Never stop because you are afraid - you are never so likely to be wrong.
FIELD RESEARCHER BASICS
C. Leigh Culver
Copyright © 2010-2013 C. Leigh Culver. All rights reserved.
This article will present various aspects and skill-sets relevant to the sasquatch field researcher. The individual who desires to be a field researcher needs more than just a keen interest in unraveling the sasquatch mystery, you need some necessary skills. The most important skill-set, however, is your own personal attitude, or mindset. The fact that you are reading this article suggests that you already possess the right mindset. Being willing to learn from the wisdom and experience of others is invaluable. At the same time, being willing to break away from conventional wisdom, and test new ideas, is just as invaluable. A good field researcher should be willing to “think outside the box” when needed.
My personal advice is to keep an open mind. Never discount any evidence, or data, that presents itself. All data is relevant until proven otherwise. Even though presented data may not be initially understood at the time of the research, given time, it may become better understood. I’m familiar with many cases where researchers were driven by their personal expectations and biases, and their final product was tainted accordingly. This happens in every field of research. Be willing to throw away any pre-conceived ideas, or assumptions, that you may have regarding the sasquatch. Our research has led us to the conclusion that a lot of "beliefs" held by many sasquatch researchers just isn't true.
My personal approach to research is not unlike that of intelligence gathering. I gather as much information by any means possible then “throw” the collected information “onto the table” so-to-speak. I then look for patterns, correlations, and relationships. Initially, certain data bits are overtly obvious, and present obvious patterns. Many data bits may appear to be just odd occurrences. Over time, however, these odd occurrences may develop into sub-patterns. Quite often these sub-patterns are more important than the overtly obvious patterns. If I had discounted these odd occurrences, my research would not have been as complete.
Being persistent is another important mind-set. The sasquatch mystery will not be unveiled by one or two field research trips. This is a research project that will take time, perseverance and dedication.
This article is going to make the assumption that you’ve spent some relevant time in the outdoors, either backpacking, camping, climbing, etc., and that you have some wilderness experience. If this is not the case, there are a great many books, outdoor organizations and outdoor classes from which you can learn the basics of wilderness self-reliance. Being wilderness self-reliant requires several areas of knowledge beyond just being an experienced camper.
Be sure to check out the Enigma Research Group YouTube™ Channel as we will be posting our Survival Tips videos.
THE WILDERNESS IS NEUTRAL
From 1951 until 1999 the United States Army operated the Jungle Operations Training Center down at Fort Sherman, Panama. Various U. S. Army light infantry and special operations units spent time there learning all that could be learned about jungle operations. The underlying theme throughout that training was the concept that “the jungle is neutral.” This meaning, of course, that the jungle has no interest in whether or not you live or die. The jungle “just is.” The wilderness is no different. The wilderness is neutral. The wilderness “just is.” Whether or not your trip into the wilderness becomes an adventure, or an epic, is determined by your knowledge of that environment. Remember, it’s not raining on you, it’s just raining.
FIRST-AID AND CPR
Before you go deep into the wilderness looking for a rather large hominid that isn’t supposed to exist there are a few things you need to know. Anyone looking to spend a lot of time in the wilderness should have some basic knowledge of first-aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Unfortunately, obtaining this information from a book is not the best option. If you do not already have this training, it is highly suggested that you take a first-aid and CPR course from a competent instructor. Such courses are usually 16 to 24 hours long. There are a great many organizations who offer such courses including local hospitals, fire departments and search and rescue groups. Even better, seek out a Wilderness First-Aid, Wilderness First Responder or Wilderness EMT course. There are several wilderness medical oriented associations who provide such training. Don’t put yourself, or your fellow team members, at risk by not having this basic knowledge.
Always carry a first-aid kit. A first-aid kit should not only contain the requisite medical aid items, but any personal prescription medications that you may need. In addition to this, I recommend that your kit contain medications for anaphylaxis, inflammation, infection, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. My personal kit, that I’ve carried all over the world, always contains ciprofloaxacin (antibiotic), azithromycin (antibiotic), loperimide (antidiarrheal), ondanestron (antiemetic), ketorolac (anti-inflammatory) diphenhydramine (anaphylaxis) and epinephrine (anaphylaxis). Some of these medications may be obtained over the counter; however, several require a prescription. Go to your physician and explain that you are creating an expedition first-aid kit to be used in remote areas. I expect that he or she will have no issues with writing the prescriptions for the medications. Make sure that you understand the proper dosages, indications, contraindications and side-effects of any of these medications. Your physician can help you with this. Also, make sure the medications stay in their prescription bottles and that they all have expiration dates.
BASIC SURVIVAL KNOWLEDGE
If you intend to spend a great deal of time in the backcountry having some basic survival know-how is a good idea. You don’t necessarily need to become the ultimate survivalist; however, you do need some basic knowledge in this area. Each year, all over North America, experienced campers and backpackers make bad decisions that result in their deaths. Avoid becoming a statistic by becoming “survival-aware.” At the very least, you need to know several ways to start a fire along with the basics of building a survival shelter determinant upon the environment that you are operating in. There are numerous books, videos and survival schools from which to learn from. Our YouTube™ channel has several survival shelter ideas.
Putting together a basic survival kit is a good idea. Any basic survival items that you carry, such as a knife or fire starter, should be carried on your person rather than in your pack just in case you, some how, become separated from your pack. Keep in mind, that having lots of gear is never a substitute for knowledge.
