Joined: Aug 2007
| Posted: October 31st, 2014 04:15 PM
| OCTOBER 2014 NJ BFRO EXPEDITION
Presented by: Eric Spinner
NJ BFRO Investigator &
*Specific location names have been omitted to preserve the integrity of the area for future research.
Testo 840 Thermal Imager
ATN VIPER GEN 1.5 IR Night Vision Monocular
SONY Handycam DCR-TRV340
Canon PowerShot A2300 HD
Two (2) SONY Digital IC recorders w/ext microphone
Five (5) Moultrie Game Cams
Wildgame IR Trail Cam
Dell Inspiron Laptop
Aimshot Heatseeker 3500C
Edmund Scientific 10X40 Binos
Midland GXT1050 Walkie
Four (4) COBRA Walkies
Three (3) Motorola Walkies
Blast Block and rubber mallet
Three (3)Head Lamps with IR
100Ft Tape measure
Coleman 9 Man Tent “The Condo”
Thursday October 12th 2014:
We arrived at basecamp* at 1200hrs after going to the Ranger station at Batsto to register our group campsite. Heather P and I, met BFRO Investigator Joe “Sav” S, and repeaters Mike F#1 and Kevin R, both from NJ, and newbie Mike F#2 from NJ, who had arrived shortly before us. I placed our placard in the entrance to the site and announced that the Inaugural NJ BFRO Public Expedition has officially begun!
We chose our tent locations and began to set up camp. Shortly after – we were joined by newbie’s Jessie I and Alexandra from CT who transferred over from the PA expedition. Repeater, Patrick B from VA, who was camped out at a different campsite approximately three miles away from basecamp showed up in the afternoon to introduce himself to the group. Then we were joined by my friend and squatching partner Art M from NJ, and later on by Tom C from NJ, another newcomer. There were five newbie’s who cancelled at the last minute, and two other BFRO Investigators who also needed to change their plans. This meant that there were eleven people in all on the expedition.
After setting up camp, we sat around the fire ring, and did a meet and greet session, where each person took a turn to tell a little about themselves, and why they were there and what they hoped to gain from the experience. Then we broke up, and checked gear, and made some dinner in anticipation of the night’s ops.
I had discussed some ideas with Sav and Art for the night investigation, and decided on an approach that was taught to me by MM in North Jersey this past June on the private BFRO Expedition I organized and lead. The technique involved driving to potential hotspots of activity, and using stealthy approaches, trying to illicit a response from a squatch nearby. Knowing the area as well as I do – I was able to determine the best route to take on this particular night’s operation.
We broke up the team into three vehicles, and caravanned to the first location, and exited the vehicles in stealth mode. We hiked into the gated area to a spot that would allow me to do some calls over an extensive marsh. This location also happens to be the spot that Cliff Barakman did his solo camping in the South Jersey episode of Finding Bigfoot.
We soon discovered that cranberry harvesting was in full swing, and there was a lot of noise pollution from machinery on a nearby property. So after doing a few calls without a response we moved out and got back into the vehicles to go to another prime spot. We again exited in stealth mode, and hiked into a gated area that is Off Limits to the public after dark.
We arrived at the spot near another marshy area, and I did a series of calls after placing my Digital Audio Recorder (DAR) away from the group to avoid background noise. We got a response from a pack of coyotes, which is usually a good sign. We then broke into two teams – Team Alpha (ES, AM, PB, MF) and team Bravo (JS, MF, KR, JI & Alex, TC), and hiked into the preserve heading down two different trails. When we reached the first spot, we radioed the other team to let them know we were going to do a call, and advised them to respond within 10- 15 seconds. We continued to hike further in, and do back and forth calls and an occasional wood knock, but all we riled up were the coyotes and a flock of geese. At one point on the trail, Alex indicated that she saw a possible impression, and we used our headlamp to look at it. It definitely was in the shape of a foot, but it had deteriorated to the point of not being conclusive. I give her props for having seen it at all though. We then decided to continue on, and head back towards the entrance, meeting up at the end of an abandoned airstrip. From there we hiked back out to the vehicles, and continued onto the next location. This is an old abandoned village from the pioneer days of the bog iron industry, which lies near some extensive marsh areas. From on top of the bridge between the marshes, I did a few calls, and was rewarded with the response of a Barred Owl. We went back and forth for a while, and at that point I decided to call it a night and head back to basecamp. Mike F#1 set up an omni-directional mic on a tripod overlooking the creek for recording audio while we slept. We did notice a loud branch snap as we were getting into our tents.
