and still cameras systems in a BFRO sponsored project begun in 1998, in hopes of gathering good photographic evidence. I had a pretty good relationship with the residents, so on my next visit to the site, I told them of Rick Snyder's strange claims. I felt they were in a perfect position to refute Rick's claims and I fully expected them to do so. I was certainly not expecting the reaction I got.
"Oh, yeah, we get that, too," replied April. Her husband Allen nodded in agreement.
I was dumbfounded. "Hey," I objected, "I've been coming here for two years, now. How come you never told me this before?"
The answer was predictable enough. "We didn't want you to think we were crazy!"
I tried to reassure them. "Okay, your not crazy. Now what else can you tell me about this?"
"Well, our daughter gets it the most."
Their daughter was fifteen at the time, and a very caring soul who empathized greatly with all species of animals. "They wake her up and say things like, 'Come out and play.' She'll go out and sit on the step and smack rocks together. They answer her with the same noise. It's not all telepathic, either. It seems they know our names. We've heard them call for our daughter by name. More than once I've heard someone call, 'Mom!' I know it's them because it comes from the woods, not the house or the yard. My kids are in the house, but I hear someone calling "Mom" from the woods!"
The more they described, the more similarities there were to Rick's claims. I suddenly felt badly about not taking Rick more seriously. Notice too how the kind information that bigfoot witnesses offer changes as the reseacher opens their own mind to new possibilities and learns new questions to ask.
"Anything else?" I asked April.
"Yeah," she replied. "The other day I was taking a walk in the woods and having a cigarette. I had a lot on my mind and I wasn't thinking about my surroundings or the sasquatch at all. But all of a sudden, I heard a very clear statement that said, "Quit trying to trick us. And don't smoke those cigarettes. They're bad for you."
April didn't have to explain what they meant. I knew right away what was meant by "Quit trying to trick us." It was the cameras. April was in complete agreement. I already had suspicions that the cameras were not fooling them. Over the past two years, we had been finding stick structures that blocked the trails that led to our camera sites. Allen and April insisted it was not their doing. But something about the Hoyt's extraordinary claims troubled me.
"Are you saying they spoke to you in English?" I asked.
"Well yeah, English is the only language I speak." April replied. Then she added, "It was so clear that I spun around and looked for someone to be behind me. It was like someone was right there, but nobody was."
At that point I was not quite ready to abandon the cameras, but I was having serious doubts about our chances for success. It wasn't long after all this happened that I got another phone call from another local researcher who was referred to me by Ray Crowe.
This fellow, Steve Fredricks, told me of his work in the Jordan Creek drainage west of Portland. Steve was finding tracks in a remote area on the regular visits he was making to this particular drainage in the Coast Range. What troubled Steve was that some strong statements were also popping into his head while he was out there and he suspected it had something to do with the sasquatch. I wasn't sure what to make of Steve, but by now, I was a bit less judgmental of such strange claims as the one Steve was now describing. With the tales of Rick Snyder and Allen & April still fresh in my mind, I matter-of-fact-ly told Steve that there were indeed witnesses I had talked to recently with similar experiences. Steve was relieved to hear that there might be an explanation, however implausible, for the telepathic stuff that he was experiencing.
After prematurely dismissing Rick Snyder's account, I decided to be a bit more tolerant toward this new claim of telepathic contact between the sasquatches and the humans. Steve wanted to give me a long description of what he was experiencing. I had been through it before and I knew stories weren't evidence. Instead of more stories, I wanted to test this whole idea as scientifically as possible. To this day I still can't believe I came up with this plan right there on the spot:
"Okay, Steve, you think you've logged on to some kind of coconut telegraph to the sasquatches. Fine. Here's what you're going to do. You're going to ask them to step in front of the cameras we have up at Allen and April's place up in Washington. Tell 'em we really need them to do that."
Steve thought for a moment. "It would help if I knew more about the area where the cameras are."
"No way, Steve," I insisted. I want to do this scientifically. That means 'double blind' as the researchers say. That means you can't know the location and you can't know the results of the experiment. That way, you cannot be suspected of faking the results. The residents can't know what you're doing either. . That way, they can't be accused of wishful thinking or outright faking, either."
