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Michigan UP mini-expedition, Feb. 2010
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Steve Moon
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 Posted: February 21st, 2010 07:45 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Hello Fellow Squatchers……here’s some notes from a recent mini-expedition.

Enjoy,
Rick Noffke

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan: Mini-Expedition Notes

Feb. 12th- Feb. 14th, 2010


The following is a report of the observations and accounts from a short mini-expedition taken recently to attempt to learn any details about the activity of the sasquatch population in the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan during the winter months. Investigators Steve Moon from Iowa, Rick Noffke from Wisconsin, and Gerry Wiater from the UP of Michigan attempted to locate any sasquatch sign in a couple of key locations in the UP.

After meeting up for a quick breakfast on Friday the 12th we parked our vehicle at a location of interest. With all of our winter camping gear in tow Rick and Steve snow-shoed through a cedar swamp and down to a river. We followed the creek basin west, and located a fresh water spring. We find it important to note that this surface spring was still open despite many weeks of subzero winter weather up in the UP. I had always questioned how accessible free fresh water would be for these creatures in the colder northern climates, and finding this surface spring open and accessible was a noteworthy find. The GPS coordinates of the spring were recorded. We continued snow-shoeing to the west and southwest. Snow-shoeing through the thick cedar swamp with all of our camping gear was quite a chore, so we headed more directly south to hook up with an unplowed forest road.

While shoeing west on this forest road we noticed an interesting trackway crossing the road from the north heading south. The current snow conditions presented a difficult diagnosis of the tracks. There is about 3-4’ feet of snow pack on the ground in this area now, and about two weeks prior to our arrival they had a warm spell that melted the snow pack and created a hard icy crust. Then on top of that over the last week prior to our arrival they had several inches of light fluffy new snow on top of the ice crust. The trackway that we found had interesting impressions that varied between16-18” long and about 6-10” wide. The tracks were made after the thaw, but prior to the new snow so they were obscured by several inches of new snow and were likely a week or so old. The spacing was about 4-5’ long in stride and they were pretty much in a straight line one in front of the other. After looking closely at many of the prints we concluded that although the tracks were intriguing and had many characteristics of winter squatch tracks they were too obscure to be certainly squatch tracks. We’ve noted the find to be interesting, but not definite. It’s possible that a few deer bounding at full speed and following each other’s tracks could have made impressions similar to this track way. It was simply too obscure to tell for certain.

As the daylight hours started to burn on us we continued shoeing west down another forest road and decided to pitch camp there for the night. Numerous sets of other tracks from other wildlife were noted in this location including coyote tracks, one possible big cat track, numerous deer tracks, and lots of large rabbit tracks. A routine of occasional tree knocks and calling was executed in the late evening hours with no noticeable activity. We turned in for the night around 10:30 p.m. Overnight audio and overnight thermal video was recorded and nothing noteworthy was found. Before leaving camp the next morning we snow-shoed a large circle around our campsite to check for sign and nothing was noticed. Gerry also came back to our campsite on Sunday the 14th to again check and see if anything had come by to inspect our camp after our departure, and nothing had.

We then snow-shoed back to our vehicle and traveled about thirty miles southeast of this location to another spot for Saturday night. We targeted this second location since previous scouting trips and a wealth of information gathered by Gerry indicated that it might be a heavily used deer yarding area. A good portion of the deer herd in the northern parts of the UP of Michigan migrate dozens of miles south to get out of the extremely deep snow packs and cold temps, and occupy the thicker cedar swamps of the more southern counties. The cedars provide a micro climate with minimal snow pack on the ground, slightly warmer temps, and a good supply of edible cedar browse.

At the second location we snow-shoed with our gear about a mile north of the forest road and along the edge of the river to our second campsite. A large area on either side of the river is lined with thick mature cedar densely packed. It turned out to be a heavily used deer yard with the ground showing an almost continuous spread of deer tracks and droppings. The river nearby was also running quickly enough that in parts it was still open and ice free despite many weeks of sub-zero temps. This area has many important elements to provide a decent winter habitat for many species of predatory animals, including access to open water and lots of potential food sources.