Friday October 10th, 2014:
Attendees met at 1200hrs for a debriefing of the previous nights activities, and were given a demonstration of gear and equipment by Eric and Sav – Followed by a Q&A session. Sav had to leave the expedition early due to family obligations, and we said our good byes, and then we broke for lunch and reassembled around 1800hrs to check gear and prepare for the night operations.
For the night ops we drove to a nearby state forest where there has been recent activity, and also happens to be one of our favorite research areas. We drove in two separate vehicles, and set up basecamps at each respective location approximately 1.5 miles apart from each other. We were again in two teams – Alpha (ES, KR, MF, MF), and Bravo (AM, JI & Alex, PB, TC). We sat quietly for a while to acclimate to the sounds of the forest, and at 2130hrs I did an Ohio style call in the direction of team Bravo. We maintained radio communications, as to alert each team when a call was done so as to not confuse one of our calls from a possible response. We alternated doing calls back and forth for a while, with only the coyotes responding off in the distance. At around 2230hrs we (Team Alpha) began to hike into the forest to a spot with a higher elevation. On the way in Kevin did a couple of wood knocks with a baseball bat on a cedar tree leaning over the trail. At another junction in the trail, I asked Mike F#2 to try and do a call he’d been working on earlier.
We finally reached the elevated area, and tried a couple of more calls – without response. The forest was eerily quiet at this point. Meanwhile Team Bravo had begun to hike in our direction, and we did a few back and forth knocks along their journey.
Once they met up with us on this elevated area we discussed any activity we had experienced during the night, and that’s when we noticed what appeared to be white lights shining at us through the trees. Almost like a flashlight beam, but not quite. We were not sure, where this light was omitting from, and we could not hear any sounds to gain a better understanding of what we were up against. They eventually stopped, and we then started down the hill, and hiked back to our respective basecamps.
We sat around quietly a while longer, and occasionally thought we heard some movement off in the woods, but nothing conclusive. At around midnight the rain started to fall, so I called it, and we headed back to basecamp. Once again I heard a loud branch snap as I was getting into my tent. The rain then began to fall heavily, and the wind had picked up quite a bit, and around 0200hrs the fire roared to life even though it was raining, and I peered out of my tent to see who could be cooking at such a late hour. No one was there, but the glow from the fire afforded me the ability to see a nice silhouette if we had a visitor pass through camp. I laid awake in my tent for about an hour listening to the sounds of the wind and the rain, hoping I’d have another experience like the one I had in PA in 2008.
(See past expedition notes)
Saturday October 11th, 2014:
The rain was still falling steadily the next morning. The forecast had called for partly cloudy conditions, so I was hopeful that it would end shortly. Gradually attendees emerged from their tents – some wetter than others. I was fortunate not to have my gear get wet during the night, but my friend Art wasn’t so lucky. He awoke to find his gear floating around and his clothes drenched. Pat B came by basecamp to say goodbye, as he was heading back to VA.
Around 1030hrs the rain began to let up and I noticed that we had company in the group site next to ours. A troop of Boy Scouts had arrived and were making camp. On one hand I was upset that we would not be alone for the final day of the expedition, but on the other hand I thought that they may possibly help to bring the squatches in closer.
While I was enjoying my morning cup of coffee, I got a call on the radio from Mike F#1, saying he had found a possible track impression down by the creek, and he asked me to come down and check it out. I naturally assumed it would turn out to be a human print, as it had on a previous occasion, so I walked down to the creek with a couple of other attendees without my gear in tow.
When we arrived at the scene, we found Mike F#1, Tom, and Mike F#2 looking at the ground near the bridge, and they also pointed out a small American flag that was stuck in the ground near the bank of the creek. I crouched down to examine the print, which was filled with water and facing towards the creek. I noticed that whatever made it appeared to have slipped on the way down the slope by the bridge embankment. The path it took would not be commonly used by humans, as there is a trail further down to the creek. I then noticed under the bush I was crouching by, a second impression in the ground perpendicular to the first print, and I pointed it out to the attendees.
