Bigfoot Research: Failures in the Field

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on May 26th, 2006

The following is a quote from Rick Noll that I wholeheartedly agree with.

"I will say one thing right now – I am getting pretty tired of listening to the wild speculations about Bigfoot’s intelligence and very little disclosure as to really just how much time and effort was or is being placed on the task. It seems to be the hot excuse for a lot of researchers…these things are too intelligent, they know what a gun is, a camera, they can see infrared, have super hearing, blah, blah, blah."

Here are my reasons for all the failures:

  1. No one is spending enough time in the woods on the search,
  2. Not many know what to do in searching, overlooking things, or vice-versa, seeing things that aren’t significant to the task,
  3. There are not many of these animals around,
  4. They, like most animals who live in the forest, know how to camouflage themselves quickly and easily,
  5. Most encounters with humans are probably mistakes on the part of the Bigfoot, yet researchers are trying to fill in the picture with them as to being something significant.

– Rick Noll

Far too many people repeat these things as facts, when the fact of the matter is, as I have been quoted, "We are not looking for a needle in a haystack, we are searching for a moving needle in a whole field of hay."

I’m sure you’ve heard these things. "Bigfoot can see in the infrared spectrum." Really? Where is the precedent for this in the primate family? While we are at it, where is the precedent for this in the animal kingdom?

Some snakes, the pit vipers, which in North America include rattlesnakes, copperheads and cottonmouths, are able to detect infrared radiation, but thay can not "see" in the infrared spectrum.

The pit organ is located between the nostril and the eye on each side of the head. It is supplied with nerves and blood vessels and is partially enclosed in a cavity in the side of the maxillary, a bone of the upper jaw. The pit has a thermoreceptor function and is sensitive to infrared radiation; it is capable of responding to changes in temperature of only fractions of a degree. Thus pit vipers can detect the presence of animals with body temperatures only slightly different from that of the environment. In experiments where the eyes, nose, tongue, and taste-sensitive Jacobson’s organ were put out of order, some pit vipers still responded to warm or cold objects placed in front of them.

Source: All About

What is needed is a well-funded, protracted search for these animals. It took Jane Goodall months before she ever saw the chimps at Gombe.

About Craig Woolheater
Co-founder of Cryptomundo in 2005. I have appeared in or contributed to the following TV programs, documentaries and films: OLN's Mysterious Encounters: "Caddo Critter", Southern Fried Bigfoot, Travel Channel's Weird Travels: "Bigfoot", History Channel's MonsterQuest: "Swamp Stalker", The Wild Man of the Navidad, Destination America's Monsters and Mysteries in America: Texas Terror - Lake Worth Monster, Animal Planet's Finding Bigfoot: Return to Boggy Creek and Beast of the Bayou.

30 Responses to “Bigfoot Research: Failures in the Field”

  1. scmarlowe responds:

    Craig, consider that that “field” constitutes a global land area of 130,575,894 square kilometers.

    You might also add that it took months for Dian Fossey to see her mountain gorillas too!

  2. RicardoNascimento responds:

    I am also frustrated with the idea that they have infra red vision capabilities, I have mentioned on occasion to others about using 10 million candle power spot lights with infra red filters on the lense to block visible light, but have been told repeatedly that this would scare the creatures away because they would see it.

    I did an internet search to see if there was any mention of IR vision in primates but turned up nothing. My assumption is that if no other primates have this ability, neither does the sasquatch. In the books that I have read so far there is no substantiated mention of these creatures having this ability.

    The only problem is that true IR opaque filters are rediculously expensive, so I ordered what’s called blood red filters, whick block out all but 1.9% of visible light. I’m going to try this on my 10 million candle power spot light with a night vision camcorder, i’ll try it with the spot on and off and see what the difference is to my naked eye and then the camera’s night vision.

    My theory is that it will light up the night vision like a shopping mall parking lot and be hardly visible to the naked eye.

    I’m just waiting for the filters to come in, and I believe that if I double up the filters that I will be able to block all visible light, only allowing red spectrum light through the filters, which would be invisible to the naked eye.

    This of course is just MHO.

  3. Bennymac responds:

    Who said they have infrared abilities, the Russians, BFRO? I believe it’s a bunch of bull, and I’ve never read that claim in any serious print? Maybe I’m misreading your tone, but you make it sound like anyone taking the time to actually look in the woods and swamps don’t have a clue. Maybe that person who is taking time away from his/her family or job didn’t take Bigfoot hunting 101 in school. You could have all the well funded, protracted searches for these creatures you want and still find squat! I’m willing to bet that they don’t have infrared vision, but how do you know that they don’t know what a gun or a camera looks like, or what a human smells or sounds like? If you do, please share master yoda of the Bigfoot.

