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DATE: 7th and 8th
STATE: New York
COUNTY: Washington County
LOCATION DETAILS: [Private property on a mountain near Whitehall. Location specifics withheld.]
NEAREST TOWN: Whitehall
NEAREST ROAD: [Not displayed by the request of the witness]
OBSERVED: On November 7th and 8th I re-visited my family property to investigate wood knocking I recalled hearing there since childhood. The impetus for this investigation stems from my own sighting in the area in the 1980's and the anecdotal reports on BFRO concerning the behaviors of the species.
The family property is situated in the Town of Whitehall in Washington County New York. We used to operate a tree farm on the property and were there quite often, even staying overnight, on weekends and weekdays.
[Click the image above for larger version of this map.]
Frequently I would hear repetitious 'knocking' always coming from the west, southwest, or northwest of us. When I was younger I thought nothing of it. As I got older and realized it was coming from our own property, I began to ask those with me what I was hearing. No one could say anything except, "Some one with an axe I guess".
I spent much more time in the forest than anyone I knew. Soon, the idea that some lazy axe man was there every time I was in the forest occurred as too large a coincidence. I went looking for the trespasser, but never could catch up to him, or find what he was chopping at a rate of four to five blows every ten to fifteen minutes.
On the return visit I wasn't disappointed. There is a particular place formely part of the property which the species may frequent for some reason. I headed there in a deliberate attempt to provoke a reaction.
The knocking began as soon as I was 1/4 mile into the forest. I was moving uphill, and off trail so I was making a good amount of noise as I went. At first it was one source to my front (west) which, as always, retreated in front of me. As I came closer to my destination, the knocking began to circle around me. At this point there were as many as three sources of knocking and it was coming at regular intervals.
As I crested the ridge and began the final approach to the destination, the range and the intervals of the knocking decreased. This remained steady until I reached the destination at which point I turned and headed northward to an old farm road and homestead site (occupied). At this point the knocking trailed off, the range and interval decreased and eventually it ended altogether.
From here I climbed east over the mountain again to return to my place of origin. There was no further incident of knocking during the return trip.
On the second day (8th), I returned to a site we used to frequent during our tree farming days. This was a site we used frequently for our overnight stays. While approaching this site from the east and travelling uphill, the knocking began immediately. Again the knocking stayed to my front (west) until I reached my destination. Once there, the knocking stopped all together. I occupied the site for a few hours. During this time I ate lunch, and, being an ecologist, I collected samples of vegetation and made notes and sketches of the changes occuring in the surrounding forest.
While walking the perimeter of the clearing in which this site is located, I heard a sound which is best described as a 'buck snort' played poorly on a low-quality decoy. A 'snort' is the noise a buck makes when he's expressing aggression or agitation. It came from the vicinity of a rock outcropping approximately 25-yards to my north-northwest. Thinking about it now, it was almost comical. At the time however, I was more than a little frightened by it.
I turned, walked quickly to my pack, and removed a survival rifle. As I assembled the rifle, several stones flew over my head, but near enough for me to hear them going past. As soon as the rifle was assembled and brought to bear, the rocks stopped flying and the forest was quiet. I left the area after that with the rifle at the ready. There were no further incidents.
This was a scouting trip intended to assess the area for activity and the potential for a sighting. I plan to return to this area with others (wildlife biologists) for further study and observation.
OTHER WITNESSES: None. This was a scouting trip for future investigations.
OTHER STORIES: Historically, Robert Rogers, or Roger's Rangers reported having been harassed by 'mountain apes' which he said threw rocks and stones at he and his party. They repulsed them with a volley of rifle shot.
TIME AND CONDITIONS: 7th - Day long. Approximately 0700 to 1400.
8th - Late morning to afternoon. Approximately 1000 to 1400.
ENVIRONMENT: I've mapped the area by natural community 'cover types'. Essentially, the forested areas are Beech-maple mesic forests with scattered occurrences of the Hemlock-northern hardwood forest community, particularly on western and northern slopes. Lesser occurrences of the Pitch pine-oak-heath rocky summit community are found near ridge and hill tops dominated bny rock outcroppings.
