A site dedicated to the review and analysis of potential sasquatch vocalizations, Sasquatch Bioacoustic combines techniques from the domains of intelligence collection, audio analysis and bioacoustic studies to examine the evidence of sasquatch through their vocalizations. ~Monongahela

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Five Knocks

Audio file: Five Knocks Enhanced.wav

Amplified audio file: Five Knocks Amplified.mp3

On August 15th 2009 I drove to a remote location in West Virginia, as far into the wilderness as I could go and as far from other people as I could get (at the time). My intent was to try out a research technique that had produced results for others investigating the potential existence of Sasquatch.

I try to approach this subject with an open mind. I certainly have no experience or evidence that would predispose me to believe that Bigfoot is an actual creature. But instead of dismissing the possibility out of hand, as so many people are prone to do, I decided to try out some of the simpler techniques that seem to have borne fruit for other researches who regularly enter the field in this pursuit. This would be my first squatching trip, and it would be solo.

Arriving at my chosen camp location a couple hours before sundown, I set about familiarizing myself with the local area. Two logging roads departed from where I chose to park along the road I drove in on. One road headed north and the other south. I hiked a few hundred yards down the south road until I came to the edge of a large clear cut in the forest. In the distance I could see ridges stretching away for 2 or 3 miles. I knew from looking at aerial photos and maps that no open roads led into that region, there were no hiking trails, and little chance that anyone would be camping in that stretch of forest. I found a mature sugar maple along the road, and using a two foot length of pressure treated 2x2 lumber, I struck the tree once, as hard as I could. The resulting knock rang out loudly through the forest.

I returned to my vehicle and then followed the northern logging road an equal distance away from my camp. This led north and then west along the flank of the mountain, through dense forest. Visibility was limited to about 50 feet. I couldn't find any evidence of recent traffic on this road either, and knew from the aerial photos and maps that no hiking trails came within several miles of this area. So again, the likelihood that other people were within the area seemed very unlikely. Which was the reason I'd chosen this area to camp. Once again, I found a large maple and rapped it hard with the two foot length of 2x2, then returned to my camp.

While making this tour of the area, I had carried with me a digital audio recorder, connected to a very sensitive external stereo microphone. It was on and recording the entire time, and would continue recording until 8:30. Later when I listened to this second wood knock of the evening, I heard a faint echo of my knock with a delay of about 11 seconds. That works out to about 1.25 miles to the surface that my knock reflected back from. Which tells you something about how far even a modest wood knock will travel in the forest.

The sun set and I lit a small camp fire. I kept my head lamp useage to a minimum but didn't bother to stay quiet around camp. I played some music on my truck's stereo and generally banged around camp and slammed car doors from time to time. At about 9:20 p.m. I decided to try another wood knock. This time I laid a two foot length of pressure treated 2x8 lumber against a piece of firewood, then struck it hard with my 2x2 stick. It rang out nicely. I listened quietly for some time, but heard nothing more than the campfire and small critters scurrying through the underbrush.

Finally, at 11:30 I decided it was time to turn in. I removed the audio recorder from its location on top of my truck and downloaded its recorded audio to the laptop I had brought with me. I then purged the recorder of audio data, replaced the batteries, placed it back on top of the truck and turned in for bed.

As I was settling into my sleeping bag I played back the audio on my laptop and listened to the recording of the 9:20 wood knock. The wood knock came and went on the recording, and the only noise captured after that were the subtle sounds of me moving around the camp, jingling change in my pocket, until three minutes had passed.

It was quiet in my truck as I played back the audio, and at three minutes after my last wood knock, five faint, subtle wood knocks emerged from the laptop speakers. I almost didn't hear them, and actually didn't perceive them until after they had played. They were just loud enough that I noticed them afterward and realized, "hey, that was something out of the ordinary".

I played the audio back and was shocked to hear five faint knocks, which sounded similar to my original wood knock, but coming from a great distance. In the middle of the short segment of these knocks I could hear the metal clink of the change I was fumbling with in my pocket, it was as loud as the knocks. But the knocks were there. What I hadn't been able to hear with my own ears, had been picked up by the sensitive mic on my audio recorder. It's position on top of my truck may have been an advantage too.

I slept soundly that night, and the next morning I scouted the area again, tried a couple more knocks, broke camp and left by 8:30 a.m. Over the following days I listed to all the audio I recorded during the trip, over 14 hours worth. And outside of those five faint knocks, I couldn't find anything else interesting, or out of the ordinary.

The knocks recorded that night are attached in an audio file at the top of this post. It's an enhanced version with the noise filtered out and the audio amplified somewhat. The enhanced recording makes it very easy to hear the knocks (and the change in my pocket).

If one asks what this does for my belief in Sasquatch I'd have to say that I remain open minded. More than validating whether such a creature exists, this "beginner's luck" experience tends to credit a research technique used by real BF researchers. And that sometimes when you make a loud wood knock at night, in the dark woods, something knocks back.