  4. Craig Woolheater responds:

    Bennymac, I do believe that you are misreading my tone.

    I’m not singling anyone out. Go look at various message boards or websites. There are many of these claims out there.

    Various people claim that the reason that we don’t have game camera photos of Bigfoot is that Bigfoot can see the infrared “beam” coming from the game cameras. The passive game cameras do not emit an infrared beam. They use a infrared receiver, much like the pit vipers, to detect the combination of body and maotion in the area it is monitoring.

    As far as your demeaning comment as to being “master yoda of the Bigfoot”, I have never claimed such. There is no need to call names.

  5. Bennymac responds:

    You know what, I really don’t think I’m misreading the tone. This, along with the “Bracing for Disappointment” blog show a trend if you ask me. I believe this field (BF) and the interest in unknown creatures are more popular now than ever. I believe there are more people actually looking and taking note of what they see, hear, and smell in the wilderness than you think. Your point about going and looking at various websites is correct, but I could spend all day before I come to one talking about infrared. There are millions (11,800,000) of sites out there, good and bad.

    A needle in a hay stack doesn’t care if it’s found. A Bigfoot in the forest probably cares a great deal. I’m sorry, but you spent more time telling me about the pit organ than you did on hint and helpful information regarding serious BF research.

    Insult you I did not mean.

  6. mike2k1 responds:

    I agree Craig, the idea of seeing in the infrared spectrum is completely unfounded. Avoiding camera traps is such a huge feat. Think of it this way; you have a camera set up to cover a small area with a trigger range from 30-90 ft. That isn’t alot of area at all. Basically microscopic in comparission to the effective coverage area of the camera to where the animal could actually go. There is that needle you mentioned.
    There are some prosimians like the lemur that exhibit a tapetum lucidum membrane, which is a reflective layer immediately behind and sometimes within the retina. It reflects light back to the retina, increasing the quanity of light caught by the retina, thus improving vision in low light conditions. It also is what makes your cat have that cool, spooky eyeshine when light hits it’s eyes at night. They can’t see in the infrared range. Maybe one day if someone baits the right thing and has “enough” cameras covering an area..maybe then we’ll have a photo.

  7. Craig Woolheater responds:

    Bennymac, the post was not about hints for Bigfoot research. It was a post about Rick Noll’s quote.

    I do not know who you are, whether you are a serious Bigfoot field researcher, an enthusiast or what, but I can guarantee that if you spend enough time researching the subject, look at various websites and message boards, you can see claims by many people that are similar to what Rick stated.

    So you don’t think that your comment “master yoda of the Bigfoot” was insulting or demeaning? I beg to differ.

  8. Craig Woolheater responds:

    I agree with you Mike. There are so few cameras monitoring wilderness areas, compared to how much wilderness is out there.

    For there to be a Bigfoot sighting, there needs to be 2 things present. A Bigfoot and a person there to see the creature.

    For there to be a Bigfoot game camera photo, you would need to have a Bigfoot in the relatively narrow range of said game camera.

  9. planettom responds:

    IR vision capabilities, wow, I haven’t heard that before. That sounds just RIDICULOUS. I bet those making that statement have eaten too many special brownies while watching “Predator”.

  10. Bennymac responds:

    Craig, I really don’t know who you are either, but the Yoda thing is more of a compliment than an insult. I guess I really don’t understand the point of the post. How many people do you think are taking infrared cameras into the forest to look for Bigfoot? I think it’s pretty obvious that this field would benifit from more thoughtful research. I guess I was looking for “something” in the post and couldn’t find it.

    It’s the Friday before a long weekend, maybe I just need to crack a cold one.

  11. lamarkable responds:

    This topic is somewhat related to “what to bring along..”. My concern is for safety. I know for a fact that preteens read blogs here, and just because one can walk into the woods does not necessarily mean that they belong there in terms of skill let alone hunting for a large animal. This is what I told my daughter and that is why posted somewhat of a warning on the other post as kids might read it. I would not promote or encourage lone wolf forays if you will. Alot of these independant “walks” are due to a default of lacking funding for research and too much time spent on impressive theories from the comfort of a key board. I agree. Technology needs to be a focus-there are alot of really bright people out there and bioacoustic sensors in a grid with a simple program to filter them would at least demonstrate what a french researcher did for UFOs-remember the straight line tracking? Here is an animal making a vocalization in the range did not match any others it moved from a to c to x where the sensors recorded X amount of hits. No its not a photograph but its another evidentiary event that would be tougher to dispute. One example out of many.

