Bigfoot Wood Knocking? Or…

Posted by: Craig Woolheater on June 10th, 2011

I wonder if wood knocking is what is actually being heard when people discuss Bigfoot communicating.

I have always had doubt that beating on a tree with a stick is the source of the sound.

Does Bigfoot always carry around his “thumping stick” with him.

I think that there are more likely explanations for the source of these sounds that are heard in the woods.

Cliff Barackman, a personal friend and cast member of Animal Planet’s Finding Bigfoot, has voiced concerns in the past about wood or tree knocking as the source as well.

I’m calling them knocks, but I do not think these were the sounds of wood on wood. The pitch and timbre of the sounds remained constant the whole time. This would not be true if a sasquatch was beating on trees as it passed: each tree would sound at least a little different than the one before, and at least some of them would sound very different. This simply was not the case. I have often wondered how sasquatches can answer my own knocks so quickly. It takes some time to find an appropriate knocking stick, as well as a suitable tree to hit. So much time that sasquatches are clearly not going through this process.

I think they are clapping. That is not to say that they never hit sticks against trees. I think they do, but many times they are very likely clapping.

I used to hang out with lots of Brazilian folks. The Brazilian culture is very musically oriented, and when they dance and sing, there is generally lots of clapping going on. They have a technique of clapping that uses the cup-shape of their palms to get an amazing popping noise that almost hurts due to the volume. Now imagine a palm that is eight or ten inches across. Imagine some more that you had nothing to do in the woods but get really good at clapping as loud as possible with these gigantic hands. I think it is very likely that our hairy friends are clapping. I definitely think the sasquatch we heard last week was clapping.

Hand clapping in apes is not unheard of. Apes in captivity exhibit this behavior, and there are some observations of swamp gorillas doing the same in the wild. Here is a link to an article documenting hand clapping in a population of wild western lowland gorillas. Once again, seemingly strange sasquatch behavior has a precedent in other apes.Cliff Barackman


As noted in the earlier blogs, there are some issues with the tree knocking hypothesis. If a sasquatch was carrying a stick to pound on trees as it walked by, it should not be producing the same sound over and over. From my own experience, different trees produce different sounds when hit with baseball bats (my method of producing tree knocks). Often they produce dull thuds, and sometimes I can find one that gives me the sound I want of a clear hollow pop.

Another issue with the normal tree knocking hypothesis is how quickly sasquatches answer my own knocks. Normally, most of my knocks go unanswered, but that’s squatching. When I do get answers, they are very often within 30 or 40 seconds of my initial sound. Again, just going from my own experience, it is not that easy to find an appropriate stick, and then find an appropriate tree to hit to produce the clear popping noises I have often observed and even recorded.

So, how are the bigfoots doing it? At first I thought they might be “popping their tongues”. I knew a guy in middle school who could produce amazingly loud pops by using sucking his tongue to the top of his mouth and popping it downwards to create a loud click. I thought perhaps since sasquatches have big mouths to use as resonance chambers, this could be what they are doing. Perhaps some do.

I used to hang out with a lot of Brazilian folks, and they showed me a method of clapping that produces a consistent loud pop. One opens their palms out as far as possible, to the point of the fingers being angled away from the palm to an extent, and clapping the hands together. By opening the palms, it creates a concave “dish” shape on the hand, and clapping the hands together makes a nice hollow popping noise. They use this for participating in music and dance events, such as capoeira. It occurred to me that sasquatches, having much larger hands than us, should be able to produce much louder claps. Perhaps this is how they do it.Cliff Barackman

Another solution for the source of this sound is perhaps chest beating.

Male gorillas use chest beating to communicate, why not Bigfoot?

Watch the below video of the Discovery Life program, “Primates” episode.

Fast forward to the 16:10 mark through 16:53 in the above video and listen to the commentary and audio.

The sound of chest beating travels more than a mile through the tangled understory.

It’s a territorial drumbeat.

Everyone must know who is boss around here.Sir David Attenborough

So what are folks hearing in the woods?

Wood knocks? Chest beating? Hand clapping?