While surveying the river and making a few calls we heard one possible distant wood knock in reply to a call done by Steve. The knock was fairly woody in sound, but rather distant and faint. Although interesting and noteworthy I felt the knock was too quiet to be definitively identified, but it was audible.

After making camp and eating dinner we started a fire after dark and executed a fairly laid back sequence of knocks, whoops, and howls over the next few hours. Around 6:30 p.m. we heard one interesting howl in reply to a knock we had done. The howl was about 2-3 seconds long and sounded quite similar to other howls associated with squatch activity. The audio recording equipment had unfortunately run out of batteries at this time and the howl was not recorded. (Insert a few frowny faces here). Shortly after the howl was heard a batch of coyotes stirred up yelping from the same SW direction as the howl. Both of us who heard the howl have been in the field a good deal of time and feel pretty comfortable with our ability to distinguish a coyote howl from other sounds. This howl sounded more like a squatch type howl than a normal coyote howl, but with no recording taken and no ability to analyze the sound further it would be prudent to assume that it was just a coyote howl. It should be labeled as a possible howl. No other unusual events were recorded on either the audio equipment or overnight thermal equipment, and another circular camp inspection the following morning revealed no unusual camp visitors. We hiked out of camp and returned to the car.

On Sunday afternoon, the 14th, Gerry returned to our previous location and while walking down the road he heard some very quiet knocking or as he described “tapping” sounds to the south west of his position on the road. Gerry then tapped his walking stick on a tree and over the course of about a thirty minute time period he had numerous tapping exchanges at the same location. He said he would tap three times and get a response of three taps. He would then change the rhythm and tap a few times with a pause and then another and he’d get the same number and rhythm returned to him. He estimated to have had about eighteen exchanges of tapping sequences over the course of the half hour he was there. He went back to the site a couple days later to look for tracks and was unable to find anything since there was 12” of fresh snow that had fallen overnight. Unfortunately, none of his exchanges were recorded.

Well, that’s about it for this mini-expedition. Although we didn’t observe any activity or evidence that was amazingly definitive, we were able to learn a great deal about the areas visited and have begun to have an understanding of the extreme nature of the habitat these creatures would have to survive in if they were to actively move about in this climate during the winter months. We hope that we and other investigators can get out more during the winter months and try to explore possible squatch habitat. It’s a great opportunity to observe sign and learn about their habitats.

Best Regards,
Rick Noffke
Steve Moon
Gerry Wiater

Additional details about tapping incident, by Gerry Wiater:

Nancy drove her truck with me and the dogs as passengers out to a local road. We stopped at a Forest Service road in order to check out your campsite for any tracks or other signs. I did not find anything. Nancy parked and we unloaded the three dogs and started out heading east. She quickly got way ahead of me. I was walking slower as the footing was slippery and I was being cautious about falling on the ice. I walked up to a cross-road. Nancy was still way ahead of me, but she turned back and started walking toward the west. Eventually we both met up, I was heading east and she was heading west. When we met we chatted briefly, and the dogs headed off to the east so she left and as before was quickly way ahead of me.