  12. planettom responds:

    Bennymac, Craig, from my point of view it appears to be a simple misunderstanding. Crack that cold one Bennymac, I’m ready for the weekend too.

    BTW Craig, I completely agree with Rick Noll on his reasons for failure. Very good points.

  13. Loren Coleman responds:

    The major reasons that successes came after 60-70 years in the search for proof of the mountain gorilla and the live captures of giant pandas were due to patience in the field and insitutionalized funding to support those quests.

    Money will always be a key.

    In the absence of a foundation of on-going funding for an in-the-field 24/7 presence, you find people who are disappointed, frustrated, and impatience. Some will yell that some one else is doing the wrong thing. Such is the nature of humans.

    Still, traditional science and breaking edge studies do have a place for thoughtful discourses on theories that may inform a plan of action in the search for more answers and evidence.

    I’m all for a cryptozoology that does not have any trouble with people talking about, for example, what the range of vision of a Sasquatch might be, what the size of their family groups could be, or what migration patterns evidenced in reports, while others look actively, and another group of individuals try to get funding to put people out in the woods, a la’ Fossey and Goodall.

    Cryptozoology is not about restricting people, but about opening up horizons, beyond the norm. There are enough tasks available for everyone to be constructively adding their positive inputs.

    The big umbrella, of course, is the best bet for covering all the bases.

  14. Craig Woolheater responds:

    Feel free to read my bio here on Cryptomundo, or take a look at the website for the group that I co-founded for more insight into who I am.

  15. fuzzy responds:

    Jeez, you guys, lighten up!

    In a recent post, I said:
    “Indications are that S’quatch can see in pitch black, which prob’ly means they can see infra-red Nite Vision Illuminators.”

    Dozens of reports tell of bi-pedal creatures stalking and circling campsites, or traipsing thru the woods either towards or away from the witness, all in the pitch darkness of a moonless or overcast night.

    Other reports tell of creatures barely visible in the dark, suddenly leaving the area when hit with IR illuminators on night vision scopes.

    I can’t see those IR lites ~ can you? True, there is little precedent for IR vision in primates, but PLENTY of evidence for advanced sensitivity in a far wider visual spectrum than primates can utilize!

    We are dealing with an unknown animal’s unknown capabilities here, and all we have is limited evidence to go by, so when there’s a large growling hominid throwing rocks at us in the dark, and he runs away when we turn on the nite-vision gear, what are we to think?

    RE: Rick’s list above ~ I agree with Item #1, and who wouldn’t? In today’s Society, fitting weekend mini-expeditions into one’s schedule is a challenge, no matter how intrigued one is with the mystery. Only those of us who live on the fringes of our ever-expanding “civilization” have the freedom to get into the woods as frequently as we would like.

    Rick’s other reasons seem arguable to me, and all relate to lack of education in one way or another, and isn’t that why we are here, trying to learn?

    Rick’s use of the word “failure” indicates that he is looking at Bigfoot research from the needle & haystack viewpoint, wherein a Project can succeed or fail. Better, perhaps, to look for “results”?


  16. Craig Woolheater responds:

    Just because a Bigfoot (substitute any of a multitude of nocturnal animals) may be “stalking and circling campsites, or traipsing thru the woods either towards or away from the witness, all in the pitch darkness of a moonless or overcast night”, why would that suggest being able to see in the infrared spectrum?

    Racoons, possums, deer, etc. are primarily nocturnal animals, but they are not able to see in the infrared spectrum.

  17. Alton Higgins responds:

    I too agree with Rick’s comments.

    Over the years I’ve spoken with people who have attempted to get sasquatch photos using game cameras. Needless to say, while I have seen some interesting pics, nobody, to my knowledge, has obtained compelling photos. (Some strange things have been noted with the cameras themselves, however.) While casting about for possible reasons for these failures, some have suggested that the built-in infrared components were to blame. As noted, there is really no reason to consider this as a plausible explanation, but it made as much sense to non-biologists at the time as anything else, and certainly was more logical than the patently ridiculous notion that sasquatches possess some sort of innate knowledge concerning the significance of cameras.

    I think game cameras can work to help documentation efforts, but we need lots of them properly positioned in key areas for long periods of time. That, in turn, will require lots of money and manpower.

    Another researcher and I once put out a camera in an area of then current activity. Nobody other than my wife knew of our plans, and only the two of us knew where we were going. We placed the camera about four to five feet up on the downhill side of a tree on a rather steep slope along a small seep. The camera was well camouflaged and held in place with several bungee cords. When we returned, after a couple of weeks, the camera was found on the ground about six feet or so behind the tree, that is, on the opposite side of its initial placement, uphill. Nothing was damaged in any way. No pictures. We thought it very strange.