Is a Bigfoot even the source of the sound?

Has anyone ever seen a Bigfoot beat on a tree to make these sounds?

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.

28 Responses to “Bigfoot Wood Knocking? Or…”

  1. j stewart responds:

    Very good points. Since not one person can say they have ever seen a Sasquatch beating a tree then its actually just an assumption or educated guess. So what your saying is, there may be evidence to show that other sources could just as easily be the source of the sounds. Nicely said and a worth while path to pursue. With this said, that could mean any and all data referring to “wood knocking” would be rendered moot.

  2. flame821 responds:

    I’m curious as to whether it is a way of them communicating a greeting or a warning. We may think we are saying ‘hi there, I’m over here’ but what if we’re really just issuing a challenge or an insult?

    As for how they do the knocking, I actually thought it was done by using their tongue and popping or clicking it. I agree that finding the right tools at a moment’s notice would be a bit difficult.

  3. Kahil responds:

    Yes…I have thought the same things. If, and I mean if, bigfoot are making the knocking sounds, I would doubt it is for communication. Rather I would say it is an aggression or territorial thing. The great apes have been known to take branches, or other things, and smack them around. They smack things around…shake trees, etc.

    Either way… No one has observed the action and documented it. Until that happens, its just an observational guess.

  4. korollocke responds:

    After applying Occam’s razor this falls apart real quick. Who has ever seen a sasqautch beat its chest, knock on a tree (or knock on anything for that matter) or clap? Zero. Sure a few truthful claims from people with nothing to back the wonderful tale of the encounter, but that doesn’t count.

    You can’t propose something like this and expect to be taking seriously with out any hard evidence or observation to back it up. Quantum physics tells and proves nothing is real until its observed and in some cases observation greatly changes the event (anyone familiar with light waves being shone through three slots changing behavior when you look at the other side?). I really don’t how to apply passive observation to sasqautch though, as one has never been made available for any observation period.

  5. Kahil responds:

    @karollocke – You’re right. None have been scientifically observed. As someone else has said, most of the people who go bigfooting are complete amateurs. That’s why I always say that if you are going to get a group together to go searching for bigfoot, then bring along someone who knows the wildlife…like a park ranger or primatologist. Otherwise all you get are people who don’t know the area out in the woods hearing things they don’t recognize and just automatically attributing it to bigfoot. That’s why I say that any reasonable, educated cryptozoologist would avoid saying things in a tense of fact. Rather than stating that you know for a fact that bigfoot does this or that, say that it is widely believed that they do this or that. That allows for an acceptable degree of error. If it is later proven to be correct, then great. If it isn’t, then just as great because after all, it was just a guess.

  6. Redrose999 responds:

    Kahli has a point. And I would like to add, there have been no long term 9as in months” research in one location that is a hot spot.No one has just sat in the field, and observed the wild life on months on end. You get this with other wild life expeditions and seriously funded scientific research. Unfortunately, at least in my understanding (after a brief email with Jeff M years ago) the folks Squatch’n don’t have the time, people or money to do dedicated long term field work.

    How much elusive wild life are you going to see a weekend, even a week out in the field? I lived in the country for 15 years and spent most of my time outside in the woods. I’ve only seen a fox ONCE in my backyard and never in the woods. Tells you something.

    Now with that said, IF Bigfoot is a real creature, I agree with Flame821, I think this knocking business could easily be a Challenge, or even a warning about entering it’s territory.

  7. Kahil responds:

    Yeah, for wood knocking to be used as communication outside of warnings/territorial, there would have to be some sort of repeatable pattern to it.

    Doubt bigfoot are morse coding with each other. Lol.

  8. Redrose999 responds:

    @ Kahli LOL

    Bigfoot SOS! 🙂

  9. riverguy responds:

    I hate to be the buzz kill for multiple people on this thread stating their personal ‘assumptions’ as ‘absolutes’ that NO ONE has ever seen a sasquatch beating or knocking on a tree, when in fact there’s a report of a bow hunter seeing this very behavior. The report can be found in the bfro reports database as a class A encounter, and from what I recall it is extremely detailed.