If you want the all of the details on these communities, you can look up them up in the following reference:
"Edinger, G.J., D.J. Evans, S. Gebauer, T.G. Howard, D.M. Hunt, and A.M. Olivero (editors). 2002. Ecological Communities of New York State. Second Edition. A revised and expanded edition of Carol Reschke's Ecological Communities of New York State. (Draft for review). New York Natural Heritage Program, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Albany, NY."
Follow-up investigation report by BFRO Investigator Matthew Moneymaker:
I spoke Bryan H. at length. He is a competent, professional wildlife suveyor. He comes from a well connected family in the Whitehall area, and currently works for an established environmental consulting firm near Albany, New York.
Bryan is well qualified to rule out the obvious possibilities for the knocking sounds he heard. His conclusions mean something when it comes to natural sounds. Many wild species are surveyed and counted purely by their sounds.
Bryan agrees with something first proposed by the BFRO years earlier. The intermittent, loud, roving, knocking sounds that are heard, occasionally, in some forests in North America, may be the best, distinctive, surveyable indicator for the presence of sasquatches in a habitat area. In other words, listening for knocking sounds in a possible habitat area may be the best way (or the only feasible way) to take a population count.
It is not known why sasquatches make these loud knocking sounds, or exactly how they make them, but these sounds have been described in many different areas where sightings and track finds also occur.
Witnesses will sometimes hear a single, powerful knock sound, or a short, rapid series of knocks, coming from a given section of woods. The sound is often 'answered' a moment later by a similar knock coming from a different direction.
The sounds are often close by, so it is easy to rule out echoes of distant man-made sounds.
The knocks are described as similar to the sound of someone chopping wood, but they are not repetitive like someone chopping wood, and they do not remain stationary.
Loud knock sounds may help sasquatches coordinate their relative positions when moving through terrain. This is the same impression Bryan got as he stood and listened to them move away from him.
Old timers in the Whitehall region tell stories of the local "Mountain Devils". The appearance and behavior of the Mountain Devils easily fits the description of sasquatches.
There is a local book from the 1970's about the history of sightings and encounters in this area, particularly around Whitehall. The book title is "Monsters of the North Woods". The author is Paul Bartholomew. This book has been out of print and hard to find for years.
Copies might still be available through a small book dealer/publisher specializing in NY state related titles. Look for the book listing for "Monsters of the North Woods" on the web site http://www.hopefarmbooks.com/
The most famous incident in the Whitehall area occured in the 1970's. The incident involved four law enforcement officers (from more than one jurisdiction) who responded to a request for assistance by a Whitehall police officer. The four officers who came to his assistance witnessed the animal. One of the officers fired his gun at it as it fled. Casts of the tracks were made the following day.
BFRO members have visited the Whitehall area before, primarily to make contact with the surviving witnesses of that shooting incident. In the course of that visit, two years ago, while hiking around in the surrounding mountains and hills at night, the BFRO members heard knocks and other vocalizations.
The Whitehall, New York area has an impressive variety and density of wildlife, due largely to the amount of wetlands among the hilly terrain. Wetlands in hilly terrain do a decent job of aborbing and retaining solar energy. The air temperature is buffered and stabilized by the heat absorbed into the bogs and swamps. The air at night is noticeably warmer than nearby areas with no wetlands. The growing season is longer in these micro-climates, which leads to a greater abundance of fruiting plants, foraging animals, and predators.
The mountains around Whitehall have numerous rock outcroppings, overhangs and caves. These rocks also absorb heat during the day and radiate it at night.
The position of the mountain where the knocks were heard has strategic advantages, with respect to both the acoustics of long range vocalizations (howls), and the travel path between other points in the area where other sightings have happened.
The witness, Bryan H., is interested in helping with the 2005 New York State BFRO Expedition.
About BFRO Investigator Matthew Moneymaker:
Matthew Moneymaker is originally from the Los Feliz District of Los Angeles, California.
- Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), 1992.
- Juris Doctorate from the University of Akron School of Law, 1996.
- Founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organizaton,1995.
- Writer and co-producer of the Discovery Channel documentary "Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science," 2001.
- Co-producer of the TV Series "Mysterious Encounters" for the Outdoor Life Network (OLN Channel), 2002.
- Producer of the "2003 International Bigfoot Symposium" (Willow Creek Symposium) DVD set, 2004.
- Co-host of "Finding Bigfoot" on Animal Planet Channel, 2010 - present.
- Current Director of the BFRO