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Friday, April 12, 2019

Play Me Something Cool!

Written by Randy "Rebelistic" Savig, MABRC Missouri State Director

You know I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard this sentiment.  When it comes to bigfoot the public and wanna believers seem to only want the great videos, pictures and audio.  They want the Oohhs and aahhs so they can say they now know bigfoot is real.  Details don’t matter as long as it is cool!   So here goes a couple of questions, does this help research or get us closer to proving the existence of an undocumented species?   Is it only the cool stuff that matters?

With humans being so used to be entertained by all the available media out there it is hard to suffice the appetite for being entertained.  Sadly, real research seldom sees the cool stuff when they go out.  There are the hours in the woods.  There are the hours of review.  There are hours of planning.  There are the hours of try to put patterns together to make the time in the woods more productive.  On and on it goes.  Another sad fact is that what is cool to researchers ain’t always what is cool to the public.  You bet we love to hear and record the screams etc., see the possible structures or manipulations, or get lucky enough to catch something on video or thermal.  

Yes, we also appreciate the pat on the back when we do catch something from the public and other researchers.  Unfortunately for a lot of folks the Oohhs and Aahhs become addictive.  I think that is why there is such a hoaxing problem that we see every day on Facebook and Youtube.   It would seem like once you put something out there that is cool and possibly bigfoot related the public’s appetite just gets bigger.  At times it seems that they get demanding and what more from you.  Any researcher worth their salt know that we spend a whole lot more time without the so-called cool stuff happening.  We still do the planning, head to the woods, review what we have recorded, try and figure out things.  But we don’t get the Oohhs and Aahhs from that.  I’ve seen so many get into the trap of letting the notoriety get in the way and try and force things to happen.  If that fails, try and hype up the stuff that does happen just because they feel an obligation to fulfill the public’s appetite for so something cool.  I’ve seen scary bigfoot pictures added to audio, scary background music during talks about experiences, all in hopes of feeding the public’s hunger.  Sorry folks, that doesn’t do much but muddy the waters and takes away from the research.  All those scary pictures and music won’t help find the evidence needed to prove the existence of bigfoot.  

Now don’t get me wrong, I realize that folks are interested in bigfoot.  When putting presentation on for conferences and radio shows we need to share the cool stuff we get as that is what folks want when attending them.  Just don’t let the cool stuff be all that you are after.  The data is in the details.  The little stuff.  I can’t even begin to state the importance of how sharing the little stuff around campfires has made new ideas and filled in the blank to help others in researching their areas.  

So, one final thought.  As a researcher is your priority to the insatiable hunger of the public or to adding to the possible evidence to further push the existence for an undocumented species, we call bigfoot. 

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Is a Knock Just a Knock?

An article written by Randy "Rebelistic" Savig, MABRC Missouri State Director

This is one of those things that at face value seems to be accepted as a typical Bigfoot activity by most field researchers.  Why?  Where did it come from?  The history of wood knock reports go back generations for Bigfoot researchers.  There has been written accounts in newspaper, even some reports that have been collected.  Some of those can be see in the MABRC forums

So, if this is an activity of bigfoot, why is it done?  Hunting?  During the day that would make sense.  I could see knocking on a tree to scare a small critter to a smaller tree in hopes of shaking it out of the smaller tree.  But what about at night?  I can’t see that being viable.  Could we be missing something?  We know other primates do this type of thing, why is at this time not been answered, but they do.  We still don’t know if the knock that we hear is wood on wood, rock on wood, or another mechanism all together.  Is it possible that it is a hand clap?  Maybe chest slap?  The reality is that we just don’t know.  One thing is clear.  We hear knocks in areas of bigfoot sightings areas, associated with tracks and possible manipulations to nature so we can’t discount it.  

The sad fact is I had pretty much quit clipping knocks out during audio review because a knock is just a knock, right?  I would log it in the review file, but it wasn’t a cool sound so why bother?

In this article I would like to present what I have found while working with audio that may shed some interesting insight to the topic.  I’ve regularly recorded what we call knocks in many of the areas that member of the MABRC has been researching for years as well as my primary research area.  This article is by no means proof of anything, just what I have been able to come up with using audio analysis in the same way I do when identifying known and unknown vocalizations that have been recorded.  Every sound whether natural, known, or unknown have a signature that can be seen on a spectrogram.  They all have certain profiles, tones, how they start and end that can help identify what the sound is.  Nature allows variables in the sounds as no critter is the same.  However, the structure or signature will still follow patterns of the known sounds.

One of the more interesting things about knocks is that they have different tones to the knock.  You may say “duh” but let me explain what I mean.  In doing the Silent Hills Project it was realized that the sound of the knock comes from the object that we do the knock with not the sound of the tree.  The axe handle we used didn’t change tones when we hit on three different trees.  The only change was the volume, NOT the tone of the knock.  Some were softer, some were louder depending on the softness of the bark or the strength behind the knock.  However, if the handle was held closer to the middle of the axe handle the tone would change.  With that being said, the number of knocks that are reported verses the number of sightings report that are only a small handful that ever say things like carrying a stick or club.  Now if a stick was used to make the sound, you would expect a lot more reports than what is there.  Even the sightings reports that talk “as it disappeared into the woods we heard a knock” sort of thing none of those talk about a club being carried during the sighting.  That brought me to the thought that they could maybe pick up a stick to hit with.  It didn’t take long to realize the problem with that.  It is a lot more difficult to walk through the woods, pick up a stick of any size to use as a knocking stick.  The majority of what is on the ground and rotted to make it useless for more than a pale knock as it breaks.  Nature just claims things back too fast.