    I’ll also cut to the chase right now, I’m not going to go into the database of thousands of reports and find it for you, I pointed you in the right direction so now you can do your own homework. I don’t know when it was originally posted, but I came across it about three months ago. You will find it if you look. Happy hunting.

  10. Kahil responds:

    And after everything that has come to light about BFRO, you gonna take their word for it? And you haven’t burst any bubbles. No one has seen and documented a bigfoot doing this. So what if supposedly a hunter claims he saw this. In legal terms its hearsay. It is just someone claiming something that they can’t substantiate with verifiable facts. 99% of the reports of mystery creatures are either hoaxes or misidentified known creatures. Did the hunter record a video of this? Nope…or we all would have heard that bigfoot really exists. I can tell you that I skipping through an enchanted forrest and saw a unicorn. You going to believe me? This hunter may just be recalling a Jack’s Links commercial or something.

  11. Nominay responds:

    I’ve been looking for the word “rocks” in this thread … why not consider that they use rocks?

  12. stickyum responds:

    Has it ever occured to anyone that what field researchers are hearing are Woodpeckers? That’s right, not big-old hairy mystery-beasts playing drums on trees, chests, clapping or clicking their tongues. It’s truely fascinating to me that some dedicated scientists and “wanabe-scientists”, along with suspect-sensational headline seekers and of course, those infamous “Publish or Parish” book-writers, who “Bombard” the media with their theories on these mystery animals, want the public to take ya’ll seriously. P.T. Barnum, if he was alive today, would be proud of this “freak-show”atmosphere!

  13. Loren Coleman responds:

    In answer to “stickyum”: Yes. It has “occured” to field researchers that some sounds could be woodpeckers, and most well-schooled Sasquatch investigators are well-aware of many kinds of sounds originating with birds, coyotes, and a wide variety of other animals to check against their recordings.

    BTW, if one wishes to criticize the “Publish or Parish” (i.e. publish or perish) “book-writers,” one might consider using a spellchecker when posting a comment of this kind. If you wish to be taken seriously, take the time to write a paragraph that’s not full of “occured,” “truley,” “Parish,” and “wanabe.”

  14. Kahil responds:

    Well said Loren. It is really bothersome when some of these researches go online or on tv and state as a matter of fact that something they are hearing is definitely a Sasquatch without having the sounds checked out by someone who knows the wildlife of the area. If only they would do their due diligence. But sometimes someone will want to believe that something is real or true so much that they actually start seeing and hearing it everywhere….attributing things to it that that shouldn’t….even going so far as to fake evidence.

    Until actions and behavior of any creature are scientifically documented, any evidence no matter how compelling must be held to certain a degree of suspect.

  15. stickyum responds:

    Well said Loren!!! I admit my english grammer leaves alot to be desired and if I had taken the time to check my spelling it would have been an easier and let’s say, a more enjoyable read for such a famous etymologist, such as yourself. Thanks again for taking the time to point out my grammatical-flaws!

  16. Nominay responds:


  17. Redrose999 responds:

    No disagreement here. Even in my own “auditory” possible Bigfoot experience, I still to this day look for other animals sounds that could explain what I heard.

    It should be general practice to eliminate local fauna, as well as animals that generally don’t live but migrate though an area before jumping on the Bigfoot bandwagon. If you don’t educate your field workers on aspects of the animals located in an area, you are missing a vital piece of information and doing sloppy science.

  18. Redrose999 responds:

    And I apologize for the typos and spelling errors. I need to write on word before posting. I just get rather…er eager to post and BAM!

    When I say aspects, what I really mean is traits, sounds, behaviors, etc. I think I used the wrong word there.

  19. Blue Steel responds:

    Thomas Powell had an excellent blog post about this suggesting that hand clapping in front of a sasquatch’s open mouth may be the way they produce their “tree-knocking” sound.

  20. flame821 responds:

    Do woodpeckers make so much noise at night? I know they don’t in my area.