    John Mionzcynski suggested that a raccoon might have been the culprit, but I find it hard to imagine why a raccoon would go to all that trouble. It seemed to me that only a person or something with rather strong and dexterous hands would have been able to release the bungee cords. Also, I think a person would have stolen the camera. None of this, of course, proves a sasquatch messed with the setup, but it serves as an example of the types of odd observations that can lead people to derive some untoward, shall we say, conclusions.

  18. Tabitca responds:

    peeps around thread,waves white it safe to comment yet?
    i would love see a blog on food supplies and what bigfoot eats.I’ve seen so many conflicting reports and would like to see what you guys come up with.
    kiss and make up guys..i come here to talk to knowledgable sensible people, which i consider you all are. excuse the lack of punctuation in this post..i have a cat attached to my arm..he thinks he’s in a james bond movie.

  19. DWA responds:

    Guys guys GUYS.

    One reason Bigfoot has not been confirmed by science is that no one has been able to use infrared night vision equipment and sophisticated bioacoustical gear to home in on a group of them having an irrelevant shouting match!

    Here’s my two cents.

    1. The lowest pop density of any large mammal on the continent. Odds are they aren’t where you are.

    1a. Nomadic in the extreme too, a nod to both their prodigious appetites and their extreme desire to avoid us.

    2. As Rick says: they’re no slouch at making themselves look small when humans are around. (One sighting report I read reports one doing a very convincing “stump” imitation when a group of humans passed close to it while he watched.)

    3. We usually make more than enough noise and visual show to alert any animal that doesn’t want our company before we ever get close enough to see it.

    4. And oh yeah, there are too few people out there trying to obtain evidence.

    Seems pretty simple to me.

  20. lamarkable responds:

    Are they nocturnal by nature? What could prey on them in their habitat? Is infrared a prerequisite for a mammal to be nocturnal by nature? Its unlikely but for all we know they may also have a sense of humour.

  21. greywolf responds:

    Craig: you are right it is all theories but they have been seen at night running away from roads etc. I would suggest to you that perhaps they see in the dark the way an owl does. Over the centuries I’m sure that they have figured out what a gun is. I also would suggest that they are fine tuned to there enviroment and when we enter that area our civilized smell they are on to us before we get any were near them.How smart they are is up for grabs but they are a wild creature and function just like all the rest of the wild critters.

  22. Mike Smith responds:

    One thing I would like to point out that I don’t think anyone has talked about is smell. We humans as all animals smell. When you are in the woods hunting, tracking or what ever we leave scents. If you want to get a glimpse of an animal (i.e. deer) you try to stay down wind of them. This may be a reason for the failure of sightings in field research. Also we leave scent behind after we leave, this could also be why field cameras don’t work. As we humans have evolved we have lost this sense. (This sense is no longer fine-tuned is what I’m saying.) I really feel that in order to be sucessful in finding this animal, researchers are going to have to spend weeks if not months in the field. Jane Goodall spent months in the field before the chimps she worked with would even let her see them. I could be way off on this but, I feel this could be very strong reason. What does everyone think?

  23. ilexoak responds:

    There’s another issue that been raised about camera traps namely, ultrasound eminating from the horizontal synch electronics in digital cameras. This is also a well known issue with electronic flash equipment. The capacitor recycles with an audible squeal.

    As far as infrared, there is strong circumstantial evidence that BF is able to detect it. Even if they cannot see it, it may be painful to their incredibly sensative eyes. We can guess all we want and the fact remains that BF hasn’t been fooled by night vision stuff or camera traps. So, it may not be a useful strategy.

    i’ve suggested a few other unconventional approaches.

    1. Remote trash dumping areas seem to be monitored by BF. There are some reports of people being visited by BF while unloading pickup trucks or dump trucks in remote area. BF may have learned that humans backing up trucks in remote areas usually are delivering lots of goodies to pick thru. The reports i’ve seen indicate that they are often very bold and will come within a few feet.

    These have been evening or nighttime accounts mostly. Researchers could easily mimic the activity of illegal dumpers. Rather than trash- acorns, corn, apples or some other food items could by used. If BF do visit, attempts to take still photos can be made, maybe they will be so bold as to tolerate IR video photography.

    BF also have been known to visit landfills adjacent to dense forests. These places should mask any human scent so a well placed blind or stand could let researchers monitor such landfills for nightime visits.