For several years I have suspected that for the most part knocks were a way of locating other when they were foraging through an area.  The reason for that was based on drop box recordings where you could hear faint knocks that got louder then soft again.  It was like something came up and passed the recorder and continued until it got too distant to record.  These knocks were not evenly spaced or even the same volume, but it always came together.  Like one knock and a reply a few seconds later almost as one was answering the first one.   It wasn’t until the Silent Hills Project that it hit me that the tones of the knocks would be the same if it was one knocker was doing the knocking.  When I did a spectrogram analysis of the knocks, I was taken aback when it should that there were two different tones to the knock.  Those two tones of the individual knockers didn’t change.  Whether close or far, the tones didn’t vary.  It was easy to see the difference in the frequency (hertz) each knock.  Using that information, we started what we called knock - knock games to try and lure them in.  We have had some interesting results.  Other researchers have over the years had results also by returning knocks and getting responses back.  Here are some links to what we recorded.    

Now if you paid attention to the dates on the three clips you will notice that there were two close together and one a lot later.  The third was recorded in a new listening post we just started to use and a seldom in that area.  If you watch how they evolved, you’ll notice that the knock – knock game changed after the first one.  It was almost like they learned our knock’s tone.  They seemed to be able to challenge us to see if it was one of them or us.  I understand that it is to a lot for folks a big pill to swallow.  I know it was and is for me also.   When I brought it up to some of the MABRC members a couple years ago needless to say I got mixed opinions.  One piece of advice they all basically had was collect the data and follow the evidence.  

Because of the lack of sightings where them carrying clubs or stick, it made me highly suspicious that it was actually wood on wood sounds we were hearing.  Even a rock on wood would not be sensible as there is NO reports of any carrying rocks from what I have read.  I also can not find reports of other primates that carry rock with them as they travel from place to place.  Yes, chimps have been known to pick up rocks and strike a tree for an undetermined reason but the drops it as it leaves.  It is also a rare situation for other primates but knocking sounds seems to be fairly prevalent with Bigfoot.  

All primates have an ability to make a knock like type sound with their bodies.  Chest slap, and clapping are the two.  To my knowledge only the gorilla uses its chest.  But all do clap their hands.  Could that be what is happening that we think is knocking?  With the quick response to our knocks like is recorded it would seem highly unlikely that they could be that quick if they had to swing a stick.  Then you add the rapid one that we caught, it is not possible for us to knock nearly that fast using our ax handle.  Then add the two tones ones and that is impossible using a stick or handle.  

During the Thumperville Expedition with the Western MABRC Team last fall I had them help me collect more data by trying hand claps and knocks from different trees and distances.  We did a simplified version of the of the Silent Hill Project so the folks in attendance could experience the results of the experiment. Here is the baseline knocks for each person there.  

With all the participants using the same ax handle as was used in the Silent Hills Project you can hear they are all a little different.  Hand placement, hand grip used, and even the size of the person using it made a difference.  

In the first field round, we had adults and a young teen doing the knocks.  With the recorded audio it was easy to hear which person was doing the knocking even though they could not be seen.  Each had distinct difference in the tones of the knocking stick and could easily be identified with who it was.  They all used the same knocking stick on the same trees as they went further and further from the recorder.  Even with the volume decrease as the space widened, the signatures on the spectrogram stayed mostly consistent with each person. Here’s the results of the knocking as they moved away from the recorder.  During this portion of the experiment I also had them do a long vocal as a way of showing how the howl/whoop compared to a knock as far as how the different sounds travel.   

Again, notice the different tones each person knocking produces using the same knocking stick.  Even without seeing who was doing the knocking if it was compared to the baseline knocks you could pretty much figure out who it was that was doing the knocking.

We did not do a hand clap during the experiment but with the significant difference with the initial baseline of the experiment it was truly remarkable the sounds of the individual claps among the whole group.  Here are the results of the clapping.  

It is easy to hear the difference between each participant’s clap.  Big hands, small hands, soft and rough all had a different tone.  Now I know that our clapping sounds don’t travel as far as the ax handle.  But with the individual clapper’s tones being so different and distinct, it would make one question if a stronger species with apparent bigger and stronger hands could it travel further if not the same as us swinging an axe handle?  If in fact they do clap to make the sound we call a knock, could their clap be as distinct as ours?  

We recently had a night out in our primary research area where we recorded knocks that happened on and off for 3 hours.  No, they were not consistent but in total there were over 50 knocks on the camp recorder alone.   This has been recorded several times in this location and I suspect it is used as location during foraging behavior.  However, there hasn’t been this may in such a short period of time before.  Maybe they were out of sight from each other but not out of sound range?  With some knocks having the same tones that were recorded before my arrival back at camp and may have been done to alert others of people presence.  This was a recording from the camp recorder using the Zoom H2n which have less distortion than my other recorders.  However, you will also hear some camp noise being fire snaps or other man-made audio.  This was a quick cleanup to eliminate as much audio between knocks a possible.  

With the knocks being close to one after another it is easy to hear the different tones of the different knock.  While listening and observing the signatures on the spectrogram it would appear like there is 3 possibly 4 different tones of the ones the recorder picked up.  I highly suspect as with what the Thumperville Experiment shows, that this is more than one critter producing the knock. 

So, what does this all mean?  I’m not sure, but it does seem to point to that each Bigfoot may have a unique tone to their knocks however they are making them.  Could we use this as a way of counting how many individuals are in the area at a given time?  Could we use their distinct tones as a way of identifying certain individuals?  Maybe even track them year to year?  All these questions need to be answered by the bigfoot community if we want to solve the mystery.  Hopefully others will also look at this and see if they can collaborate what I have found.  The answer is in the woods.  Let’s see if we can start putting the puzzle together using a more thorough analysis of the possible evidence.