    And we are working on the ‘assumption’ here (given the question) that it is Bigfoot making this noise. The question was ‘how’ I brought up ‘why’.

    It is hypothetical question and all we are doing is giving answers based on the hypothetical. If x is true and y is true; what does x+y mean. No one is claiming proof that this is what is actually going on, consider it a mental exercise.

    @ Redrose999. Both FireFox and Chrome have in-browser spell checks. It will underline words in red so it would make it easier than writing it on a notepad and c&p it here. They are both also much faster and safer than IE

  21. Redrose999 responds:

    Well said flame821, and thank you.

  22. blazevicjay responds:

    I heard what I describe as wood knocking in Nov 2001 in far northern Minnesota while deer hunting. It was a dead calm morning at about 8:30 am, and temps were above the average for this time of year with no snow on the ground. I never saw what made the noise but the knocks were very loud and orginated from the same location which was only approximately 75 yards from my treestand.

    The first knock got me to turn my head about 45 degrees to my left and ready my rifle, about three seconds later the second knock and another second the third knock. Since I was deer hunting my inital thought was “wow something big is coming in!” the second knock allowed me to zero in on the source direction and wonder what could make that noise.

    I’ve watched many woodpeckers from that treestand and saw none that morning. Pilated woodpeckers are big and easy to see in flight between trees, the temps were well above freezing so I rule out snapping that can take place in frozen trees. I saw no other hunters that morning in fact that year was the only time I had ever seen another hunter form that stand, a week and a half earlier. I talked to him and he was the only person actually living year round on this part of the lake. There are no roads that lead to these cabins so travel is restricted to boat, snowmobile when the lake freezes or a 4 wheeler trail he had made deeper in the woods. I had heard a boat start and travel across the lake a few hours before from where his home was, so I figured it was him going to work.

    Anyone would be a fool to be in the woods and not to be wearing orange as mandated by law during deer hunting season. Whatever made the noise never broke the cover of the thick pine trees and brush in that direction nor made any other noise I could hear.

    Its proof of nothing I know, but its the strangest sound I’ve ever heard in the woods. Back at work the next week a co-worker told me he heard a noise like “monkeys in the zoo” in the pre-dawn within a few days of my “knocks”, he hunts 15 miles south of where I was. He had never heard that before or since, and he was many thousands of hours of hunting and trapping in northern Minnesota.

    I describe the knocks I heard as being wood upon wood, or that of a baseball on a bat, but deeper in tone and a bit longer in resonance. Rocks are plentiful in this area of the Canadian Shield.

  23. NWesterner responds:

    I also have heard this, but in the Mojave desert strangely enough. We were at a camp site in the desert and it was around 1 AM or so, and every one else was asleep in the tent, but I was awake having a hard time going to sleep. At the campground we were in we were the only ones in the entire place because it was in the very hot summertime, also it was a remote campsite that was off the beaten path. I heard a faint but solid sound of what sounded like a rock being used, either thrown at or held in hand and smashed against a tree. It sounded like it was not real close to my campsite, but not very far either. That got me interested so I started listening again, curious about this sound.

    I heard it again, and it seemed closer this time. At this point I must admit it was starting to freak me out a little, because it didn’t sound like it was being done by any small desert animal or bird. I continued to listen, even more intently and curious.

    Then all of a sudden, a short time later, a VERY LOUD noise close by, this time very close, of again what distinctly sounded like a large rock being SMASHED against a tree with a great deal of force used, and it was done three times in quick succession! BOOM BOOM BOOM. You can imagine how this would make me feel, being in a tent in the pitch darkness in the middle of the Mojave desert, an isolated place. I was scared, I must admit, and I couldn’t find the courage to even go out of the tent because the noise sounded so close to our camp site, and as I said it sounded like someone with a great deal of strength deliberately smashed a large sized rock against a tree trunk, that is exactly what it sounded like. This sound was not done by any woodpecker or small desert animal, it was far too powerful and loud.

    I also had the impression that it was done with an intelligence, as I described – the sounds had a progression to them, first being farther away, then coming closer, and then finally sounding as if they were right on top of our campsite. As if letting me know that he/she/it wanted to make me understand it knew we were there in the campsite.