As I was walking I would stop from time to time to scan the surrounding woods trying to see if anything of interest was there. As I got near another cross road, I could no longer see Nancy as she had already crested a small hill. About 20 yards or so east from the road I was near, I heard one distinct tapping sound. It sounded like a stick hitting a solid living tree. There are some dead standing trees in the area but from previous woodland knowledge, I knew that sound. It is like a dull thud. This tap was not like that. Out of curiosity and wondering about the tap, I used my walking stick to tap on a live tree near the road. My dog pulled this stick from a beaver dam, some time ago. It is solid, stout, and sound. It is about 7 feet long and I have used this walking stick or rather should be called a staff for several years. The original tap came from the south side of the main road. I heard an answering tap from the same area. I became very interested in this. I tapped again with one tap. I received one tap back, within a very short interval. I thought to rule out any accidental natural occurrence for the taps, that I would vary my taps. I tapped out two taps. I received two taps back in reply, from the same area. I varied my taps over the course of the 30 minutes or so this was happening. I tapped out three taps, and got three back. From previous experience there I knew there was no echo factor. I changed the frequency of my tapping, the spacing of the taps, and used a random pattern varying form one to three taps. Each reply mirrored my taps. I was amazed. The snow was at least waist deep which prevented me from going into the heavy spruce, balsam, and brushy area. I could not see anything in that heavy growth area. No matter what or how I changed my taps the replies were the same as my taps. The taps I heard back were not of breaking twigs from the dead trees. This I knew from previous woods knowledge.

I heard Nancy call the dogs back to load up in the back of her truck. The woods were very quiet all the time we were out there, so I could hear her noises of loading up the dogs. She started the truck and headed east to pick me up. When she stopped on the road, I was still at the area where I had heard the taps, but I had not heard anything in response for 10 minutes or so. I assumed that this event was over. She was concerned that maybe I was not feeling well. I told her I was fine, and then explained what I had been doing. She did not believe my story. She got out of the truck, and left the engine running. The dogs were making their usual fussing in the back of the truck. I felt that this added noise would have stopped the tapping. She borrowed my walking stick and I showed her to the tree that I had been tapping on. She tapped once, and she heard a reply. She varied her taps as I told her I had done, and she got identical taps back. She also was amazed. Her experience did not last as long as mine, perhaps 10 minutes or so. When she did not get any further replies, we drove further east on the main road, and periodically tried tapping along the road up to another road. We did not hear any more. When we once again came back toward the original site, I tried some taps, but there was no further response.

Here is a summary of my conclusions and observations of this event.

1. This was not a random tree branch hitting another tree. That sound is very different from that sound I heard.
2. There were no winds, only a very slight breeze that for the most part was not evident.
3. The entire area was silent no other woods sounds were detected.
4. I heard no other human activity such as snowmobiles, chainsaws etc.
5. The tapping was not of a woodpecker, again from previous woods knowledge.
6. Two of us witnessed this event at different times.
7. This is the first ever for me to hear this.
8. The tapping was gentle, not a pounding like some of us BFROs might expect.
9. This particular area is near the same places where we have had other events, eye glows, tracks, sightings, roaring growl/screech/howl.
10. Several days prior to this event Nancy described how something had followed her when she walked that same area with the dogs.
11. Nancy stated that one of our dogs was very interested in that tapping site as she walked back to the truck ahead of me. She said the dog stopped went on alert and started into the tapping area. She called him back.
12. So I am certain that there was some living critter that made the tapping.
13. After much research and consulting and using my own woods lore, I cannot attribute this tapping to the known animals that inhabit this area.

Gerry Wiater


http://i716.photobucket.com/albums/...10th/spring.jpg

Spring at location one


http://i716.photobucket.com/albums/...th/trackway.jpg

Trackway at location one


http://i716.photobucket.com/albums/...210th/print.jpg

Print in trackway


http://i716.photobucket.com/albums/...10th/kittie.jpg

Cat print at location one

(Edited by Steve Moon)
When the small craft warnings come out, then you go sailing.
 
 
monongahela
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 Posted: February 21st, 2010 04:46 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Steve,

Thanks for posting those notes. Knowing more about the wintering habits of squatch is an incredibly important area of this research. After reading your results I'll have to rethink my assumptions about winter squatching.