"No problem," Steve agreed. "I just want to drive around the general area and send the vibe out as locally as possible. I don't need to know where the cameras are, or anything like that. I just need a mental picture of the general area."
Fair enough. I gave Steve the general location of Onalaska, Washington, and encouraged him to drive around that area to his heart's content. I knew he would still be a couple miles from the exact location. That was all fine with Steve. He wasn't in a big hurry, either. I found that to be reassuring. He said he wouldn't be able to get up there for a couple weeks. He promised to call me after he made it up there.
Three weeks later Steve Fredricks was on the phone to me saying he finally got the chance to cruise the area. He said he did his best to convey the message. I thanked him for his trouble. Meanwhile, I didn't say anything to Allen and April about what Steve and I were up to, but I made sure at least one of the cameras was working.
On December 31, 2000, as I was preparing to go out with my wife to celebrate New Year's eve, I got an unexpected call from Allen. He explained that he was checking the computer that saved the camera images and was surprised to find that last night the camera had captured the a whole bunch of stange images. They were the best images we had ever gotten! This was only a day and a half after Steve Fredricks had cruised the area and ostensibly 'conveyed my request.' I was dumbfounded. The timing of Allen's call was uncanny. I had to remind myself not to get excited. I told myself this was just another bigfoot deal and they never amount to anything.
The next day I was up there at Allen and April's. I downloaded the images and shared them around with the BFRO people who that were monitoring the project. They were very encouraged but also very cognizant of the fact that the images were not very detailed. They were just dark shapes moving back and forth across the camera's field of view. The images were interesting but inconclusive. Allen and April assured me that they were not outside that night. In any case, the camera was eight feet off the ground.
Two things were now clearer to me than ever: Steve Fredrick's spin through the area and the image captures on the computer were just too closely spaced in time to be dismissed as mere coincidence, especially in light of the fact that the cameras had been up there for two years and gotten absolutely nothing until now. It also seemed like the creatures that made the images were toying with the camera. The back and forth shadows seemed deliberate, like they were making shadows with the infrared illuminator.
My read on the situation was that we may have somehow gotten the creatures' attention but this wasn't going to last. We might get one more try, but that was it. Pictures weren't going to cut it. We needed to try for physical evidence.
I was on the phone to Steve but I didn't say anything about the camera images. I just explained that we needed to repeat the experiment. I asked Steve to log on to the 'coconut telegraph' one more time. But this time, he was going to first, thank 'them' for listening, then ask them politely if they would please give us a bone.
"Do you think they'd agree to that?" Steve asked.
""We'll never know if we don't ask." I was inwardly amused by this strage new direction to my once scientific bigfoot research project. Still, I had to see this through.
Steve didn't call back for a couple more weeks. I had just about given up when he finally called. "They seemed a lot less interested," Steve confessed. "I'm not even sure I was able to get the message across, but I tried.They just didn't seem very interested."
I thanked Steve for his trouble and figured that was the end of that. Lightning, after all, doesn't strike twice..."
Zap. Less than two days later, there was a message on my answering machine from Allen. He said they found a bone at the base of the 'camera tree'! Once again, I could not believe my ears. I was up at Allen and April's before the next sunset. Allen handed me the bone. It was a saucer shaped bone with ragged edges that seemed too thick to be top of a skull, but it certainly had that the concave shape of a skull. (see photos below.)
I took the bone to.LeRoy Fish, a BFRO member and a Ph.D in wildlife biology. He said it was definitely a bird bone based on its light but thick structure. He had no idea what kind it was but he could see that it was large. A neighbor of mine raised emus, large flightless birds from New Zealand. I showed him the bone and he set me up with some reference texts. We found a pretty good match with the emu's breast bone. I shared this with Allen, who explained that his father did raise emus and he live only three miles away. When an emu died, they were buried and sometimes unearthed by scavenging wildlife. Allen had no idea how the bone got to his place. Dogs or coyotes were always a possibility.