We then looked around for any other prints, and also across the creek to see if anything came out on the other side. Apparently nothing had. I was excited at the finds because I had a Track Casting demonstration scheduled for that afternoon, and I exclaimed to the others “Well I was going to do a track casting demo later with the casts I brought, but this is even better!” I then asked Kevin to go up to camp and bring down my backpack and casting equipment. We then photographed the tracks and took measurements.
Meanwhile Jessie and Alex had walked further downstream on the opposite bank, and they radioed us with the news that they had discovered more impressions! We quickly went over to their location and discovered a number of impressions in the dark black mud along the river. These were smaller in size, and appeared to have been made by a juvenile individual. We counted roughly 16 prints, and being careful not to disrupt the site, we took more photos and measurements. This was truly an exciting find, because it’s not everyday you find juvee prints, and especially ones that are so clear.
You may say “How do you know that these aren’t made by humans?”
Well I would respond to that by saying, by the looks of the impressions themselves, and due to the circumstances surrounding the timing of the find, that it would be highly unlikely that someone was down by the river dancing around in this thick dark mud. Keeping in mind that the rain had only let up a short time before, the chances that someone had launched a kayak or canoe was very slim. We also had trail cams deployed on the area near the bridge, and would have seen evidence of any humans near that side of the bridge.
I made up a batch of casting material, and began the casting tutorial while Kevin filmed me with his GoPro camera. We started with the Adult Female impressions, and I showed the group how I use bamboo skewers as rebar to help strengthen the casts. We then covered the wet casts while we moved on to the other side of the river to cast the juvee prints. I had other attendees making up the casting material, and Alex was keeping notes on the size and length of stride measurements. We numbered the prints that were worth casting and got to work. I also allowed a couple of other attendees to pour the plaster into the impressions, and place the bamboo into the casts. We then took more photos, and covered the casts due to the rain which had begun to fall again.
We all went back up to camp and continued to dry out our gear, and tents, and discussed the events of the previous night, and the mornings discoveries. We periodically took turns to go down to make sure that no one was disturbing our casts. Some of the attendees went out and did some scouting of the areas around basecamp. I meanwhile was checking my topo maps, and deciding on where to hold the final night ops. This struck me as a no-brainer, because of the discovery of the prints, I felt it would probably be best to remain in the general area of our campground. Plus we had the added bonus of a troop of Boy Scouts to add to the allure of the locals.
The day gradually began to clear up, and we went down to check on the casts. They were hard and ready to be removed, so I had some boxes brought down that had trays inside of them, and a garden shovel to dig up the casts. At that time I received a radio transmission from Art who was approaching camp. He had gone home to take care of some personal matters, and had swung by on his way back to scoop up Heather. The two of them joined the rest of us as we began to remove the track casts.
I rinsed off the first cast in the creek, and held it up for the rest to see. It didn’t have a transverse arch, and the apparent mid tarsal break was visible. The dimensions of the track, greatly reduces the possibility that it was made by a human. After removing the original track found by Mike, and rinsing it off, we proceeded to the other side to begin the process of excavating the juvee casts. While I prepared to remove the casts, Heather was speaking with Mike F#2, and saw what appeared to her to be a large hairy, auburn colored arm move up and then back down between the trees across the river. She spun Mike around and said “Look!” but by that time there was nothing to see. She grabbed him and they walked off to inspect what she thought she saw. I meanwhile was focused on removing the casts, and hadn’t noticed that they left.
After all the casts were out of the ground we took some more photos, and passed them around so that everyone could get a chance to see the details. Then Heather came back and informed me about what she had seen, and was very excited that she may have had an actual sighting. We cleaned up any remaining evidence of our casting, and loaded the trays into my truck to return to basecamp.
Meanwhile, Mike F#1 and Tom went on a hike up the NW side of the river, into the white cedar swamp looking for more tracks and other evidence. About a mile from the bridge they came to a marshy area, and thought they saw movement ahead of them. Mike took about eight photos of the area, and then Tom literally got stuck in the mud up to his waist. Mike managed to get him out, and they returned to camp, and informed us of what they thought they had seen.