Another reason to become familiar with survival skills is to discover what it really takes to survive in the wilderness; especially, on a prolonged basis. If you really want to get an understanding of what I mean, I suggest that you take a survival course that lasts for at least a week. Enigma Research Group offers such courses. Sasquatches have to survive like this every day of their lives. Every creature in nature is driven by two primary survival factors. The first and foremost is food--finding that next meal (and water). The other factor is mating and procreation. After you have spent a week out in the woods in a survival class you will discover what a prime motivator “finding that next meal” can be. Most animals, human and otherwise, attempt to operate via “economy of energy.” They take the path of least resistance. Any location where food (and water) is easiest to obtain is where you will find most of nature’s creatures. If you look at a lot of sasquatch sightings reports you will find that a lot of the reports center on a sasquatch attempting to obtain easy food. Chicken houses, dumpsters, game bait stations, left over game entrails from hunters have all seen their fair share of sasquatches. Even Eric Robert Rudolf, the accused 1996 Atlanta Centennial Olympic Park bomber was finally captured after alluding law enforcement for several years due to his attempting to obtain easily obtained food from a dumpster. Due to environmental encroachment, sasquatches often take similar risks to obtain more easily obtainable food.
As a field researcher, spending time in possibly very remote areas, a basic knowledge of land navigation is necessary. It is vital that you know how to read a map and use a compass. It is very useful to expand that foundation to knowing how to use a GPS and pace beads as well. There are numerous books on the subject of land navigation. If you don’t feel comfortable learning such a vital skill from a book, there are classes offered through various organizations and schools. Even better, take the Enigma Research Group Land Navigation Course. Don’t wait until getting lost to begin learning how to read a map for the first time.
Before going into the backcountry always let someone know where you are going, as well as, when you expect to return. Another precaution that search and rescue trackers recommend is to make an imprint of both boots that you will be wearing on your trip in aluminum foil. In fact, make two imprints. One imprint you will leave in your vehicle during your wilderness trip, the other will be left with a friend or family member. This will assist any searchers who may be looking for you should you become lost. And speaking of lost, should you become lost, stay put! Do not make it harder for persons trying to locate you by moving about. There are numerous cases every year where persons who were lost, were later found dead a good distance from their last known point because of their roaming about. Follow the advice of former Border Patrolman Albert Taylor, “Hug a tree.” There is some technology that is very useful for getting found that will be described in the article of Specialized Equipment.
Familiarize yourself with tracking. Any creature that moves through the environment leaves sign of its having been there. A trained tracker can not only see track and sign, but can determine what that track and sign means. Being able to distinguish between human, animal and sasquatch track and sign is indispensable. Knowing when you’ve come across faked sasquatch tracks versus real sasquatch tracks is very necessary. Did you know that there are numerous barefoot hiking and running clubs all over North America? Did you know that these hikers/runners even hike and run barefoot during the winter? Did you know that human bare feet will present a "mid-tarsal break" pressure ridge in certain substrates? So are all of those juvenile sasquatch tracks that researchers seem to find everywhere really what they seem to be? Tracking will be discussed in more depth in the article on tracking. I highly suggest that you get our Sasquatch Field Research Series - Tracking 1 DVD.
THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT
A good sasquatch researcher will become a naturalist. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been out on an expedition with beginning researchers where every “eye shine” seen and every owl call heard was “bigfoot.” As a researcher, you should become familiar with all of the wildlife in your area of research. Make the effort to learn wildlife behavior, and habits. Doing this may save you some embarrassment. Become familiar with which wildlife is more active at night and the sounds, or calls, they make. There are numerous CDs with wildlife sounds from which to learn. I highly recommend the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s CD, “Voices of North American Owls.” Most people are familiar with barn owl and barred owl calls, however, there are a great many of owls that will surprise you by the sounds that they make.
A great many states have Master Naturalist training programs. Most of these programs are associated with state universities and agricultural extension agencies. Master Naturalist programs combine classroom instruction and field study in ecology, biology, geology, forestry, hydrology, plant and animal identification, as well as, environmental education and awareness. Most programs are around 40 hours in length. Graduates often serve as volunteer interpreters at parks and schools. These programs can serve as an excellent opportunity for learning more about your operational area, as well as, meeting experts in various fields of study that may serve as invaluable resources later on in your research.
As a sasquatch field researcher, you are obligated to know what is “natural versus what is unnatural” in the wilderness environment. It is essential to rule out all of the natural occurring possibilities before you cry “bigfoot.” Knowledge is power, and the more knowledge you have regarding the natural environment, and all of the relationships therein, will make you a better field researcher. Also, the more knowledge you have regarding the natural environment will help you in determining when and where to look for sasquatch. The many close encounters with sasquatch that our team has experienced have only come as a result of our knowledge of the natural environment, sasquatch behavior, and an incredible amount of “dirt-time.”
We modern humans don’t normally live out in nature the same way as our ancestors once did. Any time that we spend in the wilderness is precious; especially, any time spent looking for the legendary sasquatch. Every time we go out, there is a strong desire to have “THE” experience. I’ve been with researchers whose expectations of encountering a sasquatch were so strong, that every sound heard, every odd looking vegetative structure, and every impression on the ground were attributed to “bigfoot.” The bottom-line, however, is that not everything in the wilderness is “bigfoot.”
For additional information, be sure to read the following chapter from the
Royal Geographic Society Expedition Manual:
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