    I looked at my friends in the tent and they were all still asleep, being heavy sleepers. I considered whether I should wake them up. I decided to do nothing and see what happened next, rather freaked out as you can imagine. Nothing further was heard. A certain period of time elapsed, maybe ten minutes or so, and I decided it was safe enough that I would get out of the tent and take a look around. Nothing to be seen. I walked around the campsite and all was quiet now. I then returned to my tent and there were no further incidents in the night and I fell asleep. In the morning I told my friends about what had happened. I demonstrated for my friends what it sounded like and picked up a big rock and smashed it hard against a tree three times, and it sounded like what I had heard, but it wasn’t nearly as loud as the sound I had heard in the night.

    It was an interesting experience for sure. Do I know for a fact there was a bigfoot in the Mojave desert playing games of some kind or warning us it was in our territory or whatever, of course not, but it was a mystery to me and I couldn’t come up with a normal explanation for what I heard, especially the last very loud and powerful sounds that I heard.

  24. DWA responds:

    “Quantum physics tells and proves nothing is real until its observed …”

    Um, by whom? Who’s the referee?

    Nothing relies on observation to make it real. If it’s real, it’s real whether or not it’s observed.

    There is at least one eyewitness report of wood-knocking.

    It may not be the source of all such sounds reported; and other apes do use hand-clapping to communicate. But it’s been observed.

    If this guy’s telling the truth, of course.

  25. Kahil Nettleton responds:

    @ DWA – I think the point was to say that no one has scientifically observed, documented and recorded a live Sasquatch doing this. All we have here is someone telling a story about what they saw or what they think they saw…not proof.

  26. DWA responds:

    Kahil Nettleton: Well, if you had the observation you were talking about, you would have proof of the sasquatch. Which we don’t have. Which I did point out.

    I’m just seeing here what I see too often when it comes to this topic: assertions and counter-assertions going on with no reference to the evidence. Sightings are not proof, but they are evidence. No more reason to disbelieve this guy than to believe him.

    (And if it looks like a wood knock; sounds like a wood knock; and happens in the woods, it just might be a wood knock.)

  27. Kahil Nettleton responds:

    @ DWA – a simple sighting is not proof of any kind. It is just a personal experience, nothing more. The only evidence that will satisfy all and any critics is a body, living or deceased.

    When it comes to wood knocking… Just because you hear something like it doesn’t mean it is a bigfoot.

  28. DWA responds:

    Kahil: um, I, um, know…?

    That’s what I mean by “what I see too often” around here. It’s either proof, or NOTHING. No one seems capable of accepting that something that isn’t proof, might be evidence. Why have jurisprudence and mainstream zoology figured this out, while crypto seems to keep stumbling on it? (Maybe because mainstream zoologists abandon everything science has taught them when it comes to crypto topics? Dunno, but it’s a thought.)

    Wanna know why we’re still going around the mulberry bush on this? It’s because everybody debates inconclusive evidence ad nauseam, while waiting for a body to turn up. Which, gotta bust a bubble here, it probably won’t. Yes, it’s happened (the megamouth shark; the coelacanth). But you better not be betting on it.

    Meanwhile, lots and lots of people are seeing something. It’s leaving all kinds of evidence, in fact every kind we know gets left by an animal. Problem? Nobody follows the evidence. They keep waiting for a body, all the time saying stuff like “a simple sighting is not proof of any kind. It is just a personal experience, nothing more.” Tell me something I don’t know. A friend of mine has a sighting. I see no reason to doubt him; but I don’t consider the sas proven yet. Because that’s not adequate for me. A geographic and temporal cluster of sightings, though, most certainly is evidence; and it suggests not only possible search strategies, but where to look.

    There’s an assertion here that wood-knocking isn’t. I have provided a firm counter-assertion, by someone who saw it happening. No proof, either way. Barackman’s assertion really has no evidence backing it up. He’s never seen a bigfoot clapping its hands, am I right?

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