The knocking episode is particularly fascinating in my opinion. Assuming that was a squatch knocking back to Gerry, then I'd say his experience adds strong support to the notion that sasquatch are avid mimics.
Monongahela | http://sasquatchbioacoustic.blogspot.com | Attended BFRO Tennessee 2010, Pennsylvania 2011, Ohio 2012, West Virginia 2012
 
 
bbwena
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 Posted: February 21st, 2010 07:43 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Great stuff Steve!! Very cool with the wood taps! We need to get an Iowa expedition together this Spring!!!
People only see what they are prepared to see. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
 
Tom Thomas
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 Posted: February 22nd, 2010 04:18 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Steve, Those tracks are very interesting. Were they going to the spring or coming back from the spring?
Trapper Tom

MO-09 exp
TN-10 exp
TN-11 exp
 
 
Steve Moon
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 Posted: February 22nd, 2010 05:56 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Hi Tom,

The trackway was several hundred yards away from the spring so there is no way to know if they were associated. Their were no tracks anywhere near the spring.

Steve
When the small craft warnings come out, then you go sailing.
 
 
Action
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 Posted: May 8th, 2010 03:33 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Could have been many things. How far apart were the tracks from each other?
 
 
Steve Moon
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 Posted: May 8th, 2010 04:07 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Hey Action

Indeed they could have been a bounding deer. They were about four feet apart. If I had it to do over again I would have followed the track as far as possible. I would also uncover a consecutive set of prints to see if I could discern a left / right orientation.
When the small craft warnings come out, then you go sailing.
 
 
Action
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 Posted: May 9th, 2010 04:27 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

I would also bring a tape measure with you. Not only is the distance from one track to another important, but also the distance from the outside edge of both feet. You can sometimes find more information this way. I've come across similar tracks and 99% of the time I didn't have the stuff to record data, lol. Oh well.
 
 
narrowfoot
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 Posted: May 9th, 2010 05:32 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Thanks, guys, this is very interesting. My recent experience of replies to knocking is similar, though of shorter duration.
"Technological advances are not limited to human populations."
 
 
PaulS
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 Posted: June 7th, 2010 11:29 PM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Gerry, FYI - Your description of your walking staff being from a beaver dam is similar to the description from this report: http://www.bfro.net/GDB/show_report.asp?id=27075

"...a log about 4 inches in diameter and 4 feet long and the end was waterlogged like it had been in the wallow for a while..."

I believe the tone of a waterlogged stick would be much different than that of a dry one.
Paul
 
 
toddlehman
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 Posted: July 16th, 2010 11:09 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

I am new to this site. I noticed you did not give the location of the expedition. I visit Champion, MI near Lake Michigamme. Was it anywhere close to this area?
 
 
Bossburg
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 Posted: July 16th, 2010 11:21 AM  Edit Post Delete post Back to top

Quote:
toddlehman wrote:
I am new to this site. I noticed you did not give the location of the expedition. I visit Champion, MI near Lake Michigamme. Was it anywhere close to this area?


From the 'sticky' post by Navigator at the top of this discussion:

Please use nicknames instead of actual place names. You should be able to recognize the nicknames coined on the trip(s) you attended. For example, some of the place names on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia have the following nicknames: "Protester" ; ".9 mile camp at No-Name"; "Upper Wormy Perch"; "Blackberry Heaven"; "Beaver Pond"; etc.

For the recent North Carolina trip, the relevant occurences happened near "North Powerlines" ; "South Powerlines" and "Basecamp".

The Oklahoma nicknames: "North Zone" and "South Zone".

Florida: "Horse Camp" ; "Palmetto Bay"

Oregon: "East Flank" ; "Trailhead" ; "West Flank"

Southern California is an exception. We can be more specific and use actual placenames in this case, because nothing happened on that expedition, and because we have doubts about there being any bigfoots this far south. Only one area still needs to be checked out in So. Cal., where some possible tracks were found, and there is little concern about creating even more pressure on the area than it already has, because of droves of weekend picnickers from East Los Angeles who leave behind piles of garbage and uneaten food every weekend.

Bossburg
 
 




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