Mike thought he had observed a dark colored individual in between some trees, and Tom thought he saw an auburn colored one off to the right of the marsh. We reviewed the photos Mike had taken on his camera, but the small display made it difficult to tell for sure. They definitely thought they had seen something, so this was a very exciting addition to the day’s events. It also reinforced my decision to stay nearby during the night ops. We made a fire, and everyone gathered together and we made a feast. Alex and Jessie did the cooking, and I prepared my grass fed beef into patties.
Then we were joined by Regina the Science Teacher from the South Jersey Sasquatch episode of Finding Bigfoot. She was coming out with us on our final night investigation, and got to meet the attendees and share her experiences with the group. She was very interested in our track casts, and was excited to head out into the forest.
We broke up into two teams. Team Alpha (ES, HP, AM, RN, JI & Alex, KR)
And team Bravo (MF, TC, MF). Bravo Team would remain at basecamp, and Alpha would enter the woods across the river, and head southeast towards the marsh behind camp. Alpha left basecamp at 2130hrs in my truck, and we parked off a forest service road about a quarter mile away. We exited the vehicle and began to hike the trail in stealth mode (No headlamps, no talking, matching our footsteps). This particular trail was new to me, and I wound up making a right when I should have made a left. After getting back on course, we entered an old growth forest and cedar swamp. We kept in radio contact with team Bravo, and I began the night with a MM style howl.
Team Bravo radioed back that we were too close, and had spooked the Scouts.
So we continued further in, and Art did a couple of wood knocks. Regina and Kevin both reported to me that they had a strong feeling that we were being watched, and both had the hairs standing up on the back of their necks. A short while later, Heather did her Ranee style scream and really lit up the night! We were hearing movement in the woods around us, but neither IR night vision nor thermal imager picked up anything. We continued on further into the forest, and occasionally did a call or knock, but the locals were not in the mood to play I guess by the lack of the responses we received,
We headed back to basecamp around midnight, and discussed the events of the night, and said our good byes to Regina. Then Art and I decided to cook up some brats, and have a bite to eat. Mike F#1 came up to me and asked if I’d like to try some techniques he’d used down in Florida, so I asked what he had in mind. At this point it was just me, Art, Mike, and Tom who were up for additional investigation. We split up into two teams (ES, AM) and (MF, TC), and headed across the road to enter the woods opposite basecamp. Art and I entered on the south side of the river, while Mike and Tom headed up the road to find a trail leading in on the north side.
We maintained radio contact as we made it in to the determined locations, and then I did an Ohio style howl to test range of sound. My voice at this point was not what it was earlier, and they had trouble hearing my call. Mike returned a nice sounding Ohio howl, and we were able to tell where they were located. We made some back and forth calls and knocks, but again the locals were not impressed, and did not respond. We finally wrapped it up at 0300hrs, and Art and I headed back to basecamp, and Mike and Tom remained out a little longer doing calls.
Sunday October 12th, 2014:
Attendees gathered around 1030hrs for a final debriefing, and to closer examine the track casts. I had brought along extra casting materials, so I decided to do a class on re-casting track casts. We made a few copies of the juvee tracks and one of the casts I had brought along with me that was made in March 2014 in New Jersey. I also presented Alex with the baseball bat she had cracked the night before while doing a wood knock, as a memento of the expedition. I then presented all the attendees with BFRO patches.
We then broke camp, and said our goodbyes. Art, Heather, and I remained behind to re-enact her sighting from the previous day. Art played the role of Bigfoot, as I interviewed Heather. Then we began our journeys home.
I would like to thank All of the attendees who showed up and suited up, ready and willing to make the most of the inaugural Public NJ BFRO Expedition. The group we had assembled were some really great people, and I am proud to call them my new Squatching friends. I would also like to thank Joe S, and Art M who assisted me during the expedition, and brought their years of experience and dedication to the table.
I look forward to working with Joe on the next BFRO Expedition in North Jersey this coming June 2015, and with Art on the South Jersey fall expedition. Stay tuned for the dates to be announced!
BFRO Investigator NJ
2008 NW PA BFRO Exp
2009 Sunshine Coast BC Canada
2014 New Jersey June Organizer
2014 New Jersey Oct Organizer