Soon after all this happened, the camera project at Allen and April's ended. I needed a break and so did they. I still had not told them about Steve Fredricks and the 'coconut telegraph', nor had Steve been told about the bone. It was a couple years later that I ran into Steve again. He lived close to the school where I teach and he was having a garage sale. I stopped by and showed him the bone that came from Allen and April's and I told him how it showed up two days after he attempted the telepathic request. I explained it was almost certainly the breast bone of an emu. Steve's eyes widened and he hit himself on the forehead with an open palm. I asked him what that was all about.
"I never actually specified what kind of bone we wanted. I assumed they knew we wanted a sasquatch bone, but I never actually specified."
We both had a good laugh. If the sasquatches put the bone beneath the camera tree, I bet they had a good laugh, too. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I suspect that this bone is a pretty clear indication that the sasquatches have a great sense of humor. They would have had a great laugh at my expense if I had gone around prematurely telling people I found a swasquatch bone . Fortunately, I took it to LeRoy Fish before I made a fool of myself.
I expect most will prefer to dismiss the whole matter as nothing more than a series of remarkable coincidences, or even one grand synchronicity. Fair enough. Here's one more really odd coincidence:
Steve Fredricks was having a garage sale because he had lost his job. He needed the money badly enough that he wanted to sell me his whole chest of tools for just fifty bucks. I figured this was a good time to show my appreciation for his unique efforts to help us on the camera project. "Keep your tools, Steve. Here's fifty bucks. Thaks for your help with the camera project. Now, get in my car. I think I know where there's a job with your name on it."
We left he garage sale and drove a mile up the Beaverton-Hillsdale Highway to the gas station where I had filled up on the way to Steve's. Since we don't have self service gas stations in Oregon, an attendant has to pump th gas, and I recognized the attendant who filled my tank as a former science student. He told me this was his last day at the station, because he was off to college in England.
Now, a little more than an hour later, I was back at the gas station with Steve. The former student introduced us to Raj, the service station owner, who was definitely in need of a new attendant. He hired steve on the spot. It wasn't the greatest job, but at least it would 'keep the wolf from the door' until Steve could find something better.
On my way home that afternoon, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. I wondered again whether Steve really had a pipeline to the sasquatches. If he did, then hopefully those same sasquatches would appreciate what I did for their kindred soul. They may have shown their appreciation.
That night was the first and only time I ever hads a dream with a sasquatch in it. It was a very vivid dream. I was standing with a group of people watching a sasquatch sprint across an open expanse of sage brush country. It looked like a scene right out of the 'Memorial Day footage' shot in eastern Washington. Except, instead of disappearing into a steep ravine, the sasquatch took a detour in my dream and ran inside a long, low building with no windows, like the ones they use in Idaho to store potatoes. No one else in the group was eager to follow the sasquatch into the building, but I wasn't going to be denied this chance to get a closer look. I ran over and opened the door of the building and there, sitting on the floor in the middle of a brightly lit hallway, was the sasquatch. Before I could say or do anything, *poof* it transformed itself into a blonde-haired surfer dude wearing a Hawaiian shirt.
He looked right at me and said, "Okay, what do you want to know?"
I was being given a fre question. The only think I could think to ask was, "Are you guys from the earth or are you from somewhere else?"
"Oh no, we live right here with you....mostly," was the answer.
"How many of you are there?" I asked.
"Thousands. Not hundreds. Not millions. Thousands."
I opened my mouth to ask another question but my eyes snapped open. I was wide awake. The sun of a summer morning shone in my window. End of interview.
Whether that dream was a product of my own imagination or not, you gotta love that first answer. By tacking that one extra word 'mostly' on the end of the sentence, it leaves the door open to many possiblities. A simple answer suddenly isn't so simple. It's so cagey and open-ended that it reminds me of the bone. It seems these guys may know exactly how to exploit the gray areas of every situation. You gotta love that. I know I do. I also seem to be the target of some of their humor. I guess I'm okay with that, too.
In any case, I hope to be better prepared if there's ever a 'next time'.So, I will put it to you, the reader:
If you could only ask one question on the coconut telegraph, what would it be? Better make it good, because in my very limited experience, you can expect a pretty cagey answer to any question you ask.
|Bone found at the base of the camera tree, Jan. 2001 (above and below)|