    BF may also use “lookout posts”. Places were they can monitor animals and human movements with being noticed. If researchers can identify such places, they can better avoid detection by BF and perhaps have an area to zero in on for monitoring.

    i think the key will be to understand the habits and ways of BF as much as possible. To read every single BFRO report and digest every other report from the growing number of BF devoted sites will help us better document this creature and settle once and for all whether it exists.

    Wayne Hollyoak

  24. Ole Bub responds:

    Good evening Bigfooters….

    To date these magnificent creatures have managed to evade human contact effectively unless contact suits their circumstance…they exhibit sophisticated intelligence and uncommon common sense….hence their reclusivity.

    Obviously there is not enough properly funded coordinated field research….

    Centuries of interaction have almost certainly given them knowledge of our weapons and our aggression…

    Keep up the fine work Craig…we know who you are…

    Has anyone ever crunched the numbers to properly fund a comprehensive expedition…let’s have a discussion of the economics of proper scientific field research…from the folks who have the experience and the expertise…

    seeing is believing….stay safe this weekend…

    ole bub and the dawgs

  25. Yukon Red responds:

    My belief on this matter is that the more you look for a sasquatch the more difficult it will get,it will simply stay away.
    The key would be to spend a serious period of time in a “likely” location and simply hope that sasquatch will come to you.
    Past research has shown that they are somewhat curious, so one has to use that point to outsmart it.

    My view, Red

  26. Graylien responds:

    Its not just one moving needle though, is it? It’s whole populations of them – including the young and the infirm.

    And – to repeat an old cliche – where are the bodies? Do they bury their dead? Eat them whole?

  27. lamarkable responds:

    Bones are in caves.I think based solely on common sense some assumptions are safer than others. If a vertebrate with similarities close to our own species does exist, they must eat and be eaten. If all of their time is spent in movement, looking for something to eat, this takes a great deal of energy and requires a constant, large quantity of fuel. Whether it is plants or other animals, the availability of food must change, according to the seasons in which this food appears. If they hunt animals, they must use tools-unless they can outrun prey at an astounding rate. If they are vegetarians, where are the migratory patterns? Why does an ecology system require them in their niche? What is their contribution to the reciprocal maintenance of the system? Are they opportunists, scavengers? I think a similarity to us must exist up to a point. My own critical assumption is that there are nomadic “tribes” with “camps” and get by with foraging and scavenging. Where are fresh water sources? If If they reproduce, and they have male-female members and young, where is such a camp likely? Again, I think they are opportunists, not builders. Caves, out croppings, etc. Shelter from predators. If they move with the availability of food in season, there would perhaps several such camps. Constant movement without a point of return such as a camp makes no sense. Water, shelter, food. Where these three are in proximity in very close distances-very close-I would not move about making a stir-I would be very patient and still.

  28. hiram responds:

    Would Mr. Noll please share with us the facts and evidence he has gathered he used to conclude that:
    1. Bigfoot is not intelligent,
    2. Cannot recognize a gun or camera,
    3. Can only see in the same spectrum as humans; and,
    4. Does not have hearing that is superior to that of humans.

    How did he determine that “No one is spending enough time in the woods on the search”. Just because this puzzle has not been solved? In that case medical science as a whole is seriously deficient because cancer has not been eradicated. (How many laymen researchers reading his opinions were polled about the time they spend in the woods.)

    And how the heck does he know what the rest of us have been seeing and overlooking?

    He is tired of “wild speculations?” Who isn’t!!! So why publish statements that clearly are speculations?

    The bottom line is that conclusive DNA evidence will be required to convince the world of science there is in fact such an animal. It is really inmaterial what researchers see, hear or smell. Those are the perks of our volunteer efforts.

    As far as the infared lights, most of the illuminators for Camcorders, older night vision scopes and game cameras can can be seen by humans. The plastic laminate mentioned in one of the posts will glow like a red light on a fire truck when used over a bright light source of any kind. Even when used over a small light source like a hand-held flashlight, the red glow is visible for a mile on a dark night.

    Just my “speculations”.

  29. traveler responds:

    just my 2 cents…from my experience living in the jungle, animals are the experts on not being found. they depend on it for survival. sure once we know their habits and where and how to look for them, we can find them. You would think that living in the jungle you would see lots of animals when u go walking, but such is not the case. i’m not saying that you don’t see animals, but you sure don’t see the vast majority of them.

  30. twblack responds:

    Well from a hunters point of view there is a reason when hunting deer you watch your up-wind and down-wind areas. And you have to be VERY quiet. Now to think that BF does not have very good sense of smell or hearing is a farse. Even if you have the nightvision and infra-red gear he will see and hear you way before you get close enough to him. I wonder if most sightings are of younger BF with not much experience keeping out of the